Faith -at- Home / Easter 8
As we leave the Easter season, celebrate Pentecost, and then move into Ordinary Time, the question that hangs in front us is this “How then shall we live?” So, what will you do with these gifts of new life, of the Spirit, of Christ love?
Adult to Small Child
Read: Acts 28:30-31.
Reflect: The book of Acts, and thus our journey together, ends in a very open ended way. What’s next? Acts leaves it open. The only thing we are left with is the truth that Paul continued to be faithful to the people whom God had sent and that he continued to teach about Jesus faithfully and boldly. As we leave the Easter season and move toward what is next, let us be confident that we don’t need to have absolute clarity about our next steps. We need only to be faithful and trust God to guide us.
Respond: The Ignatian Examen is a time to review the day and consider where we have seen God, where we have had the opportunity to show God’s love, and where opportunities have been missed. With very little ones, we can use very simple questions like “Who did you share with today?” or “What made you happy today?” As we go into the church season of “ordinary time,” may we go knowing that our days are anything but ordinary.
Adult to Elementary Child
Read: Acts 28.
Reflect: There are some exciting moments in the last chapter of Acts: Paul is bitten by a poisonous snake and is mistaken for a god because he survives, he heals the sick, and he sails to Rome. That’s where Acts ends, without drama: “Paul lived in his own rented quarters for two full years and welcomed everyone who came to see him,” teaching and preaching about Jesus and the upside-down kingdom of God “with complete confidence.” The way the Book of Acts ends helps us to remember that the story of God’s power at work in God’s people isn’t over. The story still continues in us; the work of bringing about God’s kingdom is our work; we are building it together and it won’t be finished until everyone, everywhere is in.
Respond: Where are you in this story? What part of the story is about you? What part of the story do you hope to write with your life this year? What will you write with your life when you grow up? I wonder…
Adult to Youth or Young Adult
Read: Acts 22:6-2.
Reflect: In Acts 22:6-21, Paul tells the story of his conversion. He recounts all the meaningful moments and ways God worked in his life to call him to a life of evangelism and Christian ministry. In the Christian tradition, we usually call that “testimony.” It’s an important part of the way God works in the world: through the stories and shared experiences of God’s people. When God works in a person’s life, it is powerful. Sharing that story with others can also be powerful. It gives people who may not recognize how God is active in own their lives a way to frame God’s presence and action, and perhaps have a “me, too” moment. How has God worked in your life? You may not have had as dramatic an experience as Paul, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t also at work in your life. What are your key experiences of God’s power or presence? As we reflect on this Lent and Easter season, we see so many ways God works in our lives, from making us aware of our sin, helping us to see our ability to overcome that sin, to eventually revealing Christ’s resurrection as a promise God makes to all of us.
Respond: As you move into Pentecost, consider ways you can share your own testimony of all of these Lenten and Easter truths. Who needs to hear your story of confession, repentance, or resurrection? Share those stories to help others have “me, too” moments and know the love and grace of a risen, living God!
Adult to Adult
Read: Acts 28:26-27.
Reflect: Paul told Rome that the Holy Spirit had spoken to their ancestors through the prophet Isaiah. He left them with the following understanding. I have marked out the negative words so you can read them with a renewed spirit and open heart.
“When you hear what I say, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened softened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed opened their eyes--so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.”
Respond: Find another Bible passage (perhaps Luke 13:24-28) that details how ungrateful a group of people were. Mark out the negative words and rewrite the scripture as if it were a declaration to how God would like us to live. Frame it or write it in your journal and refer to it often. Imagine if we understood the good news with this new perspective. Imagine if we changed every negative barrier we held with the language of “cannot” and instead focused on what we could.
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About our Contributors
Traci Smith is pastor of Northwood Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, TX, and the author of Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home. She is mama to four littles and lives with them and her husband, Elias Cabarcas, in their bilingual/bicultural home in San Antonio, TX. You can connect with her at www.traci-smith.com.
Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros is a Tejana poet, freelance writer, and speaker. Her work focuses on faith and Latinidad and has appeared in On Being, SheLoves Magazine, Rock & Sling, and more. She has forthcoming work in Latina Outsiders: Remaking Latina Identity, Christianity Today, and more. She keeps a blog at cisneroscafe.org.
Rev. Melissa Cooper is an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church. She is an Associate with Vibrant Faith, providing ministry coaching services in the area of intergenerational ministry, cross-generational communication, and camp and retreat ministry. Melissa also writes curriculum for children and youth. Melissa lives in central Florida with her husband, Will, and they are the parents to the cutest poodle you’ll ever meet. You can find her online at www.revmelissacooper.com.
Wendy Claire Barrie is a Christian educator who has served seven Episcopal parishes on both coasts since 1989. She is the author of Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Parents (Church Publishing 2016). She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, Phil Fox Rose, and her son, Peter, and works and worships at Trinity Church Wall Street in Lower Manhattan.
Faith-at-Home Project Developer, Author, Formation Evangelist, Resource Curator
Jerusalem lives with family in rural Arkansas. She a minister, speaker, and formation consultant. She is also the author of At Home in this Life and A Homemade Year. Learn more about her at jerusalemgreer.com