May 17: Promise of the Holy Spirit — family faith formation at home


Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy to begin your time of learning together. 

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Christ, the light of the world.
(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.
(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the Scriptures.
(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God.
(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the table.
(Place a symbol of communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread, grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.

God sightings and prayer offerings 

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something — a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer. 

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world. [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for… [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Connecting with Scripture: John 14:15-21

Read the scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

Ask those gathered to close their eyes as you read the Scripture a second time. During the second reading, pause for a moment after reading verse 18. Then, after the Scripture is read, invite those who are comfortable to share the ways in which Jesus comes to them. 

Connecting through story

Either read Dr. Seuss’ book “Horton Hears a Who”(if you have a copy at home) or watch it read on YouTube.

  • Why do you think Horton cared about the Who’s?
  • What does the phrase “a person’s a person no matter how small” mean to you?
  • Who are “small persons” today who need someone to care for them as Horton did the Who’s of Whoville?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • What was Jesus’ promise to the disciples in this passage?
  • Why would this promise be important to them?
  • What does a helper do? (Try not to use the word “help” in your answer!)
  • What does someone who comforts do?
  • What does an advocate do?
  • If you substituted each of these words (helper, comforter, advocate) for Holy Spirit in this passage, what would be the actions of the Holy Spirit?
  • In what ways have you seen the Holy Spirit help, comfort or advocate?
  • In what ways have you been empowered by the Holy Spirit to help, comfort and/or advocate?
  • If you had to pick one of those three words to be your primary spiritual gift – help, comfort, advocate – which would you ask for and why?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • Jesus gives clear directions for how disciples are to live and work once Jesus returns to his Father: Love one another.
  • If we love Jesus, we are to love one another.
  • Loving God is shown through loving our neighbors.
  • Jesus promises the disciples they will not be alone because he is giving them the Holy Spirit who will empower their work to continue Christ’s ministry.
  • The New Testament was originally written in ancient Greek — a language that sometimes has multiple words that can be used when translating the Greek into English. The Greek word used in verse 16, “paraclete,” can be translated as Holy Spirit, Comforter, Helper or Advocate.
  • The passage indicates that whether we are comforting those who are sick or who mourn, or helping anyone in need, or advocating for justice and righteousness – all of these are the work of the Holy Spirit in us and through us in a world in which Jesus Christ lived, loved and for which he died and was resurrected.


Even though the pandemic may have altered the normal patterns of our lives, it cannot alter the work of the Spirit in and through us. Use the spiritual gift you chose earlier (helper, comforter, advocate) and find a way to live that gift this week. Help, comfort and the work of making the world a better place can be given regardless of social distancing or stay-at-home orders. Live boldly into the work of the Holy Spirit, which abides in you.

Bonus activity: The movie “Horton Hears a Who” is playing on Hulu. Watch the movie with your family and see if you can identify places where the Spirit might be working through Horton.


Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.