Love begins with God: Family faith formation @ home


Before you begin, invite those gathered to go outside (or if weather does not permit, around the house) and gather something that reminds them of new life (a flower, a leaf, water, a cross, the Bible or anything they think connects with resurrection) and place it in the center of the gathering after each repetition of “He is risen indeed!” Repeat as often as necessary.

One:    Christ is risen!
All:      He is risen indeed!
(Place a sign of new life on the table.)

One:    There are signs all around. Christ is risen!
All:      He is risen indeed!
(Place a sign of new life on the table.)

One:    The old has gone and the new is come. Christ is risen!
All:      He is risen indeed!
(Place a sign of new life on the table.)

One:    Because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we can begin anew. Christ is risen!
All:      He is risen indeed!
One:    We are here, Holy Spirit. Show us new ways to be faithful.

God sightings and prayer offerings

Invite each person to share a 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: 1 John 4:7-21

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

For the second reading of the text, have two groups (or two individuals) alternate reading the verses. Try to look at the other group as you read your verse to you hear the author of 1 John speaking directly to you.

Connecting through story

Watch this story from Steve Hartman’s “On the Road” series.

  • Why did John Kinney come back to Gloria Scott’s house even though she didn’t ask him and couldn’t pay him?
  • Why did the other people volunteer to help out even without getting paid?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • How would you define love?
  • How does this passage define love?
  • How do we know what love is?
  • How do you know God loves you?
  • What does it mean to you that God loved you before you loved God?
  • Why are we called to love one another?
  • How does the world know that God is love?
  • How does God’s love get communicated?
  • What does God love look like in the world?
  • The Scripture says we are to love “one another,” “each other” and “brothers and sisters.” Who are these “others” we are to love?
  • What are some ways you have experienced God’s love?
  • What are some ways you have shown God’s love?
  • When is it easy to love other people?
  • When is it difficult to show love?
  • Why do you think it is difficult to show love in some cases and easy in others?
  • How do you think you and the world would be different if you loved the way this passage says God wants you to love?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • The style of this letter to the Johannine community is very similar to the Gospel of John and the other two letters of John.
  • The theme of love is woven into all three letters and the Gospel of John as a central theme.
  • All love begins with God’s love and 1 John is exceedingly clear: God loved us before we could ever love God.
  • We do not have to do anything to earn God’s love, and that is the kind of love we are to show others.
  • Before his death and resurrection, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment to love one another just as he loved them (John 13:34).
  • In this text, the commandment to love is reiterated by one of Jesus’ followers.
  • In his letter to the community of believers, the author of 1 John is teaching why we are to love one another, because:
    • Love is from God.
    • God first loved us.
    • We are loved by God, therefore we are compelled to love one another.
    • Love is the way we, and the world, see and show God.
    • Love connects us with God and with one another .
  • The letter teaches us how love is:
    • Possible because God lives in us,
    • Empowered by the Sprit,
    • Concretely expressed.
    • Casts out fear.
    • Bold.
    • Inclusive.
    • Unifying.
  • This letter was written to a community that lived in a time and in the midst of divisiveness. The author is very clear: Love is the answer to divisiveness because love unites.
  • The author’s expectation is that love goes beyond those we know and care for. Love, God’s love manifest in and through us, is inclusive and is available for those we do not know and for whom we may not care.
  • Love is both vertical and horizonal. We love God, therefore we love one another. The quality of our love of God (vertical) is seen through the quality of our love for neighbor (horizontal).

Rewrite this letter for today’s context using words of your own.


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.