New life: 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: John 20:19-31

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

Use your bodies to create a collective “embodied snapshot” of the different scenes as this Scripture is read a second time.

Connecting through story

Watch this clip from the Robin Williams’ movie “Awakenings.” Based on a true story, Dr. Oliver Sacks worked with patients who were afflicted with encephalitis lethargica. “Sleeping sickness,” as it was commonly called, affected the brain so that the person was in effect trapped within their own bodies with a level of consciousness but an inability to engage or respond. Dr. Sacks tried a new drug used to address symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, L-dopa, with amazing results. Leonard, the patient in this movie clip, was one patient who experienced an awakening from the disease.

  • Leonard begins his conversation with Dr. Sayer by saying, “We’ve got to tell everybody, we’ve got to remind them.” What do you think was fueling his sense of excitement and urgency?
  • He wanted people need to be reminded “how good [life] is” and what “life is all about.” What is good about life? What do you think life is “all about”?
  • Leonard goes on to talks about feeling joy and wonder at the gift of life. What causes you to feel wonder?


Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • In Genesis 2:7, God breathes life into humanity and people become living beings. In John 20:22, Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit into his disciples. What connections do you see between these two passages?
  • What gives new life to these disciples when they encounter their risen Lord?
  • How does the Spirit influence the way disciples live?
  • After the disciples receive the Holy Spirit, Jesus starts talking about forgiveness. Why do you think that was the first thing Jesus spoke about with his followers?
  • Jesus invites us to live in new ways. What do you think that looks like and how is it different?
  • What did this gift of freedom to live a new way of life cost Jesus?
  • In the movie clip, Leonard says to Dr. Sayer: “They’ve forgotten what it is to be alive! I feel the joy of life, the wonder of life, gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!” In other words, people have forgotten how to see the beauty and gift every moment of life brings. What do you think gets in the way of people forgetting, or not seeing, the wonder of life?
  • How does Jesus help Thomas see a new way of life? How does he remind Thomas what it means to be alive?
  • What do you think were Jesus’ expectations of the disciples once they were awakened to a new life?
  • In what ways do we need to remember what it means to be alive?
  • Now that the wounds of Christ and Scripture have reminded you what it means to be alive and of the gift of freedom and joy, how will you live this new life you’ve been given?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • Earlier in the Gospel of John, Jesus promises the disciples he will send them the Holy Spirit. In today’s passage, the resurrected Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit into the disciples and makes it possible for Christ’s followers to live as his resurrection people.
  • New life came at a cost but not one we had to pay. The cost was God’s and the price was Jesus’ life. Resurrection is God’s glory and our tangible reminder that in Christ we have freedom from the ways of death. Resurrection is our call to live in ways that glorify God.
  • This story has often been read with the view that Thomas was wrong to doubt Jesus.
  • Yet, in his encounter with the risen Lord, Thomas is awakened to the gift of being alive and all the possibilities that new life brings.
  • Forgiveness is difficult. We live in a culture that too often sees holding a grudge or getting payback as the norm. Christ calls us to a new life of forgiveness because we have been forgiven.
  • It is in the Gospel of John we hear Jesus’ new commandment to “love one another as I have loved you.” Christ commands us to love in life-giving, liberating and transforming ways because we have been loved in such ways.
  • Forgiveness and love are marks of a life awakened and lived through Christ’s gift of grace.

At the end of the clip from “Awakenings,” Dr. Sayer is describing Leonard’s enthusiastic, evangelistic embrace of his awakening to life. He says: “People don’t appreciate the simple things like work, play friendship. … I don’t know whether this is liberation, mania?” The pharmacist interjects, “or love.”

  • What simple things in life do you appreciate but sometimes forget to notice or acknowledge?
  • In what way do these embody liberation, love and/or new life?


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.