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Sixth Sunday of Easter — Family faith formation for May 22, 2022

Why do you think Jesus wanted his disciples to understand the importance of love?

 

Welcome

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, 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 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 5:1-9 (NRSVCEB)

For the second reading of today’s Scripture, use mind mapping to follow John’s ideas and how they are connected. Here’s a quick tutorial about mind mapping.

Connecting through story

Watch and listen to the book I am Love

  • What are all the ways in which love is embodied in this story?
  • How do you think these practices of love line up with Jesus’ ways of being love?
  • What helps us embody love — even in difficult times?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue

  • Why do you think Jesus wanted his disciples to understand the importance of love?
  • Whom do you think this new commandment expects us to love?
  • How did he emphasize that importance?
  • What gift did Jesus give to those who followed him when he walked this earth, and to those of us who follow him today, to help us with the commandment to love?
  • How will the Holy Spirit help us?
  • When is it easy to show love?
  • When is it difficult?
  • In what ways do you embody love?
  • Jesus gives a second gift, peace. Why is that a significant gift?
  • In what circumstances have you found yourself afraid, or frustrated, or unsettled?
  • How does the gift of peace, Jesus gives us, help in those times?
  • If you were sitting with the ancient disciples and heard Jesus’ farewell speech, what would you ask, what would you request?
  • What do you need to live into and to be faithful to this new commandment to love God and neighbor?
  • Where, or to whom, will you turn for help?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion

  • We’ve spent several weeks during the Easter season focusing on stories in John’s gospel about the importance of love.
  • This week’s passage is a part of a larger biblical text often referred to as Jesus’ farewell discourse. In the Gospel of John, chapters 13-17, Jesus gathers his closest disciples and talks about what will happen as he finishes his last days and moves on to be with God.
  • A few of the major themes of this lengthy, but profound, part of Jesus’s instructions to his disciples (those who followed him then and those of us who follow him now): a new commandment to love one another as God has loved us; we show our love of God by showing love to others; God in Christ will send the Holy Spirit to teach us and support us as we continue Jesus’ ministry and follow the new commandment to love; Jesus will abide in us and he gives us the gift of peace – even and especially in times of distress.
  • In this short excerpt, we see all three of these themes recapped: the commandment to love as we are loved, the sending of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of peace.
  • Jesus spends a significant amount of his ministry teaching and practicing the dual imperatives of the Great Commandment — love God and love neighbor. As followers of Jesus, we, too, are to love God and love neighbor. So much so, that there is a connection between the depth of our love of God and the quality of our love of neighbor. One cannot happen without the other.
  • The good news is we do not have to do this alone. Jesus has given us the twin gifts. The Holy Spirit to teach, strengthen, guide and support us as we seek to be faithful to the new commandment and the gift of peace to calm and clear us as we become tired, frustrated, or resist loving others in a world that does not always receive or reciprocate the generous and inclusive love of God.
  • When we are troubled, we have only to remember that Christ has given us peace that passes all understanding. When we are afraid, we have only to remember the peace which Christ has given us. When those natural human emotions well up within us, let us remember Christ’s words in this good-bye conversation, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

Susan Verde, the author of  I am Love, has another book, “I am Peace.” Watch and listen to the reading of this book and reflect on where you see connections between it and today’s text. 

Prayer

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

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