Moriah Reichert, Bloomington, IN

Warm-up Question

  • Have you seen little kids trying to do grown up things? Does your family have any stories of you trying to do something before you understood what you were doing?

Before We Understand

When we’re little, we often try to model our siblings, parents, or other grown-ups around us. One of my favorite pictures from toddler years is a photo of my dad and I on the couch. My dad is reading a Star Trek book, and I’m “reading” Sandra Bonyton’s Doggies: A Counting and Barking Book.

Last week, a friend showed me a video of her niece “reading” a book. No matter that the pages were upside down and she was turning the wrong direction: she was reading it! As little kids, we attempt what the people around us do. We adopt mannerisms and we say words that we don’t really understand.

If you’ve spent time with younger family members or friends, you might notice they’re paying very close attention to you. They’re trying to figure out how to be people; they’re learning how to be in the world.

Too often in the church, I think we pretend that we know exactly how to be God’s faithful people. Often, in actuality, we look much more like toddlers reading books. In love and our best intentions, we try to be the people God wants us to be, not quite understanding it. Often we mess up and look a little silly.

But, the story in Acts of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch reminds us that God loves and celebrates our best attempts to be the people God calls us to be. God loves our best efforts, and even sends mentors and guides like Philip to help us understand more. We’re all like little children, living into the hope that as we try to follow God, we’ll be blessed like the Ethiopian Eunuch even if we don’t understand.

Discussion Questions

  • Are there times when you don’t feel like you’re “doing faith right?”
  • What does it mean to you to be close to someone?

Fifth Sunday After Easter

Acts 8:26-40

Psalm 22:25-31

1 John 4:7-21

John 15:1-8

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year A at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Growing things can be so difficult because it involves a lot of waiting and a lot of uncertainty. I grew up in a small farming town, and I learned from them that even with all of the advancements science has made in helping plants be stronger and grow better, farmers still have to put a lot of trust in the weather. An exceptionally wet spring or a dry June can wreak havoc on a growing season.

In the gospel lesson from today, Jesus reminds us that no matter how fickle the growing season, if we stick close with him, we’ll bear fruit. Jesus reminds us to trust in him. Even when it feels like we haven’t sprouted a new leaf or grown fruit in so so long, Jesus says to trust, and to draw close to him.

Often we hope that Jesus will make us bear fruit. We show up when that is all we can do. We end up going through the motions, just like little kids pretending to read. We might not feel it, and we might not totally understand what is happening, but all of it still counts as drawing near to Jesus. Every time we show up to do the work of ministry and loving other people, even and especially when we don’t feel like it, we are drawing close to Jesus. We are leaning into the trust that God will work in us and we will bear fruit.

 Discussion Questions

  • Can you think of a time when you didn’t feel like doing something, but you showed up and eventually were glad that you had done it?
  • Jesus says that we will bear fruit if we draw near to him. What does that mean to you?

Activity Suggestions

  • Plan a shared Sunday School or youth group event with the youngest members of your congregation. What do they teach you about leaning into faith even when you don’t understand it?
  • Journal about something that you did, even when you didn’t feel like it. You might think about a season of a sport and days when you didn’t want to show up to practice.
  • Find a plant to tend yourself or as a community. Scientists are still trying to figure out if talking to your plants helps them grow, but it might (and it certainly doesn’t hurt)!

Closing Prayer

Tending God, you cherish us and nourish us. Remind us that when we show up, even if we don’t feel like it or don’t understand, you still work through us. We give you thanks for the plants that grow and mirror the work you do in us, and we give you thanks for children that teach us to love and embrace you even when we don’t fully understand. Amen.