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Year B, Easter 5, 2018 – Where Do You Live?

April 25, 2018 / Molly Douthett / Easter

How many of you reflexively answered the question above with your house address? Don’t worry; we aren’t mining for data here, but framing an idea that connects the three passages for this Sunday. When asked this question, “Where do you live?” most of us think of the place where we have all our stuff and sleep at night. A house, an apartment, a town home – a living space. We are very fortunate to have some real property in an era of increasing homelessness due to the economy or warfare, thanks be to God. Let’s put a different emphasis on the question – where do you LIVE? Where is your heart, your mind, your soul, your imagination? Where do you light up like a neon sign? Where do you fall into a place that engages you so thoroughly, you don’t notice time passing? Or, let’s try this emphasis – WHERE do you live? Do you live where you are most comfortable or where there is a chance of risk? Do you live where you feel safe or where there is an element of unease? Is this an actual place or a relationship? Is this a place that has been shown to you by the Spirit, like Philip in the Acts passage, or is this a place where you have come to a deeper commitment to others based on God’s grace to you in Jesus? In all three selections for this Sunday, an underlying question in each of them asks us to consider where we find ourselves and our congregations. Trusting the Spirit enough to go down a wilderness road? Trusting Jesus enough to abide in him as he abides in God? Where do we live? Let’s go find out.


This week’s texts are:

Acts 8:26-40 [01:59]

Do you recall a time when you felt moved by the Spirit to get up and go do something? Did you do it? What happened? In WORD smart, John Fairless mentions that Luke makes effective use of questions in telling this story. Philip and the Ethiopian official both ask questions that move the plot along and open new avenues for the “good Jesus news” (a la Mark Davis, below) to move into deeper places in the world. In his commentary, Brian Bantum shows the intersection of proclamation and reception, something we all pray for whenever we get into the pulpit, I’m sure! For EYE smart, we recommend a lot of artwork, especially the intricate metalwork of Ethiopian processional crosses. Take a look at the other artwork linked below. Since baptism is involved in this story, make use of your baptismal font for a special effect. In MATH smart, those of us in denominations with clear polity about baptism find this story either optimistically open or frighteningly free. That Philip can just use a water hole to baptize someone who asks for it breaks some rules for many of us. David heard an interesting podcast about God breaking rules, and we also have Jill Duffield’s commentary for this week’s passages as an illustration about why that is sometimes a good model to follow. For a special effect, play a game or read a story and – mix up the rules! MUSIC smart has three hymns (or many many more if you search for music about the Spirit) as illustrations, and we have an idea to use musical cues as a special effect. Look at our worksheet for some ideas for NATURE and PEOPLE that didn’t make it into the podcast. Finally for SELF smart, we have some questions to use as guides for noticing how the Spirit may move you.


1 John 4:7-21 [14:22]

Since we recorded the podcast, I’ve gone back and counted up how many times the word “love” shows up in this selection. If we fudge for the word “beLOVEd”, it appears 29 times. Plus, the word “abide” shows up 6 times. I think we can safely state that this selection from this epistle/sermon is about love. Since this is the center, you could illustrate this in EYE smart by using mandalas or arabesque artworks with its repeated patterns. For a special effect, try using interlocking foam tiles to represent how love connects this passage. Staying with this idea of God and love in MATH smart, use a compass to illustrate how we are always drawn back to this reality. For a special effect, mix up some oil and water! Alicia Myers notes the poetic structure of verses 7-11 (we lay it out at the bottom of the worksheet) in MUSIC smart; for illustrations, see the suggestions for hymns and the commentary by Meta Carlson. David remembers hearing Billy Graham compare the presence of God to the wind, which would be an eye catching illustration and special effect for NATURE smart. If you don’t use the fan, try one of the other experiments linked below. We stick with Jill Duffield’s commentary in PEOPLE smart, which illustrates how we think we may be acting in love, but are not.


John 15:1-8 [25:31]

Counting again! In this passage, the word “vine” occurs 4 times, “abide” shows up 8 times, “fruit” and “branch” are each used 6 times. The author is stressing a reality about discipleship, obviously. Interestingly enough, we did not mention this in the podcast for WORD smart. Rather, I was struck by two Greek words that have NATURE and SELF overtones. The first one is klemata which means cling and sounds like clematis which is a flowering vine. The other is kathairei that translates as either prune or cleanse and sounds like catharsis. The branches cling to the vine unless they don’t produce and then they are cleansed or pruned. The allusion to disciples abiding in Jesus is clear! To further illustrate this, use our MATH smart idea about dipoles. We have a high energy way to demonstrate this in BODY smart, too. Get your spotters ready! If you haven’t yet heard the old hymn “Abide with Me” in your head simply for reading the word eight times, follow our link in MUSIC smart. NATURE smart is all over this passage; viticulture has been around for a very long time and the basic structure of a plant illustrates the essence of abiding. PEOPLE smart ties all these elements together with Susan Cherwien quoting Meister Eckart’s example of disciples producing fruit.

  • Smarts – Word [26:25], Math [27:24], Body [29:27], Music [30:42], Nature [31:11], People [33:10]
  • John 15 worksheet
  • Links in John


Image Credit: Copyright: ligonography / 123RF Stock Photo. Used by permission.


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