Year B, Sixth Sunday of Easter: John 15:13-14 Lectionary reading for May 9, 2021

A couple of years ago I read a meditation about the nature of the Gospels that forever changed how I read them:

The three synoptic Gospels are largely talking about Jesus, the historical figure who healed and taught and lived in human history. John’s Gospel presents the trans-historical “Christ.”

-Fr. Richard Rohr

I wanted to start with this statement of how I interpret the Gospel of John because it speaks further to my rejection of dogma (see my post from April 10th). I don’t think John ever intended for his Gospel to be read literally; rather, it needs to be read with a much wider lens.

Jesus the Christ laid down his physical life for his friends as an example for how we are to live, putting love ahead of all else. I would hope as adults, we would agree that there is no higher love than laying down our lives for a friend, but we can’t look at in terms of binary goodness: martyrdom good, staying alive to fight another day, bad. With children, we need to talk about how Jesus sacrificed his life for his friends, but also introduce them to the metaphorical understanding of the crucifixion as well: doing hard things, sometimes REALLY hard things to help our friends and do what is right.

There’s so much to love about What Can a Citizen Do? Dave Eggers’ book features gloriously diverse kids drawn by Shawn Harris who work together to build something none of them could build alone. The words describe how citizens have responsibilities to each other, but the art shows something more: how we are sometimes called to put our own comfort aside to make life better for our friends.

A citizen’s not what you are—a citizen is what you do.

Dave Eggers

The book never specifies the location of citizenship, and I think this is a great opportunity to talk about how, while we are citizens of our communities, we are also citizens of the Kingdom of God, and that holds us to even higher standards. The book demonstrates that while laying down our lives for our friends can be uncomfortable and challenging, it is critical if we want to live the Kingdom of love during our lives.

Questions to ask before you read:

  • What is a citizen?
  • What communities are you a citizen of?
  • What are your responsibilities as a citizen?

Discussion for after you read:

  • Tell about a time you when it was hard, but you helped someone anyway.
  • Tell about a time someone put their own comfort aside to help you.
  • What can we do to make sure everyone feels welcome in the Kingdom of God?

Thank you to everyone who has subscribed to this blog, my Facebook page, and my Instagram. Your support means a lot! Please forward this post to others in your circle of friends who may find it useful in their work with children. As always, if you click on the book covers, you can purchase the featured book at Amazon and I will receive a small commission that helps pay to keep this site up and running.

Eggers, Dave. What Can a Citizen Do? Chronicle Books, 2018.

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