Preparation: Bring a picture of a favorite pet. It can be from childhood or a current pet or a friends pet.
Faith+Open:Gather the children and tell them a little about your pet while you show them the picture. Ask them if they have a pet at home. Prompt them about how they take care of their pet, feed, water, etc. Then ask them what their pet does for them. They may need a little help here. Offer ideas like how a pet can be a playmate, or can bring you joy or be a companion.
Faith+Share: Pets are pretty fun, aren’t they? Talking about pets makes me think about an important word in the Gospel story today. Jesus says the word “abide” over and over. He talks a lot about love, too, when he says abide. Do you know what abide means? I looked up “abide” in a dictionary and found a whole bunch of different meanings. Abide can mean to live in a place or live with someone, it can mean to listen to and follow rules, or it mean to stay with someone. Like “abide with me.” I think that all three of these meanings show up in the story, but let’s talk a little more about pets so that we can figure out this “abide” word a little more. Let’s start by saying that our pets abide with us. They live at our houses with us, that covers the first meaning. There are probably rules about your pets, like the cat needs to use the litter box, the dog needs to be on a leash, the turtle isn’t allowed on the table, the fish need to stay in their water . . . you get the idea. That’s the second one. The third one is a little more tricky. I said that it means to stay with someone, but I think that it is more than just staying with someone. It is staying with someone no matter what! More than just staying in the same room with them, it is loving them and caring for them.
That gets us to the Gospel story for today. It’s a story from the Gospel of John, and while Jesus says a bunch of great things in John’s Gospel, it is sometimes a little confusing. So, let me try to straighten it out a little. First Jesus says that the Father loves him, and that he loves us. Then comes that “abide” word, he says “Abide in my love.” Or live in my love, follow the rules of my love and stay with me no matter what! He says that if we do that we will have joyful hearts.
Jesus says that if we abide in his love then we can love each other even more, which is the whole reason for the story. To teach us to live with each other, to listen to what other people need, and to love them no matter what.
Faith+Prayer: Loving God, teach us to abide in your love, to live lives full of love, to listen to the needs of others, and to love and care for them no matter what. Thank you abiding with us, no matter what! Amen.
Faith+Blessing: Remember what Jesus says to his disciples: Do not be afraid and peace be with you. +
*permission to use for nonprofit purposes. When printing give credit to Faith Formation Journeys. Intellectual property rights apply.