She was three years old and loved swimming with her family at the pool but hated having her tangled hair combed out at the end of the swim. The grandmother spoke quietly, talking in a soothing tone as she combed the messed-up hair, “It was fun swimming today. You were so brave to jump in; the water didn’t seem cold at all.” The tangles slipped out as the voice continued, “I love coming with you to swim, and actually I love getting your tangles out too.” As the comb tugged and slipped and slid through the hair, it became time to braid it­—separate the hair into three parts, start near the top, one over, one under, the other over, the other under, and the voice continuing.
Though the task at the pool involved getting tangles out of the hair, the overarching theme was love—the love of the grandmother for the little girl, the love of the three-year-old for the grandmother. The quiet voice, the gentle hands. Love pervaded all—just as it does in these verses from First John. Love each other—period. Love God—period. Feel God love you—period.
The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary talks about this passage as being braided, like the little girl’s hair above. As you read the words of these verses, you hear the words tumble around one another, a strand going over, then one going under, over and under, and woven together.
Take time to read these verses aloud. Use a soft and loving voice like the grandmother in the story. Then commit the seventeen words in the last half of verse 16 to memory and carry them through your day: God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Remind me, O God, to abide in love throughout this day. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read John 15:1-8

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Lectionary Week
April 23–29, 2018
Scripture Overview

Two primary themes emerge from our readings for this week. In Psalm 22, we find the promise that even faraway nations will turn and worship the Lord. The book of Acts provides partial fulfillment of this promise. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, a court official from distant Ethiopia hears the gospel and can take it home to his native land. The Johannine readings focus on the theme of abiding (remaining) in God. “God is love,” the epistle states, so all who claim to abide in God manifest love to the world. The author pushes the point: If we maintain animosity toward others, we cannot claim to remain in the love of God. In John, Jesus states that we must remain in him if we want to bear good fruit for God.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Acts 8:26-40. What boundaries do you draw? How would God view such boundaries given what you know of God?
• Read Psalm 22:25-31. How will you create a daily remembering of God? How will you tell the story?
• Read 1 John 4:7-21. How do you comb out the tangles in your life—in relationships, in your work setting?
• Read John 15:1-8. How secure do you feel about being attached to the vine? What has God done in your life to make it more productive?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.