21 April 2024



Fourth Sunday of Easter

1 John 3:16-24

Easter People Act


Additional Scriptures

Psalm 23; John 10:11-18; Acts 4:5-12; Doctrine and Covenants 163:9



Refer to the Toronto Centre Place, online church, for a listing of hymns that are available on YouTube. This can provide accompaniment for hymns.

Find a picture that depicts Psalm 23…Jesus as the good shepherd or a pastoral scene or still waters, for example. Project or print the picture for all to see.

For Collage as Spiritual Practice, supplement the materials for collage making—poster paper or card stock; pictures from magazines, calendars, postcards; glue or paste, scissors, markers, crayons, colored pencils.





Hymn of Praise

Use the vocal recording found on Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings, available from Herald House.org, to lead the singing.

“Mfurahini, Haleluya/Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia"
CCS 471

OR “Celebrate, Jesus, Celebrate"
CCS 474

            Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.


The praise hymn that has just been sung is from the core repertoire in the Community of Christ Sings. Our core repertoire is important in Community of Christ because the culture from which each song comes offers specific perspectives and spiritual gifts to the universal body of Christ. By showing willingness to sing in a language different from our own, we demonstrate humility and allow ourselves to experience the uncomfortableness of learning something new. If we are open, the words and music can help us gain a clearer vision of ourselves as part of the worldwide Christian community and appreciate a wider view of the Divine. We are many, we are one. You are welcome here today.

Call to Worship

“He is risen” is not just a proclamation of a singular event. This good news invites and sends us. God invites us to shape our lives anew as Easter people. God sends us with the blessing of the Holy Spirit to embody and share the message and ministry of the Living Christ. He is risen when we live Christ’s mission. Today, our focus is on how we, as Easter people, act and through our actions, we share our witness with our world.



Visio Divina

Project or print the picture that depicts Psalm 23.

As our scripture is read, we will engage in the spiritual practice of visio divina. As you ponder the image before you, you are invited to become open to God’s presence.

Prayerfully consider the image as you observe the shapes, colors, shadows, lines. Allow your feelings, memories, and thoughts about the image to arise. Notice and welcome all reactions.

What captures your attention in this image? Where do you see yourself in this image? How is the Spirit calling you through this image? What is your response?

Scripture Reading: Psalm 23


 “O Lord, My Shepherd” 
CCS 264

OR “The Lord’s My Shepherd”
CCS 259

Prayer for Peace

Scripture Reading: John 10:11-18

Light the Peace Candle.


Spirit of protection,

Sheep do not comprehend injustice–they simply eat and sleep and search

for more delicious greens to eat.

They will walk the craggiest of cliffs to sit by a waterfall and eat.

Everything in their day is focused on food.

May we pursue peace as the sheep pursue nourishment!

May we go to the most unlikely places to share your love!

May we trek over roads and beyond fences in pursuit of peace!

May we remember that everywhere we look is an opportunity to

share joy and defeat injustice!

Sheep may not recognize injustice, but we do. Be with us,

and open our eyes to your presence as we forage for peace.

In the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, Amen.            

—Tiffany and Caleb Brian


Ministry of Music Video

 “The Good Shepherd,” by Fernando Ortega, Youtu.be/3fIVTpzi0zU

Be sure to have permission to use this video.

OR Congregational Hymn}
“My Shepherd Will Supply My Need”
CCS 247

Proclamation of the Word

Scripture Reading: 1 John 3:16-24

Focus Moment

  To better understand this scripture, let’s play a game.

  I will act something out and I want you to tell me what I am doing or feeling…

  Act out these or similar things:

  • Brushing your teeth
  • Feeling sad
  • Painting a picture
  • Cooking
  • Feeling angry
  • Playing catch
  • Playing Piano

Ask: How did you know what I was doing even though I never used words to tell you?

Say: A lot of times, our actions communicate just as much, if not more, than our words do. Today’s scripture passage reminds us that we can’t just say loving things, we also have to act in ways that communicate love. Our actions can let people know that they are loved.

Ask: What are some actions you can take this week to communicate love?

Affirm all answers.

Sacred Space, Year B, fourth Sunday of Easter


Based on 1 John 3:16-24



“The Church of Christ Cannot Be Bound”
CCS 347

OR “O for a World”
CCS 379

OR “Bear Each Other’s Burdens”
CCS 374

Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.

Disciples’ Generous Response

Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 163:9


During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are about more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings we join in making God’s work visible in the world.

As we share our mission tithes either by placing money in the plates or through eTithing, use this time to thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.

If your congregation is meeting online, remind participants they can give through CofChrist.org/give or eTithing.org (consider showing these URLs on screen).

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes                                                                                                                                                                  

Collage as Spiritual Practice

Invite those present to gather at craft stations with the supplies to make a collage. Considering those present, invite each to make their own collage or those gathered can create a poster-board collage together. Meditative music playing is an option. Prompt those creating collages with this:

  • Today, the theme of our collages is “Easter People Act.”
  • Before you begin, spend a few moments in stillness. Take deep breaths and invite the Spirit to sit with you and inspire you. This creative process is a prayer, and yet, we do not need our words to commune with God. Open yourself to whatever wisdom or blessings you may receive, focusing on the theme of “Easter People Act.”
  • Begin with a clean sheet of paper. It’s up to you how you fill that page. You can sketch or doodle randomly, splash bold colors on it, or cover it with images from a magazine—anything that feels right for you.
  • To make a collage, peruse a few magazines. Don’t look for specific images or words. Instead, pick whatever inspires you. It might be photos, random words, or a combination.
  • Once you’re ready, begin gluing them on the page in an arrangement that feels right for you.
  • When you are done, sit back and reflect on what is on the page. Some of the images might surprise you. Themes you didn’t expect might emerge. Combinations of photos might communicate something to you. Be open to whatever you receive.

Once the collage pictures or poster are completed, invite brief sharing of the completed work with others. Make provision for posting the collages near the exit of the worship space. Leave these up for next week’s service.

Closing Hymn

“I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me”
CCS 581

OR “Called by Christ to Love Each Other”  
CCS 577

OR “Help Us Express Your Love” 
CCS 621


Sending Forth: 1 John 3:18

Go and act as God’s Easter people!


Ask participants to post their collages in the space provided as they exit the worship space. Add today’s collages to those already posted last week.


Year B—Letters

Fourth Sunday of Easter

1 John 3:16–24


Exploring the Scripture

Most likely, the first letter of John is a commentary on the main themes of the Gospel of John. This letter was likely written to a group united in believing that the Word was God. However, they were divided about the importance of action in response to one’s beliefs.

Today’s text is at the beginning of the second part of 1 John, which begins with 3:11. Whereas part one proclaims God as light, part two proclaims God as love. The passage begins with the idea that since Christ “laid down his life for us,” we are now called to do the same for others (v. 16). Following Christ means being willing to go to the cross for others. This sacrifice is not upheld as a heroic act, but as a faithful act expected of all disciples.

These verses speak to disciples in every generation, challenging us courageously to find ways to work for justice in our neighborhoods and nations. They remind us that if we claim to have God’s love abiding in us, we must be willing to move out of our comfort zones to right wrongs we witness in the world around us. John’s words are clear that words and intent are not good enough. Love moves us into action, responding to the needs around us.

The question asked by John ties our eyes and heart together. We must be looking for those in need, and then we must do what we can to meet the need we see. Fortunately, much good can be carried out that does not require our loss of life.

John speaks harshly about people who claim Christian love but are hesitant in sharing one’s capacity to support another in need. John explains that sacrificial living includes putting our love into action and being generous with our time, talent, treasure, and testimony in support of others. Our whole-life stewardship reflects the love we have received, and we share it as our response to God’s gift of love to us.

Verse 19 recognizes we sometimes doubt our faithfulness and capacity to respond the way God desires. We can become preoccupied with how God views us. We can trust that God does not abandon us and gives us the strength and courage we need to put God’s love into action.

The reference in verse 22 that “we receive from [God] whatever we ask” should not be interpreted through the lens of the heresy of the prosperity gospel that God gives anything to those God favors. This reference is about us receiving what we need to be God’s messengers of love.

The end of today’s passage summarizes the two primary themes of the Gospel of John. First, “we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ,” and second, we should “love one another, just as he has commanded us” (v. 23). It upholds the vital idea from the Parable of the Vine (John 15) of Christ abiding in us and us in Christ through the blessing of the Spirit. This parable is also a way of interpreting the beginning of this text, with the idea that our acts of love are the fruits we bear as faithful disciples.

Central Ideas

  1. Since Christ “laid down his life for us,” we are now called to do the same for others.
  2. If we claim to have God’s love abiding in us, then we must be willing to move out of our comfort zones to right wrongs we witness in the world around us.
  3. Sacrificial living involves whole-life stewardship putting our love into action, and being generous with our time, talent, treasure, and testimony in support of others.

Questions for the Speaker

  1. What keeps you from being willing to lay down your life for another?
  2. What are your community’s needs and injustices, and how might you generously respond?
  3. What issues or situations of injustice motivate you to want to get involved?
  4. How might you go deeper in your whole-life stewardship, putting your love into action?
  5. What is the “fruit” from your generous response of time, talent, treasure, and testimony in support of others?



Year B Letters

Fourth Sunday of Easter

1 John 3:16–24 NRSVUE




Today is the fourth Sunday of the Easter season. The Easter season lasts fifty days and concludes with the Day of Pentecost.

Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.

Light the peace candle.

God of wonder and grace, we can’t begin to comprehend the love you show us, a love that made you willing to come among us in flesh and bone, to endure the hardship of humanity. To move among the persecuted and marginalized so we might learn new ways to be in relationship with you and one another.

Open our eyes and hearts to your message, to the opportunities you provide each day to reach out to others and live your love and compassion—to truly see our neighbor and extend your hands.

We pause now, Lord, that we might listen. Listen to your promptings, guidance, and desires for our lives that you may speak the ways in which we can bring peace; that we might hear your voice and respond.

Pause for one to two minutes of silence.

In Jesus’s name, we pray. Amen.

Spiritual Practice

Centering Prayer

Centering prayer is a method of meditation used by Christians to sit in silence with God. This prayer helps us experience God’s presence within us.

This Easter Day we will focus on the word rejoice.

Slowly read the following instructions:

Sit with relaxed posture and close your eyes. We will spend three minutes in centering prayer.

Breathe in a regular, natural rhythm. As you breathe in and out, say the word rejoice in your mind.

Breathe in and out, focusing only on your word.

When we are done, we will sit for two minutes in silence, eyes closed, listening to the silence.

When time is up, share these closing instructions:

Offer a brief word of thanks to God, take a deep breath, and open your eyes when you are ready.

Sharing Around the Table

1 John 3:16–24 NRSVUE

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers and sisters. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
Little children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us, for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God, and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.
And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.


Today’s text is about the generosity of God as expressed in Jesus.

The old teacher is continuing to tutor his new converts through this letter, expressing that laying down one’s life for a brother or sister (very personal examples) is not extraordinary behavior for a Christian. It is completely ordinary. That is what followers of Jesus do. End of discussion.

Christian mission has become a hot topic in the world of Christian speak. Leaders encourage mission, and articles talk about successful missions and outreach programs. Thousands of gallons of ink and millions of pages have been devoted to encouraging Christians to do what should come as a no-brainer.

The reason for this is the specialization of mission in the church over the centuries. We send missionaries to places around the globe and support them through gifts of money, goats, and tractors. These ministries have changed the lives of many and improved the lives of some. But how do we lay down our lives for others?

John encourages his readers then and us today to look at our deeds. How should we live? In truth, in generous offering of ourselves to others. This is the ordinary expectation of every disciple. It can be accomplished by as many deeds as the imaginations of all disciples can conceive. Laying down a life is not giving up life. It is, rather, living life to its fullest expression as the Spirit leads and enhances the gifts we have been given in talents and skills for the service of creation.


  1. How have you experienced or witnessed the gift of a life laid down for another so that they might “live”?
  2. When have you felt a conviction of the heart about a decision or action in your life?
  3. How can leading a life of truth be a form of laying down one’s life?
  4. What role does obedience have in your understanding of a life in Christ?


Generosity Statement

Beloved Community of Christ, do not just speak and sing of Zion. Live, love, and share as Zion: those who strive to be visibly one in Christ, among whom there are no poor or oppressed.

—Doctrine and Covenants 165:6a

The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing, small-group ministries as part of your generous response.

This offering prayer for the Easter season is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:

God of rejoicing, we share our gifts joyfully and with thanksgiving in response to the generous gifts you have given us. May the offerings we share bring joy, hope, love, and peace into the lives of others so they might experience your mercy and grace. Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

Community of Christ Sings 187, “Soften My Heart”

Closing Prayer


Optional Additions Depending on Group

  • Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
  • Thoughts for Children


Thoughts for Children

Say: I want us to play a game today. I will act out something, and I want you to tell me what I am doing or feeling…

Act out the following or similar things:

  • Brushing your teeth
  • Feeling sad
  • Painting a picture
  • Cooking
  • Feeling angry
  • Playing catch
  • Playing the piano

Ask: How did you know what I was doing, though I never used words to tell you?

Say: A lot of times our actions communicate just as much—if not more—than our words. Today’s scripture reminds us that we can’t just say loving things; we also have to act in ways that communicate love. Our actions can let people know they are loved.

Ask: What actions can you take this week to communicate love? (Affirm all answers.)

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