We Purify in Hope

How Shall We Live

Third Sunday of Easter, Year B

Easter is such a joyous, colorful, and vibrant celebration! Now in Eastertide, this second Sunday, Christ is still risen! The Creation is still waking up!

Note to the Teacher

The main idea for this week is understanding the concept of purification in hope, balancing personal faith with community responsibilities, as depicted in 1 John 3:1-7. Our icebreaker, "Journey of Hope," involves a creative drawing activity in pairs, symbolizing hope and purification. The discussion section includes ten questions that encourage students to explore purification in both personal and community contexts, considering the roles of grace and identity as Christians. The activity for this lesson is a "Path to Purification Challenge Course," a physical representation of the journey toward purification, emphasizing the importance of community support and personal reflection.

This lesson (drawn from the adult curriculum) uses the term “purity” throughout. If that term is confusing or carries connotations with human sexuality in your context, feel free to exchange it for a term that describes the idea of orthopraxy (doing the right things/having the right actions). The activity would then become something like a “Path to Praxis Challenge Course.”

Icebreaker: ‘Journey of Hope’

Begin by dividing students into pairs. Each pair receives a sheet of paper and pens. One student draws a path or road while the other adds symbols or words representing hope and purification. After five minutes, pairs share their drawings with the group and explain their symbols of hope.

Read: 1 John 3:1-7.

Discussion Questions

  • The author in 1 John 3:1-7 uses the idea of purification. What do you think the word “pure” means? Can you think of phrases or things that are advertised for their purity or use the word “pure”?
  • What does it mean to purify something? What do you think about the idea that people’s hearts, minds, or souls can be purified? How do you think that happens?
  • When the author puts the concept of purification together with the idea of being a 'child of God,’ what does that say about what it means about being in God’s family?
  • How does the concept of purification here differ from some of the divisive or potentially negative aspects of 'purity culture'?
  • If all people are called children of God (verse 1), then does it mean that all people can be pure with God through Christ?
  • Verses 4-6 identify the challenge of “sin” or “sinfulness.” How does our church talk about sin or understand sin? Do you think that the author means that by living a Christ-like life, all opportunities to sin are removed from that life? Or perhaps that by living a Christ-like life, even when sinful behavior happens, we can always be purified again? Or something else entirely?
  • Do you think in this passage there are differences between “purity” and “being righteous”? What is their relationship? How are the concepts related to each other?

Active Learning Activity: ‘Path to Purification (or Praxis) Challenge Course’

Create a simple obstacle course or 'challenge course' in a safe open space. This can involve simple elements like cones to weave through, a 'balance beam' marked on the ground, and areas marked as 'safe zones.’ Invite each student to take a turn navigating the course. (You can make it more challenging by adding a blindfold.)

The course represents the journey of purification, with each obstacle symbolizing a challenge or temptation. Other students cheer and offer words of encouragement, symbolizing the role of the Christian community in supporting each individual's journey.

Debrief: After completing the course, students gather to discuss how this physical journey relates to their spiritual journey. Encourage them to share thoughts on the role of hope and community support in overcoming life's challenges. Reminder, with a supportive community, we can always get back on the course, try again, and do better on the elements where it seems like we fell short. Also, there aren’t necessarily obstacles or tasks that we HAVE to overcome to be purified. The lifelong process of understanding what it means to be a child of God and try to live a Christ-like life is a healthy way to understand ideas like purification or sanctification. John Wesley would have called trying the obstacle course again and again to improve how well the course is run an opportunity to “journey toward perfection.” Even if you never run the obstacle course perfectly, the fact that you keep trying and improving demonstrates your sacred worth as a child of God.

Materials Needed

  • Paper and pen for each student
  • Obstacle course items