Fifth Sunday of Easter (White)
Sunday, May 19th, 2019
Readings ACTS 11:1-18; PSALM 148; REVELATION 21:1-6; JOHN 13:31-35
Collect Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Give us grace to love one another and walk in the way of his commandments, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Alt 1 Risen Christ, your wounds declare God’s love for the world and the wonder of your risen life gives us compassion and courage to risk ourselves for those we serve, to the glory of God the Father.
Common Worship: Additional Collects (2004)
Alt 2 God of glory, whose Beloved took the shadowed road of death and found life in the darkness: may his love be our law, so that, undimmed by fear, we may witness to the power of new birth, through Jesus Christ, the first-born from the dead.
Prayers for an Inclusive Church (2009) alt.
Prayer over the Gifts
Gracious God, you show us your way and give us your divine life. May everything we do be directed by the knowledge of your truth. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the risen Lord.
Prayer After Communion
God of love, in this eucharist we have heard your truth and shared in your life. May we always walk in your way, in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.
8 am THE FIRST LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 11th CHAPTER OF THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. BEGINNING AT THE 1ST VERSE.
10 am A READING FROM THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”
8 am THE WORD OF THE LORD.
10 am HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.
THANKS BE TO GOD
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you angels of his; praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. R
Praise him, heaven of heavens, and you waters above the heavens.
Let them praise the Name of the Lord; for he commanded, and they were created.
He made them stand fast for ever and ever; he gave them a law which shall not pass away. R
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea-monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and fog, tempestuous wind, doing his will;
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars;
Wild beasts and all cattle, creeping things and winged birds; R
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the world;
Young men and maidens, old and young together.
Let them praise the Name of the Lord, for his Name only is exalted, his splendour is over earth and heaven. R
He has raised up strength for his people and praise for all his loyal servants, the children of Israel, a people who are near him.
8 am THE EPISTLE LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 21st CHAPTER OF THE REVELATION TO SAINT JOHN, BEGINNING AT THE 1st VERSE.
10 am A READING FROM THE REVELATION TO SAINT JOHN.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”
8 am THE WORD OF THE LORD.
10 am HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.
THANKS BE TO GOD
8 am THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND WITH THY SPIRIT.
THE HOLY GOSPEL IS WRITTEN IN THE 13th CHAPTER OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN, BEGINNING AT THE 31ST VERSE.
GLORY BE TO THEE, O LORD.
10 am THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND ALSO WITH YOU.
THE HOLY GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN.
GLORY TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Let us pray.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.
[Baptism 10 am – With infant baptism we make choices for our children, are starting them out on a path, giving them a language to talk about God, planting seeds so that they have a spiritual, as well as a physical and emotional life.
It doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t make different choices for themselves as they age. We are not able to determine the end result, but we can lay a foundation on which they can later build.
What we are saying when someone is baptised, when Logan is baptised here today, whatever their age, wherever they are coming from and whatever they are coming with….is that the first and foremost thing you need to know…the truth you must always remember…the fundamental belief you must never lose sight of….is this: You are God’s beloved. With you God is well pleased. Now, live that truth.
As humans we are born well pleasing to God – before we can do anything or achieve anything for which the world will reward us – we are already beloved. That’s one of my biggest arguments in favour of baptizing infants – its a reminder that God’s grace isn’t something we ever earn by anything we do, like a pay cheque or a promotion – its a free gift God gives out of his love, just because we exist.
But we forget that, or we are taught otherwise. Things are done to us that make us doubt it, and we do things that fail to reflect it, and we start believing a different story…a different reality about ourselves…about God…and about how we are to be in the world. That’s what we mean by sin….not just the individual mistakes we make, but a fundamental orientation away from Love, towards what the baptism rite calls “the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God (and make us rebel against one another and our true selves).
So why did Jesus, who never turned away from Love, get baptized? For the same reason he did everything… to show the way, the truth and the life to those of us who do get lost – the way back home, the truth of who we are and what life as a child of God actually looks like.
Baptism is not about becoming God’s beloved child as much as its about committing to living a life as nothing less; a commitment that you’re no longer going to settle for a world in which any child is raised to believe, is treated as, or is taught to treat others, as anything less. But holding on to that vision isn’t easy. It’s like getting married. You can make vows and receive symbols of those vows, but its only then that the real work of being married begins. It’s the same with baptism.]
So, today we hear Jesus tell his disciples, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
Well now, that seems awfully simple. Let’s just do that.
The world will not know you’re a Christian by how much you know about God or because you can quote scripture or recite the creed by memory; but by humble acts of service and love.
[Baptism 10am – No one will be able to tell if Logan is baptized unless the humble acts of service he does in life point to that fact. Part of the job of godparents is to lead the way in service that Logan will follow.]
It’s helpful if the little passage we’ve got is put back into the whole of chapter 13. So, what else was happening around the little piece we heard today?
We get the Last Supper, with St. John’s particular focus on the presence of Judas, the betrayer of Jesus. We also hear a sympathetic account of the conversation between Jesus and St. Peter about Peter’s coming denial of Jesus at trial. We read about Jesus act of humble service to his own Disciples in the washing of their feet. An act that we remember every Maundy Thursday in the Liturgy of the Church.
In this place you may have sat in a chair up here by the chancel steps while Bev or I kneeled to wash your feet.
The invitation to participate in that part of the liturgy reads:
Fellow servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night before his death, Jesus set an example for his disciples by washing their feet, an act of humble service. He taught that strength and growth in the life of the kingdom of God come not by power, authority, or even miracle, but by such lowly service.
Therefore, I invite you who share in the royal priesthood of Christ, to come forward, that I may recall whose servant I am by following the example of my Master. But come remembering his admonition that what will be done for you is also to be done by you to others, for a servant is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
I can be pretty willful sometimes and need to be reminded of my role in your life. It is not principally to preach at you in words that have been agonized over, in one way or another, for most of the previous week – though that can be useful.
My role is to hold up to you the example of Christ – the example of His love, the example of His service, the example of His building up broken and rejected people for the work of building up justice and peace.
I am an imperfect servant of God to the people of God, an imperfect lover of God’s people, an imperfect builder for peace and justice.
Some of you will know that I can have a pretty sharp tongue. I can be inappropriately sarcastic. I can be unjustly dismissive of some peoples’ behaviour.
It is only by the love of God and the example of His Son, revealed in Scripture and in you, the militant Body of Christ around me, and in the sacramental life of this place that I can claim any success in doing what I am called to do.
The entirety of Chapter 13 of St. John’s Gospel is set in room that hosted Jesus’ Last Supper with his friends. The Last Supper is what we join ourselves to in the celebration Eucharist. Today, we experience the love of God, the self-sacrificing love of God in the Eucharist.
Jesus will make himself and his love known in the simple material of a piece of questionable bread and a sip of wine.
It is continually amazing to me the power of God’s love made known in the moment of taking the Body and Blood of Christ to myself in the bread and wine.
But, so what?!
What does our experience of God’s love in the Eucharist mean?
How do we change because we have encountered the divine in this way?
The love of Jesus made evident to the world by His victory over death and the spiritual forces of evil that would undermine Him and we who endeavour to follow Him.
His death was caused by the need of the people of His time and His place needing one person to suffer for the sins of all – a scapegoat.
We are not in that time or place now. Are we?
We are on the Resurrection side of history. Aren’t we?
We know that the trial on Good Friday and the Cross are not the last word. While we struggled through the bleakness of Holy Saturday during the day, we did so knowing full well that the resurrection was coming.
What does a world that doesn’t blame a scapegoat, or beat down others, look like because of the resurrection?
It is in loving. Jesus assures us that “Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The church, this institution, is one of the only ones I can think of that exists for the benefit of those who will never darken its doors.
We will be known as followers of Jesus by the fact that we show His love to those who have done nothing to earn it. Just like we did nothing to earn the Love that Jesus has shown to us.
We have the loving assurance of our eternal unity with God. We are assured that death is no longer an end but rather a gate to our fullest experience of that unity.
The only way anyone outside that door will come to know the Love of God is because we have been His hands and feet at work in their lives.
The goal is not, primarily, that they will come to occupy a seat in this room – though that is a happy result, too. The goal is that they will come to know the love of their creator, because they experienced it from us.
The goal is that they will come to love God with all that they are and also come to love their neighbour as themselves. If they join us in this endeavour of living in community here, so much the better – but Jesus did not call us to fill buildings with people, he called us to make Disciples of all nations. Disciples who will love Him and their neighbour.
So, our job in response to the love of God is to make known that love in all the relationships we have with people in this room and especially outside of this room.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, grant us the grace to love you with all our heart, mind, soul, and body; and prod us to love our neighbours and each other, that we may be known and recognized as your redeemed and beloved Disciples. This we ask in the name of Him who died that we may never know the finality of death. AMEN