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Fifth Sunday of Easter - May 15, 2022
Easter initiates a new day. It anticipates a new heaven and a new earth. The risen Christ is making all things new. In the mystery of holy baptism God has made new people of us. Today Jesus invites us to see everyone in a new light—through the lens of love.
Prayer of the Day
O Lord God, you teach us that without love, our actions gain nothing. Pour into our hearts your most excellent gift of love, that, made alive by your Spirit, we may know goodness and peace, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
First Reading - Acts 11:1-18
In defense of his earlier baptism of non-Jewish believers, Peter demonstrates to the members of the Jerusalem church that God’s intention to love Gentiles as well as Jews is revealed in Jesus’ testimony. In this way the mission to the Gentiles is officially authorized.
1Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. 2So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, 3saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” 4Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, 5“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. 6As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ 10This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. 11At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. 12The 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. 13He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; 14he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ 15And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17If 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?” 18When 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.” The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Lord from the heavens; praise God in the heights.
2Praise the Lord all you angels; sing praise, all you hosts of heaven.
3Praise the Lord, sun and moon; sing praise, all you shining stars.
4Praise the Lord, heaven of heavens, and you waters above the heavens.
5Let them praise the name of the Lord, who commanded, and they were created,
6who made them stand fast forever and ever, giving them a law that shall not pass away.
7Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps;
8fire and hail, snow and fog, tempestuous wind, doing God’s will
9mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars;
10wild beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds;
11sovereigns of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the world,
12young men and maidens, old and young together
13Let them praise the name of the Lord, whose name only is exalted, whose splendor is over earth and heaven.
14The Lord has raised up strength for the people and praise for all faithful servants, the children of Israel, a people who are near the Lord. Hallelujah!
SECOND READING - REVELATION 21:1-6
John’s vision shows us that in the resurrection the new age has dawned; God dwells with us already. Yet we wait for the time when the tears that cloud our vision will be wiped away. Then we will see the new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem.
1I 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. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And 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; 4he 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.” 5And 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.” 6Then 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.” The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Gospel - JOHN 13:31-35
After washing the disciples’ feet, predicting his betrayal, and then revealing his betrayer, Jesus speaks of his glorification on the cross. This deep complicated love of Jesus, even to death on the cross, will be the distinctive mark of Jesus’ community.
Glory to you, O Lord.
31When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little 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.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Praise to you, O Christ.
As I Have Loved You
By Pastor Carol J. Dennison
Fifth Sunday of Easter C May 15, 2022
Please put your hands on your knees, close your eyes and imagine that you know you are about to die a horrible death tomorrow. Who will you gather around you? Imagine they are there. What will you do and say? (Silence) Now open your eyes.
We are coming in on a gathering in progress. Jesus knows that his hour has come to return to his Father. “Having loved his own who were in the world he loved them to the end.” (13:1) What will he do to prepare them?
At supper on the day before Passover, Jesus suddenly gets up, grabs a towel and a basin of water and proceeds to wash his disciples’ feet. Some protest but allow it when Jesus says that unless he washes them, they have no part in him. Then returning to his seat he tells them that they are to follow his example and “do as I have done to you.” (13:15)
Jesus continues to astound them when he tells them that one of them will betray him, thus fulfilling Scripture. Furthermore, he says: “I tell you this now, before this occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I AM.” (“Chapters 13-17” Karoline M. Lewis. John Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries. Copyright © 2014 Fortress Press.) When they hear this, they look around wondering who it might be. Peter gets the disciple whom Jesus loved to ask “Who is it?”. Jesus says it is the one to whom he gives a piece of bread he has dipped in the dish. Then he gives it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot who immediately goes out. And it is night.
How would you feel if someone at your imaginary gathering of loved ones left to prepare to aid in causing your death? How would your other loved ones react? What would you want to tell them?
Jesus does not waste any time telling them about the how and why. He tells them instead that what is about to happen is part of a much bigger plan. Jesus has been glorified and God has been glorified in Jesus. God will continue to glorify Jesus and do it right away. I suspect this confused them a little! —okay- a lot!
“Little children”, my dearly loved ones who are like children to me, I am not going to be with you much longer and although you will look for me, you cannot come where I am going. Therefore, before I go, I give you a new commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. He repeats this twice in a slightly different way. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
In the next verses Peter will ask where Jesus is going and why they can’t come. Instead of answering, Jesus tells Peter he will deny his relationship with Jesus three times before the cock crows. Then in chapters 14-17 Jesus continues to expand on the verses in today’s gospel.
Looking back after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the disciples will remember this and all he said while he was with them here on earth. They and we wonder what does it mean to love on another as Jesus has loved us? Why would Jesus say this?
The Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis notes that this command is “an essential injunction for the disciples to know Jesus’ presence when he is gone. To love one another is for the sake of remembering the feeling of how Jesus loved them” (“Chapters 13-17” Karoline M. Lewis. John Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries. Copyright © 2014 Fortress Press.) This love will show the world they are Jesus’ disciples but it will also sustain each other in believing and practicing that love. They cannot follow Jesus to the cross but they can follow Jesus forward by loving one another, caring for, feeding, tending each other as sheep of Jesus’ pasture.
How did Jesus love them and us? Jesus, the Word who was with God and was God, loved us enough that he “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, assuming human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.” (Ephesians 2: 6-8) Yet there was more to it than that. Jesus, became fully human while still being God. He experienced all the joys and sorrows of being human from learning to walk and talk, to playing with other children and coming home with skinned knees for his mother to “kiss it better’, to obeying his parents, to learning a trade, working for a living, then giving that up to travel as an itinerant teacher dependent on the kindness of others to support him and his disciples and his ministry. He taught, healed, cast out demons, turned water into wine so a wedding feast could continue, drove the cattle and sheep out of the Temple with a whip of cords and overturned the money changer’s tables; spoke with Jewish officials, a Samaritan woman, stayed with Samaritans, healed the son of a Roman official, a Gentile, healed a lame man on the Sabbath, fed 5000 people with five barley loaves and two fishes, walked on and calmed the sea and the storm, forgave sinners, gave sight to a man blind from birth, raised Lazarus from the dead and so much more while living, travelling, teaching, and befriending his disciples. On the cross he will make provision for his mother giving her as “mother” to the disciple whom he loved. He loves them enough to appear to them after his resurrection, showing them that he really is alive, calling them by name, feeding them, eating with them, giving them the Holy Spirit to enable them and their ministry. How could they love one another as he loved them? How can we as those to whom they passed on this command do it?
Everyone here today has been shown love by those who are here and by other disciples of Jesus. We have had people pray for us and with us, enjoyed meals together, had people hold us as we mourned the loss of loved ones. Many of us have received food delivered to us when we were sick at home, been driven to the ER when we could not drive ourselves to be with a loved one, had groceries picked up for us when we were ill, been visited and brought a prayer shawl at home when we could not get out. We have supported one another as we visited on zoom and as we gathered here. We have checked in on those who were absent or ill. Sharing our troubles with one another, the burden has been lessened. We have even had people gracious enough to take over jobs we could not do for a while due to illness. We show love to one another as Jesus loved us not perfectly but as the Spirit has enabled us!
Jesus loves us, this we know, and we also know the love of each other supporting and enabling our faith to grow in love and service to others. As we have been loved by each other, we are enabled to reach out to others in our community and around the world to share God’s love in word, and in concrete deeds of love and caring.
May Jesus who loved us and still loves us, enable us to continue to love each other as he loved and loves us.
Go Now In Peace
Season of Easter Devotional Practices
Sunday, May 22 Readings:
Acts 16:0-15; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10; 22-22:5; John
During this week, you may wish to read them ahead of time especially the Gospel.
Where did you stop?
What questions, thoughts arose as you read?
Where may the Spirit be nudging you?
Sunday morning at 10:00
Comox Community Centre
1855 Noel Avenue, Comox BC
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