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6th Sunday after Easter - "He Calls Us His Friends" by Pr. Jim

9 May 2021

Grace Lutheran Church

Ashland, Oregon

The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim




Welcome to all who have come to worship in the Name of our Risen and Victorious Lord. On this Sixth Sunday of Easter, we joyfully affirm Christ’s resurrected presence among us in Word and Sacrament. We celebrate his presence in the bread and wine

of The Eucharist for the forgiveness of our sins, the nurturing of our faith, and the strengthening of our lives for service. If you are a guest or visitor and have not done

so already, please honor us by signing our Guest Book in the entrance hall of the church as you leave. If you have no church home of your own in the area, we invite

you to make Grace Lutheran Church the center of your worship, learning, fellowship, and service. Pastor Jim or this morning’s lay assistant will be happy to answer any questions you may have concerning our parish. Come to worship with us again and often!

AS WE GATHER   A Call to Be Friends

This Sunday’s image of the life the Risen Christ shares with us is the image of friendship. We are called to serve others as Jesus came to serve; but for John’s gospel, the image of servanthood is too hierarchical, too distant, to capture the essence of life with Christ. Friendship captures the love, the joy, the deep mutuality of the relationship into which Christ invites us. The Greeks believed that true friends are willing to die for each other. This is the mutual love of Christian community commanded by Christ and enabled by the Spirit.


Almighty God, through your only Son you overcame death and opened for us the gate of eternal life. Give us your continual hope; put good desires into our minds and bring them to full effect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


PRE-SERVICE MUSIC Love Divine, All Loves Excelling LSB 700

Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love WOV 765



Easter continues as the words of Christ take on new meaning following his resurrection. “I made you friends.” He says the same thing to all his disciples today. We are called to abide in Christ and to bear fruit which befits the Risen Lord. God uses his friends, his sons and daughters, in sharing the fruits of their faith so that the whole world may come to know the miracle of the Cross and empty tomb. We are witnesses of what we have seen, heard, and experienced in Christ.

PRELUDE Create in Me a Heart of Love—Tracey Craig McKibben

Tatsiana Ascheichyk, Piano


Alleluia! The Lord is risen!

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Jesus Christ was the first to conquer death, the

Ruler of all the kings of the earth.

He loves us, and by his blood he has set

us free from our sins.

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace

with boldness, so that we may receive mercy,

and find grace to help in time of trouble.


Most merciful God, we confess that we are dead in trespasses and sins. We have doubted your promises, despaired of your presence, and denied your saving power. In your great mercy deliver us from the death we deserve, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

“Thus it is written that the Messiah had to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins must be proclaimed in his Name.” That word is now proclaimed to you. Your sins are forgiven in the Name

of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We are risen to new life!

In Christ, we are risen indeed!



The grace of our Risen Savior, the love of God, and the communion of the

Holy Spirit be with you all.

               And also with you.

KYRIE (Sung by the Worship Team. Please join in singing the Refrain.)

Refrain:  Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison      

Lord Jesus, you came to gather the nations into the

peace of God’s Kingdom. Refrain

You come in Word and Sacrament to strengthen us

in holiness. Refrain

You will come in glory with salvation for your people.



O God, you have prepared for those who love you joys beyond

understanding. Pour into our hearts such love for you that, loving

you above all things, we may obtain your promises, which exceed all

we can desire; through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives

and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

FIRST LESSON Acts 10:44-48

[While Peter shares the good news of Jesus with a Gentile soldier and his family, the Holy Spirit

comes upon them. Recognizing that the Spirit works inclusively in the lives of both Jews and

Gentiles, Peter commands that these Gentiles also be baptized in the Name of Jesus.]

While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

PSALM 67(Please join Worship Team in singing the Refrain)

            Refrain: Let the people praise you, O God. Let all the people praise you.

May God be gracious to us and bless us

and make his face shine upon us;

may your ways be known on earth,

your salvation among all nations.

May the nations be glad and sing for joy,

for you rule the people justly

and guide the nations of the earth. Refrain

Then the land will yield its harvest,

And God, our God, will bless us.

God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.


SECOND LESSON 1st John 5:1-6

[God’s children believe that Jesus is the Messiah and love God by keeping his commandments.

Thus the world is conquered not through military might but through love and faith.]

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God,

when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is

born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

The word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God!

SPECIAL MUSIC The Church’s One Foundation—Samuel S. Wesley

GOSPEL John 15:9-17

The Holy Gospel according to John, the 15th chapter. Glory to you, O Lord.

[On the night of his arrest, Jesus delivers a final testimony to his disciples to help them in the days ahead. Here, he repeats the most important of all his commands, that they love one another.]Jesus said:]

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one had greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you every-thing that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you.. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

     Praise to you, O Christ.

GRACE CHOIR Lift Up Your Voice—Stan Pethel

HOMILY He Calls Us His FriendsPr. Jim Text: The Gospel Lesson

He Calls Us Friends

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

Dear Friends in Christ:

Today’s Gospel words of grace and hope continue our Lord’s discourse in the Upper Room on the night when Judas betrayed Him and the disciples … who soon deserted Him … were in a high state of fear and confusion.

Note that well. When Jesus was facing the worst, He spoke the best for the twelve whom He gathered for the last Passover meal they would share together. “Nothing focuses the mind like the thought of being executed tomorrow” the saying goes. But look where Jesus’ thoughts are focused.

I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know

what the master is doing; but I have called you my friends because I have

made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You

did not chose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear

fruit, fruit that will last. (vs. 15-16)

Put yourself into that scene in the Upper Room and into the disciples’ shoes. Hearing what Jesus has just said, could you see yourself turning to the other disciples and asking: “Did you just hear what He called us?” Astonished … you ask that question … dumb-struck at the unimaginable honor of Jesus calling you—and those around you—His friends.

That’s the Gospel word for today … the Good News for you and me … “I have called you My friends.”

It seems a bit backwards, doesn’t it? We call Him our Friend … and love to sing “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.” But how can He speak of His disciples … and us … as friends—we who in turn let Him down … forget Him … and turn from Him? There’s a great transformation taking place in the Upper Room. The master/servant role is reversed.

But the problem in hearing what Jesus says is that we all know instinctively that there is a certain pecking order in life and work. Employees don’t go freely into the boss’s office (with coffee mug in hand) to exchange long-range family plans and personal confidences. There’s a line … bosses are bosses and underlings are underlings. That’s the way it is. Jesus knew it … of course … and spoke about it that night: “The servant does not know what the master is doing …” and, He could have added: “and doesn’t care either.”

I have called you my friends …. (v. 15)

Those four little words you are my friends are the key. They speak of a great transformation … a new relationship … which centers around Jesus’ use of the word friend. That friendship is not servitude but a holy mystery in many ways … this friendship draws us to others in love rather than forcing us. The marks of this friendship are trust … freedom … mutual respect … sharing … dependable and enjoyable companionship. Intimate thoughts pass back and forth between friends … confident of acceptance and appreciation. Servants come and servants go … happy to be released from obligation. But friends last. Friends stick by one another. Servants do what’s expected. Friends go the extra mile and do the unexpected. That’s the beauty of friendship … not wanting to be told but doing without being asked … not having to do something but wanting to.

I have called you my friends …. (v. 15)

It’s not by accident that Jesus chose this time … the night of His betrayal … to call His disciples then and now His friends. It is because He laid down His life that we become His friends. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (v. 13).” God sent His Son to put an end to the hate and separation our sins create between us. It’s at great cost that Jesus calls enemies to be His friends. And having done for us what we could never do for ourselves … pay the debt for our sins … the Risen Christ has the authority to call us friends.

He tells us what He is doing … and what He is doing is what He has heard from His Father.

If you keep my commands, you will abide in my love (v. 10).

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear

fruit, fruit that will last (v. 16).

As Jesus calls you His friend, He takes you up into His mission. He calls you and baptizes you into His life … His fellowship … His Church … His tasks. Through you, He extends His friendship to those who perish without it.

And how do we extend that friendship and love to others? Very simply—by being ourselves … being who we are in Christ—using our Spirit given gifts and witness to serve others in His Name and with His love and forgiveness. Being a friend is what’s behind the ministry here at Grace. It is who we are and what we are about as God’s people.

Let me give you an example. A number of years ago, I came to a difficult time in my ministry. In the midst of those bleak days, I found myself on the phone talking with a friend and colleague who heard me out. I don’t remember everything he said, but I do remember the words of Jesus he shared with me: “You did not choose me … I chose you … I have called you My friend.” The only reason I have been able to continue all the years since is because Jesus calls me His friend. I have heard what He called me in His choosing me.

This morning’s sermon began with the greeting: Dear Friends in Christ. I will end it with just one word changed: Dear friends of Christ …

Did you hear what He called you?

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

APOSTOLIC CREED                                

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven

and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life + everlasting. Amen.

Alive in the risen Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, let us pray for the Church, the world, and all those in need.

Loving God, you call your Church to bear fruit. Strengthen the bonds among all Christian churches. Nurture all ministries of pastoral care and leadership. Challenge us to be concerned with the needs of others. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The earth praises you, O God of all creation. The seas roar and the hills sing for joy. Fill the earth with your love so that by their song all creatures of land and sea and sky, burrowing and soaring, may call us to join with them in songs of praise. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Faithful Savior, you conquer the world not with weapons but with undying love. Plant your word of peace and justice in the hearts of nations’ leaders and legislators and give them the wisdom of your Spirit, so that the peoples of the world may live in peace and harmony with one another. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Caring healer, you forget no one. Be present with those who are poor, lowly, outcast, weak, or fearful. Grant your compassion and strength to those who struggle with health concerns especially Charlie and Marguerite (MaryAnn’s father and mother), Rusty (under hospice care), Shari (continued cancer therapy), Todd (Dean & Mary’s son recuperating from open heart surgery), those suffering from COVID-19, together with those we name in our hearts that they may receive hope, healing, and the mercies rendered by us as God’s people as we pray for them. Be close to the hearts of all who are lonely or homebound, especially Sharon, Richard & Doris, Bonnie, Vernia, Elma, and those we name in our hearts that they may be assured of your loving presence in our compassion, prayers, and care for them. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Gracious God, as a mother comforts her child, you comfort us. Bless all mothers and mothering people in our lives who honor you by making your love known to the families in their care. As your children, help us in our life together and invigorate our witness in the midst of the pandemic challenges that we face as a congregation, fill us anew with your Holy Spirit. Guide our Call Committee as they interview the candidates for the pastoral ministry among us. Give us patience that you will in due time provide us with a pastor yet unknown to us but known and loved by you. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

By your Spirit you gather us in love with all the saints who have gone before us with the sign of faith and now see you as you are. With them, may our hearts live forever in your keeping. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In the hope of new life in Christ, we raise our prayers to you, trusting in your never-ending goodness and mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Heavenly Father, we welcome this day of Resurrection with it is opportunity

to bring gifts to a living God. Receive these offerings, we pray, as our joyful celebration of your new life in Jesus your Son. And through the bread and

wine we have presented, share your new life with us. Through the same

Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.


The Lord be with you.

   And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

   We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

   It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, O holy God: You are the Life

and Light of all.

By your powerful word you created all things.

Through the prophets you called your people

to be a light to the nations.

Blessed are you for Jesus, your Son.

He is your Light, shining in our darkness

And revealing to us your mercy and might.


In the night in which he was betrayed,

our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;

broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying:

Take and eat; this is my + body which is given

for you. Do this in remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,

And gave it for all to drink, saying:

This cup is the new covenant in my + blood

shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness

of sin. Do this in remembrance of me.

By your Spirit bless us and this meal, that refreshed with

this heavenly food, we may be light for the world, revealing

The brilliance of your Son.

Amen. Come, Holy Spirit.

Through him all glory and honor are yours, Almighty Father,

with the Holy Spirit, in your holy Church, both now and

forever. Amen.

Lord, remember us in your Kingdom and teach us to pray:


Our Father who art in heaven;

hallowed be Thy Name,

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our trespasses .

as we forgive those

who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil;

For thine is the kingdom

and the power and the glory

forever and ever. Amen.


The peace of the Lord be with you always. And also with you.


            Distribution Music I Am the Bread of Life WOV 702


Lord Jesus Christ, in this meal you have put gladness in our hearts. Satisfy the hunger still around us, and send us as joyful witnesses

of all that you have done for us, so that your love may bring joy to

the hearts of all people. We ask this in your Name. Amen.


SONG Give Thanks LSB 806(Join in singing)

Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One,

Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son.

Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One,

Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son.

And now let the weak say, “I am strong.” Let the poor say, “I am rich,”

Because of what the Lord has done for us.

And now let the weak say, “I am strong.” Let the poor say, “I am rich,”

Because of what the Lord has done for us.

Give thanks, give thanks.


Alleluia! Christ is risen.

             He is risen indeed. Alleluia! in peace. Serve the Lord.

             Thanks be to God!       

+ With Great Boldness … Tell Everyone What He Has Done! +

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