Dear Partners in Ministry:
Alleluia! Christ is risen! Risen indeed!
As we continue to celebrate the fifty days of Easter, today’s gospel includes Jesus’ promise that he goes to prepare a place for his followers in his Father’s house. Our Baptism commissions us to share Jesus’ mission in the world. As First Peter reminds us, we are a holy people, called to proclaim the One who called us out of darkness into light. In words and deeds we bear witness to the Risen Christ—our way, our truth, our life.
During these days of separation, know that you are remembered in my thoughts and prayers.
Continued Easter blessings, peace, and joy be with you all.
+ Pr. Jim
Alleluia! Christ is risen! Risen indeed! Alleluia!
+ THE FIFTH SUNDAY of EASTER +
10 May 2020
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
We are risen to a new life!
In Christ, we are risen indeed!
We were baptized in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
In whose Name we worship. Amen.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
PRAYER of THE DAY
Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Give us grace to love one another, to follow in the way of his commandments, and to share his risen life with all the world, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Acts 7:55-60
[Stephen was one of the seven men chosen by the apostles to serve tables so that the apostles
could be free to serve the word (Acts 6:1-6), Stephen does more than distribute food, however. For
his preaching of God’s word, he becomes the first martyr of the faith.]
Filled with the Holy Spirit, [Stephen] gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” When he had said this, he died.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
SECOND LESSON 1 Peter 2:2-10
[Christ is the cornerstone of God’s saving work and the foundation of our lives. We are God’s chosen, holy people who continuously celebrate and declare the mercy of God we experience through Jesus Christ.]
Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones,
let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and who ever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
To you then he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and
“A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the word as they were destined to do. But you are chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
HOLY GOSPEL John 14:1-14
[On the night that he was to be arrested, Jesus shares final words with his disciples. As the one through whom God is known, he promises to go before them and act on their behalf.]
[Jesus said:] “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “
Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen
me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not
speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe
me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will
do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
The gospel of our Lord. Praise to You, O Christ!
HOMILY Living Stones Text: The Second Lesson Pr. Jim
The situation in which we find ourselves during these days of COVID-19 sheltering-in-place and social distancing seems to fly-in-the-face of all we know about life … both from our faith … our life experiences … and our instincts. We were not created to live in isolation. Neither were we programmed for moments of fleeting casual contact. To be honest, life with others may be a pain at times … but life that is fragmentary and unconnected is sooner or later less than life.
Today’s text, from the First Letter of Peter to The Early Church, speaks of people of faith becoming “like living stones, built into a spiritual house … God’s own people, called to proclaim his mighty deeds….” Peter’s words move us from isolation toward Christ and the community created by His Spirit. We speak of them each time we confess our faith in the words of The Apostolic or Nicene Creed. Luther’s explanation to the Third Article stresses the calling and gathering work of the Holy Spirit … to belong to Christ is to belong to His people gathered in his Name.
The words of today’s Second Lesson have an urgent relevance for us as God’s people during these days. They teach us anew that The Church is to be the real answer to the fragmentation … loneliness and individualism of our time … whether sheltering in place or returning to a more normal way of living. God sets the solitary in families, writes the author of Psalm 8 (Ps. 8:6). By faith, you and I have been called by the Spirit to be part of a spiritual household. By faith, we are people gathered around Word and Sacrament—gathered and bound together in community in shared vision, tasks, and purpose … a people with a common mission under the one Savior Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for us.
“Come to him,” Peter writes. That word Him can never be minimized. The Church is Christ’s Church. Our belonging to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ rests upon our common commitment to Him. Christ began it all. Without Him we wouldn’t be part of the family of God. Our commitment to Him is the work of His Spirit, bringing the word of the Cross to life in us … freeing us from the isolation and fragmentation that sin imposes. In Christ, God claims us as a chosen race … a royal priesthood … a holy nation … through our baptismal calling.
“Come to him as living stones.” That image of living stones suggests strength … durability … pillar-like lives that bear up under a lot and are built into a spiritual house … stone upon stone with our Lord as the chief cornerstone … so that we might serve. That’s an important thing to underscore on this Fifth Sunday of Easter lest we become parochial and insular … focused only on our own needs … purposes … agendas and programs. To be living stones means to be formed not by our own hand but by our Lord’s hand. And we need constantly to be encouraged by what The Church can be and do in this world as living stones … people built together for witness and service.
Yet it is in the concreteness of this congregation’s life that we experience our place in it. It is in the names and faces of those around you that The Church is made real. It is in the labors of men and women and children who pray … teach … train … work … and share together that we know and see The Church at its best … and its least. Here is where we share life with one another as ordinary frail and fallible people … people who none the less are the children of God …both small and tall … well-off or less so … male and female … newborn and aged—all loved by God in Christ our Risen and victorious Lord.
So here we are on this Fifth Sunday of Easter. Take a good look at today’s Zoom Service display of faces … the faces of ordinary folks who find ourselves amazed to receive all the great titles of God’s people of old: a chosen race … a royal priesthood … a holy nation … God’s own people [gathered by the Spirit] in order to proclaim the deeds of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light….” Following our Risen Servant Lord, we walk the way of servanthood—ready to live out our faith in the routines of daily life … ready to speak a word of faith … forgiveness and hope … where we can. Ready to wash the feet of the world when and wherever we’re able to. Together in Christ, we journey along … with our committees and classes … our Bible study groups … our volunteers reading and greeting, ushering and assisting … our borning and baptizing … our marrying and burying … our children running and our grown-ups rummaging … our calling on friends in need … our occasional card or phone conversations to a friend or fellow parish member … (above all) helping and encouraging one another to grow into the fuller stature of Christ and joining in His work as servants of the world and seeking the lost … those not here yet.
Thanks be to God for The Church … for this community of faith … for the fellowship we enjoy here in God’s presence … for mission and ministry set before us. Thanks be to Him for this time and place in our journey of faith and service in his Name.
PRAYERS of THE CHURCH
Rejoicing in the resurrection, let us remember in prayer The Church, the world, and all those who are in need.
God of our salvation: you have made us your living stones in the waters of baptism. We pray for the Church and its bishops, pastors, teachers, and missionaries around the world. As we return to the call process, guide us by your Spirit to identify the one whom you have named in your heart to lead us as your undershepherd. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God our home: your Spirit dwells with creation. We pray for the earth; for clean water and air; for the earth’s abundance; for the lands all creatures inhabit. Fill us with awe and respect for the world you have made that our care for it may bless the generations yet to come. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God our way: we pray nations and leaders; for courts and legislatures; for strife-torn communities; for our enemies. Inspire all to walk in your ways so that people everywhere may have the opportunity to live in peace and harmony with one another. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of healing and rest: we pray for those who are ill, for those hospitalized with COVID-19, that through our love and prayers for them they may be assured of your presence. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of welcome: you are with this family of faith as we worship in different times and ways during these days of social distancing and sheltering-in-place. Bless all those who draw near to this community through the varied media efforts of our parish ministry and outreach during this time of shelter-in-place. May all who hear the good news of your Son be drawn into a closer relationship with you. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of nurture: bless the on-going work of our campus outreach to the students at SOU. Bless them as they continue their studies in the midst of the challenges of on-line learning, whether they are on campus or have returned to their homes. Walk with those students who worship with us as we share your grace and mercy and support one another in our mutual witness of all that you have done. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer
God of loving care: we give thanks for all who have shown mothering care. May they be held in honor by all of us this day; and may we find blessings in their loving care and service. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer
God of life: you called into your light all those who have gone before us with the sign of faith and now rest in your arms. We thank you for their faithfulness. Following their example, lead us also in Christ’s way and truth until we dwell with them in your house forever. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Receive our prayers and hopes, merciful God, and dwell in us richly, through Jesus Christ, our risen Savior, who has taught us to pray …. Our Father … Amen.
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you + peace. Amen.