The Sixth Sunday of Easter; Year C (5/5/2013)

Lessons:
Acts 16:9-15
Psalm 67 (4)
Revelation 21:10, 22–22:5
St. John 14:23-29 or St. John 5:1-9

Prayer of the Day:
Bountiful God, you gather your people into your realm, and you promise us food from your tree of life.  Nourish us with your word, that empowered by your Spirit we may love one another and the world you have made, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

[14:22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?”]
23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.”


St. John 14:[22] 23-29New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

May the Peace of the Lord Be with You

May the peace of the Lord be with you;
With your friends and your family too.
Let it be, let it grow, and everywhere you go,
May the peace of the Lord follow you.

[“The Peace of the Lord” – by Gary Ault ]

Our Catechism students know the words of this song by heart. As each Sunday Evening Workshop comes to a close we join hands, sing this song of blessing, and then invite our adult leaders to individually bless every student, marking the sign of the cross on their foreheads and reminding them both of God’s powerful love for them, and of how much we care about them. In a world that seems to visit one curse after another on these young members of our community, this is our regular attempt to bless them with the power and presence of God.

These words come from this week’s Gospel lesson. Set by St. John at Jesus’ last supper, they make up a portion of his farewell discourse; a nearly five-chapter-long section of teaching, in which Jesus makes one final effort at preparing his followers to continue on in his absence. They can’t know, obviously, what awaits them in the days and months to come. But Jesus knows, and he realizes they will need more than their own personal strength to get them through.

So he gives them a gift. It is the gift of God’s peace. It is the gift of his continued presence in their midst. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit, which will instruct them in the faith, remind them of everything Jesus taught them, and empower their witness. Strengthened by this gift, these timid and fearful disciples are transformed into bold and courageous witnesses to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Jesus offers this gift to his disciples, and he offers it to us as well. God has called us to be witnesses throughout the world, God has promised to be our strength. The testimony that our words and actions make will not be dependent on our ability to get it just right, but instead, on God’s ability to put our efforts at faithfulness to use. Thus, we can be at peace, even as we consider the risks of discipleship.

At Saint Peter, this coming Sunday is “Bring a Friend Sunday.” There are some among us who are relatively at ease inviting others to join them for worship; others, not so much. But as we consider sharing our church, and our faith, with friends and acquaintances who may not have one of their own, this weekend’s Gospel lesson is a word of hope to us. God can use even our most flawed efforts to extend the reach of the kingdom. We have peace, when we remember that it all depends on God.

There are times when it can be challenging — even threatening — to take the risk and share our faith with others. But in this weekend’s Gospel, Jesus promises to be our strength; to be our hope; to be our peace. Let us take him at his word, and not shy from sharing our faith with others. No matter what opposition the world makes, we have the love and support of our Lord. Thanks be to God!

Amen.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What would cause the disciples to be afraid, in the days following Jesus’ death and resurrection?
  2. How did this promise of God’s peace make a difference for them?
  3. What signs do we see of the peace of God in their faithfulness?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What causes me to be anxious, or afraid, about practicing my faith?
  2. Is Jesus’ promise to be with me a source of strength and hope?
  3. What does God call me to accomplish, that I couldn’t accomplish on my own?