Cherished in the name

28 May 2017
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Easter 7A (RCL)
Acts 1:6-14
Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36
1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11
John 12:1-11

On this Sunday, after the Feast of the Ascension, the readings turn our attention toward Jesus’ continuing presence with the Church, and toward the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. The first letter of Peter mentions the spirit which rests on us when we are reviled for the name of Jesus. The passage from John’s Gospel speaks of Jesus’ glorification in the presence of the Father with the glory he had before the creation of the world. In Jesus’ glorification, we too are glorified, if we treasure the word Jesus has given us. God will cherish us (treasure us) in the divine name God has given to Jesus. Continue reading “Cherished in the name”

The spirit of truth

21 May 2017
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Easter 6A (RCL)
Acts 17:22-31
Psalm 66:7-18
1 Peter 3:13-22
John 14:15-21

An odd theme runs through all three readings (and even the psalm). Each of them uses the setting of a trial to advance its point: Paul is brought to the Areopagus, for a trial much like Socrates’; 1 Peter exhorts us always to be ready to give a defense of the hope that is in us; and in John, Jesus promises us another Advocate (defense attorney), the spirit of truth. I suppose if we are not living our Christianity in a way that brings us at least into implicit conflict with the values of the surrounding culture, we’re not doing it right. Continue reading “The spirit of truth”

The glory of God

14 May 2017
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Easter 5A (RCL)
Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31 1-5, 15-16
1 Peter 2:2-10
John 14:1-14

We get a very short snippet of a reading from the Book of Acts, relating the stoning of Stephen. It comes at the end of a sermon by him, in which he indicts the people of constantly having mistreated those whom God has sent to lead them, including this Jesus. On trial, Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit gazes into have and sees the Glory of God with Jesus standing at the right hand of the glory. This is reminiscent of Daniel’s vision of the Ancient of Days, and one like a son of man. It is also one of the passages in the NT that can be read in support of a Trinitarian theology. Luke makes many connections between this event and Jesus’ own crucifixion — the trial, Stephen’s prayer of forgiveness and even people taking off their coats and throwing them on the ground (cf. the triumphal entry). Stephen’s death is, in its own way, redemptive — by not holding the sin of mistreating those God sends against his own persecutors. Continue reading “The glory of God”

Life abundant

7 May 2017
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Easter 4A (RCL)
Acts 2:42-47
Psalm 23
1 Peter 2:19-25
John 10:1-10

Every preacher on these texts will have to deal with the skin crawling opening of the lection from 1 Peter. It’s even worse if you read the sentence that comes before the opening, which speaks of servants being obedient to masters, not only when they are kind and good, but also when they are unjust. We are likely to hear that as instruction not to agitate against injustice. I imagine, though, that the author of this baptism sermon was fully aware that some of his hearers lived in situations they had no hope of changing. In that case, these are instructions for non-violence, being fully conscious of God’s judgment on the situation. It would be some comfort to know that Jesus, even in the midst of his capital trial entrusted himself to the one true judge who judges righteously. At any event it is always helpful to be reminded not to return insult for insult, and to have good theological reason for that. Continue reading “Life abundant”