Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A

Readings for 5th Sunday of Easter, 5/18/14:
Acts 7:55-60, Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16, 1 Peter 2:2-10, John 14:1-14

Acts 7:55-60:
  • The martyrdom of Stephen - for what would you be willing to be put to death? Some kinds of martyrdom miss the mark, I think. Sometimes our lives are gifts not to be given in this way. But still, most of us, I think, would not be easily moved, even by our faith, to give our lives. Perhaps for our loved ones - that seems the most likely to inspire giving our own lives. The "greater love" of which Jesus speaks.
  • "they covered their ears" - do you sometimes cover your ears, literally or figuratively, to God's voice? God's messengers?
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16:
  • Rescue, refuge, fortress, save, rock, strong. This is a plea for God's protection.
  • Make sure to read the un-included verses of this Psalm, at least for yourself.
  • "My times are in your hand." Giving God our times. That simply, that completely.
  • "Let your face shine upon your servant." What does it feel like to have God's face shining on you? As a write, it is a gorgeous sunny day, where my cats are luxuriating in the sun coming through the windows. God's face shining on us must be something like that!
1 Peter 2:2-10:
  • "like newborn infants . . . so that you may grow into salvation." That's almost Wesleyan in sentiment, isn't it? We grow into salvation - a process, not a single one-time event.
  • "if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good." (see Psalm 34)
  • The author also references Psalm 118 - the "chief cornerstone" passage.
  • "once you were not a people, but now you are God's people." This is part of the Great Thanksgiving liturgy in the UMC Book of Worship for the Season of Easter, and it always grabs my attention. Our identity is as God's people. We share in the "chosen" identity that had shaped the people of the Jewish faith. We are chosen by God.
John 14:1-14:
  • "I am the way, the truth, and the life." This is one of those statements of Jesus that always makes me tense, because so often this verse is used to exclude others, to show that since Jesus is "the way" that there must be no other way to God. People argue that if there was more than one way, Jesus would have said, "I am a way." Personally, I think that's putting too much emphasis on the definite or indefinite articles from Jesus' Aramaic to Greek to English. But think of it this way, maybe: Jesus is more concerned about saying who he is than who others are not.
  • This passage is one, in parts, that I frequently use at funerals, guided by the Book of Worship. It seems to give comfort, knowing that we're expected. Like the calm of knowing you already have reservations made at a hotel, only better.
  • "Show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." "Have I been with you all this time, and you still do not know me?" I like this exchange between Philip (a highly under-played apostle) and Jesus. "We will be satisfied." What would it take from God for you to be satisfied? It seems we humans always need one more proof, one more sign, one more prayer answered as we want it answered. Jesus says, "don't you get it? I'm all you need to be satisfied." Do we get it?
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