Monday, April 27, 2015

Lectionary Notes for Fifth Sunday in Easter, Year B

Readings for 5th Sunday of Easter, 5/3/15:
Acts 8:26-40, Psalm 22:25-31, 1 John 4:7-21, John 15:1-8

Acts 8:26-40:
  • Rarely mentioned in the gospels, here disciple Philip gets a whole scene, as he explains a text from Isaiah (sheep to the slaughter) to a eunuch. Philip interprets the passage as speaking about Christ, and the scene ends with the eunuch's baptism, and Philip continuing preaching the good news.
  • Philip leads here a mini-Bible study. Do you feel comfortable helping others understand scriptures? Who best helped you understand what you were reading in the Bible? How did they teach you?
  • "how can I, unless someone guides me?" The eunuch has no problem letting someone help him. I have a harder time asking for help, submitting to teaching. I like to think I can do it on my own. When/how can you be open to someone guiding you in your spiritual life?
Psalm 22:25-31:
  • We saw this Psalm in its entirety on Good Friday, and in part with mostly this same selection earlier in Lent. Today, our focus is not the "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" section we usually associate with this Psalm. This section is the conclusion of the Psalm - a much more hopeful section.
  • Dominion belongs to God - not to us. God has (vs. 28) God may have given us a limited sense of dominion over creation - a dominion we've much abused, but really, this power belongs to God and not to us. Nevertheless, the world is quite filled with people and leaders who want to claim dominion.
  • "The poor shall eat and be satisfied." What a day to look forward to. But think also metaphorically - how often do we fill ourselves and our lives with things that don't really satisfy us? Whenever we do, we are outside of God's plans and hopes for us.
  • "deliverance to a people yet unborn" - God's promises are not just for us, but for those yet to come. We can help or hinder God's salvation getting to those yet to come.
1 John 4:7-21:
  • A common wedding text, one that I personally prefer to 1 Corinthians 13. Our love, our basis and example for loving one another is God's love for us. How does God love you? How do you love others? In the same way? Is your love of others like God's love for you?
  • "abide" - this word shows up in the epistle and in the gospel lesson for today. It is from the Greek meno^, which means literally "to stay at home, to stay where one is, to not stir." It has the sense of "lasting" or "remaining." On a day when we also celebrate in the UMC "The Festival of the Christian Home," this is a perfect image. We are 'at home' in God's love, not wanting to stir from that place. And God is at home in us, if we let God.
  • "that we may have boldness" - boldness because we are at home, trusting and resting in God's love. This knowledge gives us confidence, boldness to act.
  • "liars" - John has this strong word for those who claim to love God but hate their neighbors. Illogical, John says, eloquently.
  • "perfect love casts out fear." Nice. Perfect love.
John 15:1-8:
  • I love this text, and always think of the sermon Bishop Janice Riggle Huie gave on this text at General Conference in 2000. I highly recommend reading it ("Hanging on for Dear Life." She said, in warning, that branches don't cut off other branches. Excellent.
  • Again, abide - at home in God. (see notes above on meaning of 'abide.')
  • Pruning and cutting down are different processes. We all need to be pruned. But in fear of being cut out altogether I think we resist God's pruning of us. But pruning produces even better fruit. How have you let God, or refused/resisted God's pruning of you?
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