Sunday, April 21, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C

Readings for 5th Sunday of Easter, 4/28/13:
Acts 11:1-18, Psalm 148, Revelation 21:1-6, John 13:31-35

Acts 11:1-18:
  • As a long-time vegetarian, this is one of those passages I often has quoted at me as reason why it's ok, Bible-approved to eat meat. Makes me laugh in frustration. We read, "What God has made clean, you must not call profane." Indeed, I agree with that - but what humans have made unclean? Those things God asks us to be careful in how we use.
  • But basically, I like this passage. It's about Peter getting over himself. For as much as I like to rag on Paul for his constant boasting, I love him for his vision that the Jesus message wasn't just for Jews, but for all. Peter's vision is always limited - he always seems to need to confine the mission, have rules, tests, for who hears it. But here, he gets it: "who was I that I could hinder God?"
  • Hear Peter's epiphany: He comes across believers who share in the baptism of the Holy Spirit with him. His conclusion: "If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?" I pray that we do not continue to attempt to hinder God and God's call on our people. Where do we do this within the church and world? 
Psalm 148:
  • I like Psalms that are simple and clear in their focus: Praise God, everything and everyone. It is a reminder to me, to us, in our worship preparations, to remember what is our focus: Praise God, everything and everyone. Sometimes we try so hard for something fantastic that we lose focus on why we put together such wonderful music, beautiful liturgies, and carefully crafted sermons. Praise God!
  • Psalms like this that include things like: sun, moon, starts, mountains, fire, hair, hills, trees, cattle, birds, young, old, men, women, rules, snow, and wind, all in one litany remind us of our relationship with ALL creation. A little stewardship of the earth, please? If the psalm says all creation praises God, we do a good job of putting a stop to the praise when we destroy the creation...
Revelation 21:1-6
  • "See, the home of God is among mortals." Revelation is certainly an interesting book of the Bible, and I never know quite how to take it. But this right here - this is one of my favorite verses. After all, it is the good news that Jesus was trying to communicate, is it not? Jesus' gospel was this: "The kingdom of God is at hand." God's reign is here. Right. Now. So John of Patmos says it well - the home of God is with the people. That is good news.
  • This passage is often used at funerals. It's funny these words of comfort come from a book that causes fear and anxiety in so many readers when they hear the 'prophecies' of the 'end times' that they discern in earlier chapters. But I think this passage really is core to the whole book - God with the people. Death and mourning and tears done. Alpha, and Omega, Beginning and End.
John 13:31-35:
  • Glory, glory, glory. From the Greek root dokeo^, meaning extol, splendor, magnify, and the like.
  • "Where I am going, you cannot come." The Ascension, impending. But interesting words. Where can we go that Jesus goes? He wants us to follow him in most of the places he goes. Can we? Should we? Will we?
  • New commandment: Love one another. That's how people will know you are followers of Jesus. One of my favorite 'camp' songs was always "And They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love", from this text. I'm afraid that my life doesn't always confirm that. I think about ends and means. The end: our Christian identity is visible. The means: love. In this case, Jesus suggests we can't get the end we desire, to be known as disciples, except by the means of loving as he has loved. And how has he loved? That's an easy one!
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