Grace and Peace to you in Jesus Christ,
First, GEUMC’ers, our semi-annual ditch clean out is happening on Thursday, May 2, at 9:00 AM. We will meet at the parking lot next to the post office where we will get our vests and bags. The more people that can help the quicker the work will get done.
Second, PUC’ers, we too need to clean our ditches on Highway 71. We didn’t have a successful clean up in 2012 and a lot of garbage has accumulated so I am praying for success this year. With that in mind, I am scheduling Wednesday, May 22 at 6:00 PM as our Ditch Cleaning Day. If you can be there please reply and let me know. Again, the more people that can help, the quicker the work will get done.
This coming Sunday is Communion at both churches and is a good time to invite someone (a former church attendee, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, etc.) to join you in worship.
Our readings this week are:
Acts 16:9-15 – After a week with Peter we now turn our attention to Paul. Paul and his troupe is in Asia (modern day Turkey) and they have tried to go to Bithynia but were stopped by the Holy Spirit (no explanation is given). While in Troas Paul has a vision of a man asking him to go to Macedonia (northern Greece) so they go across to Philippi. In verse 11 the third person narration turns to first person. Was the writer, Luke, part of Paul’s troupe? On the Sabbath, they go “down to the river to pray” and they meet and witness to a woman named Lydia. She believes and her entire household is baptized. This is really an amazing story. In those days, the faith of the male head of household determined the faith of all in the household. (See Acts 10 and the Centurion Cornelius). For a woman to lead her family in faith is truly the work of God’s Spirit and show us how God works to change our perceptions of what is acceptable. Does the Spirit ever stop you from doing something and nudge you to do something else?
Psalm 67 – The psalmist calls upon God’s blessing for all and calls on all peoples and nations to praise God for all that God has done.
Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5 – John the Seer is taken to a high mountain to look upon the New Jerusalem that has come to earth. Verses 11-21 are John’s description of the city with its size, shape, and construction materials. There are two things that John does not see: a temple (verse 21:22) and a sun (verses 21:23 and 22:5). God is the temple and God is the Light with the Lamb as the lamp to spread the Light. The gates of the city will never be shut and people will bring the honor and glory of the nations into the city. John also says that nothing unclean will enter the city, only those written in the book of life. However, since the books were opened in chapter 20 and all were judged by their works (note: not faith) and since God made all thing new earlier in chapter 21, there should not be anyone or anything unclean remaining. The verses in chapter 22 describe the river of the water of life and the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24) whose leaves heal the nations and John states that nothing accursed will ever be found in this new life. What do you think John’s vision might have meant to people who were suffering persecution?
John 14:23-29 – This is a small excerpt from Jesus’ long discourse with his disciples which starts at 14:1 and goes to 16:33. Our verses pick up on the theme of the new commandment Jesus gave at 13:34-35 in last week’s Gospel. When we love Jesus we will keep his word and God’s love will be in us. Verse 24 is a little head scratcher: if we do not love Jesus we will not keep his words but the word we hear is from God. Huh? Jesus also says he will send the Advocate (Helper or Counselor), the Holy Spirit. The word “Advocate” (Paraklete in Greek) implies a lawyer for the defense. This is appropriate since the word “Satan” (hasatan in Hebrew) means accuser. This Advocate will teach us new things and remind us of Jesus’ teaching. The Holy Spirit is God’s defender against the accuser of this world. The final promise Jesus gives in this passage is the promise of Peace. This Peace is not the peace that comes at the end of a gun and threatens extreme violence but a Peace arising from love, grace and forgiveness. A Peace that absorbs the violence of the world and returns only love. How has God’s Peace filled your life? How has the Advocate taught you and defended you?
OR John 5:1-9 – I am not sure why the lectionary offers this alternate reading. In this short episode, Jesus heals a crippled man who had lived (or been brought there everyday by family) at the pool called “Bethzatha” (or Bethesda or Bethsaida). This healing happens on the Sabbath.
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us. May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him!” (Psalm 67:1, 7)
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor