This Sunday’s readings are:
Acts 1: (1-5) 6-14 – The day of Ascension is this Thursday, May 29. According to Luke, the writer of Acts, Jesus was with the disciples on and off for 40 days from the day of his resurrection (Acts 1:3). During this time he tell them not to leave Jerusalem (which is quite different from Matthew 28:10-11 and John 21:1 (Sea of Tiberias = Sea of Galilee, which is only a lake)). On the 40th day, while with the disciples, Jesus was “lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight.” They must have just stood there for some time with their heads tilted upward and the jaw agog for two men showed up and asked them why they were staring upward. Returning to Jerusalem they, the remaining eleven, then chose Matthias to replace Judas (verses 15-26).
Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35 – Praise be to God who saves Israel; who protects the orphans and lead out the prisoners; who gives rain to the land. Sing to God who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11 – Peter continues to counsel his churches who are suffering “fiery ordeals”, probably some outside persecution. Is it possible to rejoice in our suffering? Is it good to be ridiculed because of Christ? Does it make any difference to know that other Christians are suffering at the same time we are suffering? Peter ends with hope and promise for those who suffer for God, he writes, will “restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.
John 17:1-11 – All of John 17 is Jesus’ prayer for his disciples. It is generally agreed that there are three sections: for himself in his immediate circumstance, his current disciples, and the disciples and followers of the future (the church). Each year in the Lectionary cycle the seventh Sunday of Easter is focused on one or more of those sections. This year, year A in the cycle, his prayer is for himself (1-5) and the first part of his prayer for the disciples (6-11). The overall theme of the prayer is faithfulness to God’s ways so that God’s glory will be revealed and unity in the midst of division. For the first thousand years of the church there was an uneasy unity with the power of the church located in Rome and Constantinople (Istanbul). The first schism (split) was about 1050 between east and west. The next schism was in the sixteenth century with Martin Luther, John Calvin, King Henry VIII, and the Anabaptists (we label it the Reformation). There are now several thousand denominations and splinter groups under the umbrella title of “Protestant”. Disunity seems to be our way of life. Oh how we grieve the heart of God. Please pray for the United Methodist Church as there are now people and groups who are calling for a separating over the issue of full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church. I believe we can find a middle way (Via Media) an stay unified.
May the Lord Bless You this week. Serve God by serving your neighbor.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor