This Sunday is the Sixth Sunday of Easter and we continue with our readings in Acts, Revelation, and the Gospel of John. At this point in time I believe I will be preaching on the Revelation text.
Our readings include:
Acts 16:9-15 – In the three preceding verses we read that Paul and his companions were “forbidden” by the Holy Spirit to go to any of the cities in Asia Minor (Turkey). What would it feel like to think you need to do something and then feel like God was forbidding you? In verse 9, Paul has a vision in the night of a man urging him to go to Macedonia for which he immediately sets out to do. (Of note here, the voice changes from third person “he, she, they” to first person plural “we, us”.) They eventually get to the city of Philippi and on the Sabbath they go to the gate of the city by the river where they talk to the women gathered there. One of the women, Lydia, heard their good news and was baptized by Paul along with her entire household. Has God ever prevented you from doing something so that God’s work could be done in another way, or place, or with someone else?
Psalm 67 – A Psalm of Praise to God for all God’s blessings. This psalm urges all peoples and nations to praise God singing for joy and gladness. As God continues to bless us, do we give our praise and revere God.
Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5 – This reading should begin at verse 9 where an angel offers to show John the Bride of the Lamb. The angel takes John to a high mountain and shows him a city. The verses between 10 and 22 are a physical description of that city: length, width, height, jewels used in the architecture, and the number of gates. Beginning at 21:22, John describes the other aspects of the city: no temple for the temple is the Lord; no sun or moon for the Light of the Lord shines forever; the gates are never closed so all the peoples and nations may walk into it; the River of Life that runs through it with the Tree of Life and its twelve fruits; and, finally, the Throne of God and the Lamb will be there. This is a glorious vision of what life may be like when God’s Creation is set right. It is also the hope for which all Christians should be working for here on earth. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.
John 14:23-29 – Jesus’ final discourse in the Gospel of John starts in chapter 13 and goes through chapter 16 (though there seems to be a conclusion at the end of chapter 14. In verse 23, Jesus is responding to a question from Judas (not the betrayer who has already left the scene), “How will you reveal yourself to us and not the world?” Jesus’ answer doesn’t seem to answer the question because Jesus talks about those who love him will keep his commands and the Father will come to them to make their home with them. Jesus then goes on to say that the Holy Spirit (literally the “Advocate”) will come and teach the disciples everything. Jesus promises to leave them his Peace which is not the same thing as the world’s peace (which always comes with the sword and the threat of violence). What does it mean that the Holy Spirit will teach us (the disciples) everything? What does it mean to live with and in the Peace of Christ? Was the teaching of the Holy Spirit closed out when the Bible was completed (or canonized)? Is the Peace of Christ negated when we use force or the threat of force to keep some semblance of peace?
OR John 5:1-9 – Jesus heals a man who had been crippled for 38 years. It was on the Sabbath. Uh-oh! He broke the rules! Is it OK to break the rules if it means life for another?
Have a great week serving God by serving your neighbors.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor