THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
One of the gifts we annually to my mother at Christmas was the “Fruit of the Month” club. It was not just a gift to be received and remembered once a year at Christmas. She was reminded 12 times a year that she was loved. She would share the fruit with the ladies in her apartment building. She would also call when that month’s fruit arrived to say ‘thank you’ and that would lead to a larger conversation and visit.
In this week’s texts we hear the theme of recent weeks repeating: the fruit of God’s Spirit is larger, not confined to one place, time, nor group.
Paul is led to cross a vast body of water to share such Good News. There in that ‘foreign’ place people receive and care for him.
In the Gospel we hear that while God’s presence is seen most profoundly in Jesus, God is not confined only to Jesus. Even after Jesus returns to the Father, God’s presence will remain in the world through the coming of the Holy Spirit. John refers to that Spirit as the Advocate, one who speaks and acts on behalf of another.
Not just at Christmas nor just at Easter, but every month, every day God gifts us with the present of God’s presence. God advocates for us to love one another as God has loved us. Enjoy such fruit!
Prayers and best wishes to the Class of 2019 as they graduate May 28 from Cornell University.
Our one worship service on May 28 is at 5:00 pm, a spoken order of Holy Communion.
Bountiful God, you gather your people into your realm, and you promise us food from your tree of life. Nourish us with your word, that empowered by your Spirit we may love one another and the world you have made, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
SERMON: “ Fruit of the Month ”
On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
11We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, 12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. 13On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. 14A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home." And she prevailed upon us.
22:1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
2 Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.[c] 5 One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath.
9:30 Services Begin
In your life, when have you been less free because of money, time, duty, responsibilities or even marketplace constraints?
In the first lesson appointed for this Sunday, we meet a gifted young woman who is a slave. That is hard to hear. Her owners benefit from her gifts. She discerns and speaks the truth to people so that they may more freely live into the future, yet she herself is not free.
Paul takes action to free her in the name of Jesus. Good, we may say. But there are consequences, as usually follow such liberation. The owner, who feel the loss of the benefits they are deriving inhumanely from another, bring the liberator before the authorities. The entitled owners are angry at the loss of their privilege which enables them to exploit another human. They try successfully to stir up the authorities and the crowd to get a judgment against these ‘outsiders’, who are beaten and thrown in prison themselves. But they are freed also. God seems to be on the side of freedom.
In the Gospel Jesus prays that all may be one, not divided against one another. Not slave and owner. Not accounted by race nor height nor color of hair nor intelligence nor wealth. Jesus prays that all may be one.
The church calendar brings us to this last Sunday of the Easter season. The Good News of new life will extend into the future, even if we, unlike that slave girl, cannot see it clearly. Yet, by God’s grace and love through the Cross and Resurrection, not just 2000 years ago, but today in our lives, we are gifted to be free from the slavery of sin and free for serving our neighbors. Admittedly, while that is a truth of faith, it is also a human work in progress.
Our summer worship schedule begins June 2 with one worship service at 9:30 am each Sunday.
O God, form the minds of your faithful people into your one will. Make us love what you command and desire what you promise, that amid all the changes of this world, our hearts may be fixed where true joy is found, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
SERMON: “The Whole Family”
[Jesus prayed:] 20"I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one.
25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted in a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." 29The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them outside and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31They answered, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." 32They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
The ascended Christ, hidden from our sight, promises to come again. We eagerly pray "Come, Lord Jesus" with all who respond to this invitation.
25"Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Is being together good or not?
A Lutheran perspective may say, “it depends
A Lutheran perspective may ask, “Why are people together?” or “what are they together for?”, as well as “how are they conducting themselves while they are together?”. Both motivation and behavior come under scrutiny in a Lutheran understanding of faith.
We acknowledge that people being together is not always good. Both motive and conduct are held up to the light.
History is filled with bad things that have happened when people got together to support each other in a screwy plan. Then they aided each other in putting the plan into effect.
Peer pressure can lead people in dark directions.
The first lesson reminds us that God scattered people who came together to lift up themselves to be equal to God. We still have people who build their own city towers so they can tower over others and be seen as God-like by others. Not a good motive for coming together.
The Acts lesson notes just the reverse. Diverse people are brought together as part of God’s purpose that all may see the previously ‘other’ as part of the one. So that God’s love and grace, peace and justice, care and tending may be shared with all.
That is the real and present miracle of this day. Not the wind and fire of old. But God brings us together today so that our life-together may be in service to the world God so loves.
Our thoughts, prayers, and best wishes are for those who receive the Rite of Affirmation/Confirmation of their baptism during the service on June 9: Paula Carrillo, Erin Dobson, Emma Dodici, Dessi Furber, and Julia Wigh
God our creator, the resurrection of your Son offers life to all the peoples of earth. By your Holy Spirit, kindle in us the fire of your love, empowering our lives for service and our tongues for praise, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
SERMON: “What Kind of Together?”
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." 5The LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. 6And the LORD said, "Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another's speech." 8So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' "
25["I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."]