The Sixth Sunday of Easter: Year A

The Spirit of Truth

  • Acts of the Apostles 17:22-31
  • Psalm 66:7-18
  • 1 Peter 3:13-22
  • John 14:15-21

Jesus does not leave his followers orphaned. Through the Holy Spirit Jesus comes to abide with his disciples of every generation. As Pentecost draws near, we are reminded that the risen Christ dwells in each of us as the Spirit of truth. We receive this Spirit in baptism and prayer that in our gathering at the Eucharistic table the Spirit will transform us to be the body of the risen Christ in the world. Continue reading

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The Fifth Sunday of Easter: Year A

The way, the truth, the life

  • Acts 7:55-60
  • Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
  • 1 Peter 2:2-10
  • John 14:1-14

In today’s Gospel, Jesus promises his eternal presence will be with them. However, “to believe” (v. 1) involves committing the whole self to the care of God. If Jesus goes to prepare a dwelling place for them “in my Father’s house” (v. 2), there will be room for all of them.

Just where are we headed? It is the prayer of a faithful Christian trying to make sense of things. Do we let Christ guide us through life and point us to the ultimate victory that is ours in eternity? God has a place for us. These words have often been of great comfort when read during the Burial Service, it being one of the choices for the gospel reading. One day we will be securely at home with God for all time. But here is even more joyful news: not only will we be in that home then, we are invited to live in that home now. Continue reading

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The Fourth Sunday of Easter: Year A

Living in Community

  • Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47
  • Psalm 23
  • 1 Peter 2:19-25
  • John 10:1-10

Today is sometimes called “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Jesus, teaching through a parable, describes himself as a shepherd who cares for his sheep, whose sheep follow him because they know his voice. He describes himself as the door of the sheepfold; those who enter through him shall be safe. He has come that people may have life in all its fullness.

The community of Acts shows the fruit of a communal devotion to Jesus. The community devotes attention to the means through which its identity is formed and held: teaching, fellowship (koinonia), eating together and prayer. The portrait in Acts of the community of faith is, in many respects, idyllic. But it is not an improbably reality. We cannot fathom the promise of life abundant. We must simply hear it over and over and live together inside it as best we can. Continue reading

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The Third Sunday of Easter: Year A

Sacramental life

  • Acts of the Apostles 2:14a, 36-41
  • Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17
  • 1 Peter 1:17-23
  • Luke 24:13-25

The risen Christ is known in the sharing of the word and in the breaking of bread. This is the form of the Eucharist we celebrate each week: The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table.  As with the disciples, each Sunday our hearts burn within us as the scriptures are proclaimed and Christ appears to us as bread broken and wine is poured. The story of Emmaus becomes the pattern of our worship each Sunday!

What are the movements and postures we hold when we are listening to the Word, or receiving the bread and wine? Usually, we sit during the readings. And for many, prayer is done in a kneeling position. If this is your practice and piety, try standing while receiving communion during the Easter season. It was the practice of the early Church to stand during all the prayers as well as receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a small way to proclaim that Christ’s resurrection has restored and lifted humanity to new life. Continue reading

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The Second Sunday of Easter: Year A

Knowing the Risen Christ through faith

  • Acts of the Apostles 2:14a, 22-32
  • Psalm 16
  • 1 Peter 1:3-9
  • John 20:19-31

We may not see the risen Christ but we will know the risen Christ as we gather in faith-filled community on the eighth day.” Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe. (John 20:29b)

Many call this day “Doubting Thomas” Sunday. Since Thomas was absent during Jesus’ appearance to his disciples after the resurrection, Thomas experienced doubt and was looking for a safe expression for his sorrow. He gives an ultimatum, “Unless . . . , I will not believe.” Often such words becomes the desperate language of our prayers. An ultimatum is the last straw, often before violence, as in a threat – “Do this or else.” Jesus upends Thomas’s “or else” with a great surprise. We see this in the above painting by Caravaggio (1597), as Thomas places his fingers in Jesus’ wounded side. Continue reading

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Easter Day: Year A

The Sunday of the Resurrection

  • Jeremiah 31:1-6 or Acts of the Apostles 10:34-43
  • Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
  • Acts of the Apostles 10:34-43 or Colossians 3:1-4
  • John 20:1-18

Easter Sunday begins the fifty days of the Easter season with the story of the empty tomb and the charge by the messenger to “go and tell!”

Paul Hammer writes, “In a setting that often made women subordinate to men, it is striking that women were the first to tell the story of Jesus’ resurrection. In Matthew’s story Jesus commissioned them to ‘go and tell’ (v. 10). The risen Jesus met these joyous women on their way and greeted them. They took hold of him and worshiped him, the one in whom God was so powerfully at work and who had entrusted them with such a message.” (“The Background Word,” in Word Among Us: A Worship-centered, Lectionary-based Curriculum for the Whole Congregation, United Church Press, 1995) Continue reading

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Palm Sunday: Year A

The Liturgy of the Palms

  • Matthew 21:1-11

The Liturgy of the Word

  • Isaiah 50:4-9a
  • Psalm 31:9-16
  • Philippians 2:5-11
  • The Passion from Matthew 26: 14-27:66 or 27:11-54

In fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Crowds of people spread their cloaks in the road and cut branches from trees to spread in his path. The people shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David,” and other cries of praise and blessing.

The tension between suffering and glorious triumph is set immediately before us on Palm Sunday. Today’s hosannas ring out even as a sense of foreboding grows. Jesus enters Jerusalem proclaimed as a king, riding toward a destiny of suffering and death amid the shouts of those who soon will turn against him. Continue reading

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