Lectionary Preview study materials: Sixth sunday in Easter
(study on 5 May)
1 John 5:1-6
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The First Lesson
While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.
1 Sing to the Lord a new song, *
for he has done marvelous things.
2 With his right hand and his holy arm *
has he won for himself the victory.
3 The Lord has made known his victory; *
his righteousness has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.
4 He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel, *
and all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
5 Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands; *
lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.
6 Sing to the Lord with the harp, *
with the harp and the voice of song.
7 With trumpets and the sound of the horn *
shout with joy before the King, the Lord.
8 Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it, *
the lands and those who dwell therein.
9 Let the rivers clap their hands, *
and let the hills ring out with joy before the Lord,
when he comes to judge the earth.
10 In righteousness shall he judge the world *
and the peoples with equity.
1 John 5:1-6
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.
Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”
ECUSA COMMENTARY for Lectionary Easter 6 May 9, 2021 Sr. Kathy Lawler, OEF,
RCL: Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17
This lesson from Acts concludes the story of Peter and Cornelius. Cornelius, a devout centurion living in Caesarea, was bidden by God to find Peter in Joppa. He sends people to find Peter and return. Peter was residing with Simon the tanner. It was in this house that Peter had the dream challenging his views of what foods were clean. Directed by God to go with Cornelius’ people to Caesarea, Peter discovers that God has been acting in and through this surprising person, a Gentile centurion. Peter begins to preach about how he is learning that all people fearing and following God are acceptable to God, and testifies to the good news of Jesus, his life, death, and resurrection.
It is while he is speaking that the Holy Spirit shows up, as we hear today, poured out even on the Gentiles in the crowd. Peter realizes that baptism cannot be withheld from them, for the Holy Spirit had already been received. This is a story of two lives that cross unexpectedly by the guidance and call of God. It results in quite a surprising conclusion for all those involved.
- How is God challenging us to grow right now? What are we withholding that God invites us to extend?
- How has the Holy Spirit brought you a surprising lesson? What was the lesson?
This is a psalm of praise. God is victorious! God reigns! Those of us who recognize and live in God’s reign are invited into praise. All of us creatures, not just humans, are invited to sing a new song. The lands sing, the waves crash, the rivers clap their hands. It truly is a new song. It’s a song of excitement and joy. God rules with righteousness, there is equity, there is mercy and faithfulness. These are things to celebrate.
- What might it mean to sing a new song to God? How is a new song different from an old song?
- How does the voice of creation singing in joy speak to us about God’s reign?
1 John 5:1-6
There are a number of similar themes in the Gospel of John and 1 John. This section of 1 John echoes the image of being born again found in John 3. It also takes up themes that we hear in today’s gospel: obeying God’s commandments and loving God’s children. Care needs to be taken in hearing the language of 1 John; the epistle is addressing a number of issues that have arisen in the Johannine community and they are feeling separated from others. It is not surprising that the focus is on loving those who are believers. The general message, though, is that our lives are different because of our faith.
Following Jesus makes a difference in who we are and how we live. It is a life born out of our faith in Christ Jesus. It brings us the assurance of the love of our God who has walked with us, who understands what it is like to suffer, who has shared with us in the very depths of the pain that living can bring. It transforms how we understand and engage all of life, joys, pains, and sorrows. The author of 1 John describes this as conquering the world. Because of our faith, we are to live differently, we are to love our siblings. We show our love for God by keeping God’s commandment to love others.
- How do you experience your faith affecting and changing how you live?
- What does keeping God’s commandment of love look like concretely?
The meal is finished. Feet have been washed. Jesus’ arrest is just over the horizon; Judas has left to find the authorities. These are precious, final moments. During them, Jesus speaks with these close followers of relationships and obligations. The one who has just washed their feet as a servant now calls them friends. It is a friendship with cost, the cost of love that may even call them to give up their lives for others. It is a deep, abiding relationship, not one casually entered and easily discarded. This is a relationship rooted in loving one another, love that extends itself for others. Love that bears lasting fruit.
And this relationship is for us! As Jesus speaks, we stand in the room with all the disciples. I call you friends, he says. This is my commandment that you love one another. Jesus gave some of his last moments with the disciples to share how it is that we who are believers are to be in relationship with him as abiding friends, and how we are to relate to each other, extending love to one another.
- What might change if we understand ourselves to be friends of God?
- How is our joy complete when we live abiding in Christ’s love? What does it mean to have Christ’s joy within us?
Sr. Kathy Lawler, OEF, is a Franciscan, a member of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans. She is a candidate from the Diocese of Northern California in her final year of low-residency M.Div. studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (Class of 2021). Her initial training in chemistry informs much of her ministerial focus. She is particularly enthusiastic about helping folks find connections between spirituality and science. She also teaches about the congruence between Christian faith and modern science. Kathy enjoys gardening, listening to audiobooks, and being in the beauty of God’s good creation.