Lectionary Preview study materials: Fifth sunday in Easter (study on 28 april)
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The First Lesson
An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”
The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Deus, Deus meus
24 My praise is of him in the great assembly; *
I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.
25 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
and those who seek the Lord shall praise him: *
“May your heart live for ever!”
26 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, *
and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
27 For kingship belongs to the Lord; *
he rules over the nations.
28 To him alone all who sleep in the earth bow down in worship; *
all who go down to the dust fall before him.
29 My soul shall live for him;
my descendants shall serve him; *
they shall be known as the Lord’S for ever.
30 They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn *
the saving deeds that he has done.
1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
Jesus said to his disciples, ”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
EASTER 5 Sunday May 5, 2021 Paul Ehling
RCL: Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:24-30; 1 John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8
There are two key points to note in this passage from Acts. The first centers on the Ethiopian eunuch. This is a marginalized person; not only is he a stranger on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza, but he is also a eunuch, a person without his masculinity in a place that prizes masculine dominance and power – the Roman world. Through this story of conversion by teaching and baptism, God is saying that the Good News about Jesus is for all people, including those marginalized in society.
The second key point is the movement of the Spirit of God, a theme throughout the whole book of Acts. In this text, there is an urgency in how the Spirit of God moves. The Spirit of God is seen three times in this passage. First, an angel of the Lord told Philip to go to the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. Second, the Spirit told Philip to engage with the Ethiopian eunuch (Notice how Philip approaches the stranger, not by just walking up to him, but rather by running – there is urgency when the Spirit of God moves us). Finally, the Spirit of God suddenly took Philip away. When the Spirit of God is flowing through us, as it did in Philip, the Spirit has other places for us to go when we are done.
- How do you approach the strangers in your land or the marginalized in your town?
- How is the Spirit of God moving you today?
- What is the Spirit-led urgency in your life?
It is difficult to talk about the second part of Psalm 22 without saying something about the first part of Psalm 22. There is a shift in this psalm at the 22nd verse. Before that, the writer pleads to God for help: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And who among us has not been crying out to God for help during this pandemic?
The second part of this psalm reminds me of praising God for being resurrected on the inside. It is a reminder to me that, lest we forget so quickly, we are Easter people. There is both praise of God and promise, as in verse 26: “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.” Not only is there the hope in God’s saving actions today, but also in years to come, as seen in verse 30: “They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn the saving deeds that he has done.” In praise, this psalm names the promise and hope that God gives us all.
· How have you shifted from pleading to praise?
· Think about the promise and hope that God gives you. How do you proclaim those things?
1 John 4:7-21
We use the word “love” in many ways in our society – “I love pizza!” “Falling in love,” “making love,” telling each other “I love you,” and so forth. This scripture gets at our theological core as Christians – God is love and God shows us love by sending Jesus into the world so that we can live anew through his life, death, and resurrection. It also demonstrates some key points regarding love. 1 John tells us that if we love one another, then we are very near God because “God lives in us.” Another key point is that if we say we love God, then we must also love our brothers and sisters – yes, even when our brothers and sisters are different from us in how they look, how they live, and how they think.
· How do you practice loving brothers and sisters who are different from you?
· Share a time when you experienced God living in you when you loved another.
John 15: 1-8
I have been involved in a Benedictine Way group for the past eight years. Each month, we study the Rule of Benedict and discuss how Benedictine spirituality is impacting our life. The Benedictine value of stability rang through this text from the Gospel of John. According to the book Sacred Rhythms – The Monastic Way Every Day, stability is about cultivating rootedness and a shared sense of vision. The sentence “Abide in me as I abide in you” is about rootedness in Christ. This rootedness is both external and internal; Benedictine stability is about staying where you are planted and experiencing what is happening inside you as you process what is happening outside you. Abiding in Christ is all about letting Jesus into your daily thoughts and visions, just like the life-giving water that runs through the grapevines and into the branches.
· How do you abide in Christ throughout your day?
· How does your faith serve as your rootedness?
Paul Ehling lives in Rochester, Minn., with his wife, one of three daughters, and his dog. He is a candidate for the priesthood in the Episcopal Church of Minnesota and currently serves as an intern at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Rochester. When not studying and interning Paul is an assistant principal at Bishop Elementary School. In his free time, Paul enjoys hikes in the woods with his family, biking, canoeing, skiing, and woodworking.