Easter 7A

Saint James the Greater Catholic Church (Concord, North Carolina) -  stained glass, Ascension

Saint James the Greater Catholic Church (Concord, North Carolina) - stained glass, Ascension

221: May 28, 2017

65: June 1, 2014

Musician - Bryan Sirchio, “Spirit Come” from the album, Something Beautiful for God


  1. John 17:1-11 - So that they may be one
  2. Acts 1:6-14 - The ascension of Jesus

Featured Music - “TAMBO (They all may be one),” by Christopher Grundy


Exegetical Notes

John 17:1-11 Glorify!

Initial Thoughts

  • John 17 according to The Twible: “JC prays that all his followers will have unity and harmony. This prayer will be answered at such time as hell freezes over.”

  • UCC Motto! Kind of - technically vs 21, but vs 11 is pretty close

Bible Study

  • Glorify

    • doxa - glory, opinion, reputation, appearance, brightness (Acts 22:11), greatness (Matthew 6:29), honor ( 1 Thess. 2:20)

    • how are we glorified in Jesus as Jesus is glorified in God?

      • Elections

      • Sports teams

      • High school championships

    • Love based Glory- not self glory, not national glory, not local glory, love based glory illumines/shines on all around

      • Includes everyone, even Jesus will not name who is not included in glory- when we choose to tread where Jesus won’t are we not reverting to the world’s glory of being over and against the other?(Larry D Bouchard)

  • Knowing Jesus

    • Knowing in John’s gospel is to be in relationship- to be in relationship with Jesus is to be in relationship with God

    • Jesus is speaking about those who know him, not those who don’t

    • v. 2: Eternal Life to all who were “given to him” is anyone not given? Is this exclusive or inclusive?

      • Those given to Jesus vs the World - is this an individual distinction (believers vs unbelievers) or an internal distinction ( we fight our own “worldly” inclinations- greed, desire for power, apathy, etc)

    • “Some interpreters find here a Gnostic-like attitude toward the world and the fostering of a dangerous elitism among Christians. But there need be no suggestion that God (or Jesus) has abandoned humanity in general or lost interest in the world’s welfare. John 3:16 should lay such a thought to rest. Rather, the Fourth Gospel takes a sober position toward the church’s situation in the world: (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching Year A, p. 327)

  • Ecumenical, not evangelical.

  • Protect them (v.11)

    • Jesus is praying an intercessory prayer and asks God to protect his/Jesus’s people

      • It seems God does a pretty bad job of it (Paul beheaded, Peter crucified, Stephen stoned, etc.)

      • Jesus’s prayer, like many of ours, are not answered in the way we might expect.

      • So if not physical harm, what are we being protected from?

        • worry

        • anxiety

        • fear

        • Loneliness

Preaching Thoughts

  • “The text challenges any notion of an easy peace between the church and the world. Having and keeping the divine word creates a unique community, which does not belong to the world, but is sustained and protected by God.” (Cousar, p. 327)

    • The purpose of this text - and this prayer - is not to set the Church over and against the world. It is to keep the community together so that it can be stronger in doing its work in the world.

  • Remember how the disciples acted before and after the Resurrection. Although in John’s Gospel this element is softened, look to places like Luke to see how much differently the disciples were able to act after they had encountered the Risen Christ. Before Easter, they were acting out of fear, jealousies, rivalries. After Easter they are able to preach, teach, be faithful even to martyrdom. This is not to say they had it all figured out. There is still need for unity among the followers, but Knowing Jesus made a huge difference in the way they lived out their discipleship.

  • When does unity become a vice?

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11

  • Glory of suffering - PROBLEMATIC to say the least. Must be put into context.

  • The last of the body of the letter, sums up the message.

  • A brief how-to of remaining faithful in the midst of suffering

    • Be clear-headed

    • Stay alert

    • Be humble

  • Resistance comes through persistence. Persistence is made possible through faith alone.

  • “Euro-Americans, who usually place an emphasis on orthodoxy, have assumed that the cause of the hostility toward the early church was what they believed. However, Empire seldom cares what the masses believe, as long as allegiances to the ruling elites are not compromised. The early churches were persecuted not for what they believed, but for what they did. They preached a message of liberation. To preach good news to the poor, freedom to the imprisoned, sight for those blinded, and liberation to the oppressed” (Luke 4:18-19) is to reject conformity with the prevailing power structures.” Miguel A De La Torre,  Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year A, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide

  • Pain is temporary. It is real, but it will not have the final word.

  • Those that are able to resist will not be alone, and they will share in God’s glory.

Acts 1:6-14 

Initial Thoughts

  • Acts 1 according to The Twible: “Disciple National Convention meets in Jerusalem to elect Matthias as newest member of the 12. (The vacancy was due to a scandal. Sssh.)

Bible Study

  • When?

    • Disciples ask, “so, now is the Kingdom going to come?”

    • Not for you to know

      • Doesn’t stop people from constantly predicting the end times

    • The Holy Spirit is coming

    • “One does not write church history if one expects the world to end tomorrow.  The writing of Acts signals that the once taut expectation for the imminent return of Christ has now been relaxed.” (Will Willimon, Interpretation: Acts, p. 19)

    • Now that the resurrection has come and gone, the question remains, “Now what?”  

  • Where?

    • “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

      • Growing circles, emanating from Jerusalem

      • Origination of the Jerusalem Cross

    • Jesus lifted up to heaven

      • The relationship between Jesus and the disciples has changed.  An abrupt transition between post-Easter and a new era.

      • “By virtue of his elevation to this status, Jesus reigns over all creation. Creation is his. He has a role in everything. Therefore he is present throughout all creation through the Holy Spirit. Contrary to some popular assumptions, this event does not put Jesus out of play until the end of all things. He and the kingdom he inaugurated are not on an extended break.” Matthew Skinner, Working Preacher.

    • “Why are you looking to the heavens?”  

      • Jesus isn’t here any more. Go back to Jerusalem. Start there.

      • They actually follow.  They aren’t full of despair that Jesus is really gone.  They finally understand that Jesus has gone ahead of them. (Danielle Shroyer, The Hardest Question)

  • How?

    • Go back to Jerusalem, and wait.  

      • Their work is important - huge - but still their first step is to pause.

        • Not an excuse to be slow, and get caught up in church bureaucracy.

        • A reminder to soak everything in prayer.  Major decisions must be done deliberately and intentionally.  Not slowly.

    • “Presumably the Holy Spirit could have come immediately after Jesus' ascension; but God waits. Rather, God has Jesus' followers wait. I like to think that in this waiting they learn, or begin to learn, that they are to be a responsive community, a community that waits upon God to initiate. Whether they walk back to Jerusalem from the ascension with eager energy or paralyzing fear we do not know. All we know is that they have to wait.” Matthew Skinner, Working Preacher.

    • Resurrection is victory over death. Ascension is empowerment.

    • Devoted themselves to prayer as a group (including some women, and Jesus’ brothers)

Preaching Thoughts

  • How does waiting fit in our ministry?  Is the act of waiting and praying still faithful, even though we’ve been given the power of the Holy Spirit?

  • If Jesus is leading the way, are we following?  Are we still taking the good news to Jerusalem (our neighbors), Samaria (cultural outsiders), and to the ends of the earth?

  • “The challenge is not the intellectual one of knowing enough to tell about Jesus but rather the challenge is to have the authorization and empowerment which enable succeeding witnesses to be doing the work of Jesus. Until those who know the facts also experience the power, they do well first to wait in Jerusalem and to pray” (Willimon, p. 21).

  • How are victory and empowerment related? This is different than triumphalism and entitlement.  When the victory is coupled with the humility that it is God’s victory, one that we did not gain on our own, but one in which we are allowed to share, then we may be empowered to do Christ’s work.  This is different than feeling superior because of our triumph, and thus entitled to the gifts and benefits of the win.


Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”"Real Ride" and “Summertime”) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).