Easter 5C


164: April 24, 2016

324: May 19, 2019

Voice in the Wilderness: BRYAN ODEEN

Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Voice in the Wilderness: Renee Roederer

Featured Musician and Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

John 13:31-35

Initial Thoughts

Bible Study

  • Literary Context: Within the farewell discourse

    • Passage immediately before this is Jesus tells Judas he will betray him, then they dip bread together. Then Judas leaves

    • “It is at this dark moment that our text begins, ‘When he (Judas) had gone out, Jesus said …’ We might expect a speech about how evil Judas is and how awful the consequences of his actions will be for him. But Jesus instead focuses on his mission and preparing his disciples for what is to come.” (Elisabeth Johnson, Working Preacher)

    • Passage immediately after this is prediction of Peter’s denial.

  • Glorify

    • Jesus’ glory comes in the midst of betrayal- both of Judas and Peter

    • Not the glory we might expect

    • Connect his life and his public ministry to his death and this farewell discourse

    • “Now”...interesting since Jesus has not yet been crucified.

      • Jesus is glorified as much through his life as through his impending death

    • “God is glorified in Jesus’ death. The cross, rather than bringing shame, brings glory to God. This shows the evangelist’s reversal of the cultural values of the time as well as his subtle -- or not so subtle -- criticism of the power of Empire. The purpose is to assure his community that its origins are rooted in an honorable event, because through it, God showed God’s love for the world. Here, John joins the rest of the New Testament writers who emphasized the overcoming of shame through weakness.” (Osvaldo Vena, Working Preacher)

  • Little Children

    • Tenderness, love, compassion for these whom he has told repeatedly what will happen and yet still do not understand

    • patience

  • New Commandment - Love

    • Go back to the beginning of the chapter, the start of the meal: “Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1, NRSV)

    • Go back to Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won't perish but will have eternal life. God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17, CEB)

    • "[This] new command is simple enough for a toddler to memorize and appreciate, and it is profound enough that the most mature believers are repeatedly embarrassed at how poorly they comprehend it and put it into practice.” D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John (Leicester, England: APOLLOS,1991), 484.

    • “That’s what this verse is about. Jesus reminding us of just how much he loves us – and of how much God loved and loves us through him – that we might be empowered to love others, extending God’s love through word and deed, and in this way love others as Jesus has loved us. We don’t have to do this perfectly to do it meaningfully, of course. Indeed, even as we remember those who have loved us, we probably acknowledge that while their love was not perfect, it was nevertheless powerful.” (David Lose, In the Meantime)

    • What is the ONE test by which people will know if you are Christ’s disciples? LOVE

    • Love is all you need

    • Love as I have loved you:

      • “Get behind me Satan”

      • “O Ye of little faith…”

      • Love does not equal nice, but authentic and honest

  • About belief or life?

    • Jesus is not concerned about orthodoxy but orthopraxis - no creed or scripture but a way to live: love.

  • What is New about this commandment? Joseph Bessler (Feasting on the Word: Year C, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide)

    • Augustine: Different kind of love - a spiritual love distinguished “from all carnal affection” , Tractates on the Gospel of John 65.1, in John: 11-21, 114

    • Cyril of Alexandria: Different degree of love - Leviticus commands us to love others as ourselves. Jesus loves us far more than he loved himself. Jesus self-giving love which led to the cross is far greater than love for oneself. Commentary on the Gospel of John

    • Who is one another?

      • Are Christian called only to love one another (i.e. the elect or fellow Christians) or called to love everyone (i.e. Good Samaritan style)

Thoughts and Questions

  • Joseph Bessler- the command is to continue to love one another in the midst of the fear and awfulness which is to come. Do not give into fear or self-preservation - love one another, even if it means giving up your own life.

  • What would it mean for each of us or our churches to be glorified? What does that mean in our culture? What is an example of a glorified church?

  • Can any of us be glorified while our brothers and sisters are not?

  1. Do we take seriously that love is at the center of faith?

  2. Why is it so hard to love? Who is it hard to love?

  3. How does it feel to be loved?

Revelation 21:1-6

Initial Thoughts

  • A suggested reading in the UM Funeral liturgy

  • Skipped a lot.

Bible Study

  • Renewed, not Replaced.

    • “The greek word used for ‘new’ earth in Revelation 21:1 can mean either ‘renewed’ or ‘new’ - but certainly doesn’t mean a ‘different’ earth. There is no justification for using up the earth on the grounds that we get to trade this one in for a new and bigger one in seven years.” (The Rapture Exposed, Rossing)

    • Earth is not disposable.

    • The plan of God is not to destroy this earth so as to create a new one. This is the only one we have.

    • Key word is “Renewed.” To renew something is not to destroy it and replace it. It is to take what is there, and transform it, heal it, and reconcile it to a pristine condition.

  • God dwelling with.

    • The throne of God has moved. What was once in heaven, is not in and among the people.

    • Emmanuel - God with us.

    • “Three times in this verse God is said to be ‘with them.’ … In the new Jerusalem, mortals are now God’s ‘peoples.’” All of the peoples - every tribe, nation, and race. The relationship with God is now complete and intimate with all.

    • “The message of God’s dwelling in the world is not a message reserved for thousands of years off in the future… Biblical prophecy and apocalypses do not operate according to a rigid sequential timetable. Revelation gives us a vision, not a chronology of predictions. God and the Lamb already reign. Revelation insists as the very outset.”

    • Tension of already and not yet is the tension of the Christian faith. Those that want to use Revelation as a script for the future are escaping that tension. They want to forget the “already,” and focus on preparing for the “not yet.”

    • This messy timeline is evidenced in the “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” Time is not a linear experience that has a clear beginning and end. God is in it all

      • This, by the way, fits with most modern understanding of the world that is quantum in nature. Time is relative - which is a modern discovery that Revelation seems to be hinting at nearly 2000 years ago.

    • “Finally God sees an alternative city - God’s wonderful paradise-like world, descending from heaven like a bride, inviting us in. This is the citizenship Christians are to hope for. The urgent message is that Christians must be faithful in worshiping God and renounce Babylon/Rome in order to participate in God’s holy city.” (Rossing, p. 84)

Thoughts and Questions

  • Goal of Revelation is like that of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, which has terrifying visions of the future that are not intended to be bold, set-in-stone predictions of the future as it will happen. Instead, the vision that Scrooge is given is of a possible future if he does not change. The goal of the vision is to exhort him to change, and it works. The terrifying vision of what might be guides him to repentance, which then has vast ramifications for the way the world is. The vision of a possible future reshapes the actual future.

    • “The book of Revelation… shows us terrifying visions precisely because there is still hope for us and for the earth. Indeed, the hope of the book of Revelation is that God’s Lamb, Jesus, is already victorious and that God’s people will be faithful to the Bible’s vision of life. The hope is that we will follow the Lamb, renouncing the seductions of imperial injustice and violence, so the threat of the plagues will be averted. God loves the world. God does not desire earth’s destruction.” (Rossing, p. 85).

  • Renewed not Replaced. This is a key theme of all of Revelation. How might we participate in the renewal?

Acts 11:1-18

Initial Thoughts

  • Acts in Eastertide:

    • Check out Matt Skinner’s guide on preaching Acts in Eastertide (http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?m=4377&post=5304)

    • Easter 2C (this Sunday) – Acts 5:27-32: The apostles must obey God, and continue to preach

    • Easter 3C – Acts 9:1-20: Conversion of Saul

    • Easter 4C – Acts 9:36-43: Raising of Tabitha

    • Easter 5C – Acts 11:1-18: Peter’s vision opens gospel to the Gentiles

    • Easter 6C – Acts 16:9-15: Conversion of Lydia (a Gentile that “loved God”)

    • Easter 7C – Acts 16:16-34: Conversion of the Jailer

    • Pentecost

  • Go back and read Acts 10

    • Even in preaching it is important to put this passage into context. Peter does- kind of, but it might better to tell this in your own words (as Peter does)

    • Acts 11 is the response to what has happened in Acts 10

    • It connects to last week’s lectionary via Simon the Tanner (an unclean man)

Bible Study

  • Accusation: Why did you do to uncircumcised men and eat with them”

    • Echos the Pharisees accusation against Jesus: “Why does he/your teacher/you eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Matthew 9:11, Mark 2:16, Luke 5:30

  • Peter’s story - accounting of Acts 10 (kind of)

    • Peter has a vision in which God shows there is not a distinction between clean and unclean creatures

    • Vision occurs three times

      • Three signifies both completeness and a call to action: Moses asks Pharaoh for three days to go and pray-Exodus 5:3, There are three Hebrew Festivals-Deut. 16:16, Jesus answer Satan’s three temptations in the wilderness-Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus predicts his death three times, on the third day Jesus rose again (see “The Use of Three in the Bible” for more on this)

      • This vision completes God’s inclusive vision of love and calls Peter to preach extends Jesus’ good news to the Gentiles.

  • Second Pentecost

    • Same as the first Pentecost - the Holy Spirit falls upon them

    • “Who was I to hinder God” - this was not Peter’s grand conversion of the Gentiles, this is not a story about what Peter did at all, but about Peter’s witness to what God was already doing in the house of Cornelius.

    • Peter is NOT the agent of God’s grace, but the witness of God’s grace

  • Transformation

    • The skeptical community is transformed by Peter’s witness

    • Very different from the Pharisee’s reaction to Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners

Thoughts and Questions

  • God acted first. God visits Cornelius before giving Peter his vision. Peter does not “bring” the divine to the Gentiles, but rather follows where God already is! The Church has inflicted centuries of harm on others by thinking we were bringing the divine, the good news to others, ignorant of the fact that God is already there.

    • How much time do we spend helping others, being “charitable” to others, instead of spending time with others, open ourselves into relationship with others and witnessing to what God is doing before we ever showed up?

  • Testimony is a lost art. How often do we tell others where we have seen God at work? Instead of talking about what God is doing in and through us, perhaps we need to witness to what God is doing in and around others.

  • Acts 10:28, “However, God has shown me that I should never call a person impure or unclean.”

    • This is the key to this passage and the Good News.

    • There are so many whom the church has labeled as impure: LGBTQ, people of color, women, people of other faiths, etc. - who would you community consider to be out of bounds?

      • Murderers? Immigrants? Pro-Gun advocates? Anti-Vaccers? Trump supporters? Trump Haters? Muslims? Evangelicals?

    • What would it mean to eat dinner with them and witness to how God might be working in and through them? This does not mean to justify or condone discrimination, oppression or abuse - we must hold one another accountable to justice, but we can do so without declaring the other impure or unclean (even as they may be saying those things against us)

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 (“Miserlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.