Easter 7B

Image: "Detail of East Window, Lincoln Cathedral" by Jules & Jenny


Voice in the Wilderness: Jeff Nelson

Featured Musician:Emily Joy

PSALMIST: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Tasty Wafer:

Featured Musician:Amanda Opelt

Call to Worship with Psalm 1 - by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

    One: Blessed are those who resist wicked advice
    Many: and follow the disrespectful crowd.
    One: Instead, our delight is in following God’s Way
    Many: Following God’s Way, and studying it continually.
    One: We are like trees--
    Many: trees transplanted near flowing water,
    One: thriving in every season,
    All: bearing fruit at the harvest.

Exegetical Notes

John 17:6-19

Initial Thoughts

  • Getting tired of John? Yeah me too, but this is pretty good stuff.

  • There is a feeling here that this is insular and exclusivist, but only if you misunderstand the terms “the world” and forget the historical context of a community that is struggling with its own identity.

  • Join David Lose is arguing that you read 2 more verses

Bible Study

  • High Priestly Prayer

    • Farewell discourse - after dinner, foot washing and new commandments- Jesus is praying to God

    • Jesus is the mediator between humanity and God

    • Focus on interconnectedness of Jesus, his followers and God

    • What David Lose calls “The Others Lord’s Prayer”

      • In one prayer Jesus teaches us how to pray

      • In this prayer Jesus is actually praying for us

  • Jesus making petitions to God for those he is going to be leaving - and for us. (Meda Stamper, Working Preacher)

    • Prayer for protection

      • “They are to be protected so that they may love as they have been commanded to love in a way that not only draws them into union with the divine love but also shows that love to the world into which they are being sent as Jesus has been sent; the previous sending of Jesus and current sending of Jesus’ own is another important theme in the prayer. So Jesus’ own are to be protected not only for their own sakes but also in order to fulfill the mission of love in the world.”

    • Prayer for protection against the evil one

    • Prayer to be sanctified in the truth

      • The Word is the glue between the Father and the Son. Jesus is the Word made flesh. So his Word is his life enfleshed - not just his spoken words, but his life, teaching, and ministry. To be of the Word is to be in the world as Jesus was.

    • Disciples have been called, set apart and then sent into the world

      • “If the broken world isn’t the one that is so beloved, then the lifting up of the Son makes no sense. Jesus need not die if he is only in the world for the sake of the people who like him. And Jesus’ own will not be in danger if they are to bear fruit in happy isolation.”

  • Called- Jesus made God known to the disciples through specific revelation

    • set apart- in knowing God the disciples see what it is to true live and live eternally (as in fuly not as in forever)

      • placing others before self

      • love before power

      • Forgiveness over control

      • sacrifice over sustainability

    • Sent into the world - see this true nature of the in breaking kingdom of God, the disciples are sent out to transform the world by proclaiming the good news in word and deed.

      • We are not called out of the world but into the world

      • In Jesus God meets us where we are- so we are called to meet others where they are to bring the Good news to them- not to demand that they come to us

  • Not to be taken out of the world but to be protected (v. 15-16) How does God protect us? How do we protect each other?

    • The world that here seems to be in opposition to Jesus, is the same world that “For God so loved…” in 3:16.

  • Sovereignty of God

    • God is not one who controls everything, but gives us everything: disciples, words, God’s name, word

    • Prayer is not that God use God’s almighty and controlling power, but that God help us care for the gifts we have been given.

Thoughts and Questions

  • The church is undoubtedly in the world, but are we of the world? in what ways is your community proclaiming the in-breaking Kingdom of God? In what ways can it?

  • What in our lives calls us out into the world and what called us away from it? How do we insulate ourselves from the world? How do we become more holy?

    • Wesleyans have a threefold understanding of grace - prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying. This is a chance to explore what it means to be sanctified - made holy - “hallowed be thy…” Are we made holy by moralism and legalism, i.e. following a certain set of rules; or are we made holy by living as Jesus lived?

  • Love by its very nature is an invitation extended freely - how do we reconcile this with a sovereign God? Do we need to?

    • how might abandoning the traditional concept of an omnipotent sovereign God transform our culture and bring us closer to the Kingdom?

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

Initial Thoughts

  • Death of Judas- thank you for Lectionary edits- no need to get into the details

Bible Study

  • Problem Solving: Identify the problem, pray, decide, act

    • Planet Money Episode #791 Tips from Spies: DADA

    • DATA, Analysis, Decision, Action

  • Problem (DATA)- Judas is dead- there are only 11 disciples

    • Luke sets up the 12 Apostles as the successors of the 12 tribes of Israel (Luke 22:28-30; Acts 1:6-8)

    • How will God fulfill the eschatological promise of “restoring the Kingdom of Israel” with only 11 Apostles?!

    • A new disciple must be chosen

  • Analysis - how will be choose?

    • Criteria for being an apostle:

      • Was with the disciples since Jesus since the baptism of John through the ascension

      • Will witness to the resurrection with us

    • None of the disciples would qualify - none were there for the “Baptism of John”

    • Witnessing to the resurrection (as opposed to Judas who cannot do this)\

    • Apostolic succession - we believe in the good news because we have heard it from those who have heard it from those who were with Jesus

  • Pray (Analysis part 2)

    • How often we skip this step- or dismiss it as something which we “should” do before getting to business

    • This is the central step of the disciples- everything comes down to this prayer

  • Casting Lots (Decision)

    • Interesting that they ultimately leave the choosing of the disciple up to chance- they literally cast lots to discover the correct disciple.

      • Justification for gambling?

      • Justification for an omnipotent all controlling God?

    • In the end does it matter? Neither candidate is ever mentioned again - sometimes you just need to decide- even if the choice is random

    • History of Dice article in The Atlantic

  • Matthias is chosen

    • Did Joseph/Barsabbas/Justus know that he was even being considered? How did this affect the dynamics?

Thoughts and Questions

  • Prayer - how important it is to slow down and pray - act of active consideration (intentional reflection, not passive avoidance), an act of humility (this is beyond our decision- what is God saying to us), an act of focus (we are serving something beyond our own thoughts, motives and desires). Time to reclaim intentional prayer.

  • Removed from symbolism- this passage becomes a cynics view of the church - the first act of the church is to “fill out the committee”. Is this an effective interpretation? I don’t think so (but it is fun)

    • Instead a more faithful (positive and helpful) approach may be that more help is needed. We much as we want to have control over everything- we need help

  • High Expectations: there are high expectations for the task of apostle- so high that no one can hope to fulfill them. How do we set expectations? As a baseline qualification or as something we hope to achieve?



1 John 5:9-13 - Life in Christ

Initial Thoughts

  • No one is listening to this part of the show. There are a total of four articles about this passage on texteek. soon to be 5!

Bible Study

  • God’s Son

    • The relationship between Jesus and God cannot be questioned.

    • It is a full connection. Full integration.

    • Calling Jesus God’s Son is John’s favorite way of describing messiahship, Christness, or any other claim on Jesus’ identity.

    • Jesus’ life and ministry is the testimony of this relationship.

    • The testimony is the way that Jesus fully revealed God’s love, ultimately through “laying down one’s life for a friend.”

    • The way Jesus loved is the evidence of his Son-ness.

  • Testimony/Witness

    • Previously, it mentions the water and the blood. This is the baptism and death of Jesus, and presumably, everything in between.

    • Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection is the testimony we are to trust.

    • The true testimony for the believer is to live as Jesus lived.

      • “The testimony within,” is revealed in living as Jesus lived, and loving as Jesus loved.

  • Eternal Life

    • Present tense in verse 13 - “So you know you have eternal life.”

    • Not a future tense, but a present state.

    • Eternal life is not about duration of heartbeats, length of life, or even about life after our earthly death. Eternal life could be understood as “real life.”

    • If you believe, and witness to the fact that Jesus is God’s Son, then you will start to live “real life.”

    • Real life includes loving one another, not just surface relationships. Not just acquaintances, but friends.

    • To not have eternal life is to continue to go through the motions, waiting for some kind of meaning.

Thoughts and Questions

  • How do we live eternal life? Is eternal life about what happens after death? How much is heaven a motivation for how we live? Is heaven a reward for living well, believing correctly, testifying truthfully, that we get after we die?

    • How do we explain this circular understanding:

      • God is love.

      • Jesus is God’s Son.

      • The testimony to this truth is the life that Jesus lived, including the water and the blood.

      • Jesus lived in Eternal Life, even in death.

      • We are called to believe that Jesus is God’s Son.

      • To believe is to have Eternal Life, even in death.

      • The testimony to this is love. It is a life that includes the water and the blood - the way Jesus lived and was willing to die for his friends.

  • Exclusive language of the passage makes it easy to say that those who believe in Jesus have life and those that don’t, don’t. This sort of claim can, at worst, lead to dehumanization of others that can justify oppression and atrocity. At best, it leads to a spiritual arrogance that eliminates possibility of learning from others. Verse 13 is important, this is written for those that already believe. It is a word of encouragement to those who are facing persecution, not a condemnation of non-believers. It is a reminder that they who believe are living “real life,” and should hold fast to that.

  • “While we can certainly understand thoughts like these when a community that feels threatened, we have to remember that taking Scriptures that were intended to address a specific situation and lifting them out of context to apply them to our day and time can be a risky venture. In a very real sense, it can enable the “oppressed” to become the “oppressors.”  And in fact, you don’t have to work very hard to find all kinds of examples throughout the history of the church where that was exactly what happened—Christians took Scriptures like these and used them to justify all kinds of hateful and even violent acts against those deemed “other” and “outside.” (Allen Brehm, The Waking Dreamer)


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”).