When we examine the scripture for this week, we see many themes. From Acts, Paul exhorts us to repent and serve the one God who has adopted us. From the psalm, we hear that God has listened to our prayers. From Peter’s letter, we know that baptism brings us into the community. And from the gospel, you will not be alone in your journey, you will have an advocate. For this reader, the clear conclusion is we are God’s children, beginning with his adoption, then with his attention to our cries, through our baptism, and finally we are never alone. How wonderfully comforting is that? This extends to those of us with unusually large earthly families or no earthly family we can identify; to those with tender, loving parents or those whose parents are distant; to those who feel isolated and alone or those who are overwhelmed with the presence of others. Say it, loud and proud: “I AM A CHILD OF GOD!” Let’s be worthy children.
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Jesus said, ”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
From sermon4kids.com: “Jesus promised us a helper and that helper is the Holy Spirit. We don’t see the Holy Spirit because He lives inside of those of us who make Jesus our Lord and Savior. But just like the wind . . . , even though we can’t see the Holy Spirit, we know that the Holy Spirit brings comfort and help to us.”
Collect: 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.
Reflection: According to the psalmist, God brought the people through trials, tests, burdens, and pain to a spacious place of life, breath, and salvation. God heard their prayers and opened them to deliverance. Where have you felt such a spacious place? What story do you tell of the ways that God is blessing you? What story does your faith community tell of the ways in which God is blessing them?
Saint Focus: Two astronomers, Copernicus and Kepler, rise to the top among the following group of saints. The work of these two brought us to our current understanding of our solar system. Their story is too detailed for a quick synthesis so be sure to follow the link below for a greater description. [most from the Calendar of the church year according to the Episcopal Church.]
This week, the saints under consideration were :
- 20; Alcuin of York, Deacon & Abbot, 804
- 21; [Lydia of Thyatira], Coworker of the Apostle Paul; AND John Eliot, Missionary among the Algonquin, 1690
- 22; [Helena of Constantinople], Protector of the Holy Places, 330
- 23; Nicolaus Copernicus, 1543, and Johannes Kepler, 1543, Astronomers
- 24; Jackson Kemper, Bishop & Missionary,1870
- 25; Bede, the Venerable, Priest, and Historian, 735
Eye Candy: “Endless Road” by Margret Hofheinz-Doring; “Ten Commandments“, wood relief carving from a Catholic church in Poland; “Personification of Gentleness“, quatrefoil from Cathedrale d’Amiens; “I am a child of God” by Howard Lyon
Ear Worm: “Made of one blood“, an interesting turn-of-the-19th century hymn (tune William Merrill; text Nolan Best); this is a fine study for linquists [don’t forget to click the play button]; “I got shoes“, song about the benefits of being God’s children, by Johnny Cash; “You are mine” by David Haas
Brain Food: commentary by Matthew Skinner; commentary from Journey with Jesus website; brief comment from Marilyn Robinson
Peter and his followers assumed what we must struggle to accept, that the world will pass away. The great recurring theme of biblical narrative is always rescue, whether of Noah and his family, the people of Israel, or Christ’s redeemed. The idea that there is a remnant too precious to be lost, in whom humanity will in some sense survive, has always been a generous hope, and a pious hope. For Peter this remnant is the ragtag community spreading into Rome and throughout its empire, the new Christians. Therefore in characterizing them to themselves he is describing those aspects of humanity dearest to God.
Contemporary Parables: We were soldiers” (2002), strength of community; “The legend of Beggar Vance” (2002), Beggar Vance gives Junnuh advice; “Wizard of Oz“, commentator draws an interesting parallel drawn between “wizard’s wind” and “holy spirit” [Ed’s note: I guess the same might be said about Twister.]
It is easy NOT to talk about your faith when people think all Christians are judgmental, hypocritical, and narrow-minded because of the actions of a few that seem to get a lot of media coverage. In the Acts lesson, Paul uses what the Athenians knew to help them learn about Christ. What parts of today’s society might you be able to use to help others see what Christians are really like?
Excerpted from SOLI website.
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As we continue the Great Fifty Days of celebrating our redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus, today’s Gospel reading continues Jesus’ words on the night before he died. The sign of our love of him is to follow his commandments and, above all, to love one another as he loves us. He promises not to leave his people alone but will send to them the Holy Spirit, the source of our unity with God and of Jesus’ revelation of himself to us.
Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles finds Paul preaching not to Jews and Greek converts to Judaism (as he usually did), but to the Greek philosophers in Athens. He proclaims that their unknown god is the God of the entire universe and the creator of all things. This God has been made known in the dying and rising of Jesus.
Peter’s epistle about baptism continues in our second reading calling on all the baptized to understand the difficulties of living in this world as our own sharing in the dying and rising of Jesus.
Our sharing in his redemptive death and in his resurrection was not completed in baptism; it was only begun. We are to live out that passage from death to life with his living presence through the Holy Spirit in our daily living.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.