May 29, 2022

Seventh Sunday of Easter

READINGS FOR THE WEEK
  • First reading
    • Acts 16:16-34
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 97
  • Second reading
    • Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
  • Gospel
    • John 17:20-26

The gospel from John:
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.


Sarcophagus of Drausin*
3rd-4th centuries
Louvre
Paris, France
https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu

The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

*”I am the Alpha and the Omega,” provided symbolism for the early church as appears on this 3rd-4th century sarcophagus now in the Louvre in Paris. The monogram of Christ stands at the center, with the alpha to the left and the omega to the right. Surrounding it are the vines and branches, furthering the message of life in Christ. Fittingly, the stone burial container is decorated with a strong theological statement of life beginning with faith in Christ and ending with eternal life through him.

May 22, 2022

Sixth Sunday of Easter

READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK
  • First reading
    • Acts 16:9-15
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 67
  • Second reading
    • Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
  • Gospel
    • John 14:23-29 or John 5:1-9

The gospel from John 14:
Jesus answered, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

Peace I Leave with You!
Tile from Peace Wall in Hamilton, New Zealand
20th century
Mural
Hamilton, New Zealand
from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN

“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.

And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

May 15, 2022

Fifth Sunday of Easter

READINGS FOR THE WEEK
  • First reading
    • Acts 11:1-18
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 148
  • Second reading
    • Revelation 21:1-6
  • Gospel
    • John 13:31-35

The gospel from John:
Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.

Love one another as I have loved you
Bonardi, Noel
Corsica
from Art in the Christian Tradition
a project of Vanderbilt Divinity Library
https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu

Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Notes:
“Sculpture by Noël Bonardi on the Col de Verghio. The statue marks the border of the French Departments Haut-Corse and Corse-du-Sud. A plaque at the bottom of the sculpture reads: “Tenitevi Caru – Comme je vous ai aimés, aimez-vous aussi les uns les autres”, which translates into English: “Love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

Sermon
The Gospel readings have been from John since Easter and have to do with the Resurrection and what then to do. Many church leaders today turn to John. What do verses 31-32 of John 13 mean. Jesus said “now the son of Man has been glorified”, From Webster, glory means 1. splendor, 2. praise, 3. distinction, or 4. the happiness of heaven. Glorify means to 1. praise or 2. honor or raise in honor. He was glorified in the Resurrection. Now what is there to do. He will be back. We should be good stewards. Peter reached out to the world and his travels are described in Acts, chapters 9-15. He took great risks but learned the God desires fellowship. Pastor Stevensen continues on to conclude that God desires fellowhip with all people.

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May 8, 2022

Fourth Sunday of Easter

READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK
  • First reading
    • Acts 9:36-43
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 23
  • Second reading
    • Revelation 7:9-17
  • Gospel
    • John 10:22-30

Gospel from John:
The festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

My Sheep Hear
2018 Everett, Trey
Drawing
from Art in the Christian Tradition,
project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN
https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu

Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.

What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

Notes:
Trey Everett is a graphic artist who has created images for some of the Lectionary readings. His work is available at www.treyeverettcreates.com.

May 1, 2022

Third Sunday of Easter

READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK
  • First reading
    • Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 30
  • Second reading
    • Revelation 5:11-14
  • Gospel
    • John 21:1-19

The gospel from John:
Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.

That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

21:18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)

After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Sermon
There are people who think the resurrection of Christ a hallucination. Our gospel reading this week was written by the disciple John who was there and saw with his own eyes Jesus raised from the dead. John’s stories are not fiction. Another witness was Peter, who three times denied being a disciple, as Jesus had said would occur. What is the church to do: Trust theses witnesses. Peter became an important figure. He went on missionary journeys as far as Rome where he was martyred. John was different. He wrote his gospel. He stayed home and built churches. Pastor Stevensen goes on to mention the many who have helped spread the gospel. One is an administrator at a seminary on the board of which is Pastor. This administrator was provided a pay raise which he well deserved, even though he had only a supporting role in the seminary’s operation. He did important work. Both Peter and John did important work. All such persons are gifts from God.

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April 24, 2022

Second Sunday of Easter

READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK

The gospel from John:

Where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas
1601-1602 Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi Museum : Potsdam, Germany
Painting
https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.

But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

April 17, 2022

Resurrection of the Lord

READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK


Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25
  • Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
  • 1 Corinthians 15:19-26 or Acts 10:34-43
  • John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12

The gospel from John:
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

The gospel from Luke:
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”

Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

April 10, 2022

Sixth Sunday in Lent

READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK

Liturgy of the Palms (April 10, 2022)

  • Psalm
    • Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
  • Gospel
    • Luke 19:28-40

Liturgy of the Passion (April 10, 2022)

  • First reading
    • Isaiah 50:4-9a
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 31:9-16
  • Second reading
    • Philippians 2:5-11
  • Gospel
    • Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49

The gospel from Luke 19:28-40
Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.'”

Entry into Jerusalem
1262 T’oros Roslin
Baltimore, MD
https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu

So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.”

Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.

As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

April 3, 2022

Fifth Sunday in Lent

READINGS FOR THE WEEK
  • First reading
    • Isaiah 43:16-21
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 126
  • Second reading
    • Philippians 3:4b-14
  • Gospel
    • John 12:1-8
Anointing of Christ’s Feet
1886-1894 Tissot, James
Brooklyn Museum
New York, NY
https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu

The gospel from John:
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)

Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

March 27, 2022

Fourth Sunday in Lent

READINGS FOR THE WEEK
  • First reading
    • Joshua 5:9-12
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 32
  • Second reading
    • 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
  • Gospel
    • Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

The gospel from Luke:
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable:

“There was a man who had two sons The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”‘

Return of the Prodigal Son 1907
Feddersen, Hans Peter, 1848-1941
Kunsthalle Kiel
Kiel, Germany
diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe–the best one–and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’

Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'”