May 5, 2024

Sixth Sunday of Easter

READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK:
  • First reading
    • Acts 10:44-48
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 98
  • Second reading
    • 1 John 5:1-6
  • Gospel
    • John 15:9-17

The gospel from John:
Jesus said “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

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April 28, 2024

Fifth Sunday of Easter

READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK
  • First reading
    • Acts 8:26-40
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 22:25-31
  • Second reading
    • 1 John 4:7-21
  • Gospel
    • John 15:1-8

Tbe second reading from 1 John:
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God.

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us.

Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

Sermon:
Pastor Stevensen told a story about a college female grad student who let a man come stay with her one night. He took liberties, such as using her toothbrush, got drunk, and even kissed her. The next morning he asked if he could come back. She did, but should she have? In 1 John we read that those who love God must also love their brothers and sisters. The scriptures can be too strict and rigid. We may be missing the point. Should she have taken him back or told him to get out get out. Pastor continues on to answer this question.

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April 14, 2024

Fourth Sunday in Easter

READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK:
  • First reading
    • Acts 4:5-12
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 23
  • Second reading
    • 1 John 3:16-24
  • Gospel
    • John 10:11-18

The gospel from John:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away–and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.

Jesus the Good Shepherd
1508-1519Le Breton, Jacques;* Gaudin, Jean
Cathédrale d’Amiens
Stained glass
Amiens, France
https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

*Notes:
Stained-glass composition by J. Le Breton (glass studio of Gaudin, Paris), 1933.
Donated by James T. Womack and Anne Richardson, Nashville, TN.

April 14, 2024

Third Sunday of Easter

READINGS FOR THE WEEK:

First Reading
Acts 3:12-19 

Psalm
Psalm 4  

Second Reading
1 John 3:1-7  

Gospel Reading
Luke 24:36b-48

The gospel from Luke:
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you–that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

April 5, 2024

Second Sunday of Easter

READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK
  • First reading
    • Acts 4:32-35
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 133
  • Second reading
    • 1 John 1:1-2:2
  • Gospel
    • John 20:19-31

The gospel from John:
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house 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.”

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.”

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

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.

*Notes:
“Caravaggio offers us a profound theology of innocence through the Beauty of his art. Known for his gritty realism, Caravaggio has Jesus grasping the hand of the apostle Thomas and thrusting it deep within the wound at his side, powerfully aligning Jesus’ and St. Thomas” hands to form a lance. St. Thomas” face expresses profound surprise as his finger thrusts deep into Jesus’ wound. Perhaps, the surprise has to do with his unbelief. It could also be surprise at the realization that he, too, is also pierced. Indeed, St. Thomas appears to clutch his side as if he becomes aware of a wound at his side as well. And we who wince at this gritty depiction feel a wound at our side as well.” (Aponte, 104)

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March 31, 2024

Resurrection of the Lord

READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK:
First reading
Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 25:6-9  

Psalm
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 
  
Second reading
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or Acts 10:34-43   

Gospel reading
John 20:1-18 or Mark 16:1-8

    The gospel from Mark 16:1-8
    When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”

    When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

    But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”

    So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

    March 20, 2024

    Maundy Thursday

    READINGS FOR HOLY WEEK

    Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14  •  Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19  •  1 Corinthians 11:23-26  •  John 13:1-17, 31b-35

    The gospel from John:
    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. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him.

    Christ washes the feet of the Apostles
    1933 Le Breton, Jacques ; Gaudin, Jean
    Cathédrale d’Amiens
    Stained glass
    Amiens, France
    https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu

    And during supper, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

    He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.”

    For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord–and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

    Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. When he had gone out, 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.

    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.”

    March 24,2024

    Liturgy of the Passions

    READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK
    • irst reading
      • Isaiah 50:4-9a
    • Psalm
      • Psalm 31:9-16
    • Second reading
      • Philippians 2:5-11
    • Gospel
      • Mark 14:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39, (40-47)

    The gospel from Mark15:
    As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.”

    Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

    Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over.

    But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!”

    So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him.

    And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

    Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.

    It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.

    Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.

    When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.”

    Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

    March 17, 2024

    Fifth Sunday in Lent

    READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK
    • First reading
      • Jeremiah 31:31-34
    • Psalm
      • Psalm 51:1-12 or Psalm 119:9-16
    • Second reading
      • Hebrews 5:5-10
    • Gospel
      • John 12:20-33

    The gospel from John:
    Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

    Cross with Wheat Chaff
    Ironwork
    Donated by The Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
    1960
    Benton Chapel, Vanderbilt University
    Nashville ,TN
    h:ttps://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu

    Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

    Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

    “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say–‘ Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.

    Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine.

    Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

    He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

    March 10, 2024

    Fourth Sunday in Lent

    READINGS FOR THE COMING WEEK
    • First reading
      • Numbers 21:4-9
    • Psalm
      • Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
    • Second reading
      • Ephesians 2:1-10
    • Gospel
      • John 3:14-21

    The gospel from John:
    And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

    “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

    And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”