For Sunday May 1, 2016
Year C, Sixth Sunday of Easter
Sixth Sunday of Easter :: White ::
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 67
L: May God be gracious to us, and bless us
P: May God’s face shine upon us.
L: That God’s way may be known upon the earth;
P: And God’s saving power among all the nations.
L: Let the nations be glad and sing for joy;
P: For you judge the people and guide the nations.
L: Let the people praise you, O God,
P: Let all the people praise you!
Almighty God, ruler of heaven and earth, source of life and light for the holy city, we come again into your sanctuary. Fill us with hope and love; allow your river of life to not only flow to us, but through us, that others may know your peace. Feed us good fruit from your tree of life, and heal us and all the nations. Receive our worship, and grant us your blessing we pray.
In John chapter fifteen, Jesus tells his followers “Those who love me will keep my word, and God will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” There are many of Jesus’ words, though: which one is he talking about? Today I want to suggest that Jesus might be talking about loving and giving. Of all the things Jesus teaches about, the most frequent themes are loving and giving. Jesus teaches regularly to care for the needy, feed the poor, and give help to the hungry, naked, thirsty, imprisoned. . . . One of the ways we do that is through our tithes and offerings. They are a sign of our love for Jesus, and our willingness to keep His word. We will now receive the signs of love for Christ which make ministries of care and concern possible.
Here are our gifts, O God of wonder and majesty. We bring them as a sign that we remember all the many ways you have blessed us. We ask your blessing upon these gifts, that you will use them to care for the needy and bring food to the hungry. We bring them with thanksgiving in our hearts, and hope in our souls.
There is a little story in the Acts of the Apostles, wherein Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, encounters Paul, hears the Gospel, and responds. Acts 16:15 says “When she and her household were baptized, she urged us . . .” She urged Paul to stay in her home, where no doubt they broke bread together. I confess, I love this story because it a story about a radically empowered woman in a time when that was uncommon. What I love even more about it, is that Paul didn’t discount Lydia and the women she was with that day as unworthy. Even though they were Macedonian women, Paul shared the Good News with them. We share this table with all who will come, because it is not our table. It is our reminder of the Good News of Jesus Christ, which is open to all.
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Scripture Quotations from the New Revised Standard Version. Online Scripture links a service of the Jean and Alexander Heard Divinity Library, of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN