The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer

Introduction to the readings for the fourth Sunday in the season of Easter, April 26, 2015

This morning our first reading from scripture picks up the threads of the story we heard last week taken from the third chapter of the book of Acts. 

Some of you might remember last week how we heard how the disciples, Peter and John, heal a man who has been crippled for all of his life. 

As the man’s transformation took place in the public arena, many were witness not only to this miracle, but also, Peter’s claim it was done in the name of Jesus.  

In his speech to the gathered body on that occasion, you may recall how Peter also went on to lambast the gathered community of Jews saying it was they, and not Pontius Pilate, who were responsible for Jesus’ death on the cross.   Though biblical scholars have long questioned how the validity of this assertion as it was written into the text, it has been a difficult accusation to refute over the centuries.  As such, it continues to be one of Christianity’s crosses to bear, even today. 

We turn now to this morning’s reading from Chapter 4 of the book of Acts, as Peter and John having been thrown in prison for preaching the good news, find themselves being held to account by the religious authorities in Jerusalem. 

Their offense?  One outcome of their witnessing to the Risen Christ has added 5000 followers to their number and this has the authorities very worried.  

Here, scripture tells us that Peter, now filled with the Holy Spirit, is fortified in his response.

Listen carefully to what resonates for you as two very different communities clash, one a small band of believers determined to turn the world upside down embodying Margaret Mead’s idea that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can make a difference and the other, those determined to maintain the status quo.

A reading from the book of Acts, Chapter 4, verses 5-12 “Peter and John before the Jewish religious leaders”

….insert the reading here…

This morning, in our celebration of Good Shepherd Sunday, we are privy to a very familiar story about how Jesus was sustained in the living out of his call because of his rootedness in God’s love.  To set the tone, we begin with our choral offering.

Anthem: “The Good Shepherd” 

This morning we move away from Luke’s gospel back to the gospel according to John.   In this reading, we are plunked down in the middle of a conversation between Jesus and his listeners emerging out of a story about a another healing miracle-the restoring of sight to a blind man.  

Listen with care to this gospel reading for some new glimmer of understanding, especially as the closing verses remind us of our goal during the season of Easter-to reflect on our how our readings from scripture and our experiences shape  our understanding of the Risen Christ or not.

A reading from Chapter 10 of John’s Gospel, verses 11-18 “Jesus, the Good Shepherd”

…insert reading here…

Reader: Here ends the reading.

Sung Response:  VU958