The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer

Introduction to the readings for the seventh Sunday in the season of Easter, May 17, 2015

Over the last seven weeks, our readings from the Acts of the Apostles have taken us on quite a journey. Having travelled together the forty days since Jesus’ death on the cross, we have re-visited a number of resurrection stories and the appearance of the Risen Christ. Here this morning, the reading begins in the middle of Chapter One at verse 15 with the assumption made that our listeners would be aware of two major details. The first being that Jesus ascended to heaven to be with God and the second, being that Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, has also died. Our reading for today begins some selected verses and a proclamation from the apostle, Peter advising the community of what needs to happen now to fill the current leadership gap. A reading from the book of Acts, Chapter 1, verses 15-17 followed by verses 21-26

“Matthias is elected as an apostle” “In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said: “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit, through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus-for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

Reader pauses briefly “So one of the men who have accompanied us during the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us-one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection. So, they proposed two, Joseph call Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said: “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place. And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the 11 apostles.”

We move now to our book of Psalms, also beginning at Chapter One, found at VU p. 724 “Blessed are those who delight in God’s law”

We begin with the refrain. (Madelene will play) ….The reading continues here…

Blessed are those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked, or linger in the ways of sinners, or sit down among those who mock. But their delight is in the law of God, and on that law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted beside streams of water, yielding their fruit in due season. Their leaves do not wither, and whatever they produce shall prosper. (Refrain)

As for the wicked, it is not so with them, But they are like chaff, driven away by the wind. Therefore the wicked shall not be able to stand when judgement comes, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For God watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (Refrain)

As with the Acts of the Apostle readings, our gospel readings during the season of Easter have also ranged far and wide. Here, this morning, our passage comes to us once again from the gospel according to John as Jesus offers God his intercessory prayers on behalf of his beloved followers: A reading from Chapter 17, verses 6-19

“Jesus prays for his disciples so that they may have his joy made complete in them” “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me. So that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And, for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”

Reader: Here ends the reading. Sung Response: Halle VU958 (3 times)