The gospel for Easter's seventh Sunday is always taken from the long prayer Jesus prays for his followers in John's gospel before his death. This prayer includes Jesus' desire that his followers be one as he and the Father are one. This oneness is not mere doctrinal agreement or institutional unity, but mutual abiding, and mutual love and joy. The first reading shows the church at work asserting such unity centered in Jesus. This oneness is the work of the Spirit whom we have received but also await. Come, Holy Spirit!
Alleluia! Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Refreshed by the resurrection life we share in Christ, let us give thanks for the gift of baptism.
Water may be poured as the presiding minister gives thanks.
We thank you, risen Christ, for these waters where you make us new, leading us from death to life, from tears to joy. We bless you, risen Christ, that your Spirit comes to us in the grace-filled waters of rebirth, like rains to our thirsting earth, like streams that revive our souls, like cups of cool water shared with strangers. Breathe your peace on your church when we hide in fear. Clothe us with your mercy and forgiveness. Send us companions on our journey as we share your life. Make us one, risen Christ. Cleanse our hearts. Shower us with life. To you be given all praise, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God, now and forever. Amen.
Gracious and glorious God, you have chosen us as your own, and by the powerful name of Christ you protect us from evil. By your Spirit transform us and your beloved world, that we may find our joy in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Unlike the rest of the year, in the Easter Season the New Testament book of Acts is the assigned First Lesson. While following this practice, Trinity has arranged these lessons chronologically focusing this year on the story of Peter in chapters 8-15. In today’s reading Peter speaks at the first Churchwide Assembly asserting that no conditions are to be added but all are saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. James, the brother of Jesus backs Peter’s assertion with Scripture and leads the Assembly in drafting a policy to be sent out.
6 The apostles and the elders met together [in Jerusalem] to consider this matter [brought to them by Paul and Barnabas and others from the church in Antioch that some teachers were stating, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved].
7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. 8 And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; 9 and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. 10 Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will."
12 The whole assembly kept silence, and listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles.
13 After they finished speaking, James replied, "My brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. 15 This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written, … 19 Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood. 21 For in every city, for generations past, Moses has had those who proclaim him, for he has been read aloud every sabbath in the synagogues."
22 Then the apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church, decided to choose men from among their members and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers, 23 with the following letter:
R: Word of God, word of life. C: Thanks be to God!
God has borne witness to the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Whoever believes in the Son of God believes in the witness of God and has the promise of eternal life.
9If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. 10Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
R: Word of God, word of life. C: Thanks be to God!
In this reading the church hears Jesus’ words on the night before his death. This gospel reports the words of Jesus’ prayer, a prayer for his disciples and for all who would believe in him through their words.
6I 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. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for 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.
9I 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. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are 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.
12While 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. 13But 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. 14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
15I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
R: The gospel of the Lord. C: Praise to you, O Christ.
God of love, you call us beloved children and welcome us to your table. Receive our lives and the gifts we offer. Abide with us and send us in service to a suffering world; for the sake of your beloved Child, Jesus Christ. Amen.
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