April 28, 2013
by Stewart Clarke
[Newness runs as a theme through the readings, but, sometimes, as a challenge
in the early Church, as we see in the Acts reading. Then, we are told of a
whole new Creation in Revelation, and a new approach to life in the Gospel!
Of course, you will do what you wish with these, ignoring or revising, but,
surely honouring the Scriptures and the interest and intelligence of our
congregations. Perhaps they can be one more step in Biblical literacy
The first reading tells of a major crisis of faith in the early Christian
community. Jesus was always a Jew, and drew from this deep spiritual
tradition. His first followers were all Jews, and so were their early
followers. Jewish faith and tradition were the air they breathed, and the
differences between them and Gentiles were obvious and significant. But the
apostles were mobile and the story of Jesus was told far beyond Jerusalem
and Israel. Gentiles became converts, and this raised the question: could
they, or how could they become Christians without first becoming Jews?
Lets listen, as Luke explains, with Gods intervention (3), in Acts 11: 1 18 (4)
You may wish to reserve your acclaim until after the Gospel reading, or use
traditional language, or say something like: May we hear God's voice as
clearly as Peter. Amen.
The Psalm invites all creation to praise God.
(Praise the Lord, is, of course, Hallelujah!
In Revelation, the author sings of a whole new Creation, with a new holy
centre representing Gods presence, and a new atmosphere of blessing! No
more tears! No more death! We are invited to view Gods true Shalom! (5)
Lets listen to Johns vision in Rev. 21: 1 6
May we too envision and work towards God's shalom. Amen.
In the Gospel reading, we hear Jesus announcing the new age, with a new
Commandment., so simple and so complex
(You may want to skip the first few words, When he was gone, which are a
reference to Judas, and dont add much, on their own. Or you may want to
remind them of the time of Passover, the gathering, the foot washing and the
questions between Jesus and Judas and Judas departure.)
Lets rise to honour and be open to the Good News for us in:
(Or: Lets listen closely for the Good News for us in: )
John 13: 31 35
May we love each other, as Jesus loves us. Amen.
(It is appropriate to follow the readings with thanks and praise.)
(Comments to Stew at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
- Thanks to CAM and EMC, retrospectively.
- BTW: I was informed (I wish I could say, reminded) that the Psalm is
not another lection, as such, but an invitation to sing in response to the
first, usually Older Testament, Tanakh, reading, though at this season from
the Acts of the Apostles.
- I note, with some surprise, that Simon is prepared to debate with God,
but this fits the tradition, as well!
- Peters response to Gods command should be read with suitable horror!
You may want another voice for Gods reply!
- Surely we dont have to be reminded that the Greek does not say men,
but humans! The reference to the dwelling of God with human beings is a
reminder of Emmanuel. Similarly, if we use he, it shows us the
limitations of the English language rather than the gender of God!! If some
use she, it may be a corrective to the use of he for so many years. If
we could accept that God in Hebrew is a plural form, (Elohim), we might
use they, but that, surely, would require repeated explanation.