Sunday, May 17, 2020

Easter 7A Readings & Commentaries

The Sunday after Ascension Day

The Collect of the Day
O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:  Do not leave us comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

1st Reading:  Acts of the Apostles 1:6-14
Today’s first reading begins with Luke’s account of the Ascension of Jesus. The disciples still do not understand the nature of Jesus being the long-awaited Messiah. They still expect an earthly kingdom. If these are their expectations, Jesus disappoints. Instead, they are called to witness to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in his absence. Jesus then leaves them, and they do as he commanded, await the coming of the Spirit in Jerusalem.

1:6 When the apostles had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36
Our psalm is a plea to God to “rise up” and exercise his power and authority. The psalmist has a view of God as not always attentive, like the rain. Many of the psalms contain this anxiety. Nevertheless, God comes in majestic power to order the creation and make good on his covenant with the people.

1    Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; *
              let those who hate him flee before him.
2    Let them vanish like smoke when the wind drives it away; *
              as the wax melts at the fire, so let the wicked perish at
                                             the presence of God.
3    But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; *
              let them also be merry and joyful.
4    Sing to God, sing praises to his Name;
       exalt him who rides upon the heavens; *
              Yahweh is his Name, rejoice before him!
5    Father of orphans, defender of widows, *
              God in his holy habitation!
6    God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners
                                             into freedom; *
              but the rebels shall live in dry places.
7    O God, when you went forth before your people, *
              when you marched through the wilderness,
8    The earth shook, and the skies poured down rain,
       at the presence of God, the God of Sinai, *
              at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9    You sent a gracious rain, O God, upon your inheritance; *
              you refreshed the land when it was weary.
10 Your people found their home in it; *
              in your goodness, O God, you have made provision for the poor.
33  Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth;
              sing praises to the Lord.
34  He rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; *
              he sends forth his voice, his mighty voice.
35  Ascribe power to God; *
              his majesty is over Israel; his strength is in the skies.
36  How wonderful is God in his holy places! *
              the God of Israel giving strength and power to his people!
              Blessed be God!

2nd Reading:  1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
We have been reading through this letter throughout Eastertide. A primary theme is reiterated here: the Christian response to suffering for being followers of Jesus. This kind of suffering should be accepted and borne with joy and humility. The anxiety caused by suffering should be cast on God who is the one who restores, supports, strengthens and establishes us.

4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 8 Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel Reading:  John 17:1-11
Our Gospel reading is from chapter 17 of John’s Gospel, the end of Jesus’ long teaching following the Last Supper. It is often referred to as “the high priestly prayer,” because it is Jesus’ intercession for his followers, particularly that they might remain one, even in the midst of the confusion and doubt he knows will occur in his absence. Overall, a great theme of John’s Gospel is expressed:  knowing/believing in Jesus is eternal life itself.

17:1 Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. 6 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. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 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. 9 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. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And 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.

The Scripture quotations (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2020, Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, All rights reserved.  Permission given to copy for group study.  Bulletin inserts are available. Go to our website for more information (click on “subscribe”).

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