“LIFE IS AN INTOXICANT NO AMOUNT OF MORE MUNDANE inebriates — faster, deeper, more alluring, more captivating – can possibly equal. The problem is that for life to become its own exhilarant, we must learn to live it consciously, to live it in deeply, to live it to the brim, beyond the visible to the meaningful. Somehow, in the midst of the purely natural, we must become aware of what is more than simply natural, we must cross the line between matter and spirit, between time and timelessness. We must allow one to become the other so that the gifts of neither may be lost, so that the electricity of each can be released in us.”
Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year, page 170
Collect for Whitsunday
O God, who on this day taught the heart of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Acts 2:1-21 . . . the story of the Holy Spirit filling the apostles and empowering them to share the message of the gospel with people of different languages
Psalm 104: 25-37 . . . the wonders of the world created and renewed by the Lord’s Spirit
Romans 8:12-17. . . when we are moved by God’s spirit, we become God’s children and heirs with Christ
John 14: 8-17 . . . Jesus tells his disciples that in him the Father has been revealed, and he promises the gift of another Counselor, the Spirit of truth, to be with them
Will Willimon preaches, and asks the question: “How do we get to know God?” Through Jesus! “How do we continue getting to know God and God’s will for us and the world?” Through the Holy Spirit! But what does the Holy Spirit do? Listen as Willimon unpacks this passage and shares with us the good news that we are not alone in this world!
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 us 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.
Acts 16:16-34 . . . the imprisonment of Paul and Silas after Paul had healed a slave girl who was possessed by a spirit. An earthquake opens the door of the prison, but Paul takes the occasion to convert the jailer and his family
Psalm 97 . . . This is a hymn to the awesome Lord and Ruler, who brings the fire of judgment and light for the righteous.
Revelation 22: 12-17, 20-21 . . In his final vision John the Seer pictures the glorious Lord Jesus coming to judge and to save.
John 17: 20-26 . . . Jesus prays for the unity of his present and future disciples with the Father and himself.
Jim Somerville preaches a sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Easter called “The Whole World Is Watching”
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our Hearts such love toward you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
. . . Paul and his companions are called by a vision to journey to Macedonia and the city of Philippi, where a merchant named Lydia responds to the gospel and is baptized, together with her household.
. . . A prayer for God’s graciousness and saving power, and a bidding of praise by all people for God’s justice and bounty.
. . . John the Seer presents a vision of the new Jerusalem, the paradise of God.
. . . Jesus promised his disciples the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Sermon #1, Jesus reminds the disciples and us that a good teacher, the Advocate, goes with us. Listen as Will Willimon, bishop in the United Methodist church, reminds us that we are never alone in this world.
. . . Jesus has gone to Jerusalem for a festival and there at a pool called Bethzatha offers healing to a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
Sermon #2 Dr. Derik Jones, Pastor of First Baptist Church South Richmond, Virginia, tells stories of failure that turned into success.
“Religion celebrates what the rest of the world forgets—the inherent goodness of life itself. Religion knows that life unadorned and raw is the ultimate high. Everything else is a pale shadow of the real thing. All the excesses in the world –sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling, greed – are simply substitutes for the real thing. They are made for people who have yet to discover the joy of being human, the glory of God among us.”
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
. . . Followers of Jesus living in Judea and Jerusalem are astonished to learn of the conversion of gentiles as Peter tells them of his heavenly vision and how the Holy Spirit fell upon the new believers.
Psalm 148 . . . The Song of Songs
. . . The whole of creation and all people join together in praise of the Lord
. . . a vision of the renewal of all creation and of the new Jerusalem as the city in which God will abide with redeemed humanity.
. . . Jesus speaks to his disciples on the night that he is to be betrayed and handed over to death.
Sermon: “Short passage…big message…love one another, love one another, love one another…any questions?” begins Courtney Allen, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia
Collect: Fourth Sunday of Easter
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Acts 9: 36-43 . . . Peter is summoned to Joppa and raises up a disciple named Tabitha
Psalm 23 . . . A song from the flock of God, expressing the infinite care of God as the shepherd of humanity.
Revelation 7: 9-17 . . . a vision of those who have survived great tribulation and now worship before the throne of God and the Lamb.
John 10:22-30 . . . Jesus speaks to those who are unable to come to belief in him and then tells of his sheep that belong to him forever.
Sermon: How do we discern the difference between the imitators and Jesus’ voice? Listen as Michael Renninger helps us figure out how to hear, and recognize, the Good Shepherd’s voice.
Collect: Third Sunday of Easter
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Acts 9:1-6 (7-21) . . . Paul is converted from being an enemy of the Christian way in order to become the great apostle to the non-Jewish people
Psalm 30 . . . The journey out of sorrow into joy
Revelation 5:11-14 . . . This is a vision of the Lamb that was slain—a figure of Jesus.
John 21:1-19 . . . This is another appearance by Jesus to his disciples—this time after their return to the Sea of Tiberias or Galilee
Religion celebrates what the rest of the world forgets – the inherent goodness of life itself. Religion knows that life unadorned and raw is the ultimate high. Everything else is a pale shadow of the real thing. All the excesses in the world—sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling, greed—are simply substitutes for the real thing. They are made for people who have yet to discover the joy of being human, the glory of God among us.
It is religion, in fact, that built joy and excitement, happiness and satisfaction, abandon and trust, fun and holy leisure right into the midst of life in the first place.
Collect: The 2nd Sunday of Easter
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
Acts 5:27-32 . . . the apostles are brought before the council of religious authorities in Jerusalem and again commended to cease preaching in the name of Jesus
Psalm 150 . . . all that have breath are invited to join
Revelation 1:4-8 . . . John the Seer addresses seven representative churches in Asia Minor with a hymn of praise to Christ, the first-born from the dead and now ruler of all.
John 20:19-31 . . . two appearance of the risen Lord to his disciples
Sermon by Richard W. Voelz
“Easter is the moment Christmas points to, the moment the Passion obscures, the moment the tomb reveals. On Christmas morning we find the manger full of life; on Easter morning we find the tomb empty of death.” Joan Chittister
Let us pray . .
Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Isaiah 65: 17-25 . . . This about a blessed time, when God overcomes, for us, many of life’s shortcomings and frustrations.
Psalm 118:1-4, 14-24 . . . praise of the Lord’s salvation
Thank God because he’s good,
because his love never quits.
Tell the world, Israel,
“His love never quits.”
1 Corinthians 15:19-26 . . . Paul describes the plan of the resurrection age: it has begun with Christ’s rising, and this event gives us confidence that God defeated death, the last enemy
John 20:1-18 . . . the discovery of the empty tomb and Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene
Followed by a further discussion on the Resurrection
“There is a Passover here, too, of course. It is not the Passover of the ‘destroyer’ that spared the Jews in Egypt and generated their Exodus to the promised land. This Passover is the passage of Jesus from this life to the fullness of divine life. It is also, then, the passage of Christians from the life of this world to life lived in the light of the risen Jesus.”
Come together in a community characterized by love
Collect: Sixth Sunday in Easter
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promise, which exceed all that we can desire, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
Acts 10:44-48 . . . Peter tells Cornelius of God’s work in Jesus Christ, thus opening the doors of the Church to Gentiles.
Psalm 98 . . . A New Song to the Holy One: passions of victory
1 John 5:1-6 . . . The author describes Jesus as God’s love for us, and calls us to embrace one another in that love.
John 15:9-17 . . . Jesus tells his disciples that they have been chosen to love one another; in this they will find perfect joy.
Dr. Lauren Winner, Episcopal priest and Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality at Duke Divinity School preaches a sermon called, “A Little Trite, Don’t You Think?”
The Rev. Carla Pratt Keyes, Pastor of Ginter Park Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, preaches a sermon called, “If You’re Going to Live in My Love,” from John 15:9-17.
What it means to live in and through Jesus
Collect: Fifth Sunday of Easter
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Acts 8:26-40 . . . Philip explains to the Ethiopian eunuch the good news of Jesus
Psalm 22:24-30 . . . The Cry of the forsaken. Do you agree that whatever survives the ordeal is neither flippant nor naïve, but strong and sure?
1 John 4:7-21 . . . true faith becomes visible through the obedience of active love
John 15:1-8 . . . like branches connected to a vine, we abide with him and experience great fruitfulness
Sermon for the fifth Sunday of Easter.