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 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
Acts 17:22-31 . . . Paul’s address in a public forum to the curious citizens of Athens.
Psalm 66:8-20 . . . A Prayer from the Divine Abode
1 Peter 3:13-22 . . . guidance for all Christians, counseling a readiness to suffer patiently for doing what is right
John 14:15-21 . . . Jesus promises his followers that those who love him will be guided by the Holy Spirit and will also see him.
Does what you believe or not believe matter? Ryan Ahlgrim, pastor of First Mennonite Church, Richmond, Virginia, preaches from Acts.
Paul teaches in Athens where the temples/shrines to all the local gods were located and where the philosophers resided. Listen and learn what Paul teaches these philosophers and how we can apply his teaching today. Your beliefs really do matter. Why?
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 7:55-60 . . . A deacon OF THE CHURCH, Stephen, preaches salvation history before the high priest and the council, culminating in a vision of Jesus standing at God’s right hand.
1 Peter 2:2-10 . . . a series of images from the Old Testament, describing Christians as a chosen people called by God to God’s service.
John 14:1-14 . . . Jesus speaks with his disciples shortly before his passion and tells them that he is the way, the truth, and the life.
Have you ever had someone tell you that you look like or act like your parents? This is true for Michael Renninger, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia. He says that the family resemblance is strong. In John 14:1-14, Jesus shares an intimate moment with his disciples in which he reminds them that if they have seen and heard him, then they have seen and heard the Father. The family resemblance is strong.
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 2:42-47 . . . The new community of believers in the resurrected Jesus devote themselves to teaching and fellowship, to sharing in eucharistic meals, and to the prayers.
Psalm 23 . . . “A Song from the Flock of God:” a personal and individual expressed sense of human life in response to the divine Presence, which serves as guide and guard
1 Peter 2:19-25 . . . disciples are called to bear undeserved suffering with patience, even as Christ has set an example for us, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.
John 10:1-10 . . . two related images in which Jesus is first the shepherd in charge of the sheep and then the gate through which the sheep enter.
Ryan Ahlgrim, pastor of First Mennonite Church, Richmond, Virginia, begins by sharing how he was zealous for trying to convert people as a teenager. However, when asked how many he had converted, he was embarrassed because the answer was none. As he has grown older and gained more experiences, he now says that he thinks, “maybe this is the way it is supposed to be.” In Acts 2:42-47, we learn that we are not converted by a sermon, but by the Spirit of God, as it animates and empowers the church of Jesus Christ
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 2:14, 36-41 . . . a summary of the preaching and other activities of the early Christian community in Jerusalem
1 Peter 1:17-23 . . . the price of Christian freedom from the old ways of futility has been paid with the sacrificial blood of Christ. Although now we await the judgement of God the Father in awe, we have the faith and hope of people who have been born anew.
Luke 24:13-35. . . the story of how disciples were met by a stranger on the road to Emmaus. That evening, as he breaks bread with them, they know the stranger to be Jesus.
Rev. Dr. Kristin Adkins Whitesides, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Winchester, Virginia, says, “Sometimes we miss Easter or only just catch a glimpse of it before it is gone. We need more time to digest what has happened, to let it all sink in…and we aren’t the only ones.” In today’s passage from Luke, Cleopas and a friend were walking on the road to Emmaus, when a stranger eavesdropped on their conversation. It took time for them to realize who was walking with them. Listen as Adkins-Whitesides explains how they recognized Jesus and invites us to recognize how Jesus appears to us today as well.
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery hast established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
Acts 2:4, 22-32 . . . Peter preaches the fundamental message of the resurrection.
Psalm 16 . . . A song of the Refugee: a sophisticated understanding of idolatry
1Peter 1:3-9 . . . the new birth Christians have received through baptism which brings them a living hope through Jesus’ resurrection and an imperishable inheritance
John 20:19-31 . . . two appearance of the risen Lord to his disciples
“Poor Thomas. He’s been called the doubter, the skeptic. Jesus seems to chastise him for having to see in order to believe,” begins MaryAnn McKibben Dana. In the Gospel reading, today, we learn about how Jesus handles a “skeptic” in the ranks. Dana says, “The word for faith and the word for doubt comes from the same Greek root. It’s as if they are two sides of the same coin. It’s as if you can’t have one without the other.” Listen as Dana explores the concept of wrestling with doubt and how normal it is to be like Thomas.
We thank you, heavenly Father, that you have delivered us from the dominion of sin and death and brought us into the kingdom of your Son; and we pray that, as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his love he may raise us to eternal joys; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Acts 10:34-43 . . . Peter realizes that good news of the gospel is meant for all people, and he proclaims the crucified and risen Jesus.
Colossians 3:1-4. . . Those who have shared in the experience of Christ’s resurrection are to set their minds on the things that are above.
John 20:1-18 . . . the discovery of the empty tomb and Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene.
Two priests enter a bar and see Jesus. It sounds like a good punch line for a joke. But Phillip Martin, pastor of Epiphany Lutheran Church in Richmond, Virginia tells how he and a co-worker went into a brewery and actually saw a man dressed up like Jesus. Martin’s co-worker did not believe him until he actually saw the man with his own eyes. Then they took a picture with the man because they had “seen the Lord.”
“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