The Fifth Sunday of Easter
+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We behold your glory, O God, in the love shown by your Son, lifted up on the cross and exalted on high. Increase our love for one another, that both in name and in truth we may be disciples of the risen Lord Jesus and so reflect by our lives the glory that is yours. Grant this through Jesus Christ, the firstborn from the dead, who lives and reigns with you now and always in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen
“The Love of God” – Mercy Me
A Reading from Acts of the Apostles: Acts 11:1-18 (NLT)
Peter Explains His Actions
Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said.
Then Peter told them exactly what had happened. “I was in the town of Joppa,” he said, “and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me. When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of tame and wild animals, reptiles, and birds. And I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’
“‘No, Lord,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean.’
“But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.’ This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven.
“Just then three men who had been sent from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry that they were Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us. He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He will tell you how you and everyone in your household can be saved!’
“As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?”
When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”
A Reading from the Gospels: John 13:31-35 (NLT)
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once. Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Great and loving God: You show compassion to all of your creation. Hear our prayers –
+ For church leaders, that they may model Jesus’ love for us, and for all of your creation….
+ For believers around the world, that we may demonstrate faith, hope and love among ourselves and to our neighbors….
+ For world leaders, that they may work diligently for peace between nations and cooperation for mutual benefit….
+ For broken, war-torn countries, that people may be reconciled and communities restored….
+ For political leaders, that they may work for the common good, even for those with whom they disagree….
+ For displaced persons, that they find safe havens and temporary relief until they can return home….
+ For the sick in body, mind, and spirit, that they may receive comfort and healing through the ministry of believers….
Great and loving God: You are kind and compassionate to all your creation, hear our prayers and help us according to your perfect will, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
“The Greatest Commands” – Harding University Concert Choir
Closing: – Psalm 145:4-7 (excerpts)
Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. Let them meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Let your awe-inspiring deeds be on every tongue, proclaiming your greatness. Let everyone share the story of your wonderful goodness; and sing with joy about your righteousness.
+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen