6th Sunday of Easter, 01 May: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psa 67; Rev 21:10ff; John 14:23-29 ~ Help is on the way

Sixth Sunday of Easter

As the Easter Season moves towards its second climax at Pentecost, we take heed of the Lord’s final words to his disciples, and look forward to the coming of the Holy Spirit.

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Opening Prayer:

Great and loving Father, your will for us in Jesus is the peace the world cannot give; your abiding gift is the Advocate he promised. Calm all troubled hearts, dispel every fear. Keep us steadfast in love and faithful to your word, that we may always be your dwelling place. 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.
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“The Church’s One Foundation”


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A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 (NLT)
[An early controversy in the Church concerned whether Jewish observances should bind those who were not Jewish by birth: today’s reading describes how this dispute was settled.]

The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles

While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question.
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Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. The men chosen were two of the church leaders—Judas (also called Barsabbas) and Silas. This is the letter they took with them:

“This letter is from the apostles and elders, your brothers in Jerusalem. It is written to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Greetings!

“We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them! So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are sending Judas and Silas to confirm what we have decided concerning your question.

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”

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A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8 (NLT)

May your ways be known throughout the earth, your saving power among people everywhere.

May the nations praise you, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you.
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May the nations praise you, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you.
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Then the earth will yield its harvests, and God, our God, will richly bless us.
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Psalm 67 in Hebrew with English translation by Tal Hermon (a family worship).


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A Reading from the Revelations of John: Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 (NLT)
[In John’s vision, the light of God’s presence in heaven is so bright that every other light seems pale in comparison.]

New Jerusalem

So he took me in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone — like jasper as clear as crystal. The city wall was broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates. There were three gates on each side—east, north, south, and west. The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
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I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.
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A Reading from the Gospels: John 14:23-29 (NLT)
[The Lord speaks of the gifts available to believers – the gift of peace, the gift of the Spirit.]

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative — that is, the Holy Spirit — he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

“I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.
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Hymn: “Dear Refuge Of My Weary Soul” – Indelible Grace


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Intercessory Prayer:

Loving Father, we approach your mercy seat with confidence that you will hear and respond to our concerns:

+ That nations thirsting for peace may receive the Spirit’s gift of harmony…. Lord, hear us.
+ That in every culture on earth, women may be honored and respected…. Lord, hear us.
+ That Christians being persecuted may keep their heavenly reward before their eyes…. Lord, hear us.
+ That in our own country during this political season, peace and reconciliation may grow…. Lord, hear us.
+ That the sick and dying may be cared for and comforted by Spirit-filled believers…. Lord, hear us.
+ That our friends and family who have died in Christ may find the gates of the new Jerusalem open wide to receive them…. Lord, hear us.

God of power and might, you graciously bless your people: give us confidence that our needs are heard and answered, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
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Hymn: “12 Gates To The City” – Robert Plant Band Of Joy

Benediction:

He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people. (Revelation 21:20-12)

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Morning Prayer: 08 May – Acts 15:22-31; John 15:12-17 ~ friends love each other

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentence and prayer:

This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. Alleluia.
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Almighty God, loving Father, hear the prayer of Your children. Cleanse our hearts by Your truth and guide our lives by Your holiness; may we do what is right and pleasing to You. Let the light of Your face shine upon us; free us from sin and fill us with Your goodness. Make us radiant with Christ’s glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

A Reading from Acts: Acts 15:22-31 (NLT)

Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. The men chosen were two of the church leaders — Judas (also called Barsabbas) and Silas. This is the letter they took with them:

good news great joy

“This letter is from the apostles and elders, your brothers in Jerusalem. It is written to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Greetings!

“We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them! So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are sending Judas and Silas to confirm what we have decided concerning your question.

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”

The messengers went at once to Antioch, where they called a general meeting of the believers and delivered the letter. And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message.
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I call you my friends, says the Lord, for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me. (John 15:15)
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A Reading from the Gospels: John 15:12-17 (NLT)

Friend-of-God

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.
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Canticle

Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing:

May the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Morning Prayer: 07 May – Acts 15:7-21; John 15:9-11 ~ overflowing joy

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentence and prayer:

Lord, stay with us always.
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Lord God, we were sinners and Your grace made us holy, we were without hope and You filled us with joy. Stand by us in Your saving work, and stay with us in Your gifts of grace. May we never fail to persevere in the holiness that comes from faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

A Reading from Acts: Acts 15:7-21 (NLT)

At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

The Council of Jerusalem The St Peter window, c.1870 Cologne Cathedral, Germany
The Council of Jerusalem
The St Peter window, c.1870
Cologne Cathedral, Germany

Everyone listened quietly as Barnabas and Paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

When they had finished, James stood and said, “Brothers, listen to me. Peter has told you about the time God first visited the Gentiles to take from them a people for himself. And this conversion of Gentiles is exactly what the prophets predicted. As it is written: ‘Afterward I will return and restore the fallen house of David. I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, so that the rest of humanity might seek the Lord, including the Gentiles — all those I have called to be mine. The Lord has spoken — he who made these things known so long ago.’

“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.”
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My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)
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A Reading from the Gospels: John 15:9-11 (NLT)

overflow2

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!
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Canticle

Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing:

May the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Morning Prayer: 06 May – Acts 15:1-6; John 15:1-8 ~ circumspection

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentence and prayer:

In You, Lord, is the source of life. Alleluia.
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Christ our Savior, You have overcome death to give us joy and have risen to lift us to the heights – awaken our hearts and make us holy this day by the gift of the Spirit. Angels in heaven praise You, Your people on earth adore You – in this Easter season let us worship You in spirit and in truth. Lord Jesus, look with kindness on Your people who hope for the resurrection – have mercy on us today and keep us from all evil. Christ, our life, we look forward to the day of Your coming; let us appear with you and share in your glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

A Reading from Acts: Acts 14:19-28 (NLT)

Governing body 1st Century
Governing body 1st Century

While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem, and they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told them — much to everyone’s joy — that the Gentiles, too, were being converted.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders. They reported everything God had done through them. But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.”

So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue.
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Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord; whoever remains in me will bear much fruit. (John 15:4-5)
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A Reading from the Gospels: John 15:1-8 (NLT)

pruning a vine

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
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Canticle

Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing:

May the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Morning Prayer: 05 May – Acts 14:19-28; John 14:27-31 ~ Kingdom suffering

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentence and prayer:

Keep these days with joy, and give glory to the Lord. Alleluia.
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Lord Jesus, in Your risen body You brought the good news of salvation to the women and the apostles – let me be Your witnesses in this present age. You gave everyone the promise of rising from the dead – make me a herald of Your good news, bringing people new hope. You appeared to the apostles and breathed the Holy Spirit upon them – pour out on me the Spirit who creates and renews. You promised to be with Your disciples to the end of time – stay with me throughout this day and remain with me for ever. Lord, grant me the blessings of Your resurrection.

A Reading from Acts: Acts 14:19-28 (NLT)

Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

sometimes

After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. Then they traveled back through Pisidia to Pamphylia. They preached the word in Perga, then went down to Attalia.

Finally, they returned by ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun. The believers there had entrusted them to the grace of God to do the work they had now completed. Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too. And they stayed there with the believers for a long time.
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Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, and so enter into his glory. (Luke 24:46, 26)
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A Reading from the Gospels: John 14:27-31 (NLT)

peace of Christ

“I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

“I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.
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Canticle

Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing:

May the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen