Ascension of Our Lord - May 13, 2021

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In today’s readings the risen Christ ascends into heaven and his followers are assured that the Spirit will empower them to be witnesses throughout the earth. The disciples are told to not gaze up into heaven to look for Jesus (Acts 1:11); we find his presence among us as we proclaim the word and share the Easter feast. We too long for the Spirit to enliven our faith and invigorate our mission. 

 

Readings and Psalm

  • Acts 1:1-11 - Jesus sends the apostles

  • Psalm 47 - God has gone up with a shout. 

  • Psalm 93 (alternate) - Ever since the world began, your throne has been established. 

  • Ephesians 1:15-23 - Eyes to see the risen and ascended Christ

  • Luke 24:44-53 - Christ present in all times and places

 

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, your only Son was taken into the heavens and in your presence intercedes for us. Receive us and our prayers for all the world, and in the end bring everything into your glory, through Jesus Christ, our Sovereign and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

 

(Alternate) Almighty God, your blessed Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things. Mercifully give us faith to trust that, as he promised, he abides with us on earth to the end of time, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

 

GOSPEL MESSAGE – Our Turn

That Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection is a fundamental Christian belief—so much so that we include it in our creeds. The response of his disciples to this extraordinary action was not one of shock, nor of dismay that he had again been taken from them. Instead, the disciples returned “to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God” (Luke 24:52-53).

The gospels tell us that for three years Jesus’ disciples misunderstood his parables, misinterpreted his actions, and just plain missed the point of his public ministry. In a transformative moment just before his ascension, however, Jesus “opened their minds to understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:45). It might have been the most significant “light-bulb moment” in history. Over and over, Jesus had tried to convey his purpose to his disciples; now all became clear to them. Exhilarating as this enlightenment must have been, it also came with profound responsibilities. Since Jesus’ time on earth was over, it was now the disciples’ time. With Jesus no longer physically present to preach and to teach, to perform miracles, to heal, and to show compassion, all these responsibilities fell to those who followed him.

And yet this overwhelming task now seemed manageable to these once-bumbling disciples because Jesus provided them with the understanding they needed. That understanding is available to each of us as well. Baptized into the body of Christ, we have all that we need to proclaim Jesus’ message. No wonder the disciples were joyous as they returned to Jerusalem. We can be, too. As spiritual descendants of those first students, we have the extraordinary privilege of showing and telling the world about the invitation of the Son of God. Whenever we look on another person with love and compassion, seeing Christ in them, we are proclaiming the great good news of perfect and unconditional love. What a gift we have been given, that Jesus has entrusted us with his message to share.

From sundaysandseasons.com.

Copyright © 2021 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 16, 2021

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The gospel for Easter’s seventh Sunday is always taken from the long prayer Jesus prays for his followers in John’s gospel on the night before his death, and always includes Jesus’ desire that his followers will be one as he and the Father are one. This oneness is not mere doctrinal agreement or institutional unity, but mutual abiding, interpenetrating life, mutual love, and joy. This oneness is the work of the Spirit whom we have received but also await. Come, Holy Spirit!

 

Readings and Psalm

 

Prayer of the Day

Gracious and glorious God, you have chosen us as your own, and by the powerful name of Christ you protect us from evil. By your Spirit transform us and your beloved world, that we may find our joy in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

 

GOSPEL MESSAGE – The Power of Prayer

Here in the Gospel of John, at the close of Jesus’ final speech to his disciples before he is arrested and crucified, he engages in a remarkable, even visceral act of love. He prays for his disciples.

When we pray, God already knows, of course, what is on our hearts. We are not bringing God any new information. But when we pray, we bring ourselves uniquely into God’s presence. In prayer, we bring to God our deepest and most intimate needs, and we make ourselves vulnerable in a way we seldom allow in day-to-day life. This vulnerability is what strengthens our relationship with God, as any repeated physical actions strengthen our muscles. But prayer is not only for our own needs. Unexpectedly perhaps, it is intercessory prayer that nourishes us like nothing else. When we petition God on behalf of another person, we go outside ourselves, becoming other-focused in the way Jesus so fervently invites us to be in his own prayer in today’s gospel passage.

In this moment so close to the end of his life, Jesus prays not for himself but for his disciples, whom he loves: “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. . . . But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves” (John 17:11, 13).

How extraordinarily powerful it is to hear someone pray for you! As Jesus prepares to send his disciples out to preach and teach and baptize in his name, he equips them with the tool that strengthens our every act: he prays. He names them, along with his gratitude and his concerns, before God. That is a gift the disciples will be able to carry with them wherever they go.

 

From sundaysandseasons.com.

Copyright © 2021 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

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