Easter 7, May 28, 2017

Title:Easter 7, May 28, 2017

  Sunday, May 28, 2017, Easter 7, Memorial Day (full size gallery)

This week is Ascension in the Church (May 25) and Memorial Day for the nation (May 29). A Memorial Day gallery from the National Cemetery is here, pictures take on Friday and Saturday.

We held two services, 9am Rite 1 with 8 people and 11am Rite II with 40.

We had parishioners bring items of their service – a momento and or wear their uniform. Howard Muhley was honored at 9am for his service in the coast ground.  At 11am,  Woody Everett still fits in air force uniform as a colonel.  Dennis Ryan who served with both the Army in the air and the Marines on the ground in Vietnam wore his shirt with many metals. A total of 7 were honored at 11am. Mike Newman added that two of their companions were not present – Helmut Linne von Berg and Charles McGuire. 

Memorial Day was celebrated by a series of prayers and hymns. As part of the honor, we used the "Prayer for Heroic Service" from the Book of Common Prayer. We  then sang "America the Beautiful" as veterans moved to the front. Each veteran introduced himself and the branch of service that he servied. Catherine thanked all for their service.  The veterans returned to the congregation singing the hymn "My Country Tis’ of Thee."

The graves in our graveyard had flags denoting the flag they served under. This is an annual Port Royal tradition. We have approximately 10 who served, 2 CSA and 8 USA.

Today’s readings testify to the power of Christian community. In Acts, God’s Spirit astonishes and empowers the community. 1 Peter encourages the community to consider the blessing—intimacy with the Spirit—that is theirs when they suffer for God’s sake. Jesus prays that God would protect his disciples’ unity.

In the first reading from the book of Acts, Luke emphasizes the reality of the resurrection and the validity of the apostles as witnesses. The apostles are to await the Holy Spirit. The apostles ask if the kingdom is now to be restored, for the promise of the Spirit implies that the last days are imminent. Jesus discourages such speculation and redirects their attention to the plan of God now being unfolded.

A new era of sacred history is beginning. The world is to be evangelized from Jerusalem. Verse 8 is virtually a table of contents for Acts: Jerusalem, chapters 1–7, Judea and Samaria, chapters. 8–9, the Roman empire, chapters 10–28.

The apostles return to Jerusalem where Luke describes the expectant assembly: the eleven, the women who had attended Jesus, and his family. They devote themselves to prayer, always the context of great events in Luke, here particularly a prayer of expectation of the Spirit.

The Gospel’s reading is from Chapter 17 of John. Chapter 17 is known as the prayer of consecration or high-priestly prayer of Jesus. He offers himself to the Father and speaks as high priest in offering intercession for others.

Jesus’ ministry on earth is completed. He has manifested God’s nature and character (literally, “God’s name”) to the disciples, and they have received the knowledge that his works are those of the Father. This prayer is the expression of Jesus’ union and communion with the Father, spoken aloud before the disciples so that they may share that union. In the completion of the work of redemption, the Father and the Son reveal one another in mutual glory. Eternal life, the consequence of that redemption, is “to know…the only true God, and Jesus Christ” (v. 3). 

It is thus revelation as well as intercession. Jesus prays for himself, for the disciples and for future believers. 

John is telling them/us that Jesus is worried about something: disunity and division. He prays that the disciples will be one. Later he will extend this concern to all future disciples. Unity is not a strategy of convenience and economy; It is rather an extension of John’s understanding of what eternal life (or salvation) means. It is not about a place or a gift or a certificate of acquittal so much as about a relationship. John helps us avoid the commodification of the gospel and invites to an understanding of being good news by being community in which love is lived out.

The sermon took a concept of unity present in the readings. 

"This is Memorial Day weekend, a time when people remember and celebrate those who have served this country in the hope that we will continue to be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

"Unity is essential to the life and well-being of a nation."

The sermon quotes Lincoln’s "House Divided" speech of 1858 "Quoting the Bible, Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Lincoln at the time was ready to accept a nomination to run for the US Senate.

"Unity in the church begins with agreeing that we are the Lord’s, and we put NOTHING in the place of the Lord, especially not ourselves and our own longings for power and control.

"Our witness to our unity in God out in the world is through demonstrating love—our love for one another so expansive that our love expands out to our neighbors. "So what can we do to avoid being devoured by our differences? "First of all, act humbly, remembering that God is in control. "Second, be on the watch—divisions can break us apart quickly and unexpectedly, if we are not vigilant. "Third, act faithfully, following the example of Jesus—faithful to his disciples to the end—interceding for them. "How important for us to intercede not only for our beloved friends in prayer, but also to lift to God those with whom we disagree. Jesus even told us to pray for our enemies as part of what we do as faithful disciples.

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