Easter 5, Year B

Title:Easter 5, Year B

 Easter 5, April 29, 2018 (full size gallery)


Green! How we have missed ye! This week it seemed like all the leaves came out on the trees. There was plenty of rain which nourished them.The sycamore trees are beginning to show their new leaves. The maples are now out. The dogwoods are still vibrant as well as the Hyacinth. The azaleas are beginning to bloom. In Port Royal, the unique viburnum is at its peak

A front came in and while it was sunny it was decidedly cool. The coolness overall this spring has extended the life of the blooms. 

We had two services at 9am, Rite 1 Eucharist and 11am, Rite II Eucharist. Usually we have Morning Prayer at 11am on the last Sunday of the month. However, on May 6 the church will be at the Parish Retreat at Shrine Month. Those remaining here will have Morning Prayer.  

While we had only 6 at 9am, there were 52 at 11am, one of the largest attendances at 11am. We had both birthdays and anniversaries. Nancy and Alex celebrated their 35th anniversary. We had enough children to do a children’s sermon about the Gospel to encourage all to bear fruit on the vine in connection with Jesus.

The sermon was a combination look at the Gospel and an introduction to Thy Kingdom Come, eleven days of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost. From the Gospel – "’I am the vine,’ he says, ‘and you are the branches.’ Here on the fifth Sunday in Easter, we hear this miraculous proclamation from Jesus. Jesus tells us who we are. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have become part of the great I AM. We are the branches of the divine vine, with holy nutrients coursing through our very beings. As branches on this vine, we are rooted and grounded in God. What a radical idea!.." Jesus tells us our job as branches is to abide in Jesus, as Jesus already abides in us." The connection with prayer – "Prayer is essential to abiding in God, because ultimately, prayer is about waiting on God with steadfast faithfulness, content to simply to be in God’s presence, and growing into our connectedness with God." This led to the introduction of "Thy Kingdom Come"a website for these 11 days of prayer.  

We have prayers for Port Royal during these days. 

Easter 5 is a turning point in Eastertide. Jesus physically appears in Easter 2 and 3 making the Resurrection tangible. The shepherding part of his ministry is explored in Easter 4. From Easter 5-7, Jesus must prepare the disciples for his departure. He is going to leave them. Jesus prepares his disciples for continuing his ministry without his physical presence. Themes explored include the holy spirit, the Prayer of Jesus and God’s glory through His Son and the church.

Today’s readings reveal what it means to live in and through Jesus. In Acts 8, Philip explains to the Ethiopian eunuch the good news of Jesus. The author of 1 John reveals that true faith becomes visible through the obedience of active love. In today’s gospel, Jesus explains that, like branches connected to a vine, we abide with him and experience great fruitfulness.

In the first reading from Act, Philip has been presented as evangelist to the despised Samaritans. Now he has been sent to another outsider. Ethiopia in the first century referred to southern Egypt, now the Sudan. The eunuch may have been a Gentile proselyte or a “God-fearer,” who accepted much but not all of the Jewish law. As a eunuch, he would have been barred from Jewish worship, although Isaiah prophesied the inclusion of eunuchs.

The fourth servant song from Isaiah (Isaiah 52:13–53:12), which becomes the inspiration for the eunuch’s inquiries, was central for the early Church’s understanding of Jesus’ death and resurrection as Christians searched the scriptures to find confirmation of what they had seen to be true.

The Epistle from 1 John repeats his earlier theme: God’s indwelling in the Christian is manifested in love for one another. In this reading, the theme is set in the context of the nature of God. Love is God’s most characteristic activity.

But the author’s assertion that “God is love” (v. 8) cannot be inverted to include the maxim that “love is God.” Much of what we experience as “love” is far from God’s love. God’s love is not an emotion but an event, made known to us in and through Christ’s incarnation and our redemption. Because this love is so intricately tied to Christ, the Christian’s mission of love is of necessity a mission of witness. We love one another as a manifestation of God’s life in us.

The Gospel of John calls Jesus, as Son, the representative of Israel, as “the true vine” (v. 1) who fulfills the calling of Israel. The Father is the vinegrower who “prunes” (v. 2, “trims clean”) the branches. Jesus reassures the disciples that they are already “pruned” ( v. 3, translated “cleansed” in the NRSV) by his word.

The summation of John’s chapter 15 can be expressed in two statements: (1) Abide in me—Experience that love (verses 1-8); and (2) Express that love (verses 9-17).

For John, Christian life is an active and committed life. There cannot be a living, unproductive branch. Those who do not remain, or abide, are taken away. Those who do abide through prayer bear fruit and show themselves as Jesus’ disciples.

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