Dear Friends, Easter is a wonderful time for us to look back and to look forward. Looking back at all that our brother Jesus was and did and is for us –studying “his path” and trying to do likewise, ourselves, as we move forward into each day. We are told this week, the he “is our Advocate before God” –a very comforting thought, I think. Our God is always encouraging us through the memory of Jesus of Nazareth, to be our best. That is my challenge to myself and to each of you reading this. Please always know that I am here for you should it help to have an ear to listen…you can contact me as always by phone, 507-429-3616 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace and love to you all–each of you, Pastor Kathy
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy; praise the glory of God’s name; proclaim God’s glorious name, Alleluia!
Let Us Pray
Loving God, author of all truth, a people once in darkness has listened to our Word, Jesus, the Christ. We followed him as he rose from the tomb. Hear the prayer of your newborn people and strengthen us as Church to answer your call. May we rise and come forth into the light of day to stand in your presence until eternity dawns. We ask this in Jesus’ wonderful name, Amen.
- Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19
- 1 John 2: 1-5
- Luke 24: 35-48
My friends, we continue our journey through these six weeks of Eastertime. We are reminded as are the apostles, by Jesus, that “all of this” is happening according to a plan—bigger than them, in other words. Jesus reminds them and us that he is indeed the Messiah spoken of by all the prophets who came before him.
He reminds them that even though his actual presence on earth, in their midst, as a messiah—different perhaps, than what they expected, is, and was, what their God expected and wanted. Jesus’ messiahship was never about, “saving” them from the Romans, but always about saving them from themselves—as humans and assisting them to become their best selves.
Peter, post-resurrection, clearly has or takes the responsibility to instruct the Jews and others about Jesus, who they allowed to be crucified. Peter appears to us in today’s 1st reading from Acts, to be compassionate and understanding of their complicity in Jesus’ death, saying, “You acted out of ignorance,” not understanding all the prophets that came before him, saying that all would happen as it did.
But Peter continues—now is the time, “to reform your lives,” and “listen to everything” [pondering what Jesus, the prophet, has told you]. His coming among us was all about letting us know that our God is in love with us—each of us, wanting us to be our best selves, for ourselves, others, and our world.
John, in his 1st letter, which serves as our 2nd reading today, tells us clearly how we are to become our best selves: We must come to know this God who loves us so much, and we can be sure that we do, by “keeping the commandments of God,” John says. Jesus in fact makes that even more simple— “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Now, you are probably thinking—that is not at all simple, and you would be right! When we really think about it, our thought processes go something like this: “Why of course I love God, but my neighbor? —well, that is another story!” Yet, our brother, Jesus asks us in so many words, “How is it that you can say you love God, whom you have never seen, but can’t love your neighbor, whom you have seen?”
This is perhaps something good for us to ponder these days and weeks of Eastertime. And maybe a sharper focus might be, to contemplate never doing anything to a “neighbor” that we wouldn’t want done to ourselves. And, I think, a comfort in our struggle to be our best selves is to remember John’s words today, that, “Jesus is our Advocate with God.” I have always been comforted in the knowledge that our brother, Jesus, having been a human, in every way and tempted in all the ways that we are, chose to be his best self, so as to show us the way.
Jesus continues, we see, in the gospel from Luke today to, “open the eyes” of the apostles to what his presence on earth truly means—to what their true parts are, in carrying on his work in the world. And friends, this is about us too! What are we being called to do?
I believe a significant piece to keep in mind, is Jesus’ demeanor in all his dealings after the resurrection with his beloved apostles and disciples. As we discussed last week, Jesus’ appearances were always accompanied by the words, “Peace be with you.”
I believe Jesus knew that his disciples were afraid and confused. He would send his Spirit to give them strength and that would help, but his peaceful presence among them would do the most good.
My friends, we—in our lives, following in Jesus’ footsteps, are called to all that these first disciples were called to. We are called, as were they to see beyond what our eyes tell us—to in fact show that we love God, whom we do not see by loving those in our midst, whom we do see. Seeing Jesus in his risen form, will look to us much like it did for those 1st believers—seeing him, in the actions of love. Whenever we see unselfish love—true love, that is, “we see the face of God,” as I was recently reminded in the epic play, Les Misérables.
Seeing Jesus in our midst, now, is all about being able to see the “extraordinary” in the ordinary. We all know those times when we see family, friends, colleagues doing the patient work of bringing about the kin-dom—going the extra mile—speaking the kind word, giving the gentle touch, sharing the warm smile, the word of support when no one else is stepping up, being the catalyst for others doing the same.
Our city of Winona will have the opportunity, soon—we hope, and for some time, to see Jesus in his life among us through the lives of a Honduran family that will come here as they seek asylum from abuses, they suffered in their own country and even at our border. These young parents of two will strive for a better life for their family among us and with our assistance.
In conclusion then, Jesus’ words are apt. “You are my witnesses” [that love is stronger than death.] Amen? Amen! Alleluia!
Prayers of the Faithful:
Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
- Jesus, in your risen state, be our guide to live out your loving example toward all people, especially the least among us—let them be foremost in our minds and hearts, we pray— Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
- Risen Jesus, let peace reign in our hearts and give us the strength and grace to be people of peace, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
- Risen Jesus, you who desired to heal the minds, hearts and bodies of those in your midst, grant us health in these same ways, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
- Risen Jesus, grant each of us a renewed faith during this Easter Season to remain true to you living our lives in truth and justice and always with love, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
- Risen Jesus, our brother and friend, give hope to those who are suffering now due to job loss—illness of any kind, especially COVID 19, the ravages of nature, —show them the way through this painful time, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
- Risen Jesus, you gave us the gift of forgiveness—give us the generosity and care for others and for ourselves to be able to forgive, and to accept forgiveness from others, we pray— Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
- Risen Jesus, with each meal we partake in, remind us that you used common, everyday situations to expound on the love of Abba God—help us to see your face in all the ordinary events of our lives, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
- Risen Jesus, you who never turned anyone away, be with our community, All Are One—continue to bless us and assist us to be open to all of your people and guide us to always make a place of welcome at our table, but more importantly, in our hearts. Additionally, be with our Honduran family, entering soon into our community, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
- Risen Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, from COVID and all other causes—give them your peace and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus.”
***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—pause, we pray, then response
Let Us Pray
Jesus, you have truly risen! Alleluia! Be the strength we need each day to be people of the resurrection—true to our calling to be people of peace and of love. Let us never falter in our commitment to you and your world. Give us the strength and grace to do what we can to make our world better—help us to be the change we want to see. Let us truly be Easter people of joy, people of forgiveness. We ask all of this of you, our Brother and Friend and with the Creator and your Spirit of Truth— all, one God, living and loving us forever and ever, Amen.
Let Us Pray—Again, we can’t be together, nor receive the bread of the altar, but remember that Jesus is always with you—Always!
Prayer of Communion
Jesus, our brother and friend, look on us, your people, with kindness, as you looked upon your apostles, disciples and friends long ago. By these Easter mysteries, bring us to the glory of the resurrection. We ask this again in your wonderful name, Amen.