May 24, 2020: The Seventh Sunday of Easter

 

Collect of the Day

 

O King of glory, Lord of hosts, uplifted in triumph far above all heavens, leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth whom You promised from the Father; for You live and reign with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 

Psalm 68:1–10

1God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered;and those who hate him shall flee before him!

2As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away;as wax melts before fire,so the wicked shall perish before God!

3But the righteous shall be glad;they shall exult before God;they shall be jubilant with joy!

4Sing to God, sing praises to his name;lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;his name is theLORD;exult before him!

5Father of the fatherless and protector of widowsis God in his holy habitation.

6God settles the solitary in a home;he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

7O God, when you went out before your people,when you marched through the wilderness,

8the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain,before God, the One of Sinai,before God, the God of Israel.

9Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad;you restored your inheritance as it languished;

10your flock found a dwelling in it;in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

 

First Reading --Acts 1:12–2612

 

Then [the apostles] returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.

13And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.

14All these with one accord were devotingthemselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

15In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said,

16“Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.

17For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

18(Now this man bought a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out.

19And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

20“For it is written in the Book of Psalms,“‘May his camp become desolate,and let there be no one to dwell in it’;and“‘Let another take his office.’

21So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

22beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

23And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias.

24And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen

25to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

26And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.GradualChrist has risen from the dead.[God the Father] has crowned him with glory and honor,He has given him dominion over the works of his hands;he has put all things under his feet.

 

Epistle --1 Peter 4:12–19; 5:6–11

 

12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

14If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

15But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.

16Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

17For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

18And“If therighteous is scarcely saved,what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

19Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. . . .

 

6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty handof God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,

7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

11To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

 

Verse

 

Alleluia. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. Alleluia. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Alleluia.

 

Gospel --John 17:1–11

 

1When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,

2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

3And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

4I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.

5And now, Father,glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.

7Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.

8For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

9I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

10All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.

11And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

 

 

 

 

Easter 7A May 24, 2020

Act 1:12-26

Trinity, Wellsville NY

The Judas Memo

Nowadays,people circulate memes on the internet, to make other people laugh. Memesrefer toimages with humorous captions or short funny videos. Back in the days before the internet, people would photocopy jokes and comics, and pass them around. This fictional memorandumI am about to read, I first saw on a mimeographed sheet. It’s that old! You youngsters can ask your grandparents what a mimeographwas. Our mimeoed memo goes like this:To: Jesus, Son of JosephWoodcrafter’s Carpenter ShopNazareth From: Jordan Management ConsultantsDear Sir:Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.As part of our service, we make some general comments for your guidance. It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew had been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.One of the candidates, however, showsgreat potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places.

2He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. We wish you every success in your new venture.Sincerely, Jordan Management ConsultantsJudas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, has been getting a lot attention in the media the last few years, just as he gets a lot of attention in the fake memo, and someattention in today’s first reading. Perhaps you have heard of the Gospel of Judas? Let’s deal with that aberration and dispose of it right away.The so-called Gospel of Judas is really nothing new. It was written about a hundred years afterJesus’ resurrection, and it certainly was not written by the real Judas. Around that time, dozens, maybe hundreds, of gospels and epistles were written by people masquerading as Jesus’ disciplesor other bible characters. These people were known as Gnostics, and they did not follow the faith delivered once and for all to the saints. About as soon as the Gospel of Judaswas written, authoritative church leaders were condemning it as bogus.Standard Gnostic teaching –heresy, more accurately–is found inthe Gospel of Judas. It says that we are born with a spark of God already inus and that salvation is found by coming to appreciate that hidden divine knowledgeinside. Furthermore, it says that Christ is not co-equal with the God the Father and that Jesus’ death was unnecessary. Unique to Judas’gospel is the idea that Judasalone among the disciples understood Jesus and his message correctly, andJudas’betrayal wasreally an effort to further Jesus’cause. Judas, itsays, was Jesus’ best friend to the end, not his enemy. And, to top it all off, Judasconsiders the Holy Communion tobe cannibalism.Every few years, it seems, the popular media jumps on one of theseGnostic writing –“noxious writings” I call them –and touts some Gnostic work as overturning ourtraditional Christian faith. They usually add that the institutional church has conspired to cover up the truth of the supposedly new revelation. Some people just eat theseup because they love a good church conspiracy theory and they hate the faith of the church. Rest assuredthe Judas Gospel changes nothing; what you have been taught about Christ and his church is still true.If the Judas gospel comes close to getting anything right, it might be something about Judas’ character. In the Gnostic writing, Judas thought he alone “got” Jesus. There’s more than a little narcissism and self-centeredness in that, and, as we see the real canonical gospels, Judasloved comfort and had a high opinion of himself. He stole from the disciples’common funds forhis own wants,and dared to criticize Christ our Lord. To give Judas hisdue, he probably did have some talents and skills, just as the fake memo says. But how important is that, really?Consider this: Think about candidates running for election (and I don’t have a particular election or candidates in mind). Sometimes a candidate is described as being smart, or really knowing the issues, or being shrewd. We would hope anyone standing for public office would have some

3smarts, be knowledgeable about current events,and be clever. Those seemlike prerequisites for any elected position.But even more so, shouldn’twe look for people who are honest, compassionate, and of high moral character?Judas might have been the brightest andmost successful disciplein a worldly way. That doesn’t necessarily mean he was the bestspiritually. Far from it. I cannot imagine a worse sin thanwhat Judas did,betraying our innocent Savior to death on a cross.A question I wrestled with for a long time was: Could Judas be forgiven? The thought of God possibly forgiving Judas was a radical idea that I needed to come to terms with. Judas committed the worst sinever. If God is infinitely merciful, couldn’tHe forgive the worstsin and the worstsinner? Willwe find Judas in Heaven? Let me share where I came down on all his, which is where the Christian church throughout history has come down too, as it shouldbe.Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for all sins.Even Judas’ sin. God’s love and mercy are infinite. However, from everything the Bible tells us, Judas did not repent. He may have realized his error, he may have felt bad about what he did,but he did not turn to God for forgiveness, although he had the chance. Judas could have been forgiven, but he chose not to be. He had the potential to be a great disciple and apostle, but he threw itaway. A real tragedy. Don’t make the mistake Judasdid.So, Judas’ death left an open among the Twelve, andthat opening would need to be filled. A man named Matthias was picked to take Judas’ office. We don’t know much about Matthias. Unlike Judas he didn’t have a talent for self-promotion;he didn’t insert himself into the forefront of events. Matthias had been a follower of Christ from earlyon, but he had been quiet about it. If Matthias had any special skills or talentslike Judas, we don’tknow about them. But how important are they, really?Have you ever heard, “God doesn’tcall the qualified, he qualifies the called.”? We may feel unqualified to do the jobs God is calling us to do. That’s alright. God will give us whateverwe need to do what he needs us to. You’ll be surprised what God can accomplish through you when you place your work in His hands.Look at those other disciples. As flawed and lacking in ability as they were, theywrote real canonical gospels and epistles, they traveled the world witnessing to Christ, they performed miracles, and they gave their earthly lives fora heavenly cause. If God could do that for and through them, think what He can do with you. The possibilities are endless. Embrace the mission God is calling you to. The church and the world needyour service. Godwon’t let you down; He will lift you up. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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