Monday, April 27, 2015

An Order for the Eucharist on the Fifth Sunday of Easter (3 May 2015)

Please note that we are using the English Language Liturgical Consultation's recommended Hebrew Bible reading and psalm for the Easter season (Year B).

The Fifth Sunday of Easter
3 May 2015

The Gathering of the Community

Entrance Hymn

‘Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken’  Common Praise #388


Alleluia!  Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia!
May his grace and peace be with you.
May he fill our hearts with joy.


‘Alleluia!  Jesus Is Risen’  Evangelical Lutheran Worship #377 vv. 1, 2, 3

Collect of the Day

Let us pray.

God of deep soil and luxurious growth,
you call us rom our shallow selves
to find our depth in you:
may we abide in him alone
who can teach us who we are,
Jesus Christ, the true vine. [i]

The Proclamation of the Word of God

The First Reading

A Reading from Exodus (19.1-6).

            1 On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai.  2 They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain.  3 Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites:  4 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  5 Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples.  Indeed, the whole earth is mine, 6 but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.”

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Thanks be to God.

The Psalm of the Day

Psalm 118.19-25 with Refrain from Songs for the Holy One

Refrain (twice):  God’s faithful love endures for ever.  Hallelujah!

19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; *
            I will enter them;
            I will offer thanks to the Lord.
20 ”This is the gate of the Lord; *
            those who are righteous may enter.”
21 I will give thanks to the Lord who answered me *
            and has become my salvation.
22 The same stone which the builders rejected *
            has become the chief cornerstone.

Refrain:  God’s faithful love endures for ever.  Hallelujah!

23 This is the Lord’s doing, *
            and it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 On this day the Lord has acted; *
            we will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Hosannah, Lord, hosannah! *
            Lord, send us now success.

Refrain:  God’s faithful love endures for ever.  Hallelujah!

The Second Reading

A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (8.26-40).

            26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”  (This is a wilderness road.)  27 So he got up and went.  Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury.  He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.  29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.”  30 So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah.  [Philip] asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  31 [The eunuch] replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”  And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.

            32 Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:  “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth.  33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.  Who can describe his generation?  For his life is taken away from the earth.”

            34 The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?”  35 Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus.  36 As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water!  What is to prevent me from being baptized?”  38 He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.  39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.  40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn before the Gospel

‘Alleluia!  The Strife Is O’er’  Common Praise #350

The Gospel

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John (15.1-8)
Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

            1 [Jesus said,] “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.  2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit.  Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.  3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.  4 Abide in me as I abide in you.  Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.  5 I am the vine, you are the branches.  Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.  6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

The Gospel of Christ.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

The Sermon

An Affirmation of Faith

Let us proclaim God’s appeal to all.

If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation:
everything old has passed away;
see, everything has become new!
All this is from God,
who reconciled us to himself through Christ,
and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,
not counting their trespasses against them,
and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
since God is making his appeal through us;

And so we say to one and to all:
we entreat you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God. [ii]

The Prayers of the Community

Intercessions, Petitions and Thanksgivings

The Exchange of the Peace

May the peace of the risen Christ be with you all.
And also with you.

The Holy Communion

Offertory Hymn

‘Stand Up and Bless the Lord’  Common Praise #350

The Prayer over the Gifts

Let us pray.

Blessed are you, O God, ruler of heaven and earth.
Day by day you shower us with blessings.
As you have raised us to new life in Christ,
give us glad and generous hearts,
ready to praise you and to respond to those in need,
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen. [iii]

The Thanksgiving at the Table

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, gracious God,
creator of heaven and earth;
we give you thanks and praise
for the glorious resurrection of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord;
for he is the true paschal lamb
who has taken away the sin of the world. 
By his death he destroyed death,
and by his rising to life again
he has won for us eternal life. 
Therefore, joining our voices
with the whole company of heaven,
we sing our joyful hymn of praise
to proclaim the glory of your name.

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might. 
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. 
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 
Hosanna in the highest. [iv]

Blessed are you, O God of the universe. 
Your mercy is everlasting
and your faithfulness endures from age to age.

Praise to you for creating the heavens and the earth. 
Praise to you for saving the earth from the waters of the flood. 
Praise to you for bringing the Israelites safely through the sea. 
Praise to you for leading your people
through the wilderness to the land of milk and honey. 
Praise to you for the words and deeds of Jesus, your anointed one. 
Praise to you for the death and resurrection of Christ. 
Praise to you for your Spirit poured out on all nations.

In the night in which he was betrayed,
our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;
broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: 
Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. 
Do this for the remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup,
gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: 
This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. 
Do this for the remembrance of me.

With this bread and cup
we remember our Lord’s Passover from death to life
as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died.  
Christ is risen. 
Christ will come again.

O God of resurrection and new life: 
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us
and on these gifts of bread and wine. 
Bless this feast. 
Grace our table with your presence.
Come, Holy Spirit.

Reveal yourself to us in the breaking of the bread. 
Raise us up as the body of Christ for the world. 
Breathe new life into us. 
Send us forth, burning with justice, peace and love.
Come, Holy Spirit.

With the ever-blessed Virgin Mary,
blessed Joseph, blessed Faith
and your holy ones of all times and places,
with the earth and all its creatures,
with sun and moon and stars,
we praise you, O God,
blessed and holy Trinity,
now and forever.  Amen. [v]

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, let us pray,
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen. [vi]

The Breaking of the Bread

Lord, we died with you on the cross.
Now we are raised to new life.
We were buried in your tomb.
Now we share in your resurrection.
Live in us, that we may live in you.

The gifts of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.


Hymn after Communion

‘I Am the Bread, the Bread of Life’  Common Praise #56

The Sending Forth of the Community

The Prayer after Communion

Life-giving God,
in the mystery of Christ’s resurrection
you send light to conquer darkness,
water to give new life,
and the bread of life to nourish your people.
Send us forth as witnesses to your Son’s resurrection,
that we may show your glory to all the world,
through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord.  Amen. [vii]

Glory to God,
whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more
than we can ask or imagine. 
Glory to God from generation to generation,
in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
for ever and ever.  Amen.

Closing Hymn

‘Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee’  Common Praise #525

The Dismissal

Let us go forth in the name of Christ.  Alleluia, alleluia!
Thanks be to God.  Alleluia, alleluia!

[ii] 2 Corinthians 5.17-20 (arranged for liturgical use by the Rev’d Dr Richard Geoffrey Leggett).

[iii] ‘Offering Prayer for Easter’, Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 64.

[iv] Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), #525.

[v] ‘Thanksgiving at the Table IV’, Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 111.

[vi] Songs for a Gospel People #12.

[vii] ‘Prayer after Communion for Easter’, Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 65.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

One Flock, One Shepherd: Unity not Uniformity (Easter 4B 26 April 2015)

RCL Easter 4B
26 April 2015

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

         Over the past several months I have been in conversations where the topic of retirement has been raised.  For me there is a degree of uncertainty given the changes in law, in our Diocese and in the day-to-day realities of parish ministry.  Depending on how these change combine at any given time, I could retire in three years or four years or five years or eight years or --- never!
         After one of these conversations I found myself pondering the dreaded ‘L’ word --- ‘Legacy’.  When the time comes and I leave full-time paid ministry, what will I look back on with a degree of joy and satisfaction?  Many things have come to mind, but four remain relatively high on the list:
         i)  Working for the restoration of the diaconate as a full and equal ministry in the life of the Anglican churches in North America;
         ii)  Being on the faculty of the first theological college in North America to offer an accredited Master of Divinity for people serving in aboriginal communities that seeks to respect aboriginal cultures and ways of learning;      
         iii)  Serving the cause of the full and visible unity of the Christian Church by participating in the process that has brought the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada into full communion; and
         iv)  Trying to help the Church receive gay and lesbian Christian as full and equal disciples.
         When I look at this list, I realize that the last two have been received differently in the wider world.  Full communion between Anglicans and Lutherans has generally been greeted with enthusiasm although there are a few nay-sayers.  The same cannot be said of my participation in the struggle for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians.  Some people I know have laid the responsibility for the current divisions between Anglicans squarely at my feet and the feet of those who share my views.  ‘You have scattered the sheep,’ some have said.
         So, what are we to make of Jesus’ words in today’s gospel?  In all of the events that have occurred during my life and during my time as an ordained minister of the Church, have we followed the way of the good shepherd or the way of the hired hand?  Have we gathered the sheep into ‘one flock’ or scattered them hither and yon?  These questions are never far from my mind.  Yet, there is one more that is perhaps even more important.  What does Jesus mean when he says, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”? (John 10.16)
         There have been many answers given by Christian teachers and preachers to this question.  I won’t try to catalogue them for you.  But I will give you my own ‘take’ on the question.
         For whatever reason, human beings seem to have a built-in temptation to divide the world into two categories:  people who are like ‘us’ and people who are not --- the ‘others’.  This temptation causes us frequent discomfort as we navigate the currents of our lives, especially when we come face to face with someone who is ‘different’ from ‘us’.  Through the prophet Micah, God has given us some guidelines for how to navigate such turbulent waters.  (Micah 6.8)
         i)  Do justice:  Treat everyone with dignity and respect because everyone has been made in the image of God.
         ii)  Love kindness:  Care for every creature, human and non-human, with compassion.
         iii)  Walk humbly with God:  Dare to look for God even in those who differ from us the most and to believe that God is act work in them just as surely as God is at work in us.
         And, as if these guidelines were not enough, God sent, in the fullness of time, Jesus of Nazareth in whom the Word of God, God’s very creative purpose, walks among us.  In his life and teaching Jesus bears witness to God’s vision of the unity of all creation.  In his letter to the Galatians Paul of Tarsus gives a clear summary of this vision:  “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”  (Galatians 3.27-28)
         What Jesus and his disciple Paul have taught us is this:  Our differences, though real, are not silos that are meant to keep the ‘other’ out and ourselves secure.  They are signs of the wonder of God’s creation.  Just as each facet of a cut diamond reflects the light and deepens the stone’s splendour, so too does the diversity of humanity tell the wonder of God.
         Unity, as God has envisaged it and the Scriptures teach us, is not a uniformity based upon conformity to a single facet of the diamond that is creation.  Unity arises when, like the Good Shepherd, we gather people into community, into communion with one another.  Just as God gives God’s very self to us in the eucharist, so do we give one another our very selves, the richness of our identity, when we do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God amidst the wondrous variety of creation.
         But unity does come at a price.  Moving beyond tolerance of the ‘other’ into respect for the ‘other’ is not easy.  Respect requires us to believe that the ‘other’ has an insight, a gift, a perspective on being human that we lack but need in order to become more fully human ourselves.  Unity may mean living with uncertainty as we struggle together to discern how we inch closer to God’s future.  And, from my own experience, working for unity means risking the disapproval of one’s own community, even one’s own family.

         For the sake of the unity of all people Jesus chose to lay down his life.  For our unity God raised Jesus from the dead so that we might know the fullness of life.  May we, using the gifts God has given each of us, become shepherds who gather God’s scattered and divided sheep together.  There will be one flock, one shepherd, and some of the flock will be white, yellow, black and brown and all colours in between.  Some of the flock will want to drink from the same spring as the others and some will be more picky.  But only together will the flock know the One in whose image they have been created and into whose future they are being led.