Week 23: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Jesus of Nazareth speaks of his intimate relationship with his people perhaps most clearly in his depiction of himself as the true Vine, his Father the gardener, and we who cling to him are the branches. The Father prunes the branches in order that they might be able to bear more fruit. We abide in him, and he in us. He is the source of our strength; we simply cannot bear fruit on our own apart from his indwelling power and supply. Nothing can replace the need for us to abide in Christ, our strength and supply.

Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Eternal God, the great Gardener and Vinedresser of the Vine, thank you for your constant care of our souls. You have united us to Christ, who is the True Vine, the source and strength of our lives. Only through your careful pruning and our Lord’s constant supply can we grow and bear fruit. Show us, dear Father, how to abide in Christ, how to allow you to prune and cleanse us, in order that we might bear much fruit, and glorify your name. In Christ’s name we pray, amen.

Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, amen.

Te Deum Laudamus 
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.

The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.

Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)

Gloria Patri
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.

Chronological Reading for the Day
Sunday: Song of Sol. 1-8

Lectionary Readings
Psalm: Ps. 22.25-31
Acts*: Acts 8.26-40
Gospel: John 15.1-8
NT: 1 John 4.7-21
* During Eastertide, a reading from Acts is often substituted for the lesson from the Hebrew Bible.

(Click here for all readings)
Reflection: Silence and/or Journaling

The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).

Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.

Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.

Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)

Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Benediction 
Lord Jesus, who is the True Vine, the source of our life, the supplier of our strength, and our help in times of trouble, be glorified today. Reveal yourself to us; show us how to abide in you, and how to allow you to abide in us. We desire that we might remain in you, that we might learn to bear fruit, and that you may be honored as we glorify your Father in heaven. We have come to know that we can do nothing apart from you. Help us now to keep our eyes on you, always depending, always waiting, and always listening to you. We are totally dependent on you. Lead us, now and always. In your holy name, we pray.

Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Lord Jesus, True Vine of the Father, let your life and grace flow through us, that we might bear fruit, the kind that remains, to the glory of the Father.

Weekly Reflection on the Sovereign Love of God
This mystical concept of the church is rooted in the holistic conception of reality that the early Christians inherited from the Old Testament. Like the Jews, the early Christians did not function with the dualistic distinctions between spirit and matter, secular and sacred. They believed in the coinherence of the spiritual and the material, not in such a way that there is a side-by-side conjunction, but through a real union that did not destroy the identity of each property. This incarnational theology, the union of the divine and the human, regulated the early Christian perception of the church. It affirmed the church as the divine and visible body of Christ — in whom Christ is mystically present. Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father and really present in the world through the church.

~ Robert E. Webber and David Neff.
Common Roots: The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Faith.
Electronic edition. Loc. 1208.

Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
The Spirit Is Here, Acts 2.1-21

Book Reading
Webber, Common Roots

Our Corporate Disciplines
Concert of Prayer: Tuesday, May 4, 2021