Week 25: Fifth Sunday of Easter

At the time when Peter declared the Good News to Cornelius and his kinfolk, the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. When Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him for being with uncircumcised men and eating with them. Peter reviewed for them his experience with Cornelius, telling them of his vision from God and his visit to Caesarea. He explained how the Lord had spoken to Cornelius and told him to send for Peter, saying that he (Peter) would declare to him and his kin a message by which they would be saved – Cornelius and his entire household. Peter reviewed how he told them of Jesus of Nazareth, and how, as he spoke to them, the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius’s company, just as he did on the disciples at the beginning. Recognizing God’s actions on the Gentiles, Peter and his colleagues announced that God has granted repentance that leads to life also to the peoples of the world who were not Jews.

As the grace of God was extended through the word of the apostles to the Gentiles, so it continues to this very day. Throughout this entire age, our Father God calls all men and women from every land to receive his free salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Spirit.

Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Eternal God our Father, the God who selects those who we reject and despise, make us aware that your compassion and grace extend to all who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, even to those considered untouchable and unlovely to those in the world. Help us live by grace and love, and not by our own preferences and stereotypes. 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

An annual reading through the Bible in the order in which the events took place

Sunday: 2 Kings 10.32-12.16; 2 Chron. 22.10-24.22

Lectionary Readings for the Day
Psalm: Ps. 148
Acts*: Acts 11.1-18
Gospel: John 13.31-35
NT: Rev. 21.1-6

* 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.

May the Lord, who revealed the wideness of his mercy in saving Cornelius and his clan, transform us, too, as we fully embrace his Gospel, which offers forgiveness and mercy to all who believe, wherever they live, and whoever they are. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Father, you have granted to the Gentiles, as well as to the Jews, the repentance that leads to eternal life.

Weekly Reflection on the Priesthood of all Believers
To discover the real meanings of our priestly nature we need to take a fresh look at the Bible and be willing to realign our thinking with what we find. Centuries before Martin Luther and other Reformation leaders began promoting the concept we know today as the universal priesthood or priesthood of all believers, Moses (Exodus 19:5-6), Peter (1 Peter 2:5-9), and John (Rev. 5:10, 20:6) had already been teaching it. This doctrine is not the sole domain of Protestants. The Roman Catholic Church and other Christian traditions make allowance for this doctrine.

~ Scott Breslin, Embracing Our Priestly Nature at Work:
A Theology and Practice for Ordinary Saints, Electronic Edition.
Eugene OR: Resource Publications, 2017. Loc. 4370.

Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
You Will Be My Witnesses, Acts 1.1-11

Book Reading
Breslin, Embracing Our Priestly Nature at Work

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