|Lectionary||1st Reading||Psalm||2nd Reading||Gospel|
Acts 7: 55 - 60
1 Peter 2:2-10
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
1 Peter. 2:4-9
SECTION ONE: NOTES ON THE READINGS
The message of Easter: Jesus is risen – we have a job to do!
5th Sunday OF Easter – OF and not AFTER Easter – signifies the enormous meaning of the events of Easter which we celebrate fully for 7 weeks. THE major festival of our faith.
Remove Christmas and we lose just a couple of chapters in our Bibles. Remove the resurrection and we would have no New Testament, no Church, no redemption……
The resurrection of Christ began the renewal of Creation. God has become King on Earth – as in Heaven just as we pray in the prayer Jesus taught us. That prayer will be fully answered of course when heaven and earth are joined in the new Jerusalem here.
What does this all mean to us here and now as disciples of Christ? Well, most immediately it means learning to live as resurrection people between Easter and the day Jesus returns. Each of our Christian lives and our corporate lives whether in worship or mission should be signs of the first Easter and a foretaste of the second. We should be working for the renewing of Creation.
1 Peter 2.2-10 (Message)
2 1-3 So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.
The Stone 4-8 Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. The Scriptures provide precedent:Look! I’m setting a stone in Zion,
9-10 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
This reading from 1 Peter (and I purposely use the Message translation as it is direct and no mincing of words!) encapsulates the Easter message. The Stone – the Christ rejected by the very people who should have recognised who he was. Rejected and murdered on the cross. All that took place ‘as predicted’ in the Scriptures.
Easter – without Easter there would be no New Testament – no good news… no reconciliation with God. But there was Easter – the new dawning of God’s re-newed world here on earth. And new responsibilities for those who experience the dawning of understanding – of the consequences of what happened all those years ago. Those who believe are truly: ‘the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people. God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you. From nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.’
So what exactly is the prime task of those who belong to Jesus? It is to be and live as the new Temple.
1 Peter 2.5,9 That means worship and stewardship, bringing about justice and beauty. These are the main vocations of God’s redeemed people. And to achieve this we take on the calling of learning to ‘renew’ our hearts, minds and lives – bit by bit.
We are called to be the true Temple. Jesus is the one true ‘living stone’ and we, his followers, are the ‘living stones’ by which the temple is to be built. As we do this God’s presence will be brought into the world around us and as we carry the extraordinary message of what God has done, into the world – so we join in the work of building for the kingdom of Jesus in all the world. This is what it means to be a ‘royal priesthood’!! Just as it was in the early days, so it is today as well. The early Christians were rejected by the world around them but they continued to live lives of holiness and hope – and that is exactly what the ‘royal priesthood’ should look like. We have a saying ‘Actions speak louder than words’ – and that has been true from the beginning. A Christian lifestyle should attract others and make them want to know more about Jesus.
Easter ushers in God’s plan for the renewal of his creation – the whole of his creation – the natural world around us but also the people all around the world. The orthodox world uses icons to meditate on God. Icons, they say, point us to God. St John of Damascus said, ‘ the whole earth is a living icon, a portal through which we encounter God’s presence. To grow closer to God we need to grow closer to all that he has created. We need to develop “ears that hear and eyes that see” Proverbs 20:12 NIV. As we do so our whole life can become a prayer and we grow closer to God and closer to the needs of the world. Only so can we actively be part of the renewal of creation.
SECTION TWO: DRAFT SERMON/SERMON OUTLINE
My context – where I am in the world, and the major issues we face.
Building for the Kingdom in Switzerland – where I live.
Taking the responsibility for voting seriously. In Switzerland we have a direct democracy. Sadly very often only 30-40% vote. Coming up soon, there are two vitally important subjects we will be voting on which concern our subject this week. The first is the clean water initiative and secondly the Glacier initiative. Glaciers are not just very beautiful and stunning, they are our reservoirs. Their ever faster melting cannot be reversed and is the beginning of catastrophe. A catastrophe that could still be halted if we were to change our lifestyle. For me it is not just that glaciers are water reservoirs for much of Europe but also a matter of caring for the amazing creation that God has given us to live in, use and enjoy. It is, of course, also a matter of protecting our environment for future generations. Even non-Christians should want to do that! Many people do not realise that the matter is urgent. If we don’t act now, it will be too late to change or stop many of the things which are threatening our very existence. I know that in the end God will renew this earth but that is no excuse for not doing our part in caring now. Especially when we are aware of how our actions here all too often detrimentally affect the lives of men, women and children in countries far away from us. For example, how flying, oil-fired central heating, not taking notice of how clothes and other articles are made cheaply abroad can affect CO2 emissions around the world which in turn affect the climate in places many miles away.
The Drinking water initiative seeks to protect not only our water but also the bio-diversity of the land. It seeks to implement a change in the way the land is farmed and food grown. These things need not only a change in the law but also a change in people’s consumer habits.
60% of insects are endangered, 95% of dry meadows and pastures have disappeared since 1900 and 40% of breeding birds are endangered
The Swiss Alps are the Water Castle of Europe. The snows/water from here feed the major rivers in Europe!
These are just a couple of examples from my situation. Perhaps you could have a short time of interaction with your congregation – pooling ideas and thoughts that everyone could put into practice to protect and show our care for God’s creation wherever we live.
SECTION THREE: ADDITIONAL MATERIAL
Risen Christ, your wounds declare your love for the world and the wonder of your risen life: give us compassion and courage to risk ourselves for those we serve, to the glory of God the Father. Amen
Response to the Word:
Responsive Lord’s Prayer — David Pickering, UK
Lord, make us people who recognise, nurture and act towards a more sustainable world for the benefit of all who draw life from this planet. Raise up campaigners who will speak out for wisdom, restraint and compassion. And teach us to partner you in protecting this precious world and the lives of our most vulnerable global neighbours. Amen
Prayers for Forgiveness for Climate Sin
Climate Change is prompted by our sinfulness:
our greed, gluttony and lust for more
our pride and arrogance
our anger, envy and vanity
our dishonesty and maliciousness our indifference and laziness
All Creator God, forgive
Climate Change is fed by our failure to accept limits:
– of the Earth’s capacity
– to consumerism and excessive materialism
– to an economy that demands insatiability
– to our crude desires – to our human aspirations
All Saviour God – forgive
Climate Change is enhanced by our falling short of our deeper potential:
– to respect all life
– to live compassionately
– to think beyond the short-term
– to seek peace through justice – to express solidarity with the vulnerable
All Inspiring God – forgive
Climate Change is addressed when we actively work to change our economic lifestyles:
– campaigning for fairness and equality
– putting community before self
– sharing resources and cooperating together
– acting to regenerate the Earth
– recognising the deep holiness of life itself
All Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer God: In the face of Climate Change
forgive us our wrongdoings; challenge our apathy; strengthen our resolve;
inspire us with hope; and enthuse us with love to
make a world of difference now and forever. Amen.
[Martyn Goss, May 2016]
When we are unkind to people,
and forget they are God’s children,
When we are careless with the beasts,
and forget they are God’s creation,
When we ill-treat the land,
and forget the splendour of God,
Forgive us, O God of love,
and reconcile us to yourself,
to one another and to the Creation.
Teach us that the earth and all its fullness is yours,
the world and all who dwell in it.
Remind us that your Son too enjoyed the fruits of the harvest in Galilee and joins us now as we celebrate
your good gifts together.
Call us again to safeguard the gift of life, now and forever. Amen
- Broken Signposts – ‘How Christianity makes sense of the world’ by Tom Wright SPCK Publishing
- Surprised by Hope by Tom Wright SPCK Publishing
- Living in an Icon – A program for growing closer to Creation and to God by Robert Gottfried & Frederick W. Krueger Church Publishing Incorporated
Revd Elizabeth Bussmann
A priest in the Diocese in Europe, I have recently retired, after 6 years, from my role as Diocesan Environment Officer for the Diocese in Europe. I am a member of the ‘preaching for God’s world’ team and my main motivation is the fact that learning to change our lifestyles is part of being a disciple of Jesus.