A Meditation

Lastly, it’s all about the love. What we call the Last Supper is a devotion of love: Jesus’ washing his followers’ feet. The meal of bread and wine—consecrated into Jesus’ body and blood. His last few words to his friends, followed by a sad, last trip up the Mount of Olives, where Jesus would be brutally arrested and then subsequently tortured to death. Finally, the dead Savior hastily laid into a tomb that was not his own, after a perfunctory embalming of his body, with the women hurrying away as the dark nipped their heels. Jesus was left alone and in the dark.

Yet, absolutely, Jesus’ ministry and sacrifice is all about the love. The love that human beings can express to each other. It’s a ray of incandescent light in a world of murky shadows. This is God’s love. Love that is never ending or diminished over time and distance. Like the burning bush, Jesus’ love radiates, but never diminishes. The iridescence has no shadows or cold places. God’s love is perfectly suited to us human beings. It is eternal, whether we ask for or deserve it. It is the defining, central feature of our incarnational humanity, in connection with all other human beings and the rest of creation.

You’d think that Jesus didn’t need to keep explaining himself and about the love so often, and all the way to the end. I’d like to think that the disciples weren’t that thick-headed. I’d like to think that the love unfolding before everyone’s eyes was such that no one could look away from it or reject it. I’d like to think that we’re all trying to understand the incomprehensible. At times, I think it’s helpful to close our eyes for a moment while we collect our thoughts without extraneous, worldly data flooding in. The love front and center.

Remember the line from the Apostles’ Creed about Jesus’ descending into hell. Hell was for Jesus to have made the effort and no one cared. Yet, that is the hell we can banish through faith and our own lives.

Pastor Neil

 

Gathering

Celebrant ☩Alleluia! Christ is risen.

People     The Lord has risen indeed. Alleluia!

Beloved God, as we approach your Presence, guide and stir us with your Holy Spirit, that we may become one body, one spirit in Jesus Christ our Savior. Chiefly are we bound to praise you for the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who was sacrificed for us, and has taken away the sin of the world. By his death he has destroyed death, and by his rising to life again he has won for us everlasting life. Amen.

THE COLLECT OF THE DAY

Celebrant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

THE LITURGY OF THE WORD
The First Lesson
Acts 11:1-18

Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So, when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to the uncircumcised and eat with them?” Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely, I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.
At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning.
“And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”
Reader: The Word of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.

The Second Lesson
Revelation 21:1-6
I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also, he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”
Reader: The Word of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.

 

THE PSALM READ IN UNISON
Psalm 148

1 Hallelujah!
Praise the Lord from the heavens; *
praise him in the heights.
2 Praise him, all you angels of his; *
praise him, all his host.
3 Praise him, sun and moon; *
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, heaven of heavens, *
and you waters above the heavens.
5 Let them praise the Name of the Lord; *
for he commanded, and they were created.
6 He made them stand fast for ever and ever; *
he gave them a law which shall not pass away.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth, *
you sea-monsters and all deeps;
8 Fire and hail, snow and fog, *
tempestuous wind, doing his will;
9 Mountains and all hills, *
fruit trees and all cedars;
10 Wild beasts and all cattle, *
creeping things and winged birds;
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, *
princes and all rulers of the world;
12 Young men and maidens, *
old and young together.
13 Let them praise the Name of the Lord, *
for his Name only is exalted,
his splendor is over earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up strength for his people
and praise for all his loyal servants, *
the children of Israel, a people who are near him.
Hallelujah!

THE GOSPEL

Celebrant The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to John.
People Glory to you, Lord Christ.
John 13:31-35
At the last supper, when Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews, so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Celebrant The Gospel of the Lord.
People Praise to you, Lord Christ.

SERMON PASTOR NEIL

THE NICENE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Celebrant
In calling forth creation from the void, God, you revealed yourself in human form. You manifest your concern for your whole universe. Hear the world’s needs, as we bring the matters of our hearts before you.

Leader

Pour out your life-giving Spirit on your holy church throughout the world and equip its members to boldly proclaim their common faith and your bountiful blessings across the earth. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Let your Spirit move over our unruly time and heal its people broken in spirit and body. Bring peace to a weary and struggling world. Intercede and bring peace to Ukraine, Afghanistan, and the streets of Baltimore. Help those suffering mental illness, broken families, and homelessness.

Protect Mother Earth from human neglect and destruction. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Create a changed hearts within us. Pull us away from all oncoming catastrophes of our own making. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Burn out all that is evil in us; consecrate us for holy service and empower us to work toward the salvation of the world. Give us energy and insight for our mission. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Renew the faith of all those who call you Lord, so that we may devote ourselves to worship, teaching, and prayer—all to reveal your grace to a fragile humanity. Give noble purpose to our secular leaders, and a desire to do justice in the land and in the world. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Be with those who are dying and ill, and their families and loved ones. Bless the pastoral ministries of this congregation. Safeguard immigrants and refugees. Provide solace and healing to those beleaguered by the reality of their lives. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We especially pray for those we in our hearts and minds silently name now. (Pause) Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Celebrant
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all
things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord
of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth,
divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

A CONFESSION OF OUR SINS TO GOD
Celebrant Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.
Silence will be kept
Minister and People Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Almighty God have mercy on you, ☩ forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in
eternal life. Amen.

THE PEACE

Celebrant The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People And also with you.

 

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING

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

Celebrant It is indeed right and salutary that we should in all times and in all places give thanks to you, holy Lord, Almighty Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord. But chiefly are we bound to praise you for the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who was sacrificed for us, and has taken away the sin of the world. By his death he has destroyed death, and by his rising to life again he has won for us everlasting life. Therefore, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we praise your name and join them by saying:

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.

Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself, and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.

He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself,
in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole
world.

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given ☩ thanks to you and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my Body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given ☩ thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Therefore, we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

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

We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts. ☩ Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the
Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him.

Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom. All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ.

Together: By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. Amen.

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to pray:

THE LORD’S PRAYER

People Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

A CALL TO COMMUNION

Celebrant The gifts of God for the people of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving. This is God’s table, and at God’s banquet, all God’s children are welcome—without exception!
Celebrant will distribute communion to people in their chairs.

THE GENERAL THANKSGIVING
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE BLESSING

Celebrant Sisters and brothers, we go out into the world in peace. We live and walk as part of God’s beloved community. May God help us all to be of good courage, to hold on to what is good, and to return to no one an evil for an evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, aid the suffering, do justice, honor all people, and let our gentleness be known by everyone. May God, who raised our Lord Jesus from death, lift us up and restore us to wholeness. And may God bless us all, ☩ in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Celebrant Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
People Thanks be to God.