Worship Resources for April 7, 2024—Second Sunday of Easter

Revised Common Lectionary: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31

Narrative Lectionary: You Shall Be My Witnesses, Acts 1:1-14 (Mark 6:7-13)

A note on Rev-o-lution:

As I shared in previous posts, I will stop posting new weekly content on Pentecost (May 16, 2024). I have been posting on this site for over 13 years, and almost seventeen years counting my old Blogger site.

Thank you for your support of Rev-o-lution over all these years. It has meant a lot to me that my resources are useful to local pastors and that I have been able to provide them for free. But all things come to an end and there are other people blogging on the lectionary currently, with fresher words than mine. I’ll be sharing those sites in the coming weeks. Thank you for all your kind words over the last few weeks.

During the season of Easter, the Revised Common Lectionary uses selections from the Acts of the Apostles instead of the Hebrew Scripture reading. The early church, in the days after Pentecost, came together through the Holy Spirit and shared all that they had. Reflecting Acts 2:42-47, the early believers brought everything they had to hold in common, not claiming private ownership of anything. No one went hungry or in need, because everyone cared for each other. This sense of communal responsibility, however, was short lived. In the following chapter, two early leaders held back some of their property and lied about it, and Paul wrote to the church in Corinth because of the abuses at the Lord’s table, where some feasted and some went hungry. Nonetheless, in this season of Easter, we cling to the hope of new life now, and that we always have the opportunity to live into the reign of God here on earth.

Psalm 133 is a brief psalm, perhaps shared at a wedding: a blessing when family comes together and lives in harmony. It is like an anointing from God, the way the priest Aaron was anointed with oil, or the way God refreshes the hillsides with dew. When family joins together and lives in unity, it is a blessing ordained by God.

The letter of 1 John begins with the writer’s intentions: to testify to the life revealed in Jesus Christ. From the same community as the author of John’s gospel account, the writer uses the same imagery as John’s gospel in identifying Jesus and God with light. The writer addresses their audience by beginning with confession: we cannot be in community with one another when we participate in sin. If we say we are without sin, we are deceiving ourselves. Instead, if we come before Christ and confess our sins, we will receive forgiveness. For Jesus came as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, and we have an advocate in Christ and in God our heavenly parent.

John’s account of the resurrection continues in 20:19-31. On the evening of the same day that the tomb was found empty, the disciples had gathered together in fear of some of the religious leaders (we must be careful to read and interpret John’s account, knowing that the disciples, Jesus, and the writer of John were all Jewish as well). Jesus appeared before them, the first appearance to the disciples after the resurrection besides Mary—except Thomas wasn’t with them. It’s important to follow Thomas’ story. Back in chapter 11, he is ready to go to Jerusalem to die with Jesus. However, by chapter 14, Thomas is unsure of what Jesus is saying. When Jesus tells them they know the way, Thomas argues they do not know the way. Jesus then tells them that he is the way, the truth, and the life. Thomas started off as a strong, faithful disciple, but grew uncertain and questioned what Jesus said. And it’s only after a second appearance that Thomas believes. Jesus then declares that those who have not seen but have come to believe are blessed—an indication to the reader/listener who has not seen the risen Christ that it is more blessed to believe without seeing.

The Narrative Lectionary follows Acts with the account of Jesus’ ascension in Acts 1:1-14. Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection, who hoped that Jesus might tell them when the kingdom would be restored to Israel. Jesus tells them this is not for them to know, but only God knows. Instead, the Holy Spirit will come upon them soon, and they will be witnesses to the whole earth. As Jesus ascends into heaven, two angels remind the disciples that they shouldn’t be staring up into the sky, but rather know that Jesus will return. The male disciples gather in Jerusalem along with the women followers of Jesus, and Jesus’ mother Mary, where they devoted themselves to prayer.

The supplementary verses of Mark 6:7-13 contain Jesus’ mission for the twelve disciples, sending them out in twos, to go minister among the people, taking nothing with them and relying on the hospitality of others. The disciples called upon the people to repent, and they cast out demons and healed many who were sick.

In this season of Easter, we are reminded that we are called to live into God’s reign. How can we do that when so many are suffering right now? We recall that the disciples still lived under the threat of Rome. They proclaimed Christ is Risen among people who had witnessed his death on the cross, and the death of anyone else who opposed empire. However, that is exactly how they resisted empire: by proclaiming life. By living into Christ’s teachings. By loving one another and sharing what they had with those in need. They cultivated community, devoting themselves to prayer. They had the goodwill of all around them. People were drawn to their way of life. We resist in protest, we resist in civil action, but most of all, we resist the evil of this world when we live into the eternal life promised in Jesus Christ by living into it here and now. Believe it by living into it.

Call to Worship (1 John 1:5-7)
This is the message we have heard from Christ and proclaim to you:
That God is light, and in God there is no darkness at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with Christ while we are walking in darkness,
We lie and do not do what is true;
But if we walk in the light as Christ is in the light,
We have fellowship with one another, and we are cleansed from all sin.
For Christ is faithful and just,
And we have gathered to worship and follow Jesus our Lord.

Prayer of Invocation
God of Hospitality, throughout the Scriptures, You have shown us that we are called to welcome the stranger because we may be entertaining angels without knowing it. You welcome us in despite our shortcomings and flaws, and You make us whole. In this time of worship, we ask for Your presence to be made known to us, and at the same time, we accept Your welcome of us with gratitude, as faulty as we are, and receive Your love as Your children. We welcome You, and You welcome us, and we extend this invitation to all, to know You through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayer of Brokenness/Confession
Almighty One, we know You desire us to seek You with all our hearts. We confess the times we have misunderstood that doubt is part of faith, and we confess the times we have discouraged others from questioning what they’ve been taught. Help us to embrace the challenges and to journey together through the struggles, living with the mystery that is faith, for You are both Known and Unknowable, Seen and Unseen, Creator of the Universe and also within our heart. Help us, O God, to embrace doubt as a part of faith. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

Blessing/Assurance (Matthew 7:7-8)
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
We do not have all the answers now, but we rest assured that the One who made us, who molds our hearts, who knows our inmost thoughts and desires, will help us on the journey of faith. The questions may lead to more questions, the searches may lead to more quests, and the doors may lead to even more doors opened, but we know this: we will never be on this journey alone. Come, walk with Christ, and know Christ is with you, now and always. Amen.

Risen Christ, You live again with Your scars. Risen Christ, You come before us with the words, “Peace be with you.” Risen Christ, You embody healing and hope. You accept us with our wounds from the world, our scars that still haven’t healed quite right, our questions and our doubts. Risen Christ, You call us to follow. Help us to accept the invitation: help us to accept that we don’t have to be perfect, that we will never have it all straightened out, that we will always be a bit of a mess, and that You love us exactly as we are. Risen Christ, lead us on. Amen.

1 thought on “Worship Resources for April 7, 2024—Second Sunday of Easter

  1. Mary Gafner

    I will very much miss this site. Thank you for your years of allowing us to feast on these resources. Best of luck


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