The Liturgy of the Word for May 10th, Easter V

This Service Webcast with Sermon was recorded in St Martin’s Church and produced by Ian Tulungen

If you are not a regular financial supporter of St Martin’s we invite you to

DONATE HERE

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing

Order of Service

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer     

Prelude: Cantilene (Sonata XI) Josef Rheimberger, Steven Young on the St Martin’s Organ

Welcome

Introit: “Love bade me welcome” George Herbert’s poem Love III set to music by R. Vaughan Williams as part of his Easter Mystical Song Cycle. Sung by Gabe Alfieri, St Martin’s Choral Director accompanied by Steven Young, St Martin’s Organist

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
            Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
            From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
            If I lacked anything.

“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
            Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
            I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
            “Who made eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
            Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
            “My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
            So I did sit and eat.

First Hymn: 455 first and last verses sung by the St Martin’s Staff Singers, Steve Young accompanying

Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Collect for Purity

The Gloria: S280, sung by St Martin’s Staff Singers, Steve Young, organ

The Collect for the Fifth Sunday after Easter

You can find a link to the readings for the day here

First Reading: Acts 7:55-60 read by Meg LoPresti

Psalm  31:1-5, 15-16, sung by Lori Istok, Staff Soprano

Second Reading: 1Peter 2:2-10 read by Fla Lewis

Gradual Hymn: 518 v1, Staff Singers with organ

The Gospel: John 14:1-14 proclaimed by Linda+

Gradual Hymn: 518 v4

The Sermon: Reflections from Mark+

The Nicene Creed: (pg 358 BCP) -(we recite together)

The Anthem: Schubert, Benedictus “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” sung by Jacob Chippo, Staff Singer and Gabe Alfieri with Steve Young, organ

Prayers of the People: led by Linda+

The Peace

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving (pg 101 BCP)

Easter Blessing

Final Hymn: 194, Staff Singers with organ

If you are not a regular financial supporter of St Martin’s we invite you to

DONATE HERE

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing

The Postlude: Fugue (Sonata XI) J Rheimberger with Steven Young playing

Words Matter

Stand alone Sermon Recording

In this week’s E-News message I wrote about the Golden Calf story in the daily Exodus readings as an example of what we human beings – left to our own devices – will do. We make gods in our own image, to create for ourselves comfortable gods; gods who are immediately to hand and can be molded to support our social world views; gods who reassure us in the face of universal anxieties.

It’s natural to want to feel that we are the special ones, the ones who fall under the protection of a merciful God. However, we cannot shelter under the protection of a MERCIFUL God if we exclude someone else from this same protection because they hold a worldview different from us. We cannot claim the protection of a God whose name is MERCY if we remain blind to our collusion in systems that:

  • devalue those lower down on the economic and social ladder
  • discriminate against others on the basis of race or ethnicity
  •  oppress and exploit others’ relative powerlessness.

Today’s gospel passage comes from a section of John’s Gospel known as the Farewell Discourses which take the form of a conversation between Jesus and his disciples immediately following the Last Supper. John 14 is a favorite at funerals, speaking as it does about prepared rooms in God’s heavenly mansion.

On Mother’s Day 2020 when many of us will be experiencing the bitter sweetness of expressing our love for the mother’s we are prevented from being with because of the Virus, in this reflection entitled Words Matter I thought we might take a little more time to delve beneath the surface of John’s words in chapter 14.

The text emphasizes what the old Prayer Book version of the Nicene Creed referred to as the consubstantiality between Jesus and God. Jesus and God are of one substance or shared identity. Thus, for John, Jesus is more than the Son of God, the title used by the other gospel writers. For John, Jesus is God the Son, the Word preexistent with the Creator before the beginning of time. Thus, John’s Jesus proclaims to his disciples that to know him is to know God, and vice versa – if you have seen me you have seen the Father, for the Father and I are one. Through this portrayal of Jesus’ teaching John is warning those members of his Beloved Community who felt they could bypass Jesus because they had accessed the higher knowledge (gnosis) that gave them direct access to God.

However, it’s when Jesus talks about going ahead to prepare a place for the disciples before coming back to take them with him, that John presents one of the most controversial of all Jesus’ teachings.

I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This is a favorite text for those who long to restrict access to God only to others who are like them.

In capitalizing I AM we are reminded of Exodus 3:14 when God tells Moses to say to the Israelites when they ask who sent him: tell them I AM sent you. In Chapter 14, by deliberately evoking the ancient form of the divine name, John’s Jesus is including himself within it.

That Jesus says: I AM the way, the truth, and the life is taken by the Christian Right to mean unless you are a Christian, God is not interested in you. Only by saying Jesus is my Savior, will God accept you. John 14 is used as a way of telling us that God is only interested in Christians. It forms the bedrock of the hard and exclusive message that we are so used to hearing from the religious right. For if you can exclude others (Jews, blacks, women, LGBTQ persons, immigrants) from inclusion within God’s grace, by extension, you can justify attempts to marginalize and exclude many others because they don’t share the values of the comfortable god you have made in your own image.

Richard Swanson in his commentary on this text reminds us that the rabbis say that the Divine Name -I AM which is translated as LORD in our English Bibles appears only when God is acting to rescue, nurture, claim, and protect. In John 14, Jesus is not seeking to narrow the divine life’s entry qualifications. He’s doing the opposite. He’s deliberately invoking God of the Exodus who rescues, nurtures, claims, and protects –in other words, the merciful attributes of God. Swanson suggests we might better read John 14 as: MERCY is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by way of MERCY.

When Jesus speaks of going to prepare a place for his disciples, he’s not telling them that this place will be exclusive to them. He’s saying the opposite when we remember that John’s Jewish Christians had been excluded by the Jerusalem authorities from Israel’s covenant with God. Bearing this in mind we can see that John’s Jesus is seeking to reassure his followers that of-course, there will be room for them – alongside Israel, i.e. everyone else.

The essence of MERCY is that we don’t get to decide who is in and who’s out.

In today’s America we cannot hide any more from the ugly truth that we are implicated in a system that teaches some that it’s OK to kill a black man for being in a place they don’t think he has a right to be in. Those of us who enjoy easy access to health care are conspirators in a system that questions this as a basic human right; something dependent on ability to pay. Those of us who have the financial capacity to send our children to the best schools are implicated in a system that denies quality public education to everyone else. The essence of MERCY is that we don’t get to decide who is in and who’s out.

The danger for us lies in remaining complicit with:

  • an economic order that exploits most of the population by depriving them of the necessity of a living wage
  • a system driven by the principle of uncontrolled consumption that has led us to the brink of environmental and ecological catastrophe
  • our sleep walking through election cycles that return a political philosophy that has actively eroded our precious public institutions and civic protections; that has shrunk government to the point that it is incapable of a nationally coordinated response to a health pandemic like COVID-19

Words matter, and the word that matters is MERCY. MERCY is the way, the truth, and the life, for no one can come to the Father except by way of MERCY.

5 thoughts on “The Liturgy of the Word for May 10th, Easter V

Add yours

  1. Dear Mark, I am not sure that this note will go directly to you…Your services have fed my soul these past weeks. I am now a Vocational Deacon in the Diocese of Bethlehem (PA). Would love to “hear” from you & Charlie Girl—Lane Perdue

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    1. Lane, thank you for your words of affirmation. I must say it’s a lot of work and it’s difficult speaking into the void. I didn’t realize you’d come back East I’ve been thinking of you in New Mexico. Charlie Girl loves Providence. She said when we came that she said she was really was designed for the climate here. Trust you are well and staying safe!

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