Seventh Sunday of Easter: Called to Live
PRELUDE: Centering in Life. Rev. Alejandra Zareth
OPENING SENTENCES (Based on Psalm 68:1-10; 32-35)
Sing praises to God! Yes, let's sing to the One that sends the rain! Let's celebrate in God’s presence! God is Lord of the world! God cares for the orphans and defends those who are widowed; God gives homes to those that are homeless and freedom to those who are imprisoned. You give us strength and power! Blessed be God forever!.
HYMN: Listen to "O Sing to the Lord GtG 637"
CONFESSION (Based on John 17:1-11. MGV)
Jesus prayed and he taught us how great and wonderful God is. Jesus prayed, and he showed the disciples who he was. Jesus prayed, saying that the message that God had given him, he had given to his disciples. The followers of Jesus abide in this world.
Forgive us Lord, for the times that we turn our backs to you, and the times when we silence the message you asked us to give the world. Forgive us for our lack of unity and for not showing the world your grace and power. Continue to intercede for your people Lord! Keep your unity with your people. Thanks for showing your love by praying for your sons and your daughters and guide our lives so that the world may see in us your faithful disciples. In your name we pray. Amen.
PARDON AND PEACE (1 Peter 2: 24)
“Remember that God has chosen us through Jesus Christ, to become part of His wonderful kingdom.” God graciously gave us forgiveness for our sins. “God reigns in power forever!” Amen.
PASSING THE PEACE
Take time to think about one thing during the week that has given you peace. It can be the sound of birds chirping, flowers coming out, or hearing from someone dear. Share it in some way... tell someone, post it on social media, etc.
PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION (Prayers for the Easter Season. Office of Theology and Worship)
Living God, you sent Jesus Christ
so that we might know your glory
and receive the gift of eternal life.
Keep us ever faithful to your Word
as we live and work in your world
so that all may be one in your love;
through Christ our Savior. Amen.
SCRIPTURE: John 17,1-11 (NRSV)
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people,[a] to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. 6 “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
REFLECTION: "Why Does Jesus Pray?" Amy Méndez
Good morning! it is a joy to worship together with you all this morning.
After being in quarantine for almost three months, I had to remind myself that today in the church calendar we celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ.
The passage for his morning is from the gospel according to John 17:1-11.
John 17 has been known as the “High Priestly Prayer of Jesus” since the late patristic period. It owes this traditional title to the fact that Jesus intercedes before God on behalf of his disciples, both those present and “those who will believe in Jesus through their word (v.20). The prayer ends with the “farewell discourse” between Jesus and the disciples on the night before his death (Ch., 13-17).
When I worked at Denver Presbytery, I supervised several Young Adult Volunteers that served in different churches within the presbytery. Soohwi, one of our YAV’s was majoring in Law and Christian Studies in South Korea. She decided to come to the United States for a mission internship to focus on communities of color as part of her community involvement and personal growth. As one of her projects, she decided to collect children’s prayers from our diverse churches of color. We used this booklet of prayers, as a resource to invite congregations of the Presbytery to intercede in prayer for the children and their New Worshiping Communities of Color.
I’m going to invite to listen to some of the children’s prayers (no editing was done):
Kim a child from the Myanmar Christian Fellowship wrote, “I pray for the world to live as one.”
Lyric, a child from Peoples Presbyterian Church, “I’m praying for the healing of the people who are victims of violent crimes, like those in Ferguson, Missouri, the Middle East, and Colorado”
Aidan, a child from the Vietnamese Fellowship, prays, “I pray for God to continue to bless and keep those in need in the world. God continues to provide hope and courage to the sad and weak. Also, God continues to use people like me, to help bring others to Christ.”
Emmelyn, a child from Iglesia Presbiteriana Valverde, prays, “I pray for the worldwide peace. For the sick, because you are our healing doctor.”
Alex, a child from Divino Salvador, “We thank you dear God for another day. God please heal us and give us good health, because without you we are lost. Completely lost. Amen.”
When I started reading the children’s prayers, it reminded me of my deep relationship with all the children and their communities of faith. Some of these children have grown in areas of displacement, poverty, injustice, violence, and inequality. They have experienced firsthand racism and discrimination, Lyric’s prayer expresses her deep concern for people in Ferguson, because as an African American child, she knows that walking in the streets of Ferguson was not safe.
A prayer overheard is very revealing about relationships.
We think of overhearing children at prayer when they pray: “God bless, Mommy, Daddy, the cat, dog, my little sister…” assuming we are in the prayer list, we learn a little bit about how a child perceives us in the presence of God.
When we listen to today’s text, however, we get a special privilege: what would it be like to overhear Jesus at prayer? We might be surprised to learn about our relationship with God.
My friend Marie, who is a chaplain, always reminds me that prayer is an active form of pastoral care as it proclaims the redemptive trust in God’s sustaining presence.
The ministry of prayer is highlighted in the seventeenth chapter of John. Here Jesus prays on behalf of the disciples and us; as he prays for all those sent into the world.
There are three aspects of this passage that I want to share:
1) Why does Jesus pray? As Jesus' days on earth were coming to an end, he spent time preparing the disciples and us to live in a hostile world. The opposition, resistance had surfaced during Jesus’ earthly ministry. No wonder Jesus prays for his disciples and us.
John’s gospel reminds us that we need to be one with Jesus as Jesus was one with God. What an amazing way to be together through prayer in unity as the body of Christ. Think about it. The church is not the building, we are the body of Christ.
2) In this passage, John articulates an understanding of the God to whom Jesus offers prayer. Jesus identifies God as the one who sent him into the world and in whose, name others are sent forth. It is encouraging to learn that as disciples of Christ we are called, prepared, and sent forth.
Why does Jesus pray? Jesus prays for you and for me to continue to know God and, in knowing God, we are active participants in the ongoing ministry of God’s grace. That’s our calling to share the good news of Christs’ love, loving and encouraging one another.
3) Have you ever asked the question, why does Jesus pray? We’re still in quarantine, we don’t have COVID-19 vaccine yet, we’re encouraged to keep distancing, we now need to wear a face mask to protect ourselves and others, people are angry because they are tired and bored to be at home, and others need to find jobs. No wonder Jesus prays.
As a church we are experiencing many challenges, but we give thanks to God that even during the pandemic, we’re standing together, we’re still worshiping via Zooming, streamlining, Facebook, and by God’s grace we are faithful to God’s calling.
On Ascension Sunday, we are reminded that we are not alone, Christ still is among us. The body of Christ is very much here, and we are each a part of this glorious body of Christ.
Yes, Jesus prays for the church that is forming and transforming. Jesus prays for unity among his disciples that would bear witness of the gospel, Jesus prays for our collective human endeavors and in our unity with Christ to be active in the world on God’s behalf. This is God’s word, Amen and Amen!
HYMN: Listen to For "Somos el cuerpo de Cristo, We Are the Body of Christ" GtG 768
PRAYER OF INTERCESSION: This is the NYT article that we shared this morning. Take time to read the names, the descriptions... and pray... for lives lost, for stories silenced, for families that lost loved ones and for ways to honor those lives by prioritizing people and not budgets.
SENDING SONG: Listen to "Hallelu, Hallelujah" and remember our called to praise God with everything we do and say. Praise God for God's goodness, strength and comfort through this time.
May the blessing of the God of Shiphrah and Puah, that God who sees us, who protects us, who saves us and who moves us to resistance and protest, be with you and with all God's people now and always. Amen.