Today’s reading offers God’s gift of love to all of us. As Christians, we live the story of God’s love and of this blessing week after week with thankful hearts through the sacrament of Communion. When I served as Dean of the Chapel and Religious Life, the Christian community celebrated Communion every Sunday. Students, faculty, staff, and friends came from many Christian traditions (or none). Some of the people came from faith communities that observed weekly Communion and others had never or not often observed Communion. Yet it did not take long for students of many denominations and backgrounds to fall in love with this sacrament of life in faith.
Students eagerly signed up to be chapel deacons to bake the bread, pray prayers, set the table, serve the meal, clean the table, and delight in the feast. Each week we told the story of the Christian faith, and it became emblazoned on our hearts. The Great Thanksgiving animates and transmits faith.
This community gathered for many reasons: their Dean loved them, the preaching was quite good, the space was perfect for a wide array of faith expression, and the music was amazing. But the liturgy of Communion, in which we tell the story of Christianity again and again, held it all together.
Blessed are you O Holy One, the beginning and the end. O God of resurrection and new life: Pour out your Spirit on us and on these gifts of bread and wine. Bless this feast, grace our table with your presence. Raise us up as the body of Christ for the world. Breathe new life into us. Come Holy Spirit. With your holy ones of all times and places, With the earth and all its creatures We praise you, O God now and forever. Amen.* *Adapted from Holy Communion Setting IV (Ash Wednesday—Day of Pentecost), Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 111.
After the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples are unable to remain silent. They go to the Temple to proclaim the gospel. Some receive the message, while others do not. This causes turmoil within the community, but the apostles stand firm in their testimony, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Psalm 150 might be on the lips of those early apostles. Everything that has breath should praise the Lord! The author of Revelation recounts a vision that he receives from the risen Jesus Christ, who one day will return as Lord of all nations. In John we learn more about the source of the confidence of the apostles. They have experienced Jesus in the flesh, and this experience gives power to their proclamation of the reality of his resurrection.
Read Acts 5:27-32. When has your faith compelled you to rise up, stand up, or kneel down in obedience to God rather than earthly authorities?
Read Psalm 150. When have you praised God with great noise? When have you praised God with quiet service to creation?
Read Revelation 1:4-8. How do you see peace arising out of violence in the Bible and in the world around you?
Read John 20:19-31. How have your experiences of witnessing violence or the results of violence helped you to understand that violence does not have the last word?
Respond by posting a prayer.