7th Sunday of Easter (Year B)
- The folks who select the readings for the RCL have made sure to suggest the PG-rated version of this narrative. I suppose that I can understand that the gruesome details of the death of Judas aren’t exactly your standard, Sunday morning kind of fare, but… Without some discussion of the fact that Judas is no longer with the disciples, this text can feel a little disjointed – especially to people who are unfamiliar with the whole Gospel story, etc. Let’s not forget that there are those who visit/attend our churches who haven’t gone to seminary, were not raised in the Church their entire lives, and maybe never even owned a children’s picture Bible (which certainly would not have included this story, anyway)!
- For those who really want to be bold, go ahead and read verses 18-20.
- For those who want to keep things on the mild side, just add verse 20 (it helps explain what they are doing in the later verses).
- What does it look like when we completely trust God in a discernment process? Well, it looks a lot like “casting lots“.
- I like the way that Eugene Peterson words this text in The Message.
- The fact that the apostles cast lots to determine who should join their ranks (spoiler alert – the lots fall on Matthias), gives us some interesting possibilities for worship decor…
- I would imagine that you don’t get to use those big, fuzzy dice that hang from your car’s rearview mirror in worship very often – but you could on this Sunday! I’m going to suggest that you not hang them around the cross (or any icons that may be present in your sanctuary/worship space), but…other than that, practically anything goes!
- I’m always a fan of interactive worship displays. How about having a large bowl on the table, full of dice? This could be especially interesting/powerful if you are speaking about how it is that we trust God in our processes of discernment. Those in the congregation could come forward at a particular time during the service (maybe during communion), and they can each reach into the bowl and take a die.
- Think of all the ways that we could “cast lots” today: use dice, flip a coin, spin a wheel, draw straws… You cold use any/all of these objects to enhance your worship display (especially if you are going to be talking about the practice of casting lots to the children and/or congregation).
- Notice that the psalmist says that the way of the wicked will perish – not the wicked…
- I love the imagery in this text. We are called to be like trees that are planted by a stream of water – thirsty for that living water, with our roots reaching out and running deep.
- Potted trees (real or artificial) are excellent decor elements in any worship space anyway, but they really work well with this particular text, too! Place a tree (or a few trees of varying heights – you can put them on different levels/steps if they are all the same size) in the front of the worship space. Use blue satin fabric (or some other “watery” looking material) around the base of the tree(s), creating a “stream” on the floor. If you are able to do it, have the “stream” lead to the baptismal font.
- If you have the outdoor space to use (and good weather), move your worship service outside to a spot by a stream (with trees)!
- The NRSV is good, but I do like some other translations/versions a little more. The Contemporary English Version is easy to follow, without some of the “churchy” words that can get a little muddy for some (especially those new to the faith/church). Likewise, the Easy-to-Read Version is also, well… easy to read (go figure)!
- If you plan to focus on this scripture in your sermon, I suggest keeping it simple in your worship decorating. Images of Christ (icons, paintings, etc) could be displayed, as well as a cross.
- It is important to understand the context of this passage. This is a prayer being offered to God by Jesus. It is offered just prior to his betrayal and arrest.
- This really is a powerful text. Think about it, friends – Jesus is praying for us. You. Me. Jesus the Christ is praying for us. If that doesn’t give you chills…
- Several months ago, I suggested that you consider getting a sculpture of hands that are folded in prayer (here are a few to consider). Did you get one? I must admit, it is still on my personal wish list… If you don’t have a groovy sculpture to use, you can still use various images of hands that are folded or lifted in prayer. The image included in this post could be used (with credit to me, please), as well as others that you can find (or create) yourself!
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