Fifth Sunday Of Easter + May 2, 2021
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!
PRAYER OF THE DAY
O God, you give us your Son, the Tree of Life, our source and summit. Nourished and nurtured by this Vine, we share His love and life, and bear joy and peace to all we encounter, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES CHAPER 8:26-40
An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a wilderness road. So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”
The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
WE PRAY PSALM 22:25-31
From you comes my praise in the great assembly; I will perform my vows in the sight of those who fear the LORD. The poor shall eat and be satisfied, let those who seek the LORD give praise! May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; all the families of nations shall bow before God. For dominion belongs to the LORD, who rules over the nations. Indeed, all who sleep in the earth shall bow down in worship; all who go down to the dust, though they be dead, shall kneel before the LORD. Their descendants shall serve the LORD, whom they shall proclaim to generations to come. They shall proclaim God’s deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying to them, “The LORD has acted!”
A READING FROM THE FIRST LETTER OF JOHN CHAPTER 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN CHAPTER 15:1-8
Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
Today, in his letter John proclaims, “perfect love puts out fear”. Along with the disciples, imprisoned by their post crucifixion vulnerability, we too have been hiding for more than a year from a virus too small to see, and too deadly to ignore. But love challenges us to do much more than simply hide: love empowers and graces us to reorder our priorities, place the gift of Life highest, and arm ourselves to defend and protect, cherish and nurture.
John’s Gospel presents Jesus teaching us that He is the life giving and sustaining vine from which we grow and prosper; the Source from which we draw the Love that will conquer all. Not in the sense of warfare, or aggression, or violence, but far more powerfully, in the grace of His Divinity and humanity given in totality for our redemption from any and all that would attempt to separate us from God.
It is in this connectedness, this most intimate relationship that Jesus tenderly nurtures; that his Divinity flows through our humanity, promising and fulfilling God’s dream for each and every one of us, bringing to completion God’s vision of Creation beyond its original blessing of innocence and goodness, beyond even our finest imaginings and fondest hopes. A world, a universe, a cosmos and more, of Peace. Amen