Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. Revelation 22:17
Welcome. Our handout features the readings for the Seventh Sunday After Easter (May 29, 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.
We listen to this text [Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21], not as passive receivers, but as active participants asked to be prepared to enter into the community. This is a call to ministry, not a ticketed invitation to sit in a stadium and watch a spectacle. It is a reminder that being a Christian assumes an active disposition and an attitude of grace-filled practice within the community of faith.
Paul “Skip” Johnson in Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 2
“Skip” Johnson is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Care, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia. His commentary on the reading from the Book of Revelation is featured in our handout for study in the week beginning May 29, 2022 (see link below).
Rather than predict the time of Christ’s return, Professor Johnson suggests that we are invited to be active with grace-filled practices, right here, right now. What practices come to mind for you as you await Christ’s return?
During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” –Acts 16:9
Welcome. Our handout features the readings for the Sixth Sunday After Easter (May 22, 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.
Lydia is prominent in the reading from Acts (Acts 16:9-15) shared on the Sixth Sunday after Easter in Year C (May 22, 2022). One commentary on this reading notes an important aspect of “biblical faith” …
In the biblical witness, visions from God are not the exception but the norm. Beginning with Adam and Eve and moving throughout the Scriptures to the Apocalypse at the end, God is demonstratively engaged with human affairs to catch our attention and transform us.
David C. Forney, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Clarksville, Tennessee in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Year C, vol. 2 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009)
Paul trusted his vision. Do you trust that God is still gracing us with visions? Can you trust your visions? How have you come to trust the God who wants to “catch our attention and transform us”? What do you make of Paul’s experience since the vision and the conclusion seem to be different?
When Jesus passed through Samaria (John 4.3-42) he stopped at Jacob’s Well in Sychar, a well that the patriarch Jacob had left to his son Joseph. Sitting by the well to rest, the Lord asked a Samaritan woman who came to the well to draw water to give him a drink. The request violated cultural taboos — a man speaking privately with a woman, and a Jew speaking to a Samaritan — anticipating the theological insight of Galatians 3:28. Their brief encounter is one of notable theological depth in which Jesus makes the first of several important “I am” statements in John’s Gospel. The Samaritan woman had been married five times and was living with a man to whom she was not married. Whether this was through her own fault or due to unfortunate circumstances beyond her control the text does not indicate. However, she has the distinct honor of being the first person to whom Jesus reveals his Messianic title and the first person to preach the gospel that Jesus is the Christ.
While unnamed in the Johannine text, Orthodox Christian tradition has it that the woman was baptized by the Apostles on the first Pentecost and given the name Photini, “the enlightened one” (Svetlana, in the Russian Church). Celebrated in the Orthodox Church as an Evangelist, “Equal to the Apostles,” a significant hagiography developed around her. She, her sisters, and her children are said to have been cruelly tortured and martyred at the command of the emperor Nero.
Over the centuries many churches have been built at the site of Jacob’s Well, where Jesus held discourse with the Samaritan woman; the present church building within Bir Ya’qub Monastery was built in 1893 by order of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and consecrated to St. Photini.
O Almighty God, whose most blessed Son revealed to the Samaritan woman that He is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the World; grant us to drink of the well that springs up to everlasting life that we may worship you in spirit and in truth through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Matthias is named only once in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:21-26). The rest of his story is obscure and sometimes fanciful in the Christian tradition. Nonetheless, it is important to note that he apparently fit Peter’s requirements that to become an apostle with the remaining 11 the man should “have accompanied us (the apostles) during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection” Acts 1:21-22A
After acknowledging the hand of God in selecting and blessing Matthias to be an apostle, we ask that we—the people of God—may always be guided and governed by faithful and true pastors.
What role do we play in supporting and encouraging and caring for the faithful and true pastors by whom we are guided and governed as God answers our prayer?
The Collect for the Commemoration
Almighty God, who in the place of Judas chose your faithful servant Matthias to be numbered among the Twelve: Grant that your Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be guided and governed by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
In the nine days of waiting between Jesus’ Ascension and the Day of Pentecost, the disciples remained together in prayer. During this time, Peter reminded them that the defection and death of Judas had left the fellowship of the Twelve with a vacancy. The Acts of the Apostles records Peter’s proposal that “one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:21–22). Two men were nominated, Joseph called Barsabbas who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. After prayer, the disciples cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias, who was then enrolled with the eleven. (See Acts 1:21-26)
Scripture does not relate anything further about Matthias, but gives him as an example to Christians of one whose faithful companionship with Jesus qualifies him to be a suitable witness to the resurrection, and whose service is unheralded and unsung.
There are, however, several early Christian accounts of his mission and ministry, such as the second century text The Acts of Andrew and Matthias in Cannibal City. According to this account, immediately after the selection of Matthias, the apostles cast lots to determine which of them would take responsibility for which part of the world, and the unlucky Matthias was dispatched to a city of cannibals! Although an unabashedly fictionalized account, it is nevertheless an inspiring tale that shows Matthias being dealt the worst possible lot, and yet nevertheless responding to his call with equanimity, competence, and grace, which are the same qualities we see reflected in the canonical account that is given by Scripture.
Saint Matthias The Apostle in Lesser Feasts and Fasts, Revision 2018
Lots in the Ancient World
Ancient peoples used lot-casting as a form of cleromancy—a type of divination in which the random outcome was believed to reflect divine will. Ancients commonly used small stones labeled to reflect the possible outcomes of the decision (Lindblom, “Lot-casting,” 168). The Bible contains no description of the specific procedure for casting lots, undoubtedly due to the commonplace nature of the practice. Based on etymology, Kitz suggests the Israelites likely placed marked stones into a container, which was then shaken in such a way as to “cast” out a deciding stone (Kitz, “Terminology,” 207–14). Hittite and Akkadian texts also indicate that the casting of stones was used to determine an oracular answer to a series of questions (Kitz, “Urim and Thumim,” 401–10).
Usage in the New Testament
The New Testament contains few references to the use of lots. However, the attested uses reflect the Hebrew mindset regarding divine involvement with the decision:
Zechariah was chosen by lot for a rotation in the temple service (Luke 1:9)
Peter used lots and prayer to determine a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:15–26).
Soldiers cast lots to divide Jesus’ garments after His crucifixion (John 19:24). This is perhaps the most secular use of lots in the Bible.
Source: Rob Fleenor, “Lots,” in The Lexham Bible Dictionary, ed. John D. Barry et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
Matthias (Great Cloud of Witnesses website curated by The Rev. Ken Howard)
In the Collect for this Commemoration, we praise God for giving us a servant who is described as holy and gentle. And we praise God for giving this holy and gentle servant “boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Savior, and steadfastness to die for his faith.”
We ask for the grace to follow the example of Polycarp which will include sharing the cup of Christ (sorrow and suffering) and rising to eternal life. The prayer invites us to examine our actions (do they reveal us as one who serves, one who is seeking holiness, one who is gentle in a not-so-gentle world) and our trust in God no matter the circumstances (for there are many ways to “share the cup of Christ” short of martyrdom). What do you hear the Spirit saying to you?
The Collect for the Commemoration
O God, the maker of heaven and earth, you gave your venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Savior, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, following his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Polycarp was one of the leaders of the Church who carried on the tradition of the apostles through the troubled period of Gnostic heresies in the second century. According to Irenaeus, who had known him in his early youth, Polycarp was a pupil of John, “the disciple of the Lord,” and had been appointed a bishop by “apostles in Asia.”
[…] Polycarp was burned at the stake. Before his ordeal, he is reported to have looked up to heaven, and to have prayed: “Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed child Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and hosts and all creation, and of the whole race of the upright who live in your presence, I bless you that you have thought me worthy of this day and hour, to be numbered among the martyrs and share in the cup of Christ, for resurrection to eternal life, for soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. Among them may I be accepted before you today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice just as you, the faithful and true God, have prepared and foreshown and brought about. For this reason and for all things I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved child, through whom be glory to you, with him and the Holy Spirit, now and for the ages to come. Amen.”
If forgiveness isn’t denial or a detour, if forgiveness isn’t quick — then what is it? What is Jesus asking of us when he invites us to love, bless, pray, give, lend, do good, withhold judgment, extend mercy, and turn the other cheek?
Check out, too, what our Church remembers about Saint Matthias The Apostle and Photini, The Samaritan Woman (at the Well). She is widely honored in the Orthodox traditions and our Episcopal Church joins them in commemorating her. Through this week, read the stories of others who studied, prayed and worked for God’s glory. Let their stories invite you to do the same.
Pay attention. Keep learning.
View or download the Handout for Epiphany +7C including short biographies for Saint Matthias The Apostle and Photini, The Samaritan Woman (at the Well).
In the Collect for this Commemoration, we remember Martin Luther as one raised up by God to “reform and renew [God’s] Church in the light of [God’s] word.”
In your life who embodies these qualities today? What contemporary of yours do you see as raised up by God to effect reformation and renewal in the Church in the light of God’s word? I pray there is such a person for you. I pray that you may be the one to embody these things for others.
The Collect for the Commemoration
O God, our refuge and our strength: You raised up your servant Martin Luther to reform and renew your Church in the light of your word. Defend and purify the Church in our own day and grant that, through faith, we may boldly proclaim the riches of your grace which you have made known in Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Martin Luther was born November 10, 1483. His intellectual abilities were evident early, and his father planned a career for him in law. Luther’s real interest lay elsewhere, however, and in 1505 he entered the local Augustinian monastery. He was ordained a priest April 3, 1507.
In October 1512 Luther received his doctorate in theology, and shortly afterward he was installed as a professor of biblical studies at the University of Wittenberg. … On the eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31, 1517, he posted on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg the notice of an academic debate on indulgences, listing 95 theses for discussion. As the effects of the theses became evident, the Pope called upon the Augustinian order to discipline their member. After a series of meetings, political maneuvers, and attempts at reconciliation, Luther, at a meeting with the papal legate in 1518, refused to recant.
Luther was excommunicated on January 3, 1521. [… In safety at Wartburg] Luther translated the New Testament into German and began the translation of the Old Testament. He then turned his attention to the organization of worship and education. He introduced congregational singing of hymns, composing many himself, and issued model orders of services. He published his large and small catechisms for instruction in the faith. During the years from 1522 to his death, Luther wrote a prodigious quantity of books, letters, sermons and tracts. Luther died on February 18, 1546.
Remembering the martyrdom of Janani Luwum—a 20th-century martyr no less—do you hear what we ask of God? “Grant us” we pray “to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again….”
A bold intercession for ourselves and all who follow the Way of Love. May we have the heart to listen to God’s response and the courage to accept God’s grace to live as one “sealed with the cross of Christ” and confident that we, too, shall not be conquered by death but live with Christ who died and rose again.
The Collect for the Commemoration
O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give you thanks for your faithful shepherd Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example, gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In 1969 Luwum became Bishop of Northern Uganda, where he was a faithful visitor to his parishes as well as a growing influence at international gatherings of the Anglican Communion. In 1974 he was elected Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Boga-Zaire.
Luwum’s new position brought him into direct contact and eventual confrontation with the Ugandan military dictator, Idi Amin, as the Archbishop sought to protect his people from the brutality of Amin’s regime. In August of 1976 Makerere University was sacked by government troops. With Archbishop Luwum as their chair, the Christian leaders of the country drafted a strong memorandum of protest against officially sanctioned rape and murder.
In early February 1977 the Archbishop’s residence was searched for arms by government security forces. On February 16 President Amin summoned Luwum to his palace. He went there, accompanied by the other Anglican bishops and by the Roman Catholic cardinal archbishop and a senior leader of the Muslim community. After being accused of complicity in a plot to murder the President, most of the clerics were allowed to leave. However, Archbishop Luwum was ordered to remain behind. As his companions departed, Luwum said, “They are going to kill me. I am not afraid.” He was never seen alive again. The following day the government announced that he had been killed in an automobile accident while resisting arrest. Only after some weeks had passed was his bullet-riddled body released to his family for burial.
In prayer to “Mighty God” we recognize and confess that Bishop Quintard “persevered to reconcile the divisions among the people of his time.” We ask that today our Church (the People of God) “may ever be one, that it may be a refuge for all.” It will take the effort of each one to make this so. Today, what will you do to reconcile divisions and make the People of God a refuge for all?
The Collect for the Commemoration
Mighty God, we bless your Name for the example of your bishop Charles Todd Quintard, who persevered to reconcile the divisions among the people of his time: Grant, we pray, that your Church may ever be one, that it may be a refuge for all, for the honor of your Name; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. Amen.
Charles Todd Quintard was the second bishop of the Diocese of Tennessee and the first Vice Chancellor of The University of the South at Sewanee.
Quintard was born in 1824 in Stamford, Connecticut. In 1847 he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine from the Medical College of New York University and worked at New York’s Bellevue Hospital. After a brief episode of practicing medicine in Athens, Georgia, Quintard became the professor of anatomy and physiology at Memphis Medical College and an editor of the Memphis Medical Reporter. In 1848, Quintard married Katherine Isabella Hand, a native of Roswell, Georgia, and together they were the parents of three children.
[…] During the Civil War, Quintard played dual roles in the Confederate Army as both chaplain and surgeon. Following the war, he was instrumental in bringing together the previously divided factions and extending the reach of the Episcopal Church, particularly among African Americans.
Bishop Quintard was a strong advocate of education at every level and played a major role in the establishment of schools. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was the rebuilding of the University of the South at Sewanee after its destruction during the Civil War. He made several successful trips to England to raise the funds to secure the future of the University. From February 1867 to July 1872, Quintard served as the reconstituted University’s first Vice Chancellor. Quintard believed that a great Episcopal university was essential, not just to the church in Tennessee and the southeast, but to the whole church, and thus devoted much of his ministry to Sewanee.
We begin our prayer: “O God of compassion….” Thomas Bray looked into his world with the God of compassion and saw ways to teach and comfort and advocate for all God’s children. May we have the grace to do the same as we look with the God of compassion at our own world (home and family, neighborhood, workplace, city, state, nation, world, you get the idea). Today, in word and deed let us see and let us act with compassion.
The Collect for the Commemoration
O God of compassion, who opened the heart of your servant Thomas Bray to the needs of the Church in the New World, and to found societies to relieve them: Make the Church diligent at all times to propagate the Gospel, and to promote the spread of Christian knowledge; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Thomas Bray was born at Marton, in Shropshire, England, in 1656. After graduating from Oxford and being ordained, he became a country parson in Warwickshire. In 1696 he was invited by the Bishop of London to be responsible for the oversight of Church work in the colony of Maryland. Three years later, as the Bishop’s Commissary, he sailed to America for his first, and only, visitation. Though he spent only two and a half months in Maryland, Bray was deeply concerned about the neglected state of the American churches, and the great need for the education of clergymen, lay people, and children.[…] His understanding of, and concern for, Native Americans and blacks were far ahead of his time. He founded thirty-nine lending libraries in America, as well as numerous schools. He raised money for missionary work and influenced young English priests to go to America.
[…] When the deplorable condition of English prisons was brought to Bray’s attention, he set to work to influence public opinion and to raise funds to alleviate the misery of the inmates. He organized Sunday “Beef and Beer” dinners in prisons, and advanced proposals for prison reform. It was Thomas Bray who first suggested to General Oglethorpe the idea of founding a humanitarian colony for the relief of honest debtors, but he died before the Georgia colony became a reality. Read more