Readings for the week of April 29, 2018

The First Reading is recorded in Acts 8:26-40. In this passage we see the Gospel of Jesus being extended to an Ethiopian convert to Judaism, a court official, a high government official in Ethiopia. Notice that the man had a copy of the prophet Isaiah. We think nothing of having a copy of the Bible, but keep in mind that each copy of the Bible at that time had to be hand-copied, and almost no one had a private copy; this copy is rare and shows the man’s wealth and importance. But notice more importantly that even though he had a copy of the prophet Isaiah, and could read it, he did not understand it. The meaning of the passage he was reading had to be explained to him by a teacher and preacher – by Philip in this case. After Philip explained how the passage related to Jesus, the man was baptized, and went on his way rejoicing!
Notice the importance of having the scriptures explained; the man knew his need to hear the Word of God clarified from another who knew the message. How often are we filled with self-righteous hubris such that we don’t think we need a teacher and preacher, but can interpret the scriptures for ourselves? We need teachers and preachers to point us to Jesus and explain Who and what God is doing through Jesus; the Gospel is mediated to us through some means: for example, another person, or the Sacraments.
Holy Spirit, open our hearts to the teaching of the the Word of God, let us listen to teachers and preachers who proclaim Christ crucified and risen for our redemption. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The psalm, 150, is one of the 50 or so psalms of praise. What a psalm of praise! Notice that the psalmist gives praise to God for what God does. We, too, should do the same, especially for what God has done for us through Jesus. Notice also that the psalmist calls on God’s people to praise God with all kinds of instruments; the church organ would not come into existence for many centuries yet. Let us use all kinds of instruments and ways to praise the Lord for His goodness and steadfast love!
Holy Spirit, move us to join the on-going praise to the Lord for all Your goodness and steadfast love for us. Amen.

The Second Reading continues the semi-continuous reading of 1 John, the reading is recorded in 1 John 4:1-11 (12-21). There is a lot packed into these verses: there is a warning against false teachers – and they are still around today! Test what people say to see if it stands up to what the Bible says. John then reminds us to love one another, the recurring theme in 1 John. How are you doing? Do you love God and others as God loves us and as He loves others? We do have a way to go, don’t we? Let us grow in God’s love.
Holy Spirit, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and love, especially our love for God and our love for our neighbor. Thank You for the love we have in Jesus. Amen.

The Gospel is recorded in John 15:1-8. This Gospel is tied in with the First Reading in that we are not independent of God or others in our spiritual life. Jesus reminds us to remain attached to Him, to abide in Him. If we do not, we will wither and die. If we remain attached to Him we will be nourished and bear fruit. Are you remaining attached to Jesus? Is worship part of your discipleship? Do you spend time in devotions: Bible reading, prayer, contemplation? Do you spend time with other Christians? Do you bear the fruit of God’s love so that others are drawn to Him through you? Abide in Jesus and live.
Holy Spirit, keep us attached to Jesus through Word and Sacrament. Enable us to grow and bear fruit to the glory of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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