St. Mary's Church

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Seventh Sunday of Easter

15 May 2021 • General news

Acts 1. 15-17, 21-end

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred and twenty people) and said, 16‘Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.’21So one of the men who have accompanied us throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.’ 23So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 25to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ 26And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

1 John 5. 9-13

9If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. 10Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

John 17. 6-19

6 ‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

9I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Thought for Easter 7 by Malcolm Tyler

It is perhaps unsurprising that a replacement as apostle should be found for Judas once Jesus has ascended into heaven. The disciples, whether we understand them to be the original 12 or a slightly larger group of devoted followers, were still relatively small in number. The loss of one was noticeable and it would have been in their mind that there were twelve tribes of Israel so should there be 12 apostles was an obvious question.

The choosing of Matthias seems well thought through. The ‘contenders’ were those who had been with the original group from the beginning and after prayer, two were chosen for the vote, Barsabbas and Matthias. And as the text says ‘the lot fell on Matthias’. You might like to consider for yourself whether you think Matthias had a sinking feeling or a joyous heart when the outcome was announced. What too might Barsabbas have thought?

However if asked to name the replacement apostle for Judas, I wonder how many of the population could supply an answer. It is hard enough to name all of the original 12 disciples let alone the replacement! But if people were asked to name the significant names of the early Christian movement I suspect that although Peter would almost certainly be amongst the names, the other name would be Paul, whom we now name an apostle.

Human beings, with all their wisdom, chose Matthias. God, with his, clearly chose Paul. It seems to go against logic but as Paul himself says in 1 Corinthians ‘the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom’. Our God is, as the title of Gerard Hughes’ book suggests, a God of surprises. We have seen this throughout the pages of the Bible. Moses, the murderer with a lack of confidence in speaking to people, is chosen to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land. David, the shepherd boy and the youngest of his brothers, is chosen to be the greatest King of Israel. Jesus comes among us as God incarnate by being born to a young unmarried girl with nothing really to mark her out as special.

So, surprises (or at least what seem to be surprises to us) are not that special where God is concerned. As we come to the end of the Easter season it is worth looking back to see if there have been any surprises in our own life. Was there perhaps some insight granted to us or an answer to a question that had worried us for a long time? Maybe there was a healing of a relationship or some unexpected, good news? How has this affected us? Do we ascribe it just to chance or do we think that maybe it was God sent?

Of course, maybe something unexpectedly grim has come our way. We don’t want to put that down to God because we know that Jesus has come to bring life in all its fullness, so how do we cope? I suppose my answer is to rely upon the God of surprises whom we believe to be faithful. Even in the darkest of moments, we often find something to laugh at and find that that helps. The answer to our dismay may not be either what we expect or hope for, but along the way we may feel the presence of God accompanying us and it is good to look out for that.

Perhaps each day for the next week, we can set ourselves the task of spending just a few moments at the end of each day to look back and ask ourselves where we have noticed God active in our life. You may well be surprised!

Intercessions for Easter 7 – May 16th 2021

Everlasting God, the Ascension of your son Jesus into heaven marked the completion of the Paschal Mystery. May we live life in the same way as his disciples did at that time, knowing no sense of abandonment but patiently awaiting the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.

Lord, in your Mercy:

Hear our Prayer

Holy God, we thank you for our church leaders; not only in our own church, but throughout the Anglican Communion. We pray too for those who lead other churches, in our city, across our country and throughout the world. Help us to work together, to find the truth of the teaching that there is one faith, one Lord, one baptism.

Lord, in your Mercy:

Hear our Prayer

Creator God, help the people of your world make the best use of science and technology in order to achieve a better life on this planet. In this time of global pandemic, help us to work together as one planet, one people. Guide people to acknowledge that we need more than ever the advances you inspire us to make; help us to reassure those who mistrust or disbelieve the science, or who find it hard to accept that human discoveries are a part of your great Plan. Help and inspire us to protect people of third world countries from being exploited and underpaid for their labour just so that we can enjoy cheap luxury goods at their expense. We especially pray for the fair distribution of the Coronavirus vaccine to the whole needy world.

Lord, in your Mercy:

Hear our Prayer

Father God, your Son remained with his disciples after his resurrection, teaching them to love all people as neighbours. We thank you for our families and friends, for fellow Christians and for the people with whom we work or share our daily lives. We pray for those who are lonely, those isolated because of age or ill-health, and those who find it difficult to make friends or be accepted.

Lord, in your Mercy:

Hear our Prayer

Loving God, you offer peace, healing and comfort to all who need it. We remember this morning those who are sick, sad or lonely and those who are brave and patient when things are going wrong. As we call to mind all those who are known to us and who need your healing touch, we pray that they may be aware of your comforting presence and know that in your hands they are safe and loved.

Lord, in your Mercy:

Hear our Prayer

Heavenly Father, we raise before you those whose end is near, and those whose end has passed and who are now with your ascended Son Jesus Christ. We pray for those who have recently died, for those whose anniversary falls at this time, and for those whose presence made our lives richer. We pray for those who are grieving, that they may find in you the strength they need from day to day.

Lord, in your Mercy:

Hear our Prayer

Everlasting God, open our eyes to see You acting in our lives and our hearts, that we may understand not only what you do for us but what you call us to do to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Merciful Father: Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen