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Weekly Readings

Sunday, 22nd of May, 6th Sunday of Easter

Collect

God our redeemer, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:  grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy;  through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  

Amen

 

 

A reading from The Acts of the Apostles:   (16. 9-15)

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.’ When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days.

On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there.

A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us.

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

Psalm (67)

  1. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, 

  2. that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.

  3. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

  4. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.

  5. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

  6. The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.

  7. May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:

world without end.

Amen

 

A reading from The Book of Revelation:  (21. 10, 22–22.5) 

And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practises abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

Listen to the Gospel of Christ according to Saint John (5. 1-9)

Glory to you, O Lord

After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids – blind, lame, and paralysed.

One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’

The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.  Now that day was a sabbath.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ.

 

Reflection - AE

 

Whenever I read any of these references to the holy city of Jerusalem, the new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven, presented as the perfect place in which we are invited to spend eternity, I can't help making the comparison between that ideal, where nations will walk together, and the Jerusalem we see now, not only today but over centuries past, riven with conflict, people dying simply because of their nationality, and not only with many gates that are shut but with impenetrable walls.

 

A friend of mine was working in Palestine earlier this month, and went into Jerusalem for just one day, so had to go through the border crossing, which entailed forty minutes in an underground tunnel, a hot, confined, crowded space, great hostility from the Israeli soldiers, and she is, obviously if you look at her, of Jewish heritage, so imagine what an Arab has to go through, doing that twice a day, every day, just to get to work.

 

This eternal city is clearly very different.  No temple, so no sense of anyone having to make sacrifice.

 

No closed gates.  There are no threats that anyone needs to be protected from, and everyone is welcome, no-one is excluded, we are all invited in.  Everyone there is meant to be there, people are comfortable with each other, and welcomed, indeed they are all called by name;  just as we are all called by name.

 

It is a place of community, where everyone is valued, maybe a bit more like a village, where everyone knows each other, than our modern idea of a city.

 

At the same time the river flows out of the city, God's generous abundance going out to reach round the whole earth, bearing fruit, every month, imagine that, no hard winters, enough for everyone, bringing not only nourishment but also healing for all nations.

 

Today is Rogation Sunday, when we ask God's blessing on not only the seeds we are sowing now but also the produce of all our work, but imagine if the harvest we are thinking of lasted all the year round, with no thin, hard January.

 

God's generosity lasts all the year round, flowing out of the city and across the land just as we are called to go out from our holy places, to share the invitation to share God's grace with all people.

 

This other city that John writes about, this Jerusalem on earth where Jesus walked, is different.  It had people in need of healing, who pushed each other out of the way to enter the pool, and it did have gates.

 

The detail given by John in his telling of the story is quite sparse, so I think we can assume that the detail he does put in is significant.

 

He does not name the one sick man, but he does name the gate nearby – the Sheep Gate – perhaps calling to mind Christ's role at the Shepherd, and here he is, tending to his flock.

 

We are told of his conversation with one man- one man who is excluded, unable to join the healthy and also unable to join the disabled being healed.

 

Jesus did not exclude him, but treated him with dignity:  do you want to be made well?  Your choice, what do you want me to do for you?

 

And Jesus healed him, not with any act or touch, but with a word, as God, the creator whose Word can achieve anything.

 

John does not tell us what happened to the others, waiting by pool.

 

Perhaps this was another detail he chose to leave out, but maybe all of them, suffering from their disabilities, sickness, exclusion, perhaps they were all healed too.

 

Certainly all of them, like all of us, would be welcome in the new Jerusalem, the one with no gates.

 

Amen.

 

Post-Communion Prayer

Bountiful God, your Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life:  may we thirst for you, the spring of life and source of goodness, through him who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

Amen