Readings: 6th Sunday of Easter May 5, 2013

  • To Let Outsiders Inside

It wasn’t long before some Jews showed up from Judea insisting that everyone be circumcised: “If you’re not circumcised in the Mosaic fashion, you can’t be saved.” Paul and Barnabas were up on their feet at once in fierce protest. The church decided to resolve the matter by sending Paul, Barnabas, and a few others to put it before the apostles and leaders in Jerusalem.

Everyone agreed: apostles, leaders, all the people. They picked Judas (nicknamed Barsabbas) and Silas—they both carried considerable weight in the church—and sent them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas with this letter:

From the apostles and leaders, your friends, to our friends in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:

Hello!

We heard that some men from our church went to you and said things that confused and upset you. Mind you, they had no authority from us; we didn’t send them. We have agreed unanimously to pick representatives and send them to you with our good friends Barnabas and Paul. We picked men we knew you could trust, Judas and Silas—they’ve looked death in the face time and again for the sake of our Master Jesus Christ. We’ve sent them to confirm in a face-to-face meeting with you what we’ve written.

It seemed to the Holy Spirit and to us that you should not be saddled with any crushing burden, but be responsible only for these bare necessities: Be careful not to get involved in activities connected with idols; avoid serving food offensive to Jewish Christians (blood, for instance); and guard the morality of sex and marriage.

These guidelines are sufficient to keep relations congenial between us.

And God be with you!

© 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Revelation 21:10-14, 22-29

The City of Light

The Angels took me away in the Spirit to an enormous, high mountain and showed me Holy Jerusalem descending out of Heaven from God, resplendent in the bright glory of God.

The City shimmered like a precious gem, light-filled, pulsing light. She had a wall majestic and high with twelve gates. At each gate stood an Angel, and on the gates were inscribed the names of the Twelve Tribes of the sons of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, three gates on the west. The wall was set on twelve foundations, the names of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb inscribed on them.

There was no sign of a Temple, for the Lord God—the Sovereign-Strong—and the Lamb are the Temple. The City doesn’t need sun or moon for light. God’s Glory is its light, the Lamb its lamp!

© 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • John 14:23-31

Because a loveless world,” said Jesus to His disciples, “is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, they will carefully keep my word and my Father will love them—we’ll move right into the neighborhood! Not loving me means not keeping my words. The message you are hearing isn’t mine. It’s the message of the Father who sent me.

“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

“You’ve heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away, and I’m coming back.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I’m on my way to the Father because the Father is the goal and purpose of my life.

“I’ve told you this ahead of time, before it happens, so that when it does happen, the confirmation will deepen your belief in me.

© 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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