Prelude: How Can I Keep From Singing, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLPP3XmYxXg
Alleluia! Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Welcome to our virtual worship. The Lord be with you.
Confession and Forgiveness
If you were to keep watch over sins, O Lord, who could stand? Yet with you is forgiveness, and so we confess: (I invite you to reflect in the privacy of your home before a time of confession.)
Confession: Gracious God, have mercy on us. We confess that we have turned away from you, knowingly and unknowingly. We have wandered from your resurrection life. We have strayed from your love for all people. Turn us back to you, O God. Give us new hearts and right spirits, that we may find what is pleasing to you and dwell in your house forever. Amen.
Forgiveness: Receive good news: God turns to you in love. “I will put my spirit in you, and you shall live,” says our God. All your sin is forgiven in the name of ☩ Jesus Christ, who is the free and abounding gift of God’s grace for you. Amen.
Gathering Hymn: There is No East or West, ELW 650, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNRyGGSOQLQ
The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Prayer of the Day
O God of glory, your Son Jesus Christ suffered for us and ascended to your right hand. Unite us with Christ and each other in suffering and in joy, that all the world may be drawn into your bountiful presence, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Selection of the Faithful: Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ, ELW 674 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYnF86ZzHH8
Alleluia. I will not leave you orphaned, says the Lord. I am coming to you. Alleluia. (John 14:18)
First Reading: Acts 1:6-14
6When [the apostles] had come together, they asked [Jesus], “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
Psalm: Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35
1Let God arise, and let God’s enemies be scattered;
let those who hate God flee.
2As smoke is driven away, so you should drive them away;
as the wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
3But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; let them also be merry and joyful.
4Sing to God, sing praises to God’s name; exalt the one who rides the clouds; I Am is that name, rejoice before God!
5In your holy habitation, O God, you are a father to orphans, defender of widows;
6you give the solitary a home and bring forth prisoners into freedom; but the rebels shall live in desert places.
7O God, when you went forth before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
8the earth quaked, and the skies poured down rain, at the presence of God, the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9You sent a bountiful rain, O God; you restored your inheritance when it languished.
10Your people found their home in it; in your goodness, O God, you have made provision for the poor.
32Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; sing praises to the Lord.
33You ride in the heavens, O God, in the ancient heavens;
you send forth your voice, your mighty voice.
34Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel; whose strength is in the skies.
35How wonderful you are in your holy places, O God of Israel,
giving strength and power to your people! Blessed be God!
Second Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 14If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.
5:6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 8Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 10And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.
Gospel: John 17:1-11
1After Jesus had spoken these words [to his disciples], he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
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.”
Thursday was Ascension and next Sunday is Pentecost. Easter season is coming to a close and God’s story is not over! Let me say that again so it can soak in. God’s story is not over! John started his gospel with “the Word become flesh” after being involved at creation, is the light of the world, has incarnated, and was rejected by his creation. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (Jn 1:12)” The Bible is our glimpse into God’s story and God’s heart that was before time and does not end with the cross, with our confirmation, with our baptism, or with the our birth of faith. Perhaps we are at the end of the “incarnation phase” of Christ’s life but our reading today gives us a clue that we are about to enter the “after Pentecost” phase. There is more to come! Today we sit with the disciples in the upper room, and listen to Jesus’ last prayer, his prayer before we walk to Calvary and on to Pentecost. Today we listen to The High Priestly Prayer.
Jesus starts, “The hour has come!” For what? First I read the word “glorify.” The glorification of Jesus by finishing the work he came for, glorifies the God who sent him, and glorifies the followers given him by God for eternal life who will follow. The work of the cross glorifies God, glorifies Jesus, and glorifies us. Glorify is a very churchy word we do not use often and which I want to give some texture today.
Let’s try to get our minds around the idea of “glory”, As we celebrate Memorial Day this weekend, I reflect on the name for the USA flag, “Old Glory”. I looked up its history. Old Glory is the second most important symbol in identifying the USA. Our national anthem is the first. In 1816 William Driver, age 13, ran away from his home in Salem Massachusetts, to become a cabin boy on a ship. By age 21 he assumed command of his own ship. His mother and other women sewed him a flag that he flew from his mast. He called the flag “Old Glory.” His voyages were successful and the flag was his emblem, good luck charm, and his protector. At age 34 his wife died and he moved to Nashville, TN, to raise his three daughters. Old Glory went with him and flew over his home through the Civil War, and survived, to be fought over by his family. That original flag, it is thought, ended up in the Smithsonian Institute and has become the beloved name of the flags that fly over the USA. We refer to our flags as Old Glory. This story, I believe, gives us insight into what “glory” means.
We were not present to see the glory Jesus had before creation but we can imagine life was perfect, without sin, “good,” like that original flag we never saw. The flag was made by a loving mother and given to a beloved son who cherished it on sea, on land, in peace, and in war. “Glory” carries with in it the love, dreams, and goals of the creator for the life unfolding. The creator is honored as the support behind the life that unfolds. As William Driver succeeded, I can imagine his mother’s heart was proud. His success, his glory is hers also. As Jesus finishes his work on the cross, God is glorified, and we wear the cross as a symbol of that glory.
Jesus was given authority over the creation to bring us to eternal life. Glory also involves purpose. A glorious sunset comes and goes in shining awe but Jesus’ work that he is about to finish, involves the goal of giving us eternal life. As we by faith become part of that plan, God receives honor, praise and worship. Even as Old Glory was created with a dream and mission, so our lives were created with purpose and on good days and bad we are in the process of bringing glory to God who carries us. As Jesus heads to the cross to fulfill the purpose of his incarnation, we travel with him and are part of the story, part of the mission, and part of the glory.
Jesus prays, “5So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.” The cross and our faith return us to the glory before creation, sinless and in direct communication with God. Old Glory flew over William Drivers ship, over his home in war, over his family and was placed in the Smithsonian to become an emblem of the American dream. It went full circle – new and folded in hope and old and worn as am emblem of victory. In the same way, we were given to Christ, who loved us, taught us and walks with us on the seas of life and in the ditches of the wars of our lives, to take us to be part of his glory for eternity. It feels to me like glory has a sense of perseverance through trials.
Jesus goes on to explain eternal life, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” “Know you,” not “know about you”. Core to this prayer is not only glorification but also relationship. There cannot be glory without relationship. Honoring Old Glory was not based on the quality of the cloth, the majesty of seeing the flag fly or the symbolism of the stars and stripes but, I would like to believe, it is cherished because of the relationship that flag represented. Old Glory now represents our country, our identity and all the privileges that go with it. As we grow in relationship to Jesus, understanding more and more his words and truth, trusting more and more his wisdom given us, we grow in relationship and in our glorification of God.
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.” Jesus prays God to protect us so that we may maintain unity. Glory is not a message about health, wealth and prosperity focused on us but of unity that reflects back to God.
Old Glory flew over the divisiveness of the Civil War, over our soldiers in WW1 and WW2, over us in Vietnam, Desert Storm and more. All these wars sought to pull people apart. The cross similarly represents the desire of God’s heart that our unity be preserved. We are called to love our neighbor, forgive our enemies, be kind to those in need. “Now faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13” All of this is impossible in our human strength of will and we need God’s protection from that which drives us apart. The church remains united because of relationships that unite us to God and to each other regardless of our imperfections. We are not so good at that but Jesus’ prayer was protection in our divisions and in our fears.
So where does that leave us today. On this Memorial Day weekend when we remember those men and women who gave their lives in popular and unpopular wars to fight for peace as they understood it, we stand between Ascension and Pentecost still working for peace and prosperity. We are grateful for their lives and what these people have meant to us. The battle for a kind world is not over yet and God’s story is not over. The hour has come for us to finish the work God entrusts with us in our lives. Jesus did not “social distance” to heaven until he returns to judge, but assumed the glory with the Father. He completed his work on earth and empowered us to continue the story. Our lives and our faith, which may feel small and invisible, are involved in bringing glory, honor and praise to God for eternity. May we not bow to that which divides and may we nurture those habits that keep us in relationship with others and with God, our source of strength, life and protection.
Hymn of Day: You are Mine, ELW 581, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EuIIl7yHfc
Apostles’ Creed. Let us join our voices virtually confessing our faith:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of s ins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Or you can listen to the Creed in vocal form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuDI-sk2nJU
Prayers of Intercession
Uplifted by the promised hope of healing and resurrection, we join the people of God in all times and places in praying for the church, the world, and all who are in need.
O God, call your people to be one, as you are one. Unite your church in the truth of your gospel, the love of our neighbor, and the call to proclaim your reign to all people. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Breathe life into your creation. Guide your people as we explore the mysteries of the universe. We pray for the work of scientists and mathematicians whose skill enriches our understanding. As doctors and researchers study Covid-19, keep them safe and give them answers to their questions. We need your help. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Make your justice known among the nations of the earth. Protect the vulnerable who do not have resources to social distance, buy masks, or water to wash hands. Redirect those who use violence and greed as weapons. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Come to the aid of your children. We pray for those engulfed in grief, those without supportive families, and for all who are isolated, powerless, or afraid, that all may rest their anxieties in your care. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Give courage to all who embark on new ventures. We especially remember this day those who risked their lives to serve in our armed forces. Grant safety to those serving at home or abroad, and assure them of your never-failing strength. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Raise all your saints to eternal life. Until that day, we give you thanks for the faithful examples of those who have listened to your voice and now rest in you. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
With bold confidence in your love, almighty God, we place all for whom we pray into your eternal care; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Peace: If you are worship with someone else, turn and share, “The peace of Christ be with you always.” Response, “And also with you.” You might use your finger to mark you children or loved one with a cross on their forehead. If you are practicing social distancing, put your palms together in-front of your chest and open them outward to the other to show your blessing of them. Peace!
Offering Prayer: (We cannot pass the offering plate but we can respond to God’s for his gracious gifts to us.)
Merciful God, our ordinary gifts seem small for such a celebration, but you make of them an abundance, just as you do with our lives. Feed us again at this table for service in your name, in the strength of the risen Christ. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come. thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Communion: I invite you to talk a little piece of bread and eat it. Christ is as close to you as the bread in your mouth and stomach. Always remember. Now take a sip of your drink. Christ is as close to you as the blood in your body, strengthening you. Always remember.
Prayer after Communion
Life-giving God, you have fed us with your word, and our hearts burn within us. You have opened us to your presence. Now send us forth to share the gifts of Easter with all in need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the One who brought forth Jesus from the dead raise you to new life, fill you with hope, and turn your mourning into dancing. Almighty God, Father, ☩ Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever. Amen.
Sending Hymn: Blest Be the Ties that Bind, ELW 656, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBReueMEzqo
Christ is risen, just as he said. Go in peace. Share the good news. Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!