It is possible to hear in Jesus’ high priestly prayer, a prayer he offered shortly before his death, the petitions of the ascended Christ for his own throughout history—to our day—and beyond. Jesus prays for us. In holy baptism we become believers in God, have our robes washed in the flood of Christ’s forgiveness, and receive the gift of life forever with all the saints.
O God, form the minds of your faithful people into your one will. Make us love what you command and desire what you promise, that, amid all the changes of this world, our hearts may be fixed where true joy is found, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
16One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. 17While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” 18She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
19But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. 20When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews 21and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” 22The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. 24Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
1The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice;
let the multitude of the isles be glad.
2Clouds and darkness surround the Lord,
righteousness and justice are the foundations of God’s throne.
3Fire goes before the Lord,
burning up enemies on every side.
4Lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
5The mountains melt like wax
before the Lord of all the earth.
6The heavens declare your righteousness, O Lord,
and all the peoples see your glory.
7Confounded be all who worship carved images and delight in false gods!
Bow down before the Lord, all you gods.
8Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgments, O Lord.
9For you are the Lord, most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
10You who love the Lord, hate evil!
God guards the lives of the saints and rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
11Light dawns for the righteous,
and joy for the honest of heart.
12Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous,
and give thanks to God’s holy name.
12“See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
14Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.
16“It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
20The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
21The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.
[Jesus prayed:] 20“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
25“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?” —Jeremiah 8:22
Our hearts grieve for those who have been killed and our souls cry out against more lives lost to the hatred birthed by racism. As we mourn those lives lost as a result of the racially motivated killings in Buffalo, we ask God to ease the continued suffering and trauma of our Black siblings throughout the nation and in our church. We are one body in Christ, so when one part suffers, we all suffer.
We of the ELCA acknowledge our complicity in the ongoing cycle of violence that grows out of white supremacy. “Through colonization and slavery, the United States of America helped to create and embrace a system of valuing and devaluing people based on skin color and ethnic identity,” the National Council of Churches declared in 2020. “The name for this system is white supremacy.” As a predominantly white church, we benefit from this system, and we must double our efforts to dismantle it.
In 2019 the ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted the social policy resolution “Condemnation of White Supremacy and Racist Rhetoric.” Through this action we committed to pushing back and speaking out against racist ideas that divide God’s children and perpetuate white supremacy in our church and society. At the Heidelberg Disputation of 1518, Martin Luther reminded us that “a theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.” Calling a thing what it actually is can be a first step toward healing the wounds of God’s people, but not the last. We must take real and lasting action now—through education, relationship-building with Historic Black Churches, ongoing anti-racism education, advocacy, and self-reflection. Churches have a foundational role in eradicating racism and white supremacy in society.
The ELCA’s European Descent Lutheran Association for Racial Justice (a network of white leaders committed to anti-racism in our church) calls upon all ELCA members, especially white congregations and leaders, to join their communities and other congregations in prayer, study and actions utilizing many churchwide and ecumenical resources. The association will host a drop-in Zoom call on Tuesday, May 24, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time. Advance registration is required at bit.ly/DropInGathering.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.3 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God’s work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.
Visions abound in the readings for the sixth Sunday of Easter. Paul has a vision about what to do. John has a vision of what will be. Jesus provides visions of peace that surpasses human understanding and power beyond human imagination.
Bountiful God, you gather your people into your realm, and you promise us food from your tree of life. Nourish us with your word, that empowered by your Spirit we may love one another and the world you have made, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
9During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10When 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.
11We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, 12and 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. 13On 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. 14A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper 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. 15When 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.
1May God be merciful to us and bless us;
may the light of God’s face shine upon us.
2Let your way be known upon earth,
your saving health among all nations.
3Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
4Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity and guide all the nations on earth.
5Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
6The earth has brought forth its increase;
God, our own God, has blessed us.
7May God give us blessing,
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe.
10And in the spirit [one of the angels] carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.
22I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23And 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. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
22:1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through 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. 3Nothing 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; 4they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5And 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 forever and ever.
23Jesus answered, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
25“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.”
As Christians, we are called to seek justice, care for those experiencing hunger and poverty, and embrace our Creator’s vision of hope, love, and peace. We are called to embody it in public as we commit to live in solidarity with those who are made vulnerable by the inequities that drive hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.
Letters are a strong witness of community concerns and personal testimonies. Over the years, letters and emails from congregations, campuses, and community groups have helped inspire our leaders in Washington, D.C., to pass legislative victories that reduce hunger in the U.S. and around the world.
This year, Bread for the World is asking for your help urging legislators to permanently expand the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Expanding the CTC permanently would do more to reduce hunger and poverty among our nation’s children than any single policy has in decades.
Excerpted from the May 2022 issue of the ELCA’s Ecumenical and Inter-Religious News
Greetings of peace and prayers for continued health.
A week ago, our Muslim neighbors ended the holy month of Ramadan with the joyous celebration of Eid al-Fitr. For much of April, Christians and Muslims journeyed through their respective periods of fasting, prayer, and reflection, as Lent and Ramadan coincided. During this holy time of confluence between Christians and Muslims, The ELCA Church Council unanimously adopted “A Declaration of the ELCA to the Muslim Community” affirming our friendship and solidarity with Muslims, nurtured over time through meaningful cooperation, dialogue, and common action.Continue reading ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious News