Sermon - 5/13/18
2018.05.14 22:23:16

EASTER 7/B (2018): Acts 1:12-26; 1 John 5:9-15; John 17:11b-19 


Ask,   And this is the confidence which we have in [God], that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. (vv. 14, 15). 


Appropriately we approach the conclusion of the Easter season in prayer. Not prayer that wishes and hopes; rather prayer that is assured and does not disappoint because of who our God is and who we are in Christ, children privy to the Father’s will. 


Living as we do in America and breathing the surrounding Protestant air, it may be difficult to comprehend our Readings having to do with the church’s petitions and inquiries of God.


The church’s worship is communal, never individualistic; even when you are alone; your prayers are associated with your brothers and sisters in the Lord. St. Mathew’s Gospel is correctly translated by the Received Text; i.e., in English the NKJV; that we go to our common room, shutting the door to pray in “the secret place” (6:6, 16). 


We who celebrate the church’s Eucharist Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day understand “the secret place” as the body of Christ.  The deacons declare the congregation’s doors closed, “de missa” from which we have the “mass”.   


Jesus does not direct us to little closets in individual homes but to the church’s “place” apart from the world, the new Temple of God’s presence, the eucharistic flesh of the man Jesus who is Son of God and bears the name of the Father from eternity “in the beginning” (John 1:1) which itself is the secret place of the Holy Trinity.  Baptism in “the water” and “the blood” issuing from Christ’s flesh on the cross (Jn. 19:30, 1 Jn. 5:8) is the church’s entryway into our “secret place” which the world neither knows nor accepts. 


In today’s Gospel Jesus and the Apostles are in the upper room engaged in the church’s NT worship being instituted. Some call our text Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer”, and so it is; but more accurately, given the context of what is happening and what will follow-on, it is Jesus’ Eucharistic consecretory Prayer to the Father in and for his church. 


(Note where in our Liturgy we find the Prayer of the Church, it heads up the consecration in advance of the Sacrament, its fullness in the Our Father all of which the Celebrant prays).


Jesus’ Eucharistic Prayer followed his institution and distribution of the Supper and his instruction of its meaning. The Prayer immediately commenced his Passion in Gethsemane concluding with separation of his blood from his body on the cross. 


From the cross comes the stuff of the Supper, his body and blood offered to the Father, validated in the Resurrection and delivered for the church; which is to say that all worship of the Baptized is Eucharistic.


Listen to Jesus’ Eucharistic Prayer in the midst of Sacrament then being established, “Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (Jn. 17:11b).  


Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” is Eucharistic in the church’s new worship of the Father, through “the water” and “the blood” from Jesus’ riven side given for Baptism and handing-over for the church the Spirit of Truth.


Succinctly, by Baptism and Supper the church is Eucharistically kept in the Father’s name, the same name bestowed on his Son from eternity “in the Beginning”. 


For St. John, our salvation is utterly dependent on our believing the Father’s witness to the man, Jesus his Son who bears his name, “YHWH”, or “Lord”. Believing and having this testimony from the Father in ourselves we possess the Life of the age to come, now (1 Jn. 5:9, 11, 12a). 


When we pray in Eucharistic identity with Christ we are informed of the Father’s good will and so assured God hears our petitions. Indeed, our prayers in accord with the will of the Father are already answered, as they are for the Psalmist, “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple” (27:4). 


The church celebrated Jesus’ formal ascension to heaven last Wednesday evening. Ascending, Christ in the flesh of man is united with the Father, and so has brought heaven and earth together again. 


As Jesus “parted” (Luke 24:51) from the sight of the disciples on the Mt. of Olives he was clothed in the fullness of his divinity, the Cloud Rider, that the world does not see but to whom the Father witnesses that this man bears the name of “God” and “Lord”; to which the church confesses, “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4). 


Following the Ascension the nascent NT church once again gathered in the upper room in the communion of her “secret place” in Christ who comes to them and us in an ascended way, in word and sacrament. Commentators observe that for St. John references to Judas Iscariot are Eucharistic markers which we noted in the Supper and Gethsemane.  Now in the upper room St. Luke picks-up on the pointer in Acts.


The church’s first order of affairs for the church was to acknowledge loss of Judas’ loss share in the Church’s apostolic ministry and so their unifying fullness in the one office of Christ’s word and sacrament.


The remaining apostolic band are of “one accord” (Acts 1:14); rather than a statement concerning church doctrine, their “accord” was located in the testimony of “the Spirit, the water, and, the blood”, and the testimony of the Father to his Son who came and comes to us in the flesh (1 Jn. 5:9). 


Apostolic accord connoted brotherhood that is of a Eucharistic union with Jesus’ flesh, and our witness to Life in that flesh. Jesus taught of the Sacrament, “apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5c). 


The brotherhood’s convocation following the Ascension included instructing interpretation of God’s word by Peter’s Sermon acknowledging the church’s need to replace Judas in the ministry’s emblem of the church’s unity and wholeness.


Peter, as Celebrant, prayed on behalf of the community, a Eucharistic Prayer, “Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place” (Acts 1:24, 25), i.e., “a place” apart from the flesh, burst bowels into the world’s “Field of Blood”. 


The congregation’s first Eucharistic action was conducted in an episcopal investiture mass. Two disciples were called and presented in prayer for God’s selection by their casting lots; the choice fell upon Matthias. 


In our Gospel Jesus prayed the Father that his disciples be kept in the unity of their name; how extraordinary! Next Sunday Jews on Pentecost Day will receive a baptism of the HS.  Peter will direct these Jews to repentance and to receipt of water and word Baptism for a new begetting from above and entry into the church’s Holy Communion. 


Consider what this means and the joy that all disciples experience by the coming of the ascended Lord in our midst; “parted” from the world’s sight, yet revealed now in faith by the promise of eternal Life from the Father to keep us in “the Name” of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.





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