5th Sunday of Easter

May 18, 2025

Lectionary Texts

Acts 11.1-18 —Peter explains to the Jerusalem church his vision, and the gift of the Holy Spirit among the Gentiles.
Psalm 148 — Praise God! All Creation and all manner of people praise God!

Revelation 21.1-6 — A new heaven and a new earth. God dwells with the people. “I am making all things new.” To the thirsty I will give water from the spring of life.

John 13.31-35 — A new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Preaching Thoughts

Discipleship is a journey of newness and change, inviting us into a new future. Jesus and his followers were Jews.The Jesus-followers in Jerusalem would have good reason to question Peter’s inclusion of Gentiles. But the heart of Jesus’ message is God’s love for everybody, without exception, condition or limitation. Jesus was known for offering healing, mercy and companionship to people outside the accepted crowd. And now that expansive, inclusive love continues after his dearth. The Holy Spirit transcends religious boundaries. Christian faith is not about belonging to a certain group, but in a sense the opposite: sharing God’s expansive love across all divisions, including those not in “our group.”
       The story of Peter’s vision and visit to Cornelius is specifically about extending grace to outsiders; it is also a parable about allowing God to change us, even to change our religion. We tend to follow our own assumptions and habits, and slip out of tune with Jesus. Like a good musician we need continually to listen up, tune up, and get back in harmony with Jesus. Of course every movement claims to be “getting back to the true faith.” How do we discern? Jesus tells us: true faith is love.

       We are attracted to the idea of a new world, re-made by God. In this beautiful but very messed up world we stake our hope on that. But remember that inherent in this promise is not just that everything else is made new: you are, too. The early followers of Jesus had to adapt to a new world, the world of gentile faith, and in the process they themselves had to change. Letting go of our favorite old stuff is hard, sometimes even heart-breaking. But don’t worry: God will wipe away every tear.

 True faith is love. Period. Jews have ten commandments; we have one. Jesus defines discipleship not by belief or doctrine, but by love, and nothing else. This is how we discern faith, and religious movements, and every bit of life: it is loving, or not? Is our love unconditional, or is it diluted with other considerations, conditions, limitations? We ask of every thought and action: is it kindness, or selfishness? It is love, or some substitute?
       The commandment is not merely the Golden Rule, to love as we wish to be loved, but to love as Jesus (and God) have actually loved us. With a humble, self-giving, That’s an even higher standard! But the love we are to have for others is not something we have to generate in our feeble, fickle hearts—the love is given to us. We love as we have been loved. All we do is pass it on.

Call to Worship

1. [Also may be used as a Collect or general prayer.]
Leader: God of love, you create us in love.
All: You create us so that you may love us,
Christ, you come to us in love and show us how to love.
You send us into the world to love.
Holy Spirit, you fill us with your love so that it is your love, not ours
with which we love the world.
Renew your love in us, that we may love as you have loved us.

Leader: Love, mystery of love, you create us!All: Love, gift of love, you enfold us!
Love, power of love, you call us!
Love, beauty of love, you fill us!
Holy Trinity—Lover, Beloved and the Love that flows—we adore you.
We worship you. Alleluia!

3. [Also may be used as a Collect or general prayer.]
Leader: Gracious God, in love you have created us.
All: In love you have called us your own.
In love you have made us your people,
and called us to bear your love to the world.
In love you have come among us in Christ, healing and forgiving.
In love you have raised us out of our old lives into new life.
You give us life and fill us with your love.
Bless us that we may witness your love, be changed by it,
and go into the world bearing love, and love alone,
in the name of Christ, to your praise and glory. Amen.

Leader: O Love, you have created us.
All: Fulfill your love in us.
O Love, you have called us by name and taken us as your own.
Fulfill your love in us.
O love, you have healed us and called us to join you in the healing of all Creation.
Fulfill your love in us.
O Love, you give us your Spirit and fill us with your presence.
Fulfill your love in us.
O Love, be our life, our breath, our purpose and our only hope.
Alleluia! Come, Beloved, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Leader: O, God of love, how perfectly you love us!
All: O Christ, how deeply you love us!
Holy Spirit, how beautifully you love us!
O Love, take our hearts make make them yours.
We adore you. We love you. We worship you. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

God of love, you are love itself. Where love is, there you are. In our thirst for your love, speak your love to us, renew your love in us, and let your love flow through us for the sake of all the world, in the spirit and the company of Christ. Amen.

2.Loving God, we are led by many desires, commanded by many voices, torn by many forces. Speak your Word to us; give us your one command, that our souls may be still, that our hearts may be one, that our minds may be clear, that our strength may be yours. Bring us to right desire, right thought, and right action. Speak to us, God, for we are hungry for your Word. Amen.

God of love, in all that changes, you do not change. So we turn to you. Amidst all that passes, you remain steadfast, and so we turn to you. Despite all that is unknown and unfamiliar, you speak to us. So we turn to you. We turn our ears to hear your voice, our hearts to receive your love, our lives to reflect your light. Speak your Word to us God, for we turn to you. Amen.

God of grace, your love changes everything. We praise you for your love that changes the world. We give thanks for those ways we have experienced your love that has changed our lives. And we offer ourselves to be changed by your love, into people of deep, faithful, beautiful love. Love us again, God, and make us new. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Holy Lover,
your love is deep and wide.
With silent hearts we open ourselves
to your presence,
to receive your love,
to become your love.

Prayer of Confession

Pastor: The grace of God be with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
God of love, help us to see ourselves with the eyes of love,
to see all that is in us that is loving,
and all that is not loving.
By the grace that we know in Christ,
receive us, heal us, and perfect your love in us.

God of love, we confess we put limits on our love, and put some people beyond the bounds of our compassion. Forgive our judgments, heal our fear, and renew in us your perfect love that includes everyone without exception. Give us, O God, Christ’s heart of love.

Gracious God, shine the light of your holy presence, your living Word, into our hearts. By the light of your grace, forgive our sin, heal the wounds of falsehood in this world, rid our minds of the darkness of our fears and desires, and make us radiate your love. We pray in the spirit of Christ, who is our way, our truth, and our life.


from Revelation 21.1-6

Leader: I heard a loud voice speaking from the throne:
All: See, the home of God is among us. God will dwell with us.
We will be God’s peoples, and God in person will be with us;
God will wipe every tear from our eyes.
Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”
These words are trustworthy and true.
Then the One spoke to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
“To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”

                        To love

Infinite Love,
you who love me into being each moment,
let me this day flow freely with that love,
for it is not my love I give but yours.
I seek in all and above all to love,
to appreciate, to forgive,
to encourage, to comfort,
to thank, to assist, to bless.
May I choose to be loving
rather than to be right,
to be gentle rather than tough,
to be curious rather than judging,
to meet all with reverence and humility and delight.
And with those whom I cannot love easily,
let me hold and protect with all my being
room for you to love them, even through me.
O Spirit of Love, you who love me infinitely and perfectly,
breathe your love in me.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

           We entrust ourselves to God, Divine Lover and Maker of all. We are created by love, for love, and we give thanks.
          We entrust ourselves to Jesus, God’s Anointed One, who embodied God’s love in its fullest. His love has healed us and fed us, taught us and guided us, freed us and raised us to new life, and we give thanks. His love defied all barriers of power and status, of privilege and exclusion, and for that he was crucified. But by the eternal power of love Christ was raised from the dead, and we give thanks.
        We entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit, the spirit of love, by whose power we care and forgive, heal and bless. This is the Spirit that renews our hearts, that gives us new life, that empowers us to live for justice and healing, in the name of Christ. We pray that by that Spirit we may love as we have been loved, for the sake of the whole world. Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone. The responses (Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation & Amen) may be said or sung.]
God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

We thank you God, for you create us out of love, for love.
You claim us as your Beloved, and promise to be our God.
You save us from all that oppresses, and set us free,
You surround us with this teeming earth, feeding us with your love.
And so with the saints and all Creation we sing your praise.


Blessed are all who come in your name, and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
He loved the unlovely and welcomed the rejected.
He taught a love that ruined all social barriers, and for that he was crucified.
But you raised him from the dead, for love cannot be extinguished.

     (The Blessing and Covenant)*

Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

     (Memorial Acclamation)

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us, that we may be for the world the Body of Christ.
In this feast we take in again all the ways you have loved us,
and poured out yourself for us, and into us.
Fill us with your love to overflowing,
that we may always love as you have loved us.

Pastor: God, in love you create us.
All: In love you claim us.
In love you promise to be with us always; and you are.
When we wander, you follow. When we are stuck you set us free.
You judge the forces of oppression and lead us toward justice,
toward a New Jerusalem in which everyone is Beloved.
As a sign of that hope you invite us to your table.
At this table all are welcome, and all are beloved,
where we are all young and old, rich and poor, gay and straight, male and female,
guilty and innocent, whole and broken, without distinction or judgment.
Therefore, with all Creation, we praise you with love and delight.

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, who loved us as you love us.
In love he taught and healed, he gathered the outcast, he loved the unlovely.
In love he established a new realm; he built a new city.
In love, even in death, he gave us his Spirit, so that we might love as he loved.
[The Blessing and Covenant….] *

“Do this,” he said, “in remembrance of me.”
And so, remembering your loving, mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves with praise and thanksgiving
as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery at the heart of our faith:

[Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and Blood of Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that we may feast on your love, and it will become part of us,
so that your love is the love with which we love all people,
in the name and the Spirit of Christ.
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer Of dedication / Sending

Gracious God, you have loved us perfectly in your Son Jesus Christ. Stir up a spirit of gratitude in our hearts, that we may respond in faith. We give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will, for the love of all people, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have fed us with your love; your grace is now a part of us. You have made us new. Send out to love as you have loved us, for the sake of the world, in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. As you have loved us, so may we love one another, and all your children. Send us into the world, unafraid of all that is new and changing, steadfast in love and faithfulness, in the name of Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

See all songs with “Easter” or “Love” tags, but especially these:

Communion Songs for Easter set to familiar tunes
Eight songs of invitation to the table, set to these melodies:
All Creatures of Our God and King,
Infant Holy, Be Thou My Vision,
The Gift of Love / Water Is Wide,
Morning Has Broken, Fairest Lord Jesus.

Create Us Now    (Tune: Gift of Love/ The Water Is Wide)

Creating God, you breathe your Word
and new each day create the world;
your light you sing, your love you give;
you breathe in us, and so we live.

Creating God, you gather grain
from scattered fields, baptized by rain;
raised up in love, from death released,
it brings forth grace that spreads a feast.

Above the meadows of our hearts
your rising sun your love imparts.
Remade in love, raised from the dead,
Make us your wine, your living bread.

With our dear Christ, we, too, have died,
like seeds once sown and multiplied.
Now raise us up from death anew.
Create us now, dear God, in you.

Fulfill Your Love In Me       (Original song)

Fulfill your love in me, O Loving Spirit,
fulfill your love in me, O Heart of Love.

Speak the name Beloved in my deepest soul.
Hold me in your heart, your gentle loving.

Heal me with your mercy and your tenderness.
Bring to life the grace in me to love you.

Give me grace to love my neighbor as myself,
freely, with the love with which you love me.

Like the sun rising      (Tune Morning Has Broken)

Christ, we surrender all of our living
into your tender, merciful grace
Baptized in you, we join in your dying,
and rising, too, in your life’s embrace.

Christ, you are living in us in mercy,
faithfully giving life that is true.
Like the sun rising, fresh every morning,
free and surprising, we are made new.

Great Holy Spirit, live in us daily,
free from the fear that once bound us in,
free now to love our neighbors with courage,
rising above our death and our sin.

Blest and forgiven and resurrected,
set free for living by grace alone,
may we live lives of gentle compassion,
with the same light that in you has shone.

Love Will Bear Us Over      (Tune: HOLY MANNA)

When our world is changing ‘round us and we long for good old days,
what that lasts will bear us over to new earth, new heaven, new ways?
Love will lead us when the path is unfamiliar, come what may:
set our heart to love our neighbors and our feet will find the way.

Christ gives us a new commandment: “Share the love that you’ve been given.”
When we do we’re resurrected, entering new earth and heaven.
When we love our neighbor more than caring for what used to be,
then our love will bear us over, then our love will set us free.

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