Easter 3

April 14, 2024

Lectionary Texts

Acts 3. 12-19— Peter has healed a crippled beggar, and explains the miracle: the power of Jesus, who was crucified and raised, has healed him.

Psalm 4 — “God, hear me,” … When you are disturbed do not sin. I lie down and sleep in peace.

1 John 3. 1-3 — “What love we have been given, that we are God’s children.”

Luke 24. 36-48 — Jesus appears to the disciples, shows them his scars, and eats some fish. He tells them to spread forgiveness that leads to changed lives.

Preaching Thoughts

       Resurrection doesn’t just restore us to the way things used to be. It propels us into new life, life that is healed—that is, whole—and imbued with the life of the risen Christ. It’s God who has that power; we are merely vessels.

Sometimes the highest praise we can offer to God is that God’s blessing is so sure that we are not afraid to lie down and sleep without fear. Sabbath is an act of profound trust.

1 John
When we worry about the future John says what the future will be (what we will be) we can’t know—but we are God’s children, right now, in the present. The more we see, the more we will see God in us. This is our hope: not opinion about the future, but assurance in what is true but unseen right now: that we are God’s, and therefore God’s grace is alive and well in us, and God’s love is poured out for us, no matter what.
       If we are God’s children then God is our mother. God conceives us, carries us, labors to bring us into this world, and feeds us with the milk of her own flesh. She teaches us how to walk and speak and live with love. She provides a home for us, washes us clean, and watches over us. She sacrifices for her children, protects them, and goes to battle for their sake, and even risks her life for their well-being. Every good mother, in their imperfect way, reflects the perfect motherly love of God for her children.

     Reminiscent of John’s story we heard last week, Jesus appears, shows his wounds, and gives the disciples a charge— to go spread repentance and forgiveness. (He also drops a little foreshadowing of Pentecost—spoiler alert!— when they will be “clothed with power from on high.”) At first glance it seems the heart of the story is Jesus showing his flesh wounds and eating fish, thus demonstrating that he’s not a specter but a real, flesh-and-blood body. Some may latch onto this as proof that Jesus’ resurrection is real. But the real proof, I think, is not in Jesus’ flesh and bones, but in the changed lives of the disciples. Forgiveness and repentance is a real-life, flesh-and-bones proof of the presence of the living Christ. Our calling is not to satisfy ourselves with believing that Jesus is alive out there somewhere, but to live in such a way that Jesus is alive in us. Forgiveness is evidence of resurrection, evidence that someone has risen from the grave of self-protection and self-serving, and been given a new life of love. Contrary to the Puritan view of repentance that focuses on sin, Jesus’ focus in repentance is actually on transformation. The new life ahead, not the old life behind. New life is the essence of resurrection.

Call to Worship

1. (1 Jn. 3.1-3)
Leader: See what love God has given us,
that God says, “You are my children!”
All: Indeed that is who we are.
The reason the world does not understand us
is that it does not understand God.
Here and now we are God’s Beloved children.
What we will be has not yet been revealed,
but we do know this: when God is revealed,
we will be like God, for we will see God as God truly is.

All who have this hope in God purify themselves,
just as Christ is pure.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

Leader: Risen Christ, you come among us.
All: Living One, you speak to us.
Loving One, you grant us your Spirit.
You who call us to bear witness: lift us up and guide us,
that we may shine with your light. Alleluia!

Leader: Amazing God, maker of things seen and unseen, we praise you!
All: YOU are our breath, our life, and we thank you.
Risen Christ, you who come to us in flesh, we greet you.
In your rising all flesh becomes a gift of wonder.
Holy Spirit, kindle your passion in us, that we may breathe deeply of your life.
May your heartbeat drum within us,
that we may live with your joy, with your beauty, with your love.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit of Life, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

God of Love, Risen Christ, you come to us and often we are bewildered. Come to us anyway. Come and speak to us, give us your peace, and send us by your Spirit, according to your word, to do your will in the world. We open our hearts to you, in the name and Spirit of Christ. Amen.

God of resurrection, we bring before you all that we are, all that we do, all that we hope for, our fears and desires, our secret wounds. Receive us with your gentle grace, transform us by your love, and raise us to new life. We open our hearts like the earth opening to the sun in spring, that your light may fill us. Amen.

God of Resurrection, Jesus was your Word made flesh. Though he was crucified and buried, you gave him to us again in the flesh. Speak your living Word to us now, that our own flesh may be raised to new life, and that in the Spirit of your Christ we may embody your love for all the world. Amen.

Listening Prayer

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

Risen Christ,
body of love,
flesh of grace,
presence of God,
you are real;
we are only becoming real.
By your Spirit,
bring us along.


Psalm 4, a Paraphrase

O Love, when I cry out in silence,
         you are the One Who Hears.
Between the rock and the hard place,
         you give me room.

I have carried the stone of shame too far,
         as if opinions could give me life,
         as if human judgment is not a lie.
But you, Beloved, hold me close,
         and know who I truly am.
When I am disturbed I am still yours.
         I soak in this grace, silent,
         letting it seep into me.

I surrender everything to your love.
         Help me to trust this with my life.
I ignore the cynics who don’t see
         your blessing in everything,
         your face beaming at me.
You are a gushing spring of joy in me,
         my jackpot, my victory dance.

In your peace I can stop. I let go.
         I lie down.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

           We praise you God, for your Creation of all that is, for your presence with us, for your love that is at the heart of all things
           We thank you, O Christ, for you have embodied God’s love among us. You healed the broken, fed the hungry, gathered the outcast. You created a new community that embodied God’s vision of justice. And when you were killed and laid in the grave, you rose again, in the flesh, to redeem our bodies and our souls. Still you are among us, in the flesh, calling us to life.
           We breathe you, Holy Spirit. Each moment you create us anew. You make us one Body, in the flesh. You inspire our love. You empower us to proclaim totally changed lives arising from the gift of forgiveness, and to live by the light of the mystery of resurrection and your gift of eternal life. Holy God, Three In One, you are our life; and we are your Body. May all our living praise you. Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer

[After the introduction, the body of the prayer may be read responsively with the presiding leader(s) and congregation, or by the leader(s) alone.]

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
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.

God, we thank you and we praise you, for out of darkness you brought light.
Out of slavery you brought a people to freedom.
In our wandering you lead us to new life.
You forgive our sin, heal our wounds and re-direct our living.
With each breath you re-create us, set us free, and invite us to start anew.
Therefore with all Creation we sing your praise:

            [Sanctus, spoken or sung:]
        Holy, holy, holy One, God of power and might,
        heaven and earth are full of your glory.
        Hosanna in the highest.
        Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
        Hosanna in the highest.
               [or alternate version]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who healed the broken, fed the hungry, and gathered the outcast.
He suffered for the sake of love, and was crucified.
But you raised him from the dead.
He breathes his spirit into us, the spirit of grace and mercy.
He sends us out in his spirit for the sake of new, transformed lives.
Our love and forgiveness is his flesh-and-blood presence among us.
As he eats with us in this meal we ourselves are nourished
on his promise to be with us in love forever.

     (The Blessing and Covenant)*

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, spoken or sung:]
        Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
        Dying, Christ destroyed our death. Rising, Christ restores our life.
        Christ will come again in glory.
             [or alternative]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Breathe your Holy Spirit into us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
risen from our brokenness and death,
risen from anger, fear, and judgment,
free to love, by the power of your Spirit alone,
in this moment and in eternal life.

     [Spoken or sung]

* 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 / after Communion

[Adapt as needed.]
Gracious God, we thank you for (the mystery that you give yourself to us / this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.) As you raised Christ from the dead, you have raised us to new lives. Send us into the world, to be vessels of your healing, and to proclaim changed lives rooted in the gift of forgiveness, in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

See Easter Communion Songs
Twelve songs of invitation and preparation for communion.
God of Wonder         (Tune: Infant Holy)

Alleluia! God of wonder, you have raised Christ from the grave.
You are faithful, always loving, always just and strong to save.
All our sin and all our sorrow can’t begin to stop your grace:
Christ is present here among us, speaking with us face to face.

Christ, we meet you; Life, we greet you! Alleluias loud we sing.
You invite us to your table. To the feast our gifts we bring.
Bread is broken; hearts are mended; truth is spoken; wine is poured.
In our love and joyful sharing we behold you, living Lord.

Holy Spirit, life eternal, gift of grace, all praise to you!
In this feast of resurrection raise us up to lives anew:
free, forgiving, deeply loving, gently living without fear,
Christ in us, alive, forever! Christ in us, your presence here!

You are the Nerve        (Tune: Finlandia)

O God, your Christ is risen in your people.
On earth Christ has no body now but ours.
We are the flesh and blood of your compassion:
moved by your Spirit, with its loving powers.
God be our heart, and we will be your Body,
serving in love in all our days and hours.

We are your feet, that go with joy to others
to share your love, the gospel we confess.
We are your eyes that see what is and may be,
that see each person’s need and loveliness.
We are your hands, that work with strength for justice,
your hands that shelter, heal and feed and bless.

Love, move in me, and guide me by your Spirit,
even when I don’t see or understand.
My life is yours, to be your living Body,
that I may love and serve at your command.
This is my life, my purpose and my power:
you are the nerve, and I your willing hand.

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