Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, May 1, 2022
Third Sunday Easter
Introduction & Welcome
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
The disciples make a big splash and eat breakfast with the risen Jesus. Wading in the water (remembering baptism) and eating with Jesus (celebrating holy communion) is our weekly encounter with the risen Christ. Jesus asks us again and again: Do you love me? And Jesus invites us, again and again, to follow him, bringing the Easter life to others.
Thanksgiving for Baptism
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
In the waters of baptism,
we have passed over from death to life with Jesus Christ,
and we are a new creation.
For this saving mystery, and for this water, let us bless God,
who was, who is, and who is to come.
We thank you, God, for your river of life,
flowing freely from your throne:
through the earth,
through the city,
through every living thing.
You rescued Noah and his family from the flood;
You opened wide the sea for the Israelites.
Now in these waters you flood us with mercy,
and our sin is drowned forever.
You open the gate of righteousness
and we pass safely through.
In Jesus Christ, you calm and trouble the waters.
You nourish us and enclose us in safety.
You call us forth and send us out.
In lush and barren places, you are with us.
You have become our salvation.
Now breathe upon this water
and awaken your church once more.
Claim us again as your beloved and holy people.
Quench our thirst; cleanse our hearts; wipe away every tear.
To you, our Beginning and our End,
our Shepherd and Lamb,
be honor, glory, praise, and thanksgiving,
now and forever.
Prayer of the Day
Eternal and all-merciful God, with all the angels and all the saints we laud your majesty and might. By the resurrection of your Son, show yourself to us and inspire us to follow Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Acts 9:1-6 [7-20]
Saul (later called Paul) was an ardent persecutor of all who followed the Way of Christ. This reading recounts the story of his transformation beginning with an encounter with Jesus Christ on the way to Damascus.
1Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” [7The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” 11The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” 15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”]
Psalm: Psalm 30
You have turned my wailing into dancing. (Ps. 30:11)
1I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have lifted me up
and have not let my enemies triumph over me.
2O Lord my God, I cried out to you,
and you restored me to health.
3You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead;
you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.
4Sing praise to the Lord, all you faithful;
give thanks in holy remembrance.
5God’s wrath is short; God’s favor lasts a lifetime.
Weeping spends the night, but joy comes in the morning.
6While I felt secure, I said,
“I shall never be disturbed.
7You, Lord, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”
Then you hid your face, and I was filled with fear.
8I cried to you, O Lord;
I pleaded with my Lord, saying,
9“What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?
10Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me;
O Lord, be my helper.”
11You have turned my wailing into dancing;
you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.
12Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.
Second Reading: Revelation 5:11-14
The vision of John recorded in Revelation offers a glimpse of cosmic worship around the throne. At its center is “the Lamb who was slain.”
11Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12singing with full voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,
“To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might
forever and ever!”
14And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
Alleluia. Our hearts burn within us* while you open to us the scriptures. Alleluia. (Luke 24:32)
Gospel: John 21:1-19
The risen Christ appears again to his disciples by the sea where they were first called. After echoes of the fishing and feeding miracles, he gives a final reminder of the cost of a disciple’s love and obedience.
1After [he appeared to his followers in Jerusalem,] Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.
9When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Meditation by Vicar Dave
If we ever needed proof that the Lord thinks in ways that are beyond our understanding, we get it today in our reading from Acts. Here we have a man whose life’s work was killing Christians. In fact, he went about this work with a passion, and he was good at it too. He had just secured permission from the chief priests to go out of his way to Damascus, capture some more “followers of the Way”, that’s what Christians were called in his time, and bring them back to Jerusalem, to be tried and punished for their belief that Jesus Christ is Lord. This isn’t exactly the guy you would think to be a likely candidate for leadership in Christ’s new church. But maybe, that’s the point. While he’s on his way to round up some new Christians to be persecuted, Jesus stops him with a blinding light, quite literally. “Why do you persecute me?” asks the voice of Jesus. Jesus then tells him to go to the city and wait for further instructions. Saul was blind at this time, so the folks he was traveling with had to lead him into the city. Saul’s reputation had preceded him, so much so that Ananias, one of the followers of the Way, was hesitant to go to him as instructed by the Lord. Jesus explains that Saul is the one He has chosen to carry His name to the Gentiles, and so Ananias agrees and goes to the house where Saul is staying, lays his hands on him, and cures His blindness in the name of Jesus Christ. Saul is so moved by this that he immediately converts and begins to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God.
I’ll get to more about Saul in a moment, but first I want to talk about Ananias. Why would God choose him to be the instrument of his will to heal Saul? I don’t think there was anything particularly special about him, he just happened to be in the right place at the right time and, with a little convincing, was willing to do what God told him to do. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. I liked that Ananias approached Saul with love in his heart, even referring to Saul as his “brother”. Sounds like he took Christ’s directive to love his enemy to heart.
Getting back to Saul, why would God choose him to be one of the church fathers? After all, he was actively working against Christ’s church and killing His followers. Weren’t there enough folks who already believed in the Way that God had to recruit some new talent from the outside? I don’t think that’s the case. I think that Christ was making the point that He came for EVERYONE, regardless of their background. Christ forgives all of us all of our sins. If He can take someone who was actively working against Him, bring that man around to a different way of thinking and believing, and make him a leader of His church, he can do the same with any of us. When I am in doubt of myself and my calling, I think of this story, and it gives me comfort. If Christ can take someone like Saul, turn him into Paul and use him to help save countless Gentiles, He can certainly use me to carry His message to people who are coming home from prison and to people who already believe.
Do you wonder about where God is calling you in your life? Do you worry about being worthy of completing whatever task God is assigning to you? Think about where Paul was when Jesus called him and how Christ was able to transform him from a persecutor of the church to become one of its primary builders.
Prayers of Intercession
Set free from captivity to sin and death, we pray to the God of resurrection for the church, people in need, and all of creation.
A brief silence.
Holy One of new beginnings, fill us with new life. Send Daniel & Elizabeth, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, and all of us into the world as you sent your apostles Philip and James, to invite people to come and see your wondrous acts in Christ. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Revive ecosystems along coast lands that have been devastated by natural forces and human negligence. Reestablish plant and animal life that purifies air and water and that feeds humans and other living creatures. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Accompany laborers who get little rest from their work. Give them hope when they struggle to produce what they need. Give all who labor fair treatment and just wages. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Restore all people who cry to you for help, especially those whom we remember on our prayer list and prayer board as well as those who are either suffering in war torn lands or fleeing those lands. Turn their mourning into dancing, clothe them with joy, and put a testimony of healing and praise on their lips. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Be present to faithful ones who are persecuted for following you. Sustain them by your faithfulness, and give them strength in the name of Jesus. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We join our voices with angels, creatures, and all the saints in praising Christ and bestowing upon him all blessing and honor and glory. Reveal Christ’s glory to us and through us in our worship. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
In your mercy, O God, respond to these prayers, and renew us by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Savior.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
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 sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
And now, as our Savior, Christ is teaching us, we boldly pray:
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 who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
God, the Author of life,
Christ, the living Cornerstone,
and the life-giving Spirit of adoption,
☩ bless you now and forever.
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Go in peace. Tell what God has done.
Thanks be to God.