Our May 16 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The May 23 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services. After late service at Noon, we will hold a BBQ lunch and congregational voters meeting, postponed from last December because of COVID restrictions.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 | Psalm 1
1 John 5:9-13 | John 17:6-19
The one overriding theme in the texts today is “testimony.” Testimony: good and bad, the bearing of witness, and we find it in some strange contexts. John uses the word “testimony” six times in his letter today. The Greek word he uses also means “bear witness, discipleship.” It can even mean “martyrdom.” Martyrdom is, of course, the most extreme form of testifying to something, to the point of one’s life. As Jesus martyrs himself for us on the cross, bearing witness to God’s love for us. John also uses another word, “liar.” A liar bears false witness (perjury in court). John compares the two, which enlightens the other texts.
Jesus is praying for the unity of his disciples, and the whole Church by extension. That unity is in bearing witness to him, and all that has been revealed about and through Jesus. And, that God will protect Christ’s disciples in the bearing of that testimony in the world. It is a testimony which is not of this world, and really against many aspects of the world. He prays that the disciples may be kept in union with him.
Jesus, in his prayer, also mentions a failure (sort of), in vs. 12, “I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.” The one lost is of course Judas Iscariot. Judas had hung himself when he realized what he had done, or more properly, that he was wrong about what he had done. Also, “the one destined to be lost,” is not what the Greek text says. It calls Judas, “the Son of perdition, or destruction,” or even stronger, “The Son of Damnation.” In John’s writings, especially, John brings this out. Even though Jesus says it was destined to happen so that the scriptures could be fulfilled. That presents a predestination issue which I won’t go into. John doesn’t seem to have liked Judas, but it is from him that we learn the most about Judas. Judas Iscariot was from the town of Iscariot, which was a headquarters for the Zealots group, and in particular the Sicarii, the “knife men,” who basically invented many terroristic techniques. Judas’ actions seem to reinforce that he was a Zealot, trying to force Jesus’ hand as a military/political leader to overthrow the Romans and their lackeys. But, John also tells us that Judas was the treasurer of the group, usually the most trusted position in any group (not Peter, or John or James). Although John says that Judas used to steal from the common purse. If the betrayal came from the most trusted disciple, then it must have been all the more bitter for Jesus. In remorse after the betrayal, Judas hangs himself. In a strange sort of way, that also bears witness to Christ. Judas realized that Jesus wasn’t the warrior Messiah, but an innocent victim of events. The innocent lamb who was sent to the slaughter, being sacrificed on the cross for our sins, for the sins of the whole world. It is a testimony very different from the rest of the disciples.
The Acts text is dealing with this dilemma. Judas’ death, while destined to fulfill the scriptures, as Peter also tells us in the text, echoing Jesus, has left a hole among the 12. They decide it must be filled (12 Apostles, 12 tribes if Israel). They need a 12th as “a witness with us to his resurrection.” And it should be someone who had been with them since the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, who knew the whole story. They cast lots. Matthias wins.
Matthias is added to the 11. He is now an Apostle, a special task. They were the one’s who were “sent out.” Their major task was precisely giving testimony, bearing witness. It was their testimony which is responsible for the birth of the Church, led by the Holy Spirit (Pentecost is next week, wear red). They bear witness to the world, and churches are formed. They bore a good witness. The Church has grown. But, after their deaths, often by martyrdom, their numbers were again filled. How? That has fallen to us, our testimony, we too bear witness: For we too are “witnesses to his resurrection,” and our testimony is in union with the Apostles. We also are “sanctified in the truth,” the truth of the Word of God, Jesus Christ, crucified and raised on the third day, now our Lord and Savior, the Son of the Living God. Of him we testify, to him, we bear witness, for him we too are sent out to tell his story, to proclaim his Gospel, His Good News.