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Fifth (5th) Sunday of Easter

Texts & Discussion:
Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
1 Peter 2:2-10
John 14:1-14


New Life in Christ

Life in Light of Eternity
Effective Prayer


Prayer of Confession

Giver of all life, you call us into a relationship of love with you and with our fellow human beings. We confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart, that we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. Forgive us, we pray, and empower us so we may love you more than everything else, you who have loved us first. Let us seek to love you in receiving and serving, in our going out and our going in. Free us for a life in joyful obedience and commitment to you, our neighbor, and our world. May your love inspire and infuse our everyday lives. In Jesus name. Amen.


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Featured Sermon of the Week:

  • Closed Ears or Open Eyes Acts 7:55-60
    by Richard Gehring            
      (see excerpt below)

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Sermon Excerpt:

Closed Ears or Open Eyes
based on Acts 7:55-60
by Richard Gehring

From 1955 to 1961, there was a local show on WRC-TV in Washington, DC called Sam and Friends. It was only a five-minute show that ran as the lead-in to the nightly news report. The show featured several puppets including, of course, Sam—a bald, human-looking puppet with wide eyes, large ears and a big nose. The show's creator was a young college student at the University of Maryland. When the show began, it often featured Sam or one of his friends like Yorick or Harry the Hipster lip-synching to some popular song. As time went on, the brief plots became more sophisticated, often spoofing popular television shows of the day.

Since the show ran for only a few years in a single market more than 50 years ago, it may come as a surprise to learn that one of the original puppets from Sam and Friends is now a featured display in the Smithsonian. This friend of Sam is a sort of lizard-looking character named Kermit. And the college student who created him was Jim Henson. Eventually, of course, Kermit evolved into a frog. And Jim Henson created the Muppets, which have gone on to be featured in 11 full-length films, 25 TV series and 28 television specials. Kermit himself has made appearances in more than 35 TV shows and movies. Not too bad for a character that Henson originally created by gluing a pair of ping-pong balls onto fabric from a coat that his mother had thrown in the trash.
Sam and Friends was not a show about Kermit the Frog. But without it, he may never have been “born;” and the Muppets may never have become the huge phenomenon that they are.

In a similar fashion, our scripture for today is not really about Saul. He is a side character, a name only mentioned in passing. In fact, if this were the only passage in which Saul was mentioned, we probably wouldn't pay any more attention to him than we do to Aristarchus the Macedonian(Acts 27:2) or Alexander the coppersmith(2 Timothy 4:14) or Zenas the lawyer (Titus 3:13)--all individuals who are also mentioned somewhere in the New Testament. But, of course, this young man Saul eventually becomes the Apostle Paul—the great missionary leader of the early church.
The fact that Luke, the author of the book of Acts, chooses to mention his presence in this story is clearly a foreshadowing of who young Saul is going to become. Luke introduces Saul in this episode that stands in such contrast to what we know of him as Paul. This suggests to me that perhaps what happens here in chapter seven has something to do with what happens two chapters later when Saul has his famed “Damascus road” experience. From that point on, Saul—or Paul as he comes to be known—is the main character in the rest of the book, and in some sense for the rest of the New Testament
. . . . .

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