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Resources for the
5th Sunday of Easter

"I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me
and I in them bear much fruit
..."  John 15:5

Texts & Discussion:

Acts 4:5-12
Psalm 23
1 John 3:16-24
John 10:11-18



Call to Worship

L: As branches are dependent on the sap of the vine.
P: So are our souls dependent on the Life that comes from God.
L: People of God, let us come to the Fountain of Life with hearts full of praise.
P: Let us taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
L: Come, let us worship God!




Children's Messages


Mother's Day Video:

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Excerpts . . .

Sermon: A Convenient Story
based on Acts 8:26-40
Rev. Karen A. Goltz

            A few weeks ago at the pastors’ text study that I attend, one of my colleagues made the comment that he thought the book of Acts was written by a PR guy for the church.  I kind of agree with him.  Everything happens a little too perfectly in Acts.  By the beginning of the fourth chapter, Peter has preached two sermons, and a total of eight thousand devout Jews abandon their heritage and religion, get baptized, and become followers of the way of Jesus.  Peter gets arrested, preaches another sermon, and is let go.  He and the other apostles continue preaching, and the church grows at an insane rate, with all believers living in perfect harmony with one another, unencumbered by greed, mistrust, ego, differences of opinion on how things should be done, or any of the other human failings that have plagued every other institution I’ve ever heard of, religious or otherwise.

            The church is growing so quickly that they have to form a social ministry team, which consists of Stephen, Philip, and some others.  This impresses the people of Jerusalem so much that now even some of the priests begin to follow the way of Jesus.

            Now the religious authorities are getting really peeved, and they arrest Stephen on false charges.  At his trial, Stephen preaches a sermon, which really ticks them off, and they take him out of the city, have a young guy named Saul watch their coats, and then throw rocks at Stephen until he dies.  First real negative thing to happen to the church, but Stephen faces it with grace and courage, the model for all martyrs to come, and doesn’t seem to mind dying at all.  He even pulls a Jesus, and prays that God will forgive his murderers even as they’re in the very act of murdering him. . . .

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Children's Message: What's a Eunuch?
Acts 8:26-40
by Rev. Frank Schaefer
Luke tells the story of a Eunuch from Ethiopia, Africa, who traveled along the road, reading the Bible, meeting one of Jesus' disciples, Philip, and being baptized in a nearby river.

This is a pretty confusing story; first of all: what is a Eunuch?  I looked it up and it said that a Eunuch is a man who had been castrated. Eunuchs were people like everybody else except they could not have a family on their own. They were usually castrated at an early age; this was something they did not choose. Many of them probably wanted to have their own family, and were sad that they could not.

What's even more sad is that they Eunuchs were often made fun of, and excluded because they were different. They were not even allowed to worship in the temple.  Have you ever felt that you were excluded from something? Did you ever feel left out? Or not noticed? Or were you ever told you could not participate in something for no good reason at all?

Well, this Eunuch sure knew what it felt like to be excluded, to be made fun of. But Philip (one of Jesus' disciples) did not exclude him; in fact Philip encouraged the Eunuch to believe in Jesus and be baptized. You know when someone is baptized, that's how they become members of the church.

Philip was saying in so many words: you may not have been allowed in the temple as a Jew, but you are welcome in the church of Jesus Christ.

This turns out to be a wonderful story of what the Church should be and must be.

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