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Bible Study Discussion Guide for Weeks of April 21 & 28

April 20, 2019

The following are the discussion guide and lectionary readings put out by the national church for this week. 

Easter 2 (C) April 28, 2019

[RCL] Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 118:14-29; Revelation 1:4-8; John 20:19-31

Acts 5:27-32

The Book of Acts was probably written by one of Paul’s companions, maybe his physician Luke, and is full of tales of divine intervention, miraculous conversions, and healings. The author seems to be saying, “We can carry on Jesus’s ministry!” In chapter 5, we hear about an encounter with the temple police, one way that Luke illustrates the broader animosity and threats facing the early Church. It was in the best interest of the temple police to keep Judaism the way it was, where they were in charge. Jesus had been crucified, and now they were trying to quash the remaining threads of his radical movement. The apostles were direct threats to their power.

While some call this book The Acts of the Apostles, it’s really a testament to the acts of God through the Holy Spirit and the Risen Jesus Christ. Luke attempts to wow the reader with stories of miracles and God’s continued mercy and faithfulness as the early Church experiences the growing pains of a movement trying to survive and grow without its leader. The response by the apostles in this scene reminds us that the movement, while threatened, is faithful, strong, and empowered by God. In fact, there’s a happy ending to this arrest story—via intervention by a sympathetic rabbi who spares the apostles from punishment.

• How have you felt the faithful power of God during a time that was chaotic, scary, or confusing? • When have you come across animosity for something you believe n?How did you respond?

Psalm 118:14-29

Here in the second week of Easter, we are still in the thick of celebrating the resurrection of Christ. While the Psalms were written well before the birth of Jesus (probably by King David), themes of life and resurrection are found throughout. Psalm 118:17 says, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” It is not enough to toast the Risen Lord and then go about our days as if nothing has changed. With the knowledge of the good news—that life and love can defy death itself—we are charged to go out and declare the impact that God has on us. Hallelujah!

• Tell your story: how do you experience the resurrection today? In what ways has that changed you?

Published by the Office of Communication of The Episcopal Church, 815 Second Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017
© 2019 The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. All rights reserved.

Revelation 1:4-8

The Book of Revelation functions as many things: a letter addressing specific issues, prophesy and warnings to follow God, apocalyptic narrative... a Christian prophet named John (not the apostle) wrote this letter to specific churches addressing their circumstances as members of a new expression of religion. There was tension between new Christians and the general population, both Romans and Jews, who considered Christians to be disloyal, unpatriotic, and antisocial for not participating in some of the local festivals and traditions. John’s letter to the seven churches attempts to bolster their faith by inspiring confidence, stirring up indignation for those who defy God, provoking repentance, and, as Mark Allan Powell puts it, “inspir[ing] praise for God from those who realize the Lord of history is worthy of their trust.”

John does this in part with apocalyptic images: God’s eventual victorious return puts the temporal and earthly struggles into a larger, more cosmic perspective. Remembering that we are loved and cherished by the Alpha and Omega makes it a little easier to stay committed to our faith in the face of tension today.

• What can you do to remember the “bigger picture” instead of being mired down in the small?
• What image of a triumphant God is most comforting or inspiring to you? (Is God “coming with the clouds”?)

John 20:19-31

In the days after the Crucifixion, the apostles were in a locked room, hiding from their enemies and trying to figure out their next steps. Jesus suddenly appears to them, and rejoices, prays, and blesses them. But Thomas was away, perhaps running an errand, picking up the milk and bread. He missed out.

Was he a “doubting Thomas?” Perhaps he was simply the unlucky Thomas, missing out on the coolest thing that had happened in centuries. Did he truly “doubt” Jesus’ resurrection when he heard about it from his friends? Perhaps he is shocked or scared or confused Thomas, in the middle of the cognitive dissonance that comes from trying to believe something impossible.

This story about Thomas is a quintessential lesson that God acts in ways which are unexpected and impossible. Faithful Christians today are called to believe in the Risen Christ without using our physical senses to experience Jesus’s resurrected body in the flesh. But in miracles big and small, Christ appears in ways which don’t make any sense to us and blows away our expectations. Jesus blesses us if we “have not seen and yet have come to believe” – even if what we believe is impossible.

  • When have you been surprised by God’s presence?

  • In what ways do you or do you not relate to Thomas?

    Anna Sutterisch lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband Noah and cats, Thecla and Phoebe. Anna is passionate about food, design and architecture, hip hop dance and The Episcopal Church. She is a senior in Bexley Seabury's low-residency program and a candidate for the priesthood in the Diocese of Ohio. After graduation, Anna will be working on the bishop's staff with children, youth and young adults in the diocese and at Bellwether Farm, a sustainable farm, camp and retreat center.

    Published by the Office of Communication of The Episcopal Church, 815 Second Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017
    © 2019 The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. All rights reserved.

 

Second Sunday of Easter

episcopalchurch.org/lectionary/second-sunday-easter-0

Sunday, April 28, 2019 Year (cycle):

C
The Collect:

July 5, 2011

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Lesson:

Acts 5:27-32
27 When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, 28saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.’ 29But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority. 30The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, so that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’

Psalm:

Psalm 118:14-29 or Psalm 150
14 The Lord is my strength and my song, *

and he has become my salvation.
15 There is a sound of exultation and victory *

in the tents of the righteous:
16 “The right hand of the Lord has triumphed! *

the right hand of the Lord is exalted!

the right hand of the Lord has triumphed!” 17 I shall not die, but live, *

and declare the works of the Lord. 18 The Lord has punished me sorely, *

but he did not hand me over to death. 19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; *

I will enter them;

1/3

I will offer thanks to the Lord. 20 “This is the gate of the Lord; *

he who is righteous may enter.”
21 I will give thanks to you, for you answered me *

and have become my salvation.
22 The same stone which the builders rejected *

has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord’s doing, *

and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 On this day the Lord has acted; * we will rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Hosannah, Lord, hosannah! * Lord, send us now success.

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; * we bless you from the house of the Lord.

27 God is the Lord; he has shined upon us; *
form a procession with branches up to the horns of the altar.

28 “You are my God, and I will thank you; * you are my God, and I will exalt you.”

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; * his mercy endures for ever.

Epistle:

Revelation 1:4-8
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
7 Look! He is coming with the clouds;

every eye will see him, even those who pierced him;

and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen.

8 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Gospel:

2/3

John 20:19-31
19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

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