Worship Helps for Easter 6

Healing of the cripple and raising of Tabitha
Masolino da Panicale
1426-27

Worship Theme: What one word summarizes all of God’s commands? Love. Luke tells us that about a Christian lady full of love for the widows of her city. The Apostle John teaches us that love for God and his Word compels us to carefully examine all teachings and churches in the light of Scripture. Jesus himself commands us to love one another as he has loved us.

First Lesson: Acts 9:36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, "Please come at once!" 39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. 40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, "Tabitha, get up." She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.

1. Why were the widows of Joppa so upset when Dorcas died?

2. What loving, amazing words did Peter speak when he raised Dorcas from the dead?

Second Lesson:  1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

3. Who/what are the “spirits” of which John speaks here?

4. What are we to do with such spirits?

5. Evaluate the following statement. “If we do not always show true love for others, that means that we are not true believers.”

Gospel: John 15:9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-- fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”

6. The world often portrays true love as weak and God’s commands as burdensome. According to verse 11, why did Jesus command us to show love?

7. What is love?


Answers:
1. The widows of Joppa were so upset when Dorcas died because, out of her love, she had sewn clothes for them.

2. Peter said, “Tabitha, get up." (In Aramaic, this sounded very similar to the time Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, saying, “Talitha [little girl], get up.”)

3. The spirits about whom John speaks here are those who make spiritual claims.

4. We are to test such spirits, to see whether they are from God. That is, we are to test teachers and churches against the Bible. If they disagree with Scripture \ if they deny that Jesus is the Christ \ then they are not from God. Note that we are not to test other people’s hearts (we can’t), or count the followers of others, or try to gauge their pizzazz. Any of those would be unloving. Rather, we lovingly check out what a spirit, a person making spiritual claims, teaches.

5. If we believe in Jesus as our Savior, we will produce fruits of love. Sinners, however, are hardly perfect. The fact that we don’t always show love doesn’t mean that we aren’t believers; it means that our faith needs to grow. We will not use that need as an excuse to not show love, but rather as a reason to grow in our faith through the use of the Gospel.

6. Jesus commands us to show love that we might have his joy and that our joy may be complete. God does not give us his commandments to make our lives boring or more difficult, but rather because he knows that it is for our good. We are happier when we follow his commandments.

7. Love is self-sacrifice in attitude and action. Love is the opposite of selfishness. Love does everything for the other person. Jesus gives us the ultimate example of love in verse 13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

 Putting your faith into action
“Love one another.” A recipe for a happy and fruitful life? A “nice” way to treat our acquaintances, friends, family—even our enemies? A response to God’s love for us? The Apostle John addresses this “love” statement in this week’s epistle reading in the following way:  “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” The manner in which we conduct our lives, manage our resources, will be reflected through the extent to which we follow this guide for life. Response to God’s love by loving others is key.


A reading from the Book of Concord for the Sixth Sunday of Easter
Our adversaries cry out that they are the Church, that they are following the general agreement of the Church.  But Peter cites here in our issue the consensus of the Church, “To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43).  The general agreement of the prophets is certainly to be judged as the general agreement of the Church universal… By our adversaries decrees they not only condemn the doctrine that we obtain the forgiveness of sins through faith (not on account of our works, but because of Christ)… Therefore, let us not hesitate to use this saying of Peter, which summarizes the Prophets.  The Holy Spirit’s testimony is added to this statement of Peter.  For the text speaks this way, “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44). Therefore, let godly consciences know that God’s command is this: They are to believe that they are freely forgiven for Christ’s sake, and not for the sake of our works.  Let them sustain themselves against despair and against the terrors of sin and of death by this command of God.  Let them know that this belief has existed among saints from the beginning of the world.  For Peter clearly cites the general agreement of the Prophets, and the writings of the apostles confirm that they believe the same thing. – Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XIIA, Repentance (66-67, 70-73)


Text of the Opening Hymn: Son Of God, Eternal Savior
Son of God, eternal Savior, Source of life and truth and grace,
Word made flesh, whose birth among us, Honors all our human race,
You our head, who, throned in glory, For your own will ever plead:
Fill us with your love and pity; Heal our wrongs and help our need.

Come, O Christ, and reign among us, King of love and Prince of Peace;
Hush the storm of strife and passion; Bid its cruel discords cease.
By your patient years of toiling, By your silent hours of pain,
Quench our fevered thirst for pleasure; Stem our selfish greed for gain.

Bind us all as one together In your Church's sacred fold,
Weak and healthy, poor and wealthy, Sad and joyful, young and old.
Is there want or pain or sorrow? Make us all the burden share.
Are there spirits crushed and broken? Teach us, Lord, to soothe their care.

As you, Lord, have lived for others, So may we for others live.
Freely have your gifts been granted; Freely may your servants give.
Yours the gold and yours the silver, Yours the wealth of land and sea;

We but stewards of your bounty Held in solemn trust will be.

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