Worship Helps for Easter 7

Title: Jesus in prayer, with the angel who shows the instruments of the passion
Artist: Giovanni Battista Piranesi

Worship Theme: The Season of Easter draws to a close with a look at Jesus’ High Priestly prayer. Now as then, our risen and ascended Lord Jesus prays for Spirit-inspired unity between the Father and his church. With much anticipation, we look for the coming of the Holy Spirit, confidently living a new life of faith in our ascended Lord.

Old Testament: Acts 16:6-10 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

1. Paul was traveling throughout the region but was kept from the province of Asia and Bithynia. What kept him from traveling to those regions?

2. What help was needed for the man of Macedonia?

Epistle: Revelation 22:12-17, 20
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." 17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. …  20 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

3. One of the titles Jesus gives himself is “Alpha and Omega”. What does this name for Jesus mean?

4. In the closing verses of Revelation, Jesus gives us a wonderful promise.  What is that promise?

Gospel: John 17:20-26 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

5. This prayer has been called Jesus’ high priestly prayer. Jesus acts as our High Priest by interceding to the Father on our behalf. In this prayer, for whom is Jesus praying?

6. Jesus said that he would continue to make God known to the world. How is Jesus making God known to the world today?


Answers:
1. The Holy Spirit kept Paul from traveling to Asia and Bithynia. Scripture is silent as to how he was kept away or why. God guided his missionaries to take the Gospel where it needed to go.

2. The man from Macedonia needed spiritual help. This help can only come through the gospel. Everyone needs this same help. Everyone needs to hear the good news that Jesus has come to save sinners from the eternal death away from God which we deserve.

3. The Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus uses these letters to say he is the eternal and changeless God. This name assures us Jesus will keep his promises.

4. Jesus promises to return soon. We are able to view our struggles on earth as only temporary and momentary in comparison to the eternal glory that awaits us.

5. Jesus is praying for the disciples who are with him. But he is also praying for those who continue to come to faith in Jesus. It is a prayer that is answered as the church on earth continues to grow. What a great model for our prayers! We ought to not only pray for ourselves, but also to remember and pray for the spiritual wellbeing of others. Pray for true unity. Pray for more to believe. God will hear, for Jesus’ sake.

6. Jesus sends out his disciples: pastors, teachers, men, women, and children—all who believe the truth and speak up to tell others the truth. Once we become disciples of Christ, we then make disciples for Christ by spreading the good news of the crucified, risen, and ascended Lord.


Putting your faith into action
One of the common table prayers we use is “Come, Lord Jesus.” In this prayer we invite Jesus as a guest into our hearts, homes, and to our meal. Our prayer recognizes the meal as another gift of God. It presupposes that the food eaten by those around the table will provide health and energy to them so they may continue their service to the Lord. A second verse, common in the Slovak Lutheran tradition, reads, “And may there be a goodly share on every table everywhere.” It’s an evangelistic petition. Those who pray it ask God to shower the same blessings we have on others, especially the gift of the gospel message. “Come, Lord Jesus!” is the cry of all the faithful, as we wait for the Day of the Lord—a day when we don’t have to invite Jesus to come into our homes, but the day we will come into his. In the meantime, let us continue to thank God for his many gifts and employ them in his service.


A reading from the Book of Concord for Easter 7
We teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, assumed the human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  So there are two natures—the divine and the human—inseparably joined in one person.  There is one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried. He did this to reconcile the Father to us and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of mankind.

He also descended into hell, and truly rose again on the third day.  Afterward, He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.  There He forever reigns and has dominion over all creatures.  He sanctifies those who believe in Him, by sending the Holy Spirit into their hearts to rule, comfort, and make them alive.  He defends them against the devil and the power of sin.
The same Christ will openly come again to judge the living and the dead…

The adversaries approve Article III, in which we confess that there are two natures in Christ.  The human nature was assumed by the Word into the unity of His person.  Christ suffered and died to reconcile the Father to us and was raised again to reign, to justify, and to sanctify believers according to the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. – Augsburg Confession and the Apology, Article III, The Son of God, Christ (paragraphs 1-6, 52)

Hymns for this Sunday: 536; 359; 410; 326

1  Jesus, my great High Priest, Offered his blood and died;
My guilty conscience seeks No sacrifice beside.
His pow’rful blood did once atone,
And now it pleads before the throne.

2  To Christ, my substitute, Will I commit my cause;
He answers and fulfills His Father’s broken laws.
Behold my soul at freedom set—
My Jesus paid the dreadful debt!

3  My advocate appears For my defense on high;
A gracious Father hears And lays his thunder by.
Not all that hell or sin can say
Shall turn his heart, his love, away.

4  Should all the hosts of death And pow'rs of hell unknown
Put their most dreadful forms Of rage and mischief on,
I shall be safe, for Christ displays
Superior pow’r and guardian grace.

Text: Isaac Watts, 1674–1748, abr., alt.


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