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Sixth Sunday of Easter, Cycle C

The emphasis in these texts selected for the Sixth Sunday of Easter this year is clearly on “good things” and on the belief that all good things come from God, as the Prayer of the Day specifies: “Bountiful God, you gather your people into your realm, and you promise us food from your tree of life. Nourish us with your word, that empowered by your Spirit we may love one another and the world you have made, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”

These texts in Cycle C all carry this emphasis without entering seriously into the related question of the origin of “bad things.” It is appropriate that our sermons and services next Sunday maintain the emphasis of these texts. There are other opportunities to consider the more difficult issue of the origin of evil.

Psalm 67

The “good things” here are God’s gracious interaction with and blessing of the people of the worshiping community. The results of this interaction and blessing are seen most clearly in the good harvest cited in 67:6. This and presumably other blessings will cause people of all nations to fear God and to praise God. God is said to judge and to guide all nations. In this Community Hymn of Praise there is no mention of Adonai. It is entirely Elohim who is acclaimed.

Acts 16:9-15

In this segment of the Acts of Apostles literary drama the “good things” come to the woman named Lydia, a seller of purple cloth who worshiped God and listened to Paul and to the other apostles. The Lord had opened her heart to be receptive to the message of Paul. After she and her entire household had been baptized, she invited Paul and those who were with him to be guests in her home. Together with Lydia, we too are nourished by the Word of God.

Revelation 21:10, 22–22:5

Here in beautiful unrestrained apocalyptic imagery we are given a description of the glorious new city of Jerusalem coming down from heaven from God to become the Bride of Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Life is so good in this new city that there is no need of a temple, or of sun or moon, for its temple is the Lord God and the Lamb. The glory of the Lord provides its light and the Lamb of God is its lamp.

John 14:23-29

Three “good things” form the basis of this Fourth Gospel text. They are presented in two promises and in a gift of “my peace” from the Johannine Jesus. The first good that is promised is the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in Jesus’ name to remind the disciples of all that Jesus had said. The second good that is promised is the assurance that the Johannine Jesus and the Father of Jesus will come to those who keep Jesus’ word, and the third is that the Johannine Jesus and his Father will make their home with those who keep the word of the Johannine Jesus.

As the Johannine writers and community, inspired by God, reflected theologically about how Jesus as they perceived him would be and was active among them, they claimed Jesus’ peace. Nevertheless, the grammatical condition contrary to fact in 14:28 suggests that they realized their love for Jesus was not adequate. Perhaps this condition contrary to fact construction is the key that provides for us the best entrée into this text and into a homily/sermon based on this text. They perceived Jesus as saying to them, “If you had loved me the way that I wanted you to love me, you would have rejoiced that I am going to my Father, because my Father is greater than I am.”

We too look for good things from God as we reflect theologically over the absence of Jesus and claim his presence. Like the members of the Johannine community, we also recognize that we do not love Jesus as the Christ, as the Son of God our Savior, as we should love, and that because of this our joy is not complete. Therefore, the “good things of God” remain for us somewhat elusive, as they were for the community by which and for which this texts was composed. They are realized only in part. The full measure of the “good things from God” is still to come.

John 5:1-9

The “good thing” that the man at the pool near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem who had been ill for 38 years received was to be healed. The question asked by the Johannine Jesus, “Do you want to be healed?” seems at first to be entirely unnecessary. Of course, he wants to be healed! After being helplessly ill for 38 years, would he not want to be healed? On further reflection, however, we see that it is totally essential that he has the will to be healed. Without the will to be healed, he would not have been healed. We too must want the healing and all of the other “good things” that God provides.

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Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen