Assembly goers and Pastors this season will notice a familiar pattern in the Scripture readings. These readings give the Church an opportunity to hear the Gospel of John. The first three Sundays allow us to dwell on the appearance of the risen Christ, while the rest of the season takes us back before his resurrection with reflections as a kind of afterthought.
The familiar pattern of the Gospel readings this year is supplemented by a first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. The stories from Acts are particularly dramatic and thus worth our paying attention, because they portray specific vignettes of the resurrection in the life of the Church’s first witnesses.
Sunday, 1 May St. John 21.1-19 Easter III
The risen Christ appears again to his disciples by the sea where they were first called. After the echoes of the fishing and feeding miracles, Jesus gives a final reminder of the cost of a disciple’s love and obedience.
Sunday, 8 May St. John 10.22-30 Easter IV
Jesus responds to questions about his identity with the remarkable claim that he and the Father are one. Those who understand this are his sheep: they hear his voice, they follow, and they will never be snatched from his hand.
Sunday, 15 May St. John 13.31-35 Easter V
After washing the disciples’ feet, predicting his betrayal, and then revealing his betraying, Jesus speaks of his glorification on the cross. This deep complicated love of Jesus, even to death on the cross, will be the distinctive mark of Jesus’ community.
Sunday, 22 May St. John 14.23-29 Easter VI
As Jesus talks of returning to the Father, he promises to send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will teach Jesus’ followers and remind them of all that Jesus taught. Even more, those in whom God makes a home will experience a peace that overcomes fear.
Sunday, 29 May St. John 17.20-26 Easter VII
Jesus prays in his “High Priestly Prayer” that the life of his followers will be characterized by an intimate unity of identity with God. So identified with God means to share in God’s mission: proclaim the Word in speech and in deed that will bring others into this unity and identity.
Reading, listening, preaching, and acting throughout this season will be a long, slow, unfolding narrative: a gradual turning of the gemstones of the gospel in the light of the risen Christ… Not everything has to be said on Easter Sunday! Let the facets of that diamond sparkle in turn all seven weeks of Easter!