The household gathers together. If you have a candle, light a candle to signify God’s presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to join you during this time of prayer.

GATHERING
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

HYMN – „How Great Thou Art“
(sing along on YouTube: https://youtu.be/a-m_6KN5ISA)

O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Refrain
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art

OPENING PRAYER
Gracious God, remind us that we are responsible for caring for each other. We are called to lift up rather than tear down; to support rather than abandon, to reach out when others have turned away. Give us hearts of love that, in all places and times, we may be a witness to the hope that is found in Jesus Christ. Amen.

PSALM 31:1-5, 15-16

Moment for silent reflection

JOHN 14:1-14

SERMON by Pastor Frank Moritz-Jauk

For me the gospel text we heard today fits perfectly into the time we are in right now, the time before Pentecost. Of the many different topics addressed in this text, I would like to focus on two questions today: Who is Jesus and how can this highly charged Jesus‘ word „I am the way, the truth and the life“ be proclaimed and brought to life in today’s world. This is my starting point for today’s sermon. Let us start right away with the first question: Who is Jesus? Again and again I have asked myself, while listening to or reading the Gospel texts, how it is thinkable that one can actually recognize the Son of God in the person of Jesus, in the historical Jesus. After all, there are many biblical passages that bring up this incomprehension of the disciples. Today it was Thomas and Philip who showed through their questions that they didn’t really understand what Jesus meant by his statements. But can anyone understand that? In today’s context of verse 7 this becomes especially clear: “ If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.“ Isn’t it inevitable that every disciple at the time of Jesus must have thought of Joseph when hearing this statement? And must not Jesus somehow have had physical characteristics of his foster father in order to spare his parents this unbelievable disgrace, that it becomes immediately visible that Joseph is not the father? That his mother Mary had cheated on Joseph and slept with somebody else and that his father Joseph was stupid enough to accept that? Maybe I am not allowed to think that, but normally one can see children’s characteristics, which they have either from their father or from their mother. The eyes of the mom, the ears of the dad. Why should it be different with Jesus? But if it was, then this lack of understanding will only increase. „He who has seen me has seen the father.“ How am I supposed to see God the Father when the person in front of me looks like a cross between Joseph and Mary? Leaving the deeds of Jesus as he says, „or else believe on account of the works themselves.“ Ok accepted. But can even the most spectacular miracles, such as feeding 5000 people with fish and bread or raising Lazarus from the dead, lead someone to the conclusion that this man Jesus is actually in personal union with the almighty, universal Creator of the world? For me this text fits so well on our way towards Pentecost because I am convinced in my innermost feelings that we can only believe this connection of Jesus with the Father, because of the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit that we are children of God. The cosmic dimension of Jesus is only revealed through the Holy Spirit. But especially for us people who live now and here in the year 2020 we have to me sure about this: The Holy Spirit is unavailable in the way that we humans cannot possess him, but he is not unreachable. It´s not something of the distinct past and out of sight. The Holy Spirit is a gift of God, which is promised by Jesus and which the disciples receive at Pentecost because Jesus breathes on them. Or to put it differently: The Holy Spirit is not to be mistaken with speaking in tongues. Or other sensational miracles. First of all, one of the effects or works of the Holy Spirit is that I can believe. I can believe that I am meant and that everything Jesus does and has done is for me. Let us come to the second question, how can we proclaim and bring to life this theological heavyweight „I am the way, the truth and the life“. I must confess, I am a very visual person. This triad immediately made me think of Zorro. This Zorro – for all those who do not know him – was a masked avenger in a black robe who slit a „Z“ on his opponents‘ chests with a sword. I am the way – bang, the truth – bang and the life – bang. By the way, for all who do not know Zorro, it is of course available in the comic from Asterix: Volume 21, The Gift of Caesar, page 31. The good thing about my Zorro image of the „Z“ is that it points out that these three terms are related. They are not single strokes, but together they form a whole. And yet, at least for me, I realize that I can only approach the whole thing piece by piece. I have to break it down into understandable images that I can absorb and digest. For what is truth? We know a famous person in the context of Jesus who asked the question and that was Pilate. When I ask myself what does the Way mean, it occurs to me that Jesus is my orientation, my road sign. The stories and words of Jesus help me to recognize his basic approach to love and to see how they are brought to life by Jesus. How does Jesus act? Isn’t it brilliant how he, when asked about the Roman taxes, gets a coin and asks: Whose image do we see here? Or how Jesus reacts when the adulteress is brought to him? This is what I mean by orientation. If I continue to ask what truth means, then perhaps I can put it this way: truth means that I can testify in my life that my way with Jesus has proven to be right, the right way for me. No more and no less. It feels right to set my hope on Jesus. To trust him. To turn to him in prayer. And to set my hope on Jesus is then also my bridge to the concept of life: Life is, so to speak, everything. Life means joy as well as sorrow, life means gain as well as loss, life means happiness as well as anger. Life is all the time I spend here on earth. If now the one who dies and rises says that he is life, then that points beyond death. I find that a great comfort. A power radiates from this statement, which helps me already now, already here in this life. I know that nothing can separate me from God and that I am in His hands in life and death. I find that immensely relieving. Or in other words: Here I feel the power of faith and why it is worthwhile believing. Worthwhile, not in the sense we know from business that we are to receive a return of investment, but as a certainty. A certainty that we are having solid ground under our feet. And the more we connect these terms with everyday experiences, the more the short formula „I am the way, the truth and the life“, which seemed incomprehensible to the disciples, really makes sense today: In Jesus we recognize the Father with the help of the Holy Spirit. Today we would perhaps say that Jesus is the key. The administrator password. There may be other images that fit today. But one thing stays clear: Jesus hast lost nothing of his importance. It remains vital for us who we consider him to be. A historical figure among others, a prophet among many or The Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (read aloud)
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy universal church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
O Lord, our Rock, we stand upon you alone, and upon no other. Build our faith into a house made of living stones. May we know deep within our hearts that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Guide our feet on the paths of righteous, so we may know the Way to Christ. Open our hearts and minds to hear and believe in the Truth of the cross and the resurrection. Grant us abundant Life filled with the hope and joy of Easter.

We offer these prayers of compassion for our families and friends. Teach us anew that the foundation of life is love for you and for neighbor. We pray for the community in which we live and work and learn.

Offer us, O God, at least one clear opportunity to be of service to someone in need. Hear our prayers for those who are ill and who struggle to recover health and wholeness.

We pray for our world during this pandemic and ask for wisdom and guidance for leaders, protection for hospital workers and those working away from home, and healing and release from the COVID-19 virus.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with us, today.

We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior. Amen.

BLESSING
Go forth in peace and bring hope to this world. Go forth in love and bring joy to this world. Go forth in the knowledge that God goes with you, loving and guiding your steps. Amen.