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The Fourth Sunday of Easter A, April 30, 2023

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The Fourth Sunday of Easter A, April 30, 2023

These are the activities of the baptized:  to receive the word handed over by their preachers… to engage the fellowship engendered by that word… to receive the gift of Christ’s body in the breaking of the bread… to pray in thanksgiving and praise while interceding for all… to witness with wonder and awe the miracle of repentance being worked and their sin forgiven (cf. vs. 42-43).

These are the activities of the baptized in every generation.  You might note how these activities reflect the marks of the church.  There are seven of them.  Five of them are the marks the Lord lays upon his church—that is, God’s Word, Baptism, Supper, forgiveness, and the office of ministry, here represented by the apostles.  The Lord marks out his people by subjecting them to these works of his.  This same Lord also draws from his people their prayers… their thanksgiving, their praise, and their intercessions.  The seventh mark of the church is suffering—the holy cross laid upon you.

How that seventh mark is received by God’s church is particular to every generation… particular to each person of that generation.  In the generation depicted here, the mark of the holy cross is described as commonality.  The believers—that is, the baptized—met in common… they held property and possessions in common… they shared the proceeds of their financial transactions in common… they met in the Temple in common… they enjoyed the breaking of the bread in common… and they shared the gladness and generosity of their hearts in common.  The distinctiveness of this commonality earned them the favor of all the people (vs. 44-46)

Now to you, you people of this particular generation… It seems as if you have fallen out of favor with all people.  Christ and his church no longer enjoy widespread cultural respect.  The leaders of our nation and its cultural influencers appear ready to force marginalization and ostracization upon you.  Such is the holy cross imposed upon this generation… this generation’s suffering.  Like that first generation, and every generation since, in response, you cling to the Word of God, the sacraments, forgiveness, and prayer—the enduring marks of the church.

Table Talk:  Discuss the necessity of suffering peculiar to each generation.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, grant me my own cross and your Word that I might bear that cross’ burden.  Amen

Acts 2:42-47 English Standard Version

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

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