The phrase "we must speak" has a couple of nuances in this set of readings from David Ackerman's Beyond the Lectionary. For Jonathan and David -- it is a difficult conversation about the challenges to their friendship from Jonathan's father. For Peter and John in the reading from Acts 4, it is a challenging word to the religious authorities -- do we obey you and remain silent? Or do we follow God's directive and preach the good news? As for the reading from John, Peter wants to have a conversation with Jesus about the future -- especially the situation regarding the Beloved Disciple. How often have we heard these words -- "we must speak?" When we hear them, is the expectation good news or bad news? The reality is that many conversations must be quite frank -- and we see that in these selections from the Scriptures.
“We Must Speak”
Call to Worship: Psalm 18:46-50 NRSV
One: The Lord lives! Blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation, the God who gave me vengeance and subdued peoples under me; who delivered me from my enemies; indeed, you exalted me above my adversaries; you delivered me from the violent.
Many: For this I will extol you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to your name. Great triumphs he gives to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.
Gathering Prayer: We come before you today, God of grace, inwardly yearning for you. We pray that our voices might draw out from within us the praise that we feel inside of us. You have done so many good things for us. Teach us to truly give thanks to you with our minds, our lips, and our lives.
Confession: Merciful God, we confess that so many times we should have spoken up when we remained silent. Our silence has done us more harm than good and has allowed injustice to flourish unchecked. We confess that for some reason it is hard for us to speak of our love for you even though you mean more to us than words can express. Forgive us, God, and change us, so that we might have the courage we need to share the news of your love and grace with our world.
Assurance: Though we may have been silent when we should have spoken, God does not keep silence. God speaks on our behalf and advocates for us with words of forgiveness, compassion, and new life. Let us then respond as changed people who know that God’s love breaks through every obstacle and barrier to grace.
Scriptures: 1 Samuel 20:12-23, 35-42 – “David and Jonathan”
Acts 4:13-22 – “We Cannot Keep from Speaking”
John 21:20-25 – “The Conclusion of John”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
- 1 Samuel 20 describes the depth of David and Jonathan’s love for each other. Biblical scholars debate about whether their love was platonic or erotic. What do you think?
- Have you ever had to say goodbye to someone you cared for deeply? Did you feel free enough to share your true feelings with that person?
- In Acts 4, the disciples are charged not to speak about Jesus, but they defy the order. Are there places in your life where it is taboo to speak about your faith? How do you handle those situations?
- In John 21, Jesus says that the “beloved disciple” will be spared. What do you imagine that he did with his life? What do you make of the conclusion to John in v 25? What are your favorite stories about Jesus to share?
Prayer of Thanksgiving: You have loved us so much, God, and you empower us to show your love in this world even when it is very hard to do. Thank you for giving us the strength we need to be your people and to declare your praise in this world.
Benediction: Now let us go and share the joyful message of the God who loves us, sets us free, and empowers us to live as disciples of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.