This Third Sunday of Easter we will celebrate the best and most joyous of news for anyone who is imperfect–in other words, for you and me and everyone in the world! Bishop Desmond Tutu says how universal it is both to need forgiveness and to need to forgive in The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World. He writes, “The Bible is full of stories of reckless, immoral and criminal people who transformed their lives, who became saints. Peter, the disciple who betrayed a friendship and denied Jesus–not once, but three times–was forgiven and became the chief of the apostles. Paul, the violent persecutor of those faithful to the fledgling Christian faith, became the sower who planted Christian communities in the gentile world.” The great good news is that whoever we are, whatever we have done, with Christ there is always a second act, there is always a chance to turn our life around.
This Sunday we will hear stories about Christ forgiving Peter (John 21:1-19) and Paul (Acts 9:1-20) and sending them out to serve. We will read Psalm 30 together about someone who fell from grace and then cried out to God and was lifted out of the pit: “You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy!” We will sing Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, Lord, I Want to Be a Christian, and Awake, Awake to Love and Work, enjoying great, uplifting tunes by Ludwig van Beethoven and George Frideric Handel as well as an old favorite, soulful spiritual.
The choir will sing a beautiful contemporary hymn from the New Century Hymnal, God of Change and Glory, and also the 17th Century Dutch anthem, “Awake, Thou Wintry Earth.” Marcia Tomlinson will be at the organ this week playing pieces by Zachau and Clementi.