Learn more about the readings, music, and worship-service planning helps for the Fifth Sunday of Easter (April 29, 2018).
Season & Preparations
The season of Easter continues with no change in decoration. The color remains white, and the alleluias of Easter continue as we remember Christ’s resurrected presence with us.
The Fifth Sunday of Easter centers around the theme of being connected to Jesus. In Baptism, we are connected to Jesus. We are buried with Christ in Baptism and raised to new life. We see such a Baptism in the reading from Acts 8. Likewise, being connected to Jesus, we are called to love one another as He first loved us.
Readings & Theme
The readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter speak to God’s relationship with His people. In the Gospel, from John 15, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches” (v. 5). As we journey through life, we strive to stay connected to Jesus, for as Jesus says, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (v. 5). A branch that is disconnected withers and dies, but a branch that stays connected grows and bears fruit.
We continue working through the Epistle of 1 John. The lectionary gives you the choice between a shortened reading (1 John 4:1–11) and a longer one (1 John 4:1–21). I recommend the longer one. In the shortened version, you’ll find the encouragement of God’s love and further encouragement to love one another. If you opt for the longer reading, you’ll also get these beautiful reminders: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (v. 18) and “we love because he first loved us” (v. 19).
The New Testament reading, from Acts 8, is the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. This story continues the message in the Book of Acts that God shows no partiality. The love of God is for all nations, not just the people of Israel. The Ethiopian eunuch would have been marginalized in Jerusalem because of his race and because he was a eunuch, but no longer. God’s love is for every nation and all peoples. This Ethiopian is grafted into the kingdom of God by hearing the Word of God and being baptized into Christ. He abides in Christ. He is a new branch that will bear fruit.
Hymns & Music
The Hymn of the Day for the Fifth Sunday of Easter is “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing” (LSB 633). This is a rare example of the Hymn of the Day coming from the Lord’s Supper section of the hymnal. This hymn connects to the readings for the day in a few ways. In stanzas two and four, we read of God’s love in Christ, which connect to the Epistle. And at the end of stanza one, we see a connection to Baptism, Christ’s death, and the New Testament reading. For example, stanza one contains this line:
Who has washed us in the tide
Flowing from His pierced side.
Another hymn that connects to the readings for this day is “Chief of Sinners Though I Be” (LSB 611). This line, from stanza one, is especially appropriate for today:
As the branch is to the vine,
I am His, and He is mine.
Any hymn from the Baptism section will work well to connect to the New Testament reading. For a hymn for the Epistle, consider using “O Love, How Deep” (LSB 544).
I also find it good to sing a hymn from the Easter section to remind parishioners we are still in the Easter season. Stanza three of “Alleluia! Jesus Is Risen” (LSB 474) draws directly from the Gospel for today.
Additional Resources for Worship & Study
The Arch Book Philip and the Ethiopian is a retelling of the New Testament reading and may be helpful in sharing this story with children.
Also, if you plan to work through 1 John for a sermon series or Bible study during the Easter season, I highly recommend Bruce Schuchard’s Concordia Commentary: 1–3 John.
Looking for additional information on planning for the Fifth Sunday of Easter? Download our planning sheet to help you get started!
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Quotations marked LSB are from Lutheran Service Book, copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.