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Sunday 10th May 2020 Fifth Sunday of Easter

posted 8 May 2020, 07:39 by Church Office   [ updated 10 May 2020, 06:45 by CHS Info ]
 Sermon for Easter 5
 Full service

You can download the order of service here, and a printable version of the readings, sermon and prayers can be downloaded here.

Sunday 10th May 2020

Fifth Sunday of Easter

 

This Sunday is the Fifth Sunday of Easter our readings explore how we see God in the face of Christ and in Christ’s brothers and sisters (that’s us folks!).

This week in Pram Service (8am) we are exploring how we are all made in God's image. You will need to send me a picture of your face so we can can see how Christ can and does shine through each of them (these photos will not be published anywhere and will only be used for the service). Be sure to bring some pens and paper with you too as they will come in handy. Here is the link for pram service https://zoom.us/j/523536110.


For Sunday School (9:30am) Jesus is the good shepherd - we are the sheep who know his voice to be that of the friend who loves us always - who calls us through the gate always - never a thief or bad voice - but ... to get to him we have to follow him, to learn about him, to listen to him. Our judgements about who should or should not get through is never never ours, it's always Jesus'. We'll draw gates, doors, cracks in walls, fords through puddles, lakes and rivers, hidden paths through swamps to create our own path to follow Jesus so be sure to bring paper, pens and pencils for drawing. We will be singing Rejoice the Lord is King, please click here for the words. We will hear the story of the good shepherd who calls his sheep each night to safety, who keeps out the danger, who is the only one who judges, who has never in all his life turned away the repentant - who minds the gate to heaven - and the sheep know his voice. Then we will talk to God about the things that they need help with, the difficulties of today's funny life. We will finish sunday school with the Lord's Prayer. The Link for sunday school is here: https://zoom.us/j/578055716. The password for the meeting can be found in our newsletter, you can subscribe to our newsletter through the link on our home page. 

Readings

Acts 7:55-60 

55 But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. 58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.

Jesus has assured his disciples of his presence with them and asked them not be afraid but the struggle and conflict that they will inevitably face is seen in the fate of St Stephen the first martyr. However, as Jesus promised, Stephen is able to carry out the works of God, showing forgiveness to those who are intent on his destruction just as Christ did before him.

 

John 14: 1-14

Jesus the Way to the Father

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

The disciples beg Jesus to show them the face of God before he leaves them so that they may be confident in their faith: Jesus tells them that if they have seen him then they have already seen the Father. This is how we see the face of God in those whose actions and lives are Christ like.

Sermon

On Easter Day this year, we read Matthew’s account of the resurrection. Cast your minds back - the women were on their way to Jesus’ tomb. Then “... suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it” - talk about making a dramatic entrance. I love the detail that he sat on it. As though he needed a rest, after all that descending from heaven, and the earthquake, and having moved the stone. There’s something rather wonderful in the contrast between this everyday remark, and the utterly momentous significance of the thing he’s sitting on, which was after all the stone across the entrance to the tomb of Christ. But I digress. And more scholarly critiques are available (just in case you were in any doubt!).

Anyway, he says to the women: “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” Similarly in Mark, the messenger, this time described as “a young man, dressed in a white robe” (as in Matthew, he has also taken a pew, we just don’t know if that was on the stone or not) says “He has been raised; he is not here … go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”

Jesus is always going on ahead, always dynamic, always inviting us to follow, to come on, to keep up.

Today’s gospel forms part of John’s lengthy farewell discourse, so in the arc of the narrative he is going ahead into Jerusalem, and to all that will happen there. And in the passage itself he says “I will go and prepare a place … I will come back and take you to myself … I am going to the Father”. He tells his disciples that they know the way, and Thomas says well if we don’t know where you are going, how can we know how to get there?

And in a way this is where the narrative brings us up sharp, the talk of coming, going, coming back again, the perplexed questions of where and how, all stops, with one of the “I am” statements that characterize the Gospel of John: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”. I would have thought that this one of the “I am” sayings is second only to the Book of Revelations in having been (mis)used and abused, as what comes next - “No-one comes to the Father except through me” - has unfortunately been used by many over the years to suggest we can draw a line between those who are right, and those who are wrong, those who are included, while everyone else is excluded. Reading this saying in its context reveals depths of meaning that will inevitably be missed if it is used as a slogan, as though on those posters printed in Hi-Viz, luminous colour put up at railway stations.

“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him “I am the way …” - what if this is not about rigidity, or rules, but about relationship?

Before this, Jesus has said “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places” - there is a dwelling place there for the disciples, who were his immediate audience; there is a place there, deep within the heart of God, for all who have ever lived; there is a place there for us.

After this, Jesus speaks about God the Father as “the Father who dwells in me …” - what if we perceive “I am the way, the truth, and the life …” as relationship, and as journey, rather than as an object, immutable, fixed in time and place? Interestingly, the Greek word monai used for dwelling places is the noun form of the verb used shortly afterwards in John, when Jesus talks about abiding - “Abide in me and I will abide in you.”

The driving force of relationship, of course, is love.

On Friday evening I caught a few minutes of BBC One’s VE Day anniversary coverage. They broadcast a woman who had lived through the war, who said this:

“[This was a war that had to be fought.] It was a time of wonderful comradeship, a time of great sadness, sometimes a time of great joy … the war changed my life forever. Things were never the same. The thing that kept me going, during the war, was lots of love, all kinds of love, both given and received. Because love comes in many forms.

How apposite.

To return to the beginning, to the empty tomb and the risen Christ who “has been raised; he is not here”. The risen Christ who is already “... going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” Jesus who says “I am the way” is always going on ahead of us, dynamic, forward-moving, not standing still.

The implication of the words of the messenger at the empty tomb is that the disciples will have to follow the risen Christ, who has gone on ahead “there you will see him …”, the messenger says.

May we dare to do the same.

Amen.

Prayers

Prayer 1

Creator of the universe,
you made the world in beauty,
and restore all things in glory
through the victory of Jesus Christ.
We pray that, wherever your image is still disfigured
by poverty, sickness, selfishness, war and greed,
the new creation in Jesus Christ may appear in justice, love, and peace,
to the glory of your name. Amen.

 

Prayer 2

Risen Christ,
you prepare a place for us,
in the home of the Mother-and-Father of us all.
Draw us more deeply into yourself,
through scripture read,
water splashed,
bread broken,
wine poured,
so that when our hearts are troubled,
we will know you more completely
as the way, the truth, and the life. Amen.


Prayers of intercession

Let us pray for the Church, for the building up of our community of believers, locally and nationally. For those who are new to faith and those who are not. For all who are able to join us online, as well as those who are not: that God will guide and protect us, build us up in our love for each other, a house of living stones where God is glorified day after day.

Lord, hear us

Lord, graciously hear us

 

Let us pray for the world, and particularly for those who suffer because of war, famine or natural disaster. We pray for everybody affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. We pray for our own country as we seek to recover, for the Queen and the government, and all the ministers responsible for making difficult decisions on our behalf: that God will kindle within each one of us a desire to fulfil what justice requires for the whole human family and the natural world over which we have stewardship.

Lord, hear us

Lord, graciously hear us

 

Let us pray for those who are lonely, and struggling to cope with isolation, or otherwise travelling through a time of pain or anguish which is hard to bear. For all of our key workers, for refugees and those separated from their families. For those who lack sufficient food or adequate housing. For our own families and friends. And for our enemies: that God will grant each of us a kind heart and true desire to reach out to all the abandoned, and gather us together once more to give thanks for all the mercies God shows to us.

Lord, hear us

Lord, graciously hear us

 

Let us pray for those who are sick, at home or in hospital, and especially during the pandemic: that they will find enduring strength and healing in the name of Jesus Christ. We remember especially in our prayers: Jane Bell, Heidi Bell, Albert Bell, Sara Carter, Ruby Mitchell, Monika Maciejko, Bernard Maciejko, Jane Taylor, Linda Parker, Christine Harris, Jane Roberts, Damien Harte and Jonathan Aubrey. We also remember in a moment of silence those known only to us: let us pray that they be sustained by God’s merciful help.

Lord, hear us

Lord, graciously hear us

 

We remember, too, those who have recently died or whose anniversary of death falls at this time, and who live forever in Christ’s love through their share in his death and resurrection:

 

            Shirley Dobson, and we pray for her family, for Keith and Vicki

            Edith de Lisle

            Gillian Davies, and for Jo Ross and her family.

                       

We pray for those who mourn: may they find assurance that Jesus has prepared a place for all in the world to come. And for ourselves: that we may be prepared for the hour of our own death, when God will call us by name, to pass from this world to the next. 

Lord, hear us

Lord, graciously hear us

 

Almighty God,

You have promised to hear the prayers

Of those who ask in the name of your Son;

Listen in kindness to all our prayers, 

And give us your greatest gift:

To know you, the only true God,

And your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Merciful Father,

Accept these prayers,

For the sake of your Son,

Our saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Ċ
Church Office,
8 May 2020, 07:39
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Church Office,
8 May 2020, 07:39
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