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Sunday 17th May 2020 Sixth Sunday of Easter

posted 15 May 2020, 04:37 by Church Office   [ updated 17 May 2020, 05:28 by CHS Info ]


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

Sunday 17th May 2020

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Sunday school is continuing this week at 9:30am with drawing, singing and dancing as they explore Jesus' claim that he is our bread and vine while we are the branches.Jesus is our bread and drink, the door we go through, the shepherd who cares for us and the food that lets us survive. Bring along any homemade (or regular) bread and fruit juice, paper, colouring pencils/pens, brushing and crayons for drawing more bread and vines.  Please follow the zoom link, you will need the password to join the Sunday school meeting which you can get via our newsletter. If you would like to receive our newsletter please go to our homepage where you can subscribe. 


Our readings for today are both about how we can know God:

Acts 17: 22-31

22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28 For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,

‘For we too are his offspring.’

29 Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”


In Acts: 7:22-31 St Paul tells the Athenians that God cannot be found in temples or statues or philosophy but has been revealed to us as a human being.  We do not have to search outside ourselves to know God; by becoming human Christ has given us a way to know God in our very selves.


John 14:15-21

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”


Jesus explains this to his disciples in John: 14:15-21 by loving one another—by committing ourselves to other human being flawed and limited as we may be—we can know God fully.  As we grow closer to each other in love there God is dwelling within and between us.  



 Some years ago, Tim Beaumont, who some of you will remember, came to preside and preach at the 8 o’clock Communion Service at Holy Trinity Clapham.  When it came to the sermon, Tim looked up from the lectern, said “God is Love”, and then sat down for 5 minutes, then stood up to continue the service.  He gave people time and space to reflect on what that meant to them, before sharing in the sacrament of God’s love in Communion.

I am sometimes tempted to do the same – what else do we need to know: God is love, and he loves us, and if we love God, we can live in him, and he will live in us. Sermon for today!

But what does that all mean?  Seriously - how can we know God?

The Athenian people were, as we hard Paul observe in our first reading, “very religious in every way”.  They had lots of “objects of worship” – idols, things, that they worshipped.  There were altars to many gods, all made by human hands.  We may not have those sort of idols, unless we worship our cars, or our houses (some people do), but there are many things that we consider to be important in our lives, and for some of us, some of those things may seem more important than God.  For a very high percentage of the population of our country God comes low down on their list of priorities – and that’s because they don’t know God.

The Athenians had even erected an altar with the inscription, “to an unknown god”.  Paul saw this as the perfect opportunity to explain that this god they didn’t know was “the God who made the world…Lord of heaven and earth” and this God is not confined to man-made shrines.  I think this passage in Acts is wonderful – Paul explaining how God can be known because it is God who gives us life and breath, and the deep inner instinct to search for him: “though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘in him we live and move and have our being’…”

The Athenians had a need to worship, but they had not yet found satisfaction in what they were searching for because they were trying to create gods, rather than understanding that God made them.  Chapter 3 of John’s Gospel, verse 16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” God’s love becomes human in Jesus Christ.

The love of God is in God’s trinitarian existence – God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit – we repeat that throughout our liturgy, but how often do we reflect on what it means?  We can experience God as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, and it is the interdependence of the Trinity which expresses the love of God. God’s very being is love, love in unity, reaching out into the world to create us, to save us, and to sustain us.  We can experience God in the beauty of creation, in the stories of Jesus the man, and in the presence of the Spirit in our lives.

Jesus promised that the disciples would receive the Spirit of Truth, the sustainer, helping them to know God, ‘because he abides with you and he will be in you’.  He will not leave them “orphaned” –“I am coming to you,” he says – so he and the Spirit are one, and “… you will know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you.”  

The promise is that we can become part of God. If God is Love, then we too can love if we allow ourselves to be part of God’s love.  And if we love, we will keep God’s commandments.  We don’t have to keep the commandments in order to be welcomed into God’s love, but the command is to love, and in loving one another, as he has loved us, we become part of the love of God: “I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

We can come to know God by living in his love and sharing that love with others.  In practical terms that means loving everyone – even the people we find difficult, or unattractive, the people who are very different to us. As we grow closer to each other in love, there God is, dwelling within and between us. 

Loving isn’t just a feeling, it has to be love in action.  So at the end of Christian Aid Week we need to ask ourselves what we’ve been able to do to demonstrate some of God’s love in Action, reaching out to help our poorest brothers and sisters in the parts of the world most at risk from Climate Change, disease, hunger and poverty.  That means sending money.  And in this country some can help in practical terms delivering food parcels to those who are isolated at home, making phone calls, volunteering or making donations to support organisations like the Ace of Clubs, Food Banks,  Refugee Action, Shelter, the Children’s Society – there are so many charities working hard to provide for those in need.  You can show your love with time or money, and with prayer for all who are less fortunate that us, and above all by the way we live our lives day by day.

The current pandemic is a real struggle for those who are bereaved, and for so many people whose lives are becoming more difficult to manage in the isolation.  The hope of many of us is that the restrictions will at least bring about a recognition for the need for us to live our lives differently in the future, flying less, driving less, living more simply – and we will need to continue to share God’s love will all our neighbours near and far.  By doing this, I pray that more people may come to know God and also live in his love.  Amen


Living and gracious God,
through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
you have brought us out to a spacious place
where we are called to live as those redeemed.
Empower us by your spirit to keep your commandments,
that we may show forth your love
with gentle word and reverent deed
to all your people. Amen.


Prayers of Intercession

Dear Lord, infect your church here on earth with your overwhelming love so that we may transmit that love to a society which seeks to bolt the door, isolated in fear. Test us so that we may be alert to opportunity and dead  to indifference.

Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer


In a world where there is enough for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed, isolate the feverish forces of intolerance, pride and fear. We give thanks to you for scientists and medical experts working to overcome diseases of mind and body. As Christian Aid Week concludes, continue to bless their work for the poor and marginalised in the uncertain future.

Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer


In a time of social distancing, guide us as we embrace our families, friends and neighbours with our words, eyes, ears and practical actions, leading us to new ways of being community.

Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer


Jesus promised us the Advocate, your Spirit of truth. Send your warming Spirit to protect all in the intensive care unit, in the care home and  in isolation - and particularly to our friends

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

Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer


Though isolated from the graveside mourners we ask you to give rest to your servants, Enzo, Shirley, Edith and Gillian, with the saints. Where sorrow and pain are no more – but life everlasting.

 Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer


Rejoicing with St Mary, St Dunstan and all your saints we commend the whole of creation to your unfailing love.

Merciful God, accept these prayers for the sake of your son our saviour Jesus Christ, Amen

Church Office,
16 May 2020, 02:26