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Sunday 24th May 2020- Seventh Sunday of Easter

posted 22 May 2020, 04:42 by Church Office   [ updated 24 May 2020, 06:38 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 24th May 2020

Seventh Sunday of Easter

In our Pram Service (8am) this week we will be hearing the story of the Ascension (big word) and think about how we learn to do new things – write our names, ride a bike and suchlike. We will have song with actions and a join in prayer.  Pram Service is available every week as a video to download and play at a time that suits you so that you don’t have to come to church in your pyjamas (though you can if you like). To join us live follow the zoom link 

Sunday School (9:30am): Continuing theme of what Jesus is, we will talk about Jesus being the way - showing us our path, helping us find our way, guiding us when things get tough, easing us through some of the tangles and briars we are bound to meet. So, bring bricks, train tracks, Lego, paper and pencils for drawing so we can create the tricky paths we might face - high adventure on rocky crags, avoiding water sodden marshy bits, busy and hectic roads with confusing road signs and finger posts. You name it we can find any number of tricky places to get bogged down in, Jesus helps us find our way. After Ascension Day we know that Jesus is with God, and he shows us the way to be with God. Follow this zoom link to join: https://zoom.us/j/578055716  You will need the password which can be found in our newsletter, to subscribe please follow the instructions on our homepage. 

Thursday was Ascension day, next Sunday will be Pentecost: these few days are a time of absence and waiting . Things will be different but how? In our readings this time marks our growing up: Christ has no hands on earth now but ours. The task of carrying on Christ’s mission may be daunting but — he promises that he will send us his Spirit. The same Spirit that moved over the water of creation bring forth everything out of nothing . Christ’s hands are now multiplied across the face of creation ready to usher into being a new creation.


Readings

Acts 1:6-14 It is comforting that the disciples who lived alongside Jesus and witnessed his death and resurrection still had no clue what his mission, and therefore theirs, was really about: not the recreation of Israel as a political power but the recreation of the whole earth.

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away. 13 When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

John 17:1-11 Again the risen Christ commands his disciples to wait, again he promises them the same power that he received from God, the creator of all things, again he tells them that God’s recreation is intended for all.

1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. 6 "I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

Sermon

Is it time yet?” 

“It is not for you to know the time.  Right now, you are to go back home and wait”.

This could be a conversation between journalists and a cabinet spokesperson.

But, it is between Jesus and his restless and impatient disciples, who are just desperate to get on with this whole kingdom of God thing and who are constantly “are we nearly there yet?”

If not now, when when when?

You just have to wait.

Their situation speaks to ours: they have been through a time of trauma and distress and now they will enter a time of absence, distance, uncertainty and all they can do, all they must do, is wait.

And they comply. They return home and self-isolate – it’s a bit crowded, the whole bunch of them together, but they wait.  And whilst they wait, they pray.

Prayer, wrote the Hebrew scholar, Abraham Heschel, is “the quarantine of the soul”. 

“Prayer clarifies our hopes and intentions. It helps us discover our true aspirations, the pangs we ignore, the longings we forget. It is an act of self-purification, a quarantine for the soul.”

There is a great deal of praying going on at the moment.  Humans turn naturally to prayer in times of fear, pain and uncertainty.  If we are honest though much of our prayer is a list of requests: people, places and situations for which we seek God’s intervention or at least the assurance of God’s presence and concern.  If prayer is a way to “open a window to God” we tend to open it wide, shout through it and shut it closed before God has a chance to answer.

One of the things that I have learnt is that prayer is not about us changing God it is about God changing us.

To open a window to God is to be fully present, bringing, of course, all our fears, concerns, worries, sorrows, hopes and desires and allowing God to be fully present too.  Over time, just as stone is worn smooth by the water of a stream, so our souls, our wills, our inner desires, become shaped by God’s will and God’s desires.  God’s longings become our longings too.  

The disciples start by longing for the restoration of their nation “is now the time that you will restore the kingdom of Israel?”  They desire the freedom, honour and power for their people.  God’s longing is way bigger than that.  God’s desire is for the healing, life-giving power of the Holy Spirit to be given, not only to Jerusalem and all Judea, but even to Samaria, indeed to the ends of the earth.

In opening ourselves to God we become a part of God.  This is what Jesus is describing to his disciples in the passage from John: all that abiding and dwelling and being one.

If I dwell in God, God’s will becomes my will too and so God’s good desires for you, for your neighbour, for those on the other side of the world become my desires for you, your neighbour and all God’s people too.

Prayer is the work of ever expanding the heart to encompass more and more of God’s creation.

But this is not work we can do alone.

The disciples are to quarantine their souls together.  Which I guess means that in placing their desires and longings, hopes and fears, before God they also place them before one another. 

I know that for much of the time we prefer to smile and wave and keep a stiff upper lip but this will not expand our hearts, it will not make us one with God or with one another.

As we wait for easing of lockdown, the end of the pandemic, the coming of God’s spirit I wonder if we might find a way to share our prayers with one another.

Next week is Pentecost, the feast of the coming of the Holy Spirit – y’know, my favourite festival when we get to set fire to all manner of things.  We will not be able to gather in church to pass the light of Christ from one to another.  Instead I am proposing that we pass on our prayers.  Writing them on templates of flames and doves (the symbols of the Holy Spirit).  Which I will then assemble together to form hanging that we can let down from the minstrels’ gallery when we can again gather in church.  You can find further details on the website, in the newsletter and on facebook.

If you can, please join this work of praying together, that in this quarantine our souls and hearts might expand to receive the future God longs to give us.

Prayers

Mighty God,
in whom we know the power of redemption,
you stand among us in the shadows of our time.
As we move through every sorrow and trial of this life,
uphold us with knowledge of the final morning
when, in the glorious presence of your risen Son,
we will share in his resurrection,
redeemed and restored to the fullness of life
and forever freed to be your people. Amen.

 

Prayers of Intercession

God, we pray for the church, that we may be as one body of Christ. Open our eyes to the needs of the church throughout the world, and guide the church to speak out for justice and mercy in this time.

Lord, in your mercy,    hear our prayer.

God, we pray for the world, that we may be as one in its stewardship. Open our eyes to the beauty of nature around us, and guide us to re-shape our lives to better protect your creation.

Lord, in your mercy,    hear our prayer.

God, we pray for our community, that we may be as one. Open our eyes to see your face in the faces of our neighbours, and guide us to reach out to the isolated and those in need.

Lord, in your mercy,    hear our prayer.

God, we pray for the sick, that we may be as one in caring for each other. Open our eyes to both the needs and gifts offered by the sick, and guide us to help each other in this time. We pray especially for the needs of those dear to us who need healing: for Jane, Heidi, and Albert Bell; Sara Carter, Ruby Mitchell, Monika and Bernard Maciejko, Jane Taylor, Linda Parker, Christine Harris, Jane Roberts, Damien Harte and Jonathan Aubrey.

Lord in your mercy,    hear our prayer.

God, we pray for the grieving, that we may be as one in remembering the dead and comforting their loved ones. Open our eyes to the ways those who have gone before us left the world better than they found it, and guide us to follow in their example.

Lord, in your mercy,    hear our prayer.

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

 

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Church Office,
22 May 2020, 04:42