FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

15TH MAY 2022

OPENING SENTENCE

Praise, O praise the name of the Lord

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

HYMN

GREETING

Alleluia Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
He has given us new life and hope
by raising Jesus from the dead.

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God
to whom all hearts be open
all desires known
and from whom no secrets are hidden;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you
and worthily magnify your holy name
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.

CONFESSION

God is love and we are God’s children.
There is no room for fear in love.
We love because God loved us first.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you
and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
Forgive us our sins,
and deliver us from the power of evil,
for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA
sung by Sue Turner

COLLECT

O God,
you alone can bring harmony
to the minds of your faithful people:
give us grace to love the things you command,
and to desire the things you promise;
that, amid the uncertain changes of this world,
our hearts may be firmly fixed where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen

FIRST READING
ACTS 11:1-18
read by David Kerr

Peter’s Report to the Church at Jerusalem

Now the apostles and the brothers and sisters who were in Judea heard that the gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners, and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

SECOND READING
Revelation 21: 1-6
read by Kate Lidwell

The New Heaven and the New Earth

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them and be their God;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

HYMN

GOSPEL READING
JOHN 13:31-35
read by Reverend Chris Wren

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John chapter 13- beginning at verse31

Glory to Christ our Saviour.

The New Commandment

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and as I said to the Jews so, now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

SERMON

A new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you.’

Love has been the inspiration for many a song – ‘All you need is love’ sang John Lennon. ‘Love is in the air’ sang John Paul Young. ‘I will always love you’ sang Whitney Houston.

Love has also been the subject matter of many films, dramas and books. ‘You bewitched me, body and soul and I love you, I love, I love you- and I wish from this day forth never to be parted from you- Pride and Prejudice.’ I would rather share one life time with you than face all the ages of this world alone- from Lord of the Rings- the Fellowship of the Ring. ‘I love you, just as you are’ – from Bridget Jones diary. ‘The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.’ Moulin Rouge.

Love features in so many art forms but is this the love Jesus spoke of in the gospel reading when he said –‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ There are different kinds of love. There is love that is affection; love that is friendship; love that is erotic and love that is sacrificial. In Greek they have four different words for love to our one English word. The Greek word used in this chapter on love is agapeo- known as agape love- meaning a deep and sacrificial love. When Jesus speaks about love it is always a special type of love, unselfish love, agape love, loving the other for the other’s sake without anything in it for yourself.

This unselfish agape love is at the heart of Jesus’ teachings. In the Bible we are told it is not good for man to be alone. You and I are created to have fellowship with God and with one another. It is no accident that solitary confinement is considered to be a punishment. We are made for relationship- relationships determine our happiness. Relationship s determine our success and they determine our character. In our Gospel Reading we discover that God intends love to be the basis of all our relationships.

What is this love like? This love is based on the way Jesus himself loved people. Jesus showed unconditional love to all- whether they were rich and poor, whether they were faithful and faithless, whether they were easy to love or difficult to love. In many ways love one another was not a new word or commandment rather it was one they were familiar with.

What is new about this commandment? It is the final five words- ‘as I have loved you.’ The love that we are to have is the same love that Jesus showed and lavished on us- a love that is patient and kind. In the book of First Corinthians, it describes love, and the first two important aspects of love are seen in patience and kindness.

Patience is key in our relationships. We are told in Scripture to be patient with everyone. How is that possible? First, we need to recall how God is patient with us. You will never have to be more patient than God has already been with you. We are encouraged to accept each other just as Christ accepted you. Our starting point of our patience with others is to remember the patience has shown to us.

Many years ago now I was a French and German teacher. One of the aspects of French that the pupils found difficult and I suspect boring was grammar, and in particular the perfect tense with ‘etre’ and ‘avoir’ verbs. I had been teaching this for some time and felt that the pupils had grasped it and so I moved on to something else. Weeks later I gave out an essay which required the use of the past tense- well…it looked as if some of the pupils had never heard of ‘etre or avoir’ in the past tense and they made a hash of the essay. I was getting frustrated in marking all the past tense mistakes- the same mistakes time after time and then it was like a rude awakening when I felt God point out to me that it is how it is with me and you- you keep making the same mistakes! I was a bit more patient with those pupils than I might otherwise have been! So firstly to grow in patience- remember God’s patience with us.

Secondly the key to patience is understanding. The more you understand that person, the more patient you are going to be. All relationship are based on understanding. One of our deepest needs is to be understood. Paul Tournier who is a Swiss Christian psychiatrist, says: No- one can fully develop in this world and find a full life without feeling understood by at least one person. No- one comes to know themselves through introspection or in the solitude of their daily journal. Rather it is in dialogue with their meeting of other people. We find out who we are and what God wants us to be through relationships.

How can I better understand the people with whom I need to be patient? If I understand them better, I will be more patient with them. How can I better understand them? If I can understand those people who are attempting to hurt me, who are hurting themselves as well, it will help me to be more patient with them. Behind anger is hurt. Behind hurt, there is misunderstanding. How do I become more understanding of those in my life? I become more understanding by listening to them.

How good are we as listeners? A study was done to test the way people listen. One of the test was to send someone through a receiving line at a wedding. As they would go through the line, they would smile and say something like this- you have buck teeth. One lady answered- thank you, I think so too. Researchers have said that only 7% of what you mean is communicated in words. 43% of that meaning comes from how you say it. The remaining 50% from non- verbal language – facial expressions, hand gestures and body language. What does that mean? It means that your eyes are just as important as your ears.

On retreat some time ago I went out for lunch one day, as lunch in the retreat house was not provided. As I sat in a café, I saw different instances of loving patience. One couple waited 30 minutes for their daughter to drink a hot chocolate. She took slowly out all the marshmallows and placed them on a saucer and the proceeded to drink the hot chocolate with a tea spoon. It took for ever – the parents had finished their food and drinks ages ago. After she eventually drank the hot chocolate she ate slowly each marshmallow – till the last three which she then stuck to her chin, forehead and nose, before eating them. She was perfectly content and happy and the child was loved in this activity by the patience and kindness the parents showed. Not once did they say hurry up! Love is patient and kind. Another instance was an adult with special needs who ever now and again would make loud noises and draw attention to himself. It was hard for the parents- they showed in their dealings with him- love that is patient and kind.

This love that is patient and kind is hard to deliver and so we are firstly to remember God’s patience with us, secondly we are to understand others better by listening more and observing more.

Thirdly we offer love –a love that is patient and kind by making allowances for others. We all have bad days. We do not know what is going on in that person’s life. A true incident was a husband was in the train with his three children. He sat quietly in the train whilst his three children ran amok up and down the train. The passengers were to say the least very unhappy about it, especially as the father did not seem to care or do anything about it. Eventually one person gave off to him in no uncertain terms telling him to control his unruly kids. The father responded with an apology and explained that his wife had just died and he was not sure how he was going to tell the children and how he was going to cope alone. We need to understand- we need to listen- we need to be patient. We need to treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated- the golden rule.

So in our command to love one another as Jesus loved us we are called to show the love that Jesus showed –a love that is patient and kind. To love all people –is difficult but as Frederick Buechner said – love is the act of the will – and can be done by recalling God’s patience with us, by trying to understand people better by listening and observing, by making allowances. ‘Love one another as I have loved you. ’Amen

NICENE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

PRAYERS

Let us pray to God in whom we live and move and have our being.

God you are Love,
you desire that humanity should dwell
together in unity and love.
make this our first thought and intent.
Fill your Church with the gift
of your abiding grace.

Sing praises to God
whose love endures for ever.

God you are the peace- giver.
We thank you for the peace
wrought for us by your Son,
and for the joy of being one with you.
We pray for peace
in our dealings with one another.
Where there is discord and hatred,
bring forgiveness and new beginnings.

Sing praises to God
whose love endures for ever.

God you are the Protector
seeking to guide your people
on the paths of truth, love and holiness.
When we stray, and get caught up
in the distractions of this world,
draw us back to yourself,
that we bear more the image
of your sons and daughters.

Sing praises to God
whose love endures for ever.

God you are the provider of all good things,
we thank you for all the resources
and facilities we have here in this country.
We think of countries that badly need
medical resources and vaccines at this time,
and pray that our country will play a part
in helping and resourcing others.

Sing praises to God
whose love endures for ever.

God you are the healer.
We think of those suffering,
in body, mind or spirit.
Place your healing hand upon them,
and may your divine touch,
bring new life and hope.

Sing praises to God
whose love endures for ever.

God you are the life- giver,
your breathe gives us life,
and strength to do your work.
We thank you for the blessings
that we receive daily from your hand.
We thank you for too for the people in our lives
who have been a blessing to us.

Sing praises to God
whose love endures for ever.

God you are the creator,
making all things new.
We remember those,
whose earthly life is drawing to a close
and we pray you will welcome them
into your everlasting arms of love.
We pray for all who mourn this day
that you will draw near to them
with your comfort and peace.

Sing praises to God
whose love endures for ever.

God, who is love,
you sent your Son into the world
that we might live through him.
May we abide in his risen life
so that we may bear
the fruit of love for one another
and know the fullness of joy.

Sing praises to God
whose love endures for ever.

Merciful Father accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord
who taught us to say together,

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the time of trial
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

HYMN

BLESSING

God the Father,
by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead,
strengthen you to walk with him in his risen life;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be among you and remain with you always. Amen

DISMISSAL

Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

In the name of Christ,
Alleluia! Alleluia!