16TH MAY 2021
Happy are they who trust in the Lord
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
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.
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.
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.
sung by Sue Turner
O God, the King of Glory, hear our prayer
that as we believe your Son Jesus Christ
to be exalted with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven;
so also we may know his presence with us now,
and to the end of time
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen
ACTS 1:15-17, 21-26
read by Andrew Ratnam
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”
So, one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
1 JOHN 5:9-13
read by Robyn Brotherson
If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
read by Rev Steven Ballard
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John chapter 17 beginning at verse 6
Glory to Christ our Saviour.
“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. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 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. 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. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 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. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
As I was responding to an appeal for medical resources to combat the Coronvirus in India, I was struck by the dreadful impact this disease is having on children. To my horror, I learned that many children are left to fend for themselves. An Indian children’s rights group tracked down two boys aged 6 and 8, after it was discovered that their parents were both severely ill with COVID-19 and were unable to care for them. The children had not eaten for days. The Indian Rights Group, which located the boys in a small town in India’s rural heartland, is one of a growing number of emergency agencies, reaching out to children affected by India’s devastating coronavirus crisis.
The exponential rise in infections and deaths has left some children, particularly in poor communities, without a carer because their parents or other relatives are too ill to cope or have died. With the number of deaths increasing, many children are losing their parents, or their caregivers are hospitalised, and they are left alone with no one to take care of them. India’s underfunded social services are struggling to cope, and in certain parts of the country there is still stigma surrounding people who contract the virus, leaving some children isolated. Neighbours and extended family do not want to help because they are afraid of infection, treating these families almost like outcasts.
I am sure these parents, if they had known what the future held for them, would have set in place suitable care arrangements for their children to ensure that they would be well nurtured, guarded and guided. They would have explained to the future carers what their sons liked; what they were accustomed to and what they needed to do to keep them safe. Sadly, these parents in India were not given that opportunity but, in our Gospel reading today, Jesus knows he is leaving his disciples, his children behind and so he gives instructions to his Father about how best to guard them, guide them and ensure their growth. Jesus prays for his disciples.
Prayer is powerful and effective and most people are very respectful of prayer. If you ask someone if you can pray for them, it will be the rare individual that will not gladly accept your offer. Some years ago, several missionaries actually used this as a means of outreach into the business community around them. They would go into the business, and after introducing themselves, they would explain that they were Christians and felt that God would like them to pray for the people in their community. Then they simply asked if there were any specific things that they could pray for the businesses. They developed a lot of good relationships through this and were able to share the gospel with many of them when they went back to see how their prayers were answered. It is an excellent way of reaching out to our communities as people like to be prayed for. I wonder how those people would have reacted if they had known that Jesus Christ himself was also praying for them.
Jesus is not just praying for these business men and women but also for us, for you and for me. We are his disciples, his children who need his prayers. It is my personal opinion that this prayer, the longest of Jesus’ recorded prayers, was intended to be overheard by His disciples. One purpose of this prayer was to bring comfort and hope to the troubled hearts of the disciples. It is also intended to being comfort and hope to our troubled hearts. Here we see Jesus in his priestly role interceding for us.
This prayer has been referred to as the High Priestly Prayer. In the 5th century AD, the Bishop of Alexandria whose name was Clement, said that in this prayer, Jesus was acting like a high priest for His people. Ever since then, this has been known as Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. That’s a good way for us to think about how we should hear this prayer of God, the Son to God the Father. Jesus is our Great High Priest.
So, what does Jesus the High Priest pray for his disciples? Jesus is very much aware that the disciples are at risk. The world, which hates them as it hated him, will threaten and abuse them. They don’t belong to it but they are to be sent into it, needing protection. With Jesus’ physical absence on earth, they could fall into all kind of temptations and dangers. Up until now Jesus has guarded them, he has lifted them out of the storms, spoken encouraging words, filled them with hope and inspiration. It will be different when Jesus leaves them but they will not be alone. Though guarded, it does not mean that the disciples will be free from storms, tests and trials but it does mean that their heart and soul will be protected and kept safe.
Remember how Jesus had prayed for Peter before he denied him. Jesus told Peter that you will deny me three times before the cock crows but do not be anxious for I have prayed for you. Peter’s soul and heart were safe in God because Jesus had prayed for him. We in this life too will be tested and challenged, and some of you may well be in a storm just now. Do not panic, do not be stressed and worried for you are not alone. God is with you and more importantly he has prayed for you. He will give you the courage, strength and wisdom you need. God will guard you, and the more we trust in God, the more confident we are of this truth that God guards us. He is with us and for us. As the hymn writer says “Be still my soul the Lord is on your side”. Your character, your heart matter to God and God will do all he can in your best interests. He will guard and watch over you. Your name is on his lips… imagine your name is on the lips of the creator of this world, and this creator of the world prays faithfully for you. He prays for your protection. Keep him/ her safe! How awesome is our God who prays for our protection! “Keep them through your name.” The Father’s name represents the Father’s person and character. Jesus is praying that the Father will help the disciples to maintain their godly character in a world that is selfish and corrupt.
So, Jesus asks his Father to guard them. He also asks God to guide them. He wants his disciples to focus on their high purpose and calling. Jesus is placing his authority and power in his disciples, and they will need guidance and help. They will need to live with purpose and intent. It says in Proverbs 17:24 “An intelligent person aims at wise actions, but a fool starts in many directions.” After Jesus’ physical departure from earth, they need to be guided into sharing the gospel truth and not following other ideologies. We too need God’s guidance to stay focussed on our high purpose and calling. We are called to focus on “whatever is
true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
Post- covid restrictions, when everything is open again, it would be easy to go in all directions and fill our lives with things that do not matter. Keep focused, seek God’s guidance and aim at wise actions. So, Jesus prays for God the Father to guard them, guide them and bring growth in them.
The growth that Jesus is praying for is spiritual growth and maturity. “Sanctify them in the truth”. In other words, Jesus prays that his Father will make them holy in the truth. They are to have an integrity and distinctiveness that will draw others to Christ. Jesus prays that they will continue his mission to reveal the Father and the gift of the Holy Spirit and that they may be holy as he is holy. This holiness does not come as we stretch out towards God but rather as we welcome the Holy One who comes to dwell in us. We human beings are a mixture of the presence and absence of God, of light and darkness, of truth and chaos, goodness and evil. No human being in himself or herself is holy or pure. We become holy only through the holiness of God.
By ourselves we cannot bridge the gap that separates the finite from the Infinite. God reaches out to us and we become holy as we welcome God who comes to us. Holiness is not something that is achieved by it is given, and the more we dwell in God the more we imbibe this holiness. This holiness is seen in the fruit of the Spirit in our lives-love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We are to have the character of Christ. We are called to be Christ- like and bring glory to the family name of God
What strikes me most in our Lord’s prayer is not Jesus’ moving loyalty to his friends, but rather his unmistakable pride in them”. “All things that are mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them”. It seems astonishing that Jesus would claim to be glorified in these disciples. They are a small and ordinary group of people who exhibit no unusual intelligence or talent. They seem unable to learn from the numerous clues that Jesus gives them concerning his future. No matter what Jesus says, they just don’t get it. How can Jesus claim to have been glorified in them?
Keep in mind that this Gospel was written quite late, probably after most of Jesus’ original disciples had died. The author has seen that, somehow, through the grace of God and the work of the Spirit, Jesus has indeed been glorified by these disciples. The church is growing and spreading. However imperfect these disciples might have been, they have succeeded in glorifying the Lord. In fact, when Jesus says that he has been glorified in them, he uses the perfect tense, suggesting an already completed glorification, showing full confidence that they have glorified him and will glorify him. We too can by our actions and witness glorify Jesus.
So today we have been privileged to eavesdrop into this prayer of Jesus and see his heartfelt concern for his disciples. Jesus continues at the right hand of God to intercede for us. He has a heartfelt concern for you and me. He prays faithfully for you and me that we will be guarded in our faith and discipleship, that we will be guided in the paths of truth and that we will grow into holiness and produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives so that Jesus might be glorified through us. Amen
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.
Let us pray together to our heavenly Father,
knowing his love for us.
Lord Jesus we want to live your way
and do your will,
offer you true worship,
and serve each other in love.
Empower your church to do this,
live in us, transform us.
Lord we wait on you
Fill us, Holy Spirit of God
Lord Jesus we want our states and kingdoms
to display your love and truth, justice and mercy.
We want to break down walls of prejudice
and build bridges of reconciliation and trust.
Empower your world,
live in us; transform us
Lord we wait on you
Fill us, Holy Spirit of God
Lord Jesus we want our children
to be safely and lovingly nurtured,
our elderly valued,
our homes places of welcome and warmth;
empower your people,
live in us; transform us.
Lord we wait on you
Fill us, Holy Spirit of God
Lord Jesus, we want your healing
for those whose lives are aching and weary;
your comfort and reassurance
for all who are imprisoned by fears and hate;
empower these lives,
live in us and transform us.
Lord we wait on you
Fill us, Holy Spirit of God
Lord Jesus we want to commit our loved ones,
who have died into your safe keeping for ever.
Prepare us all, to live with you in heaven.
Lord we wait on you
Fill us, Holy Spirit of God
Lord Jesus thank you for your heartfelt concern for us.
We ask that you will guard us,
keep us safe and firm in the faith.
We pray that you will guide us
in the paths of truth and godly living.
We pray that we might grow
and manifest the fruit of the spirit in our lives
so that we might glorify your name
and be a good witness for you to others.
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.
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
Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ,