I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have lifted me up.
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
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.
GLORIA sung by Billy Dewar Riddick
who, in the death and resurrection of your Son,
have raised up this fallen world:
may we and all your people,
whom you have saved from the gates of everlasting death,
rejoice in your eternal presence;
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 9:1-6 read by Robyn Brotherston
The Conversion of Saul
Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
SECOND READING Revelation 5: 11-14 read by Annabelle Guthrie
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honour and glory and blessing!”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,
“To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honour and glory and might
forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshipped.
GOSPEL READING JOHN 21:1-19
read by Rev Steven Ballard
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John chapter 21 beginning at
Glory to Christ our Saviour.
Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So, they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.
When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So, Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Jesus and Peter
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel.
Praise to Christ our Lord
In the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” Tevye asks his wife Golde several times “Do you love me?” The song goes like this:
Tevye: “Do you love me?”
Golde: “Do I love you?
With our daughters getting married
And this trouble in the town
You’re upset, you’re worn out
Go inside, go lie down!
Maybe it’s indigestion.”
Tevye: “Golde I’m asking you a question… Do you love me?”
Golde: “You’re a fool”.
Tevye: “I know. But do you love me?”
Golde: “Do I love you?
For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”
Tevye: “Then you love me?”
Golde: “Do I love him?”
For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him
Fought him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that’s not love, what is?
Tevye: “Then you love me?”
Golde: “I suppose I do.”
Tevye: “And I suppose I love you too.”
Sometimes it is important to utter those words “I love you”. In our Gospel reading today Jesus asks Peter the same question: “Do you love me?” This heart- piercing question is asked on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where Peter and several of Jesus’ other disciples have gone to fish. You might be wondering: What are they doing there? After all, they have witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection, and furthermore Jesus has breathed on them the Holy Spirit and sent them into the world… so what are they doing here in Galilee, taking up again the familiar occupation of fishing?
In times of extreme trauma and stress, it’s difficult to predict how people will act. There can be no doubt that these disciples were shaken by what they had seen in Jesus’ final days and that they were struggling to make meaning of it. We can imagine how unsettling it was to encounter their Lord risen from the dead, appearing suddenly in a locked room and showing them the wounds in his hands and side. It’s not hard to see how all this could have been overwhelming, and how they might have been experiencing fear and confusion as well as hope and gladness.
In times of crisis, of loss or fear or uncertainty, we often find ourselves grasping for the familiar, the predictable, that which we know and of which we can feel certain. We cling to familiar routines, until our mind and heart can catch up with each other and we can regain our balance in life. This may explain why these disciples headed for home, back to the shores of the lake they knew so well, back to the work they were so accustomed to doing. There is a Biblical precedent for this in Elijah when he returns to the familiar and he is asked by God the question “What are you doing here?”
Returning back to the familiar might feel more comfortable but it does not solve the problem. Even in what they had known and felt confident in, they could not do. They were unsuccessful in their fishing trip. They have laboured all night long and caught nothing. Until a stranger appears on the distant shore and instructs them to cast the nets on the other side of the boat, possibly reminding them of their first encounter out at sea when they failed all night to catch anything. For just like previously, they find, suddenly, unexpectedly, their nets straining with an abundant catch of fish, and realize that this stranger is none other than the Risen Lord. It is John who says with confidence “It is the Lord” but it is Peter, the impetuous one who runs ashore first. They have breakfast together, how different from the last supper, and yet familiar. Jesus serves them, but he accepts their offerings of fish too. It is a foretaste perhaps of a partnership to come. Only after the breakfast, does Jesus ask Peter: “Peter, do you love me more than these?”
It is the voice of love, spoken gently over the flames of a charcoal fire on which their breakfast is cooking. It is the voice of love, recognizing the breakdown of friendship and trust resulting from Peter’s denial and abandonment. It is the voice of love, seeking to restore and reconcile, to heal and forgive. Three times the question is posed, echoing the three-fold denial spoken around another charcoal fire, this one in the court of the high priest, where Peter three times denied knowing his Lord. Three times Peter’s answer is given, “Lord, you know that I love you.”
How gentle Jesus is. Our failures do not deter him. We are allowed to be imperfect. The disciples catch no fish, so Jesus helps them. Peter has failed to be faithful, and Jesus reaches out to him with compassion and understanding, demonstrating his readiness to forgive and begin again. So, it is with us. When we are afraid, he comes to us. When we are ashamed, he assures us. When we see so plainly the ways that we have turned away from him, or preferred something or someone else to him; when we are burdened by our sense of shame and guilt; he loves us still. He comes to us, welcomes us, restores us, encourages us. And invites us to follow him again.
“Do you love me more than these?”
Lord, you know that we love you. In spite of our weakness, our infidelity, our lack of courage or strength of resolve, deep in our hearts you know that we love you, and want to serve you.
“Do you love me more than these?”
What is it that stands between you and God? Is it some failure; is it some person or something that stands between you, that you value even more than you value God? Is it a fear of what God might ask of you if you gave yourself completely to love with all your mind and with all your heart and with all your strength? Is it your need to maintain the illusion that you are in control of your own life, making your own choices and doing what seems best to you? Is it surrender and submission to God that you fear?
“Do you love me more than these? ”I am not sure exactly what the “these” is in Jesus’ question to Peter, but it is perhaps good it is not specifically identified, for than it allows us to pose the question to ourselves. What is it that stands between us and a total, heart-felt commitment to God? Can we love God more than we love what we have identified as the most precious person or thing to us?
Peter was able to surrender and submit and in reply Jesus commissions him “Feed my sheep.” Jesus’ invitation to love involves more than just words and feelings; it requires action. It is not enough for Peter to express his remorse and his devotion. The call comes with an inherent expectation of doing. It involves commitment, courage, taking risks, following wherever he leads. “Feed my sheep.” In other words. Look after my people; care for them; build my kingdom and tend creation.” Be in partnership with me, or as Paul writes “co-workers” with me in the work of saving and redeeming the world.
The invitation of love cuts through our circle of self-absorption and pride. It calls us out of ourselves, beyond ourselves, into our locality, into the world. It leads to serving others, caring for others, acting on behalf of others. It is not enough to answer the question, “Do you love me?” with words and feelings. It needs to be answered with kindness, with caring, with generosity, with patience, with forgiveness, with long-suffering and meekness. We reveal our love for God by how we treat others. If our love is real and genuine, if it is earnest and pure, it will show itself in kindness and compassion, in thoughtfulness and concern, in actions as well as words.
Not only is Peter restored to the fellowship of Jesus’ followers, not only is he forgiven for his infidelity, he is also restored to the position of pastor. He is given the responsibility of feeding and caring for Christ’s sheep. He is given important work to do, work that matters, and so with you and with me. We are invited by love, welcomed by love, forgiven and healed by love, restored to our full identity as children of God and given meaningful work to do in the world. What you do matters to God. How you do it matters to God. You have been given a God -ordained calling. God wants to use you, to work through you to bring hope and healing to the world. When you fail, God will pick you up and set you on the path again. When you are weak, God will be your strength. When you believe yourself to be inadequate to the task, remember that it is GOD who is at work; you are merely God’s instrument, “God’s pencil” as Mother Teresa of Calcutta put it, through which God writes.
God knows your weakness, your uncertainty, your fear. God is aware of your failures and of your tendency to shrink back. God knows how you cling to what is familiar in order to avoid the risks of something new. Despite all, God loves you. There is important, meaningful work for you to do in this world. Your efforts are needed in the building of God’s kingdom. “Do you love me more than these?” How will you answer? 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.
abide with us
Walk with us Lord on our journey of faith,
both as individuals and as the Church of God;
open our eyes to the truths
you long for us to understand
and equip us all to pass on
the Easter message of new life and hope.
abide with us
Walk with us, Lord down the streets
of our cities, towns and villages,
and keep us conscious of your abiding presence.
Meet all those who are curious, searching
or moving in the wrong direction.
Let your presence be sought and
recognised in the world.
abide with us
Walk with us Lord when we have failed,
and want to give up.
when we go back to what is familiar,
and are reluctant to step out in faith.
As you so gently dealt with Peter,
so kindly and graciously help us,
to go on the right path
and to do your will.
abide with us
Walk with us Lord in our life journeys,
Guiding, teaching and correcting us
as we learn the lessons of loving
in our homes, our work and our communities.
abide with us
Walk with our leaders in power and authority
give them wisdom and understanding,
as they deal with foreign and domestic policy,
and seek to care for the well- being of all people.
abide with us
and hardship at this time.
Walk with other countries in difficulty
We think especially of Ukraine
and ask for the end of war and for peace.
We lift to you Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan,
and ask for an openness and generosity
in providing much needed resources
that will help them to rebuild their lives.
abide with us
Walk with us Lord
through the times of loss,
those times of suffering and pain,
alerting us to one another’s needs
and in providing for us
in whatever ways are best for us.
In the quiet we lift to you people in need known to us.
For those we have named we ask that
your strength and abiding presence be felt.
Help us all to trust you through the dark times:
breathe new life and hope
into those who are close to despair.
abide with us
Walk with us Lord through the valley of death;
may our love and prayers support those
who walk that journey today.
Draw close to them
grant them space to grieve
fill them with your comfort and peace.
Walk with all those for whom today or this month
is an anniversary of the death of a loved one.
abide with us
Lord, we thank you for walking with us,
wherever we travel.
We thank you that you are indeed real and alive
and that you accompany us every step of our journey.
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,