Sunday Worship 10th May 2020

This week, worship is in the same format as last week. You should be able to hit play on the first video and then hear the whole service, which will switch between recorded liturgy and videos of hymns. Some reverb appeared in the processing of the videos – hope it isn’t too distracting.

If you would rather read on screen, then you can do that instead. Just scroll further down and everything is there.

Don’t forget that we have Zoom coffee at 11.30am. See the notice sheet for how to access it, or phone me beforehand.

YouTube Playlist for the whole service

Service in sections with text

The Greeting

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

Opening Prayer

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are 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 Christ our Lord. Amen.

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.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Amen. Lord, have mercy.

Christ our passover lamb has been sacrificed for us.
Let us therefore rejoice by putting away all malice and evil
and confessing our sins with a sincere and true heart.

Most merciful God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy
forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God.
Amen.

Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon us,
pardon and deliver us from all our sins,
confirm and strengthen us in all goodness,
and keep us in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The Collect

Almighty God,
who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ
have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
grant that, as by your grace going before us
you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help
we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Reading

Acts 7: 55-60

Reading

John 14:1-14

Sermon

This week in our house, we’ve been singing the classic song “Oh, you’ll never get to heaven”. If you don’t know it, you are missing a treat.

Oh you’ll never get to heaven.

In a biscuit tin

‘cos the Lord won’t let

no crummy ones in.

It’s a song that never ends as all you need for another verse is two words that rhyme and off you go again.

Oh you’ll never get to heaven
in Mummy’s car
‘cos Mummy’s car

won’t get that far.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that Christianity is all about getting to heaven, that this is the be all and end all of life. Far from it.

The gospel reading we had today is one that I often use at funerals. It is a reassuring reading for those who are recently bereaved to hear. Usually when I preach on it, I’m speaking to people who need that reassurance that there is something beyond death.

Today, however, I want to speak more generally. Because there is much more to this reading than a glimpse of our final destination and a reassurance that there will be accommodation when we get there.

John’s gospel includes a long farewell discourse as Jesus prepares for his imminent betrayal and death. At this point in the gospel, Judas has already left to arrange the betrayal and Jesus is talking to his closest followers at the last supper. None of them, of course, have any idea what he is talking about when he tells them what to expect in the coming days. Thomas and Philip are both asking questions about what is really going on and, more to the point, who Jesus really is. They must know that he is unusual and gifted, wise and holy, but they don’t seem to have grasped the essential truth about Jesus’ relationship with God, that he truly is God’s Son.

Whenever Jesus says “I am” it should remind us of that relationship. Right back when he spoke to Moses, God referred to himself as “I am”.

In this passage, Jesus makes the statement “I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the father except through me”, he says.

Trying to get to heaven is not a reason to follow Jesus, because if that is your only reason, then you are going to find that you have travelled a long way from where you thought you were going. When Jesus says I am the Way, he is not saying that he is a route to get somewhere fast. We are not looking for the fastest or most direct route to heaven, we are looking for a way of travelling which is most fulfilling, and most in line with the way Jesus himself lived. The journey is important. The means of travel is important. The way we are with the people we travel with is important. When you say Jesus is the Way, it is recognising that our journey with him is like taking a walk on a country hillside, where each step shows you something new and wonderful in nature and you can see all around in every direction, see how the next step will take you nearer or further from each surrounding landmark. Travelling with Jesus is about the journey, not about getting quickly to the destination.

At each stage of life, figuring out which path is the one that takes you closest to Jesus is hard. Staying on that path is harder still. Yet if we know Jesus and keep trying to know him more, we will find that his Way of being will bear fruit, not just at the end of life but throughout life.

So, that’s I am the Way. Now what about the truth?

The theologian Carnell gives a good definition of truth, he says ‘Truth, in its simplest dimension is a judgement which corresponds to things as they actually are.’
He continues by saying ‘For the Christian, God is truth because He is the author of all facts and all meaning. There is no reality apart from the eternal nature of God Himself and the universe which He has created to display His glory.’

When Jesus says I am the truth, he is stating quite clearly his divinity. There is no truth apart from God and his creation. If Jesus is saying that he is the truth, he is stating that within him we can see God’s eternal nature.

We spend a lot of time at the moment judging whether things we hear on the news are fake or true. Fake news is bandied about with such frequency that we can easily lose sight of what is true and what isn’t. Jesus is truth. If we know Jesus we can relax our guard and be confident in him. He is not trying to be anything he isn’t. He doesn’t sling mud and he doesn’t lie. He just is.

Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life.

Life is what it’s all about. We do believe in eternal life, but that isn’t the same as just trying to find a way to cheat death. We believe that eternal life starts when you realise that Jesus is the Way and the truth. Eternal life includes our life here and now. We are not waiting for some heavenly reward, we are already living the life that comes from following Jesus. It is a life lived in community with the whole Church. It is a life which seeks to glorify God rather than the self. It is a life that seeks to serve as Jesus served and love as Jesus loves.

Thomas a Kempis in his work The imitation of Christ elaborates further.

Follow Me. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without the Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing. Without the Life, there is no living. I am the Way which you must follow, the Truth which you must believe, the Life for which you must hope. I am the inviolable Way, the infallible Truth, the unending Life. I am the Way that is straight, the supreme Truth, the Life that is true, the blessed, the uncreated Life. If you abide in My Way you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free, and you shall attain life everlasting.

Particularly at the moment, when we are in lockdown, it’s easy to feel adrift and unsure about what we are meant to be doing. If we can keep in mind who we are aiming at in life, the day to day decisions will be easier. We are not seeking to accumulate enough points to get to heaven. We are seeking Jesus, trying in all our everyday routines to be more Christlike, to live as he would live and to love as he loves us.

Affirmation of faith

Let us declare our faith
in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he was buried;
he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe. Amen.

Jesu, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high:
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide;
O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, oh, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenceless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.

Instrumental

Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
More than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
Heal the sick and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy name,
I am all unrighteousness;
Vile and full of sin I am,
Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.

Words: Charles Wesley

Act of Commitment

Let us pledge ourselves anew to the service of God and our fellow men and women: that we may help, encourage and comfort others, and support those working for the relief of the needy and for the peace and welfare of the nations.

Lord God our Father,
we pledge ourselves to serve you and all humankind,
in the cause of peace,
for the relief of want and suffering,
and for the praise of your name.
Guide us by your Spirit;
give us wisdom;
give us courage;
give us hope;
and keep us faithful now and always.
Amen.

O Lord our God,
as we remember, teach us the ways of peace.
As we treasure memories, teach us to hope.
As we give thanks for the sacrifices of the past,
help us to make your future in this world,
until your kingdom come.
Amen.

Collect for Peace

Almighty God,
from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:
kindle in the hearts of all people the true love of peace;
and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the nations of the earth;
that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward,
till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

A prayer for the Sovereign

Almighty God, the fountain of all goodness,
bless our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth,
and all who are in authority under her;
that they may order all things
in wisdom and equity, righteousness and peace,
to the honour of your name,
and the good of your Church and people;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Intercessions

We pray to Jesus who is present with us to eternity.
Jesus, light of the world, bring the light and peace of your gospel to the nations.
Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, bread of life, give food to the hungry
and nourish us all with your word. Help us to see our part in your ministry.
Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, our way, our truth, our life, be with us and all who follow you in the way. Deepen our appreciation of your truth and fill us with your life.
Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, Good Shepherd who gave your life for the sheep, recover the straggler, bind up the injured, strengthen the sick and lead the healthy and strong to new pastures. We pray for all those with Covid-19, those suffering other illnesses and those caring for them.
Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, the resurrection and the life, we give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you. Raise us with them to eternal life.
Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us, accept our prayers, and be with us always. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Spiritual Communion

While we are unable to gather we cannot share in the Eucharist. We can, however, pray for the presence of Christ within us.

Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits you have given me,
for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,
I ask you to come spiritually into my heart.
O most merciful redeemer,
friend and brother,
may I know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen

The Peace

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said, ‘Peace be with you.’
Then were they glad when they saw the Lord. Alleluia.

The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you.

Blessing

God grant to the living grace,
the departed rest,
the Church, the Queen,
the Commonwealth and all the world peace and concord;
and the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Copyright Notices

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Common Worship, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.

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