Sunday Worship 17th May 2020

Edited to say – sorry to anyone who tried to join coffee this morning. Zoom was having trouble and only let three people in. Do try again next week.

This week, worship is in the same format as the last two weeks. 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. It got increasingly windy during filming as you will see!

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 written out with separate videos

The Greeting

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you
and also with you.

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Hymn – Come Down O Love Divine

This video won’t embed here – hit the link to hear it.

https://youtu.be/fIvKDgktutI

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.

Prayers of Penitence

Let us ask God to have mercy on our tired land,
and to prosper the work of our soiled hands.
Let us ask God to forgive our delusion of self-sufficiency
so that we may praise him for his provision and goodness.

Lord, you give us this good earth,
yet we take your generous gifts for granted.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord, you give us this good earth,
but we squander its rich resources.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord, you give us this good earth,
but we fail to share your bounty
with all of your children.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

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.

The Collect

God our redeemer,
you have delivered us from the power of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:
grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life,
so by his continual presence in us he may raise us
to eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Reading

Acts 17.22-31

Hymn – The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases

Reading

John 14.15-21

Sermon – The Revd Dr Stephen Pope

The disciples, in our Gospel reading today, are struggling with a big life event. Jesus is telling them He is about to leave them. That He is to go, go to somewhere they cannot follow Him to, is a bombshell to them. Jesus gets in some instructions He has for them, starting with a new commandment, to love one another as He has loved them.

But the questions start. Two of them came into last week’s gospel reading. Now, Jesus has answered those questions and goes back to the instructions He is trying to give them.

He starts again, with His original theme of love.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command”, He says, “and I will ask the Father and He will send you another Comforter to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth.”

Well, it says ‘Comforter’ in the King James version of the Bible many of us were brought up on. Today’s reader probably said said ‘Counsellor’ or ‘Advocate’ depending on which translation was being used. To me, both of these words seem to imply a law court connection, and if any of you have had to give evidence in court, you probably did not find that a comfortable experience.

So why ‘Comforter’ got changed in the newer translations to ‘Counsellor’ or ‘Advocate’ puzzled me, for years, and I expect I’m not the only one.

However, recently I learned which Hebrew word was equivalent to the Greek word ‘Parakleitos’, the one used here to describe the Holy Spirit. In its form as a verb, it is commonly translated in the King James version as ‘to Comfort’.

For example, it is regularly used for when people comfort someone who is bereaved, such as in Isaac being comforted after the death of his mother Rebekah.

It is also used in Job, when, after all His misfortunes, some of his friends went to ‘sit with him and comfort him’.

We find it used in the book of Ruth. Ruth, a young widow from Moab had come to Israel with her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi, who was also widowed. Ruth had gone to glean in the fields. The owner of the fields, Boaz, notices her, is impressed by her work attitude and what he heard about her. He goes and tells her she is welcome, and will be safe to continue working in his fields. Ruth expresses her gratitude for this unexpected kindness and attention and and says that she found his words “a comfort to her”. Clearly she felt socially supported by this courtesy to an unknown foreigner.

It is also the same word found in that verse in Psalm 23 – ‘thy rod and thy staff they comfort me’. The Psalmist, writing from a sheep’s perspective, sees the rod and staff as the shepherd’s means for providing defence against predators, and as useful tools for extricating a straying sheep from awkward places. Having a shepherd with the means of being able to effect a rescue would be very important for a sheep.

And this same word is translated as ‘Comfort’ in many Old Testament prophecies, including the ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people’ at the beginning of Isaiah chapter 40. You probably also know it which as the first sung part of Handel’s oratorio ‘Messiah’. But was for the Jews of the time a welcome prophecy that after going through hard times, God had news of good times ahead. This would have been very good news.

These examples all suggested to me that the root meaning of this word was more to do with support than with lawyers. And then I realised that the legal tones of the words Advocate and Counsellor do make sense in this context if we remember that the job of lawyers is to support their clients in dealing with the intricacies of the law, as well as to know the technicalities of legal processes.

So, let’s go back to the upper room. After Jesus had announced that He was about to go away, the badly rattled disciples certainly would need support in the difficult times that would follow.

As disciples, their undergraduate days were almost over, and they were soon to be sent out into the world to preach the gospel. But they would still need support.

So Jesus said, “I will send you another [counsellor/advocate/person to support you]. The Spirit of truth, who will lead you into all truth”.

We too, in our lives, need someone to support us in our fight against ‘the world, the flesh and the devil’. We need someone to help us resist those attempts to take us away from more abundant life and turn us back towards death and those things that will damage and destroy our love, our joy, our peace and our patience. For that matter, we will still need our kindness, our goodness, our faithfulness, our gentleness nor our self-control as well. We will need, as the disciples did, all those gifts, and more in our lives.

The disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit openly in their lives at the first Pentecost, a feast day we will be celebrating in 2 weeks time. We we don’t need to wait until then to ask God for more of the Holy Spirit’s support, power and energy in our lives until then. We can ask for more of his presence and power in our lives any time.

Are you aware of anything you would like God to give you help with at the minute. Anything you would like more support with?

How?

Stop. Make time. Listen – with our minds, with our bodies, with our spirits. Then have a conversation with God about it.

In fact, you could ask God now if you would like to. One of the few advantages of being in your own house for the service is that, if you wanted to, you could pause the service, talk with God right now, and continue with the rest of the service when you are ready.

And for all of us, whether we are struggling with life in general, or lockdown and coronavirus in particular, God is always ready to hear us, respond to us and support us.

Amen

Hymn – God Is Our Strength And Refuge

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 Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and 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 and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is
worshipped and glorified,
who 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.

Intercessions

We pray to Jesus, who sent His Spirit to comfort and help us

Loving Lord Jesus,
You want us to Love others as you love us,
Show us more of how you love us that we may show more love to those we meet or talk to.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Loving Lord Jesus,
You want us be a Support and Comfort to those who are struggling,
Give us the humility we need to tell you of our own struggles that we may receive your help and so be better able to help fellow strugglers.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Loving Lord Jesus,
You offer us Truth in our innermost being,
Help us to embrace it so that others may more easily recognise it and embrace You when they see it in our lives.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Loving Lord Jesus,
Through Your Spirit, your disciples went from fearful to Bold,
Give us the courage we need to take opportunities to help spread the good news of your kingdom.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Loving Lord Jesus,
As we have grieved for losses in our own lives,
We pray for those who are mourning the loss of ones dear to them,
and especially for those not able to attend the funerals of their loved ones.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Loving Lord Jesus,
We remember that your earthly father was a working man,
We pray for those unable to earn an income enough for their needs,
and that we might be generous in our giving and in our prayers.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Loving Lord Jesus, 
in your mercy, hear us, accept our prayers,
and be with us always. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

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.

Offertory Prayer

Blessing

God the Father, who created the world,
give you grace to be wise stewards of his creation.
Amen.

God the Son, who redeemed the world,
inspire you to go out as labourers into his harvest.
Amen.

God the Holy Spirit,
whose breath fills the whole of creation,
help you to bear his fruits of love, joy and peace.
Amen.

And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you, and remain with you always.
Amen.

Tend the earth, care for God’s good creation,
and bring forth the fruits of righteousness.
Go in the peace of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn – Now Thank We All Our God

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.

The service also includes material from Seasonal Worship from the Countryside, And LWPT (The leaders’ of Worship and Preachers’ Trust).