Sunday 23rd May – Pentecost

WHOLE SERVICE

INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS

Greeting

Welcome in the name of Christ.

Alleluia. Christ is risen
He is risen indeed Alleluia!

Today is Pentecost, let us say together:

The wind of God is blowing!
The fire of God is blazing!
The joy of God is flowing in this place!

Song 1: The Spirit lives to set us free

Let us pray together

Almighty God, help us today to be open to your Spirit;
to hear your word, to proclaim your glory
and to celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Setting the scene – “Be filled with the Holy Spirit”

Before we come to know Jesus our lives are a bit like this balloon (show a flat balloon), they are empty of God, empty of real life.

However, when we come to Jesus and turn away from living in our own selfish way, Jesus does something wonderful:

He breathes His Holy Spirit into our spirits and fills us with the life of God. (blow up balloon)

This life of God completely changes us as you can see.

But this life is not meant to be just kept inside us for our own benefit. Jesus wants to send us out into the world with the power to change the world.

Watch this balloon move as the power of the breath inside it moves it (release balloon so it flies off).

In the same way as the breath in the balloon sent it out, the Holy Spirit within us will send us out into the world to do the things that Jesus wants us to do.

He may send us out to share Jesus’ love with our friends at school and our family at home.

He may send us out to bring hope to a neighbour who is depressed or to support a work colleague.

He may send us out to pray for someone who is sick or to fight for justice for the poor.

You see God wants everyone to know that they are loved, and that through Jesus they can become a part of His great family.

He chooses each one of us to go and share this great news in all sorts of wonderful ways and He gives us His power through the Holy Spirit to be able to do it.

Confession

Lord, we admit that we neglect your creation and ignore the needs of the world.
Fill us with your Spirit. Lord have mercy.
Lord have mercy.

Lord, we admit that we do nothing when we should take action.
Fill us with your Spirit. Christ have mercy.
Christ have mercy.

Lord, we admit that we forget to listen for your Word.
Fill us with your Spirit. Lord have mercy.
Lord have mercy.

Absolution

May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins and restore us in his image;
to the praise and glory of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

Collect for Pentecost

Holy Spirit, sent by the Father,
ignite in us your holy fire;
strengthen your children with the gift of faith,
revive your Church with the breath of love,
and renew the face of the earth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Talk – “The Helper arrives”

Jesus told his friends to wait in Jerusalem – to wait for the Helper he’d promised to send them.

So they waited. They waited and they prayed for forty days. And while they waited the streets of Jerusalem filled up with people from every land. People from the north and from the south. From the east and from the west. People from all around the world, who came together to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.

Jesus’ friends were in an upstairs room when suddenly some surprising things began to happen.

They heard a wind blow, harder than the fiercest storm. But nothing was blown about!

They heard the flickering of flames and they watched tongues of fire lick and lap and land on their heads – but nobody smelled any smoke!

And then the Helper came – the Holy Spirit – and he filled them all with the presence and power of God!

And what they heard next was talking – strange words pouring out of each and every mouth.

So they rushed outside, eager to tell the crowd what had happened. And now, suddenly, everyone could understand. People from the north and from the south. People from the east and from the west. People from all around the world. For now Jesus’ friends were able to speak in foreign languages – languages they had never learned – all because of God’s Holy Spirit! What better way to tell the world about Jesus?

“So that’s what it’s all about,” said a man from Spain. “That’s amazing!” said a woman from Africa. “Tell me again?” asked a man from France. But there were others who thought Jesus’ friends were just talking nonsense.

“These people are drunk!” one man shouted. “It’s nothing but a load of gibberish!”

And that’s when Peter stood up. Peter – who had been with Jesus from the start. Peter – the fisherman. Peter – who had never made a speech in his life!

“Listen everybody!” he shouted. “We are not filled with wine. We are filled with something else – God’s own Holy Spirit! Many years ago a prophet said that this would happen – that God would send his Spirit to help not just special people like prophets and kings, but everyone! That has happened to us today. And it has happened because Jesus, who died on a cross, was brought back to life by God himself and now sits beside God in heaven! It was Jesus who sent this wonderful gift to us. Jesus, the Special One we have been waiting for all these years. Jesus, who was put to death by you.”

The people were sorry for what they had done to Jesus. “What can we do?” they cried.

“Tell God you’re sorry,” said Peter. “Let him wash away all the bad things you have done. And you will receive his Holy Spirit too”.

So that’s what the people did. Three thousand of them! They told God they were sorry. They were baptised. And they were filled with God’s Holy Spirit.

People from the north and from the south. People from the east and from the west. People from all over the world!

So Jesus did send a Helper for his friends – the Holy Spirit.

And the Holy Spirit helped them to share the message of Jesus with all the visitors who were in the city at the time.

When those visitors went back home, many of them took the message of Jesus with them – and that’s how the good news of Jesus began to spread all over the world!

Song 2: Come Down O Love Divine

Affirmation of faith

God’s spirit is building us into God’s people so let us declare together what we believe:

We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith and fills us with his love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe one God;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

We come now to our time of prayer and we begin with our Offertory Prayer:

Generous God, we thank you for all that you have given us.
We thank you for the ways in which we can give to you in return.
We ask that through our gifts, be they of time, talents or money, we will see your Kingdom grow, in our hearts and in our homes, in our neighbourhood and in our nations.
To the glory of your Name. Amen

Let us pray:

Holy Spirit of God, set our hearts on fire with your love.
Give us the courage and faith to say “yes” to You; to be Your people in this place;
to spread your Word and to build up your Church.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Breathe on us God with your Spirit.
Open our hearts and our minds, we pray, to the nudges from your Spirit.
May we not be afraid to go with You on adventures as God’s people; but always to have faith that you will be with us, by our side.
Breathe on us God with your Spirit

Give us wisdom God by your Spirit.
Guide us, we pray, so that in all we do and all we say, your love will shine through. Show us the best ways, through the guidance of your Spirit, to reach the people we meet in our daily lives so that their hearts too may be set ablaze with Your love.
Give us wisdom God by your Spirit

Empower us God by your Spirit, to speak out confidently for justice and for peace in your Name. Open our eyes, we pray, to see what needs to be seen in the world around us. Remind us that even when problems seem huge and we feel helpless, that we can always find your help in prayer.
Empower us God by your Spirit

Heal us God by your Spirit.
We pray for all the areas of our world that need your healing. There are so many places and people in our broken world which are torn apart by war, by famine, by fear. We offer them up into your all-embracing arms.
We remember quietly in our hearts anyone we know in need of your healing, and we pray that they may know your comfort and love.
Heal us God by your Spirit.

Encourage us God by your Spirit.
Give us confidence, we pray, to share the Good News of Your love with others and to do your will in this world, knowing you are there with us always.
Encourage us God by your Spirit.

Come Holy Spirit and fill our hearts today, that we may grow in the knowledge of your love. Amen

We say together the Lord’s Prayer:

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.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

Song 3: Breath on me breath of God

Sending Out

May God’s Holy Spirit be in our life.
(place hand on heart)
May God’s Holy Spirit be in our world.
(sweep hand out in front)
May God’s Holy Spirit be love between us.
(hold out hands)
And may God bless us all. Amen

Dismissal

We go into the world, filled with the Spirit;
to walk in God’s light, to rejoice in God’s love and to reflect God’s glory. Amen

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

Song 4: All over the world, the Spirit is moving

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.

Sunday 25th April – Fourth Sunday of Easter

WHOLE SERVICE

INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS

Welcome

Hello and welcome to our service for the fourth Sunday of the Easter season. We are glad you are able to join us. You can watch the whole service run by clicking on the top playlist button. Alternatively, if you would rather follow all the words, scroll down a bit further and click on each section in turn as you come to them. We will start with a short organ piece to help us settle in for the service. You may join in the words or not as you like. Words in bold type are intended for everyone to say. You are also invited to say the Psalm with me, should you wish to, when we reach it in the service.

Call to worship

Let us worship God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Amen.

The Lord be with you,
And also with you.

This is the day that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Lord, direct our thoughts and teach us to pray.
Lift up our hearts to worship you in spirit and in truth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymn – Alleluia, alleluia, hearts to heaven and voices raise

Confession

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.

Assurance of Forgiveness

May almighty God,
who sent his Son into the world to save sinners,
bring you his pardon and peace, now and for ever.
Amen.

Praise

Blessed is the Lord,
For he has heard the voice of our prayer;
therefore shall our hearts dance for joy,
and in our song we will praise our God.

Reading

Acts 4: 5-12

Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
    through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    for ever

Reading

John 10: 11-18

Sermon

The Lord is my shepherd – I lack nothing.
Yes, there is nothing I lack – my needs as a sheep are quite simple.
Regular food, water, somewhere safe to chew the cud and to sleep, protection from predators would be good – oh, and new lambs every year.

Comparing that with human lifestyles, it makes life as a human look exhaustingly complex and difficult. No wonder so many of us get tense and worried so often.

So, what do sheep need?
Food is simple – grass, not too long.
Water? – any still water is fine. If it is bubbling and splashy it goes up our nostrils and we can’t cope with that and won’t drink it.
Space and time to chew the cud – fine if there are no predators around.
New lambs every year – most necessary – we don’t live for ever!
Protection from predators – that is REALLY useful. Middle eastern sheep have longish legs, but can’t kick or bite effectively. We need shepherds for help with this.

The shepherds need to be good ones, mind. The ones who desert us when mountain lions or bears appear are useless. They couldn’t care less about us, they only care for their wages. A good Shepherd will protect us. He is prepared to risk his own life tackling mountain lions. He will go the extra mile or three to search for missing lambs and the sheep who have got stuck or lost.

Let’s translate that into what the qualities of a good Shepherd would be for humans.

Firstly, we need to remember that, unlike sheep, people don’t only have bodies, they have a non-physical side usually referred to as spirits or souls, too. So good shepherding for humans means looking after our bodies and our spirits or souls.

I expect you remember that, at the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis, when God made Adam, He formed Adam’s body out of the physical material of the ‘dust of the earth’. Then, He then breathed His ‘Ruach’, the Hebrew word that means Wind, Breath, or Spirit according to its context. It might be described as something that is invisible, yet moves, often related to life.

Wind will bring clouds with life-giving water.

Breath and breathing are vital for animal life, including human life.

Spirit is vital for humans in various ways including being able to have an active relationship with God.

Jesus was born in the form of a human baby as a result of the Holy Spirit coming upon Mary, and the power of the Most High overshadowing her, as Luke describes it in his gospel account. The church was born as a result of the Spirit of God descending on the disciples at Pentecost. A good Shepherd will help us keep our spiritual life as well as our physical life alive, and will encourage its growth.

Following Jesus and the Holy Spirit means protection from evil.

Just to be clear about the difference between good and evil in Hebrew thinking, let me explain a little. Pronouncing something as ‘Good’ in Hebrew terms means something that promotes life and healthy, positive relationships. Evil, or bad, refers to those things, thoughts or actions which promote anything from mildly damaging to decidedly destructive behaviour and relationships.

So, when we follow Jesus, as you probably all know, we are working towards healthy positive relationships with God, other people, AND, (this is often overlooked) an equally healthy relationship with ourselves, our inner being). In other words, as Jesus summed it up, we are to love our neighbours AS ourselves. In Jesus eyes this is as important as loving God with everything we’ve got.

And part of the Good News Jesus brought is that if we find we have damaged our relationship with our self, our neighbour or God, you will well know that if we repent, apologise, say “sorry “or in some way ask for forgiveness, God will respond. It is always good when our inner self or our neighbour respond too, so leaving us feeling forgiven straight away. It is also fair to say that sometimes our neighbour or our inner self may be slower to respond and we need to be patient.

If we find ourselves in such “dark places”, out of kilter with ourselves, other people or God, it really can feel like a dark place. But while we are aware that our good Shepherd is there, even though we can’t feel his presence as normal, just like the sheep in the Psalm, we need not FEAR the evil but be comfort in knowing that Jesus is with us and around us even when we cannot sense it very well or even at all. Sometimes it helps to ask someone we trust to pray for us or with us.

For sheep, the Shepherd in the Psalm has two tools at his disposal. There is the Staff. This is a long stick with a hook at the end to rescue sheep who have had a misadventure or need a helping lift out of trouble. The second one, commonly translated as ‘Rod’ is more like a sturdy mace with bits of stone and metal embedded into the business end of it, used to discourage or kill any would-be predators – in shepherding terms to see off any marauding mountain lions or bears.

Remembering that Jesus is able to rescue us and protect us when necessary is a comfort to us when we remember this.

Just as the sheep, despite having enemies around it, can appreciate the good Shepherd looking after it with physical food, we too can ‘feast’ on that sense of the good support that Jesus, our good Shepherd, came to give us.

As Peter says, at the end of our reading from Acts, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”.

So, as the Psalm points out, Jesus our Good Shepherd is willing and able to look after us in the good times and rescue us in the bad times. Sometimes the only thing getting in the way of that is our wrong sort of pride. Challenging our pride so Jesus can help us may feel like a step we would rather not take, but I, and many other people can tell you – it’s worth it.

Then we can come to realise more and more how much goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives and ultimately realise the awareness of living in the house of the Lord for ever.

Affirmation of Faith

We believe in God the Father,
From whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Hymn – Father, hear the prayer we offer

Prayers

Response at the end of each section:
Jesus, Lord of life,
In your mercy, hear us

Concluding with:
Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

The Collect

Risen Christ,
Faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep:
Teach us to hear your voice
And to follow your command,
That all your people may be gathered into one flock,
To the glory of God the Father.
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

Generous God, we thank you for all you have given us.
We thank you for all the ways that we can give to you in return.
We ask that through our gifts we will see your Kingdom grow
in our hearts and in our homes,
in our neighbourhoods and our nations;
to the glory of your name.
Amen.

Hymn – In heavenly love abiding

Blessing

The God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen

Sending Out

We are raised to new life with Christ.
Go in his peace. Alleluia, alleluia.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.

Recessional – The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want

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.