Order of Service
This Sunday's Order of Service for Morning Worship and Evening Worship (when it is happening) with activities for the week and beyond.
10.45-11.15 Morning Worship for 9 May 2021 led by Revd Mike Perrott, available on Zoom
Before opening the Zoom link, we will sing
Opening Hymn: What a friend we have in Jesus [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRXMYMUjIYs]
If possible, you are invited to join the Zoom service. At 10.35am we join for a short social period; the service will start at 10.45am. Please click HERE to join the Zoom service, the Zoom Meeting ID is 880 6118 0122 and the Password is Heiswithus.
Opening prayer, we say together: Christ Jesus, we do not come alone to worship you, we come together as your people, accepting your love for us and your call to us. We come in friendship, both with you, and those we meet with. Together we are your people.
Lord Jesus Christ, we are here as your people, one body, one world-wide community of faith, yet we are also here as individuals, because you love each one of us and offered yourself for each of us. Help us to come as we are before you; help us to see our way through the challenges of life, so that we can see clearly your path for us.
Your love for us, God, is enduring, never-ending, for ever, eternal. Our love for you so often falters and stumbles along. We confess that we don’t always take our responsibilities for each other seriously; we don’t always show the friendship we ought; we don’t always think what you would have us do. Forgive us, we pray, and strengthen our resolve to be more loving.
From the depth of our beings, we adore you, Loving God. We rejoice in your message, marvel at your words, are astounded at your deeds, are inspired by your Spirit, and feel overwhelmed by who you are. We rejoice that you speak to us in ways we understand, and in times when we need to know you are with us. We rejoice that you know us all individually and speak our ‘language’. In this moment, we cannot help but adore and praise your holy name and rejoice in your love for us. Amen.
We pray the Lord’s Prayer together
We share the Grace together
Gospel reading: John 15:9-17
If we were to read through the New Testament and write down all the ‘titles’ given to Jesus, we would end up with quite a list! Titles like ‘Immanuel’, ‘Messiah’, ‘Son of God’, ‘Prophet’, ‘Light of the World’. These titles for Jesus may well need quite a bit of explanation if we are to understand them fully, to understand what they really mean, because in our day-to-day lives we rarely use them – except in our worshipping and church life. But in our Gospel verses today we hear Jesus call himself something that is really easy to understand, because it is part of our own life-experience – Jesus calls himself our ‘friend’. What does it mean for Jesus to be our friend?
First, Jesus says that to be a friend is to have love for someone. He says that the greatest expression of love is to ‘lay down our lives' for a friend. For us, this does not often mean that we will die for our friends to show our love for them, more that we will dedicate ourselves to the welfare and happiness of those we love. But, as we know, Jesus did give his life for us – his friends – as he died on the cross. And he did this so we could all have a new, closer relationship with God. Jesus died for us and rose from death, to restore us in relationship with God – a relationship of enduring love. That is the first way by which Jesus shows us he us our friend.
Yes, it is love – the love of God – that lies at the heart of the Christian faith. Jesus’ greatest commandment is to “Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind – and to love your neighbour as yourself.” This tells us of a three-way relationship of love: love of God, love of other people and love of self. In love everyone is brought together, and in love everyone is brought together with God. This reality is at the heart of the Gospel – it is the ‘Good News’ of Jesus.
The second way that Jesus shows us he is our friend is by teaching us, by his word and by his example, the truth about what God desires of us in our lives. One of the most important things about friends is that we trust and believe what they tell us is true. Also, we like to be with friends, we often share similar ideas and interests as them. With friends we can share what is really important to us, and they with us – our hopes and ambitions, our worries and our fears. So, Jesus is our friend because he shares with us deep truths about the reality of God’s will and nature, and he asks us to continue his work in our lives. Jesus is our friend because he is always there for us, to listen to us, to encourage us.
Someone once said about friendship: “One of the deepest needs of the human heart is to be accepted … as the person we are. Being accepted [in this way] means that I feel self-respect, that I am worthwhile: [my friends] are happy that I am who I am.” So it is that God loves us as the people we are, not for the people we might become. God loves us with our ideals and disappointments, with our joys and our sorrows, in our failures and successes.
A third way by which friendship with Jesus can be seen is when what we work towards ‘bears fruit’. In his life two thousand plus years ago, Jesus’ life bore fruit, he got results. In his deep care and compassion for people – often those on the margins of society – he showed love and friendship to the poor and the sick. He called for justice for the oppressed. He fed the hungry. He gave comfort and support to those who were sad and grieving. And in all these things – in all he did for and with people – Jesus showed that God loved them, and their understanding of God and God’s ways developed. They grew in faith. How then should we respond to Jesus giving us his loving friendship?
Firstly, we respond simply by accepting it. We don’t have to ‘earn’ Jesus’ loving friendship, we just need to welcome it, through faith.
Secondly, we respond by accepting that what Jesus’ tells us about God and God’s will for us is accurate, the truth, and by wanting to spend time with God in prayer. By being in God’s company through prayer, we speak to God, and we remain in silence so we too can listen for God’s ‘still small voice’ communicating with us. And let’s not forget that in our speaking to God, we are encouraged to speak as we would to the best of friends, not needing to put together beautiful, poetic words and sentences, being honest in our speaking about all that we celebrate and our fears and doubts.
Thirdly, we respond to Jesus’ loving friendship by ‘bearing fruit’. We are called to continue the teaching and the work that Jesus did. Each of us has been given special gifts by God – gifts to thank God for, and to use to show God’s love to others. Like Jesus, we are called to care for and about other people, not just those we know and love, but people we are likely never to meet – like those we see on the news that are suffering. Through our prayer and by practical action, people come to discover that Jesus is their friend too, that God loves them.
Jesus is our friend, the friend of all that know and trust him and have faith in him. So let us accept his loving friendship, believe the truth he teaches us, and bear fruit in the lives we live. And let us show through our friendship with one another, and towards those in need, that we love them – as God loves them – for that is the greatest of all he commandments. Amen
Intercessions (response in bold)
Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you: abide in my love.”
Loving God, you call us your friends: help us to be a friend to others, to the lost and the lonely, so that they will know love; the rich and the powerful, so that they will be responsible; the young and impressionable, so that they will grow in wisdom; the sick and dying, so that they will not fear.
Lord, may we love one another, as you love us.
Loving God, you call us your friends, help us to be a friend to others: through charity, to those in need; through prayer, for those without faith; through faith, for those without hope; through work, for those who are helpless. Lord, may we love one another, as you love us.
Loving God, you call us your friends, help us to be a friend to others: to our neighbours, so that community will flourish; to our leaders, so that democracy will bear fruit; to the earth, so that it will flourish and teem with life again; to the world, that we may all live in peace. Lord, may we love one another, as you love us.
Grant, Loving God, that as we follow your saints in faith and hope and love, we may be neighbours and friends to all we encounter.
Silent and spoken prayer, for the world, the church and for those known to us we are concerned about and with whom we celebrate. Amen
Closing Prayer, we pray together: Let us go as far as we are able, as did those first disciples and followers of Jesus, to share the message of God’s love with all those we meet; with family, friends and strangers. Let us go, bearing the responsibility as Jesus’ followers today. Let us go in love, go in joy, go in hope, go in peace. Let us go, bearing the fruits of knowing our God; knowing we are loved and embraced by our loving God.
Please close the Zoom link, then we will sing our final hymn.
Closing Hymn:The church is wherever God’s people are praising: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XqtUIlR9zs]