Readings & Prayers for 6th Sunday of Easter – 17th May 2020
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.
7Bless our God, O you peoples;
make the voice of his praise to be heard,
8Who holds our souls in life
and suffers not our feet to slip.
9For you, O God, have proved us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
10You brought us into the snare;
you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.
11You let enemies ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water;
but you brought us out into a place of liberty.
12I will come into your house with burnt offerings
and will pay you my vows,
which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
13I will offer you fat burnt sacrifices
with the smoke of rams;
I will sacrifice oxen and goats.
14Come and listen, all you who fear God,
and I will tell you what he has done for my soul.
15I called out to him with my mouth
and his praise was on my tongue.
16If I had nursed evil in my heart,
the Lord would not have heard me,
17But in truth God has heard me;
he has heeded the voice of my prayer.
18Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer,
nor withheld his loving mercy from me.
John 14 v 15 – 21
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’
Acts 17 22 – 31
22Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him – though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,
“For we too are his offspring.”
29Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’
Intercessions by Mary Wilds
We are approaching Ascension day, on Thursday, when we shall remember Jesus’ final words to his followers: “Lo I am with you always till the end of the age” We thank him for his assurance of his presence with us in these difficult times.
Dear Father in our prayers today we bring before you the needs of our brothers and sisters working in our community; we thank you for the care and support given to us through the NHS, Carers and those maintaining essential services. As we move into a new phase we pray especially for those returning to the work place and those using public transport. Grant to all patience and perseverance as they meet new situations.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
We ask your guidance for all in authority. We give thanks for our Queen – for the encouragement she has given in her recent broadcasts. Give to the Government and their advisors clarity of understanding as they seek to determine the steps by which we move forward.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our Prayer
We pray for the Church, for all those who acknowledge that “in Him we live and move and have our being”. Though we are unable to meet together keep us steadfast in our prayers and for all in our local community, especially those living in Excelsior Terrace, Primrose Lane & Pit Road. W e pray for our fellow Christians of other traditions and we give thanks that the Eucharist is once again able to be celebrated in our parish church.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our Prayer
Lord, may your healing spirit be with all who are suffering at this time: those with the Coronavirus; those with other illnesses whose treatment is being delayed; those suffering from anxiety or depression owing to the lockdown: and at this time we pray for:- Rachel MacFarlane; Rhoda, David, Evan and Annie Dwyer; Judy Flook; Miranda Cooper; Rose Stenner; Paul and Margaret Knott; Irene Leet; Faye McDermott; Anne Hatton; Rob and Glyn Gilliland; Gerrard Monks; Trevor and Elizabeth Bell; Fr Roy Boots; Nicholas Hambleton; Mary Hickmott; Helen Plummer and Daniel Plummer; and Betty Chiplin.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our Prayer
Lord, whose love is unconditional and without limit may we not, surrounded by our own difficulties forget those who face similar problems with very few resources. We pray for the Church in those countries that they may be strengthened and empowered with your love, that the good news of our risen Lord will bring renewed life and hope.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our Prayer
In this Easter Season we pray for those departed this life that they may know the fullness of life in Christ. We pray especially for Eric Mitchard, Steven Hillier and for those whose anniversaries occur this week Gertrude Langdon, Stanley Routley, Joyce Boots, Margaret Carpenter, Marjorie Nash, Phyllis Walford, Jean Norman, Kathleen Champion, Betty Flower, John Churchill, Monica Powell, Winifred Boulter, Karen King, Angela Lowe, Betty Taylor, Betty Flower.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our Prayer
Rejoicing in the fellowship of Mary, John the Baptist, and all the Saints we commend ourselves and all creation to your unfailing love.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
Thought for the day from Father Jim
You know, it’s possible that Elvis Presley is alive and well and living just down the road. Possible, but of course not likely. Nevertheless, since news of his death made headlines in 1977, people have built lucrative careers trying to prove that the rock’n’roll super-celebrity they call “The King” still lives.
One author has sold millions of copies of books on the subject, and set up a premium rate phone line on which you can hear Elvis’ voice. If you’ve seen him, by the way (he would be 80 years old or more), you can click on a website to report the sighting.
Of course it’s nonsense: Elvis has, well and truly, as they say, “left the building”, and the recording of his voice has been found to be that of an impersonator. But perhaps you’re not an Elvis fan; perhaps you’re an Trad Jazz buff, whose ambition is to see Chris Barber or Acker, or a football fan who travels hundreds of miles to see your team play.
Because there’s something incredible about sharing the earth with a truly great performer or player, and we’ll go to great lengths and vast expense to catch the live act. Some people seem to regard Jesus as the original rock star – a precursor of David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Bryan Adams. The 1970s hit musical – Jesus Christ, Superstar – spelled this out. Indeed, even two thousand years after he lived, it’s obvious that Jesus was a deeply charismatic man, but if we treat him as a rock superstar we make two fundamental mistakes.
The first is highlighted in today’s reading from Acts. As Paul points out to the Athenians, they have locked God up in shrines made by human hands and are, in effect, making God smaller than themselves. Jesus did not seek his iconic status, but those around him heaped it upon him. If we identify him as a rock-star figure, we, like the Athenians, lock him up in a human invention – that of celebrity culture.
The second mistake leads us to a perpetual sense of loss. For if we think of Jesus as the “live act” we never caught, we end up treating the Holy Spirit as a mere support act, and miss out on the full potential of Christian life. For as Jesus promised, and as Paul testifies to the Athenians, “In him we live and move and have our being.” That was Jesus’ promise then; it is his promise still, through the awesome power of the Holy Spirit. Imagine for a moment that you were one of the original twelve – part of that inner circle who had front-row seats and backstage passes. Would it have been easier to be a vibrant Christian in the presence of Jesus himself?
Two thousand years later, we the Church have been waiting so long for the encore, that our clapping is half-hearted at times. The house lights have gone on, showing up a shabby, litter-strewn auditorium – surely it’s time to call it a day and go home? Mercifully we have the example of the apostles who, despite having the T-shirts to prove they’d “been there, done that”, were sometimes decidedly shaky in faith.
Those who so earnestly wish that Elvis had overcome death are simply expressing the human yearning for immortality. It’s only human to fear death; it’s only human to put other human beings on pedestals; it’s only human, when so much is unknown, to worship unknown gods.
But once we start to realise that we didn’t miss the live act; that the Holy Spirit, rather than being a pale imitation of Christ, is both God and Christ we start to move beyond our human limitations. Our challenge, as modern Christians, is to hold our heads high and see our faith as meaningful, vibrant and valid. This we do through invoking the Holy Spirit through prayer and praise, to work in and through us. Our challenge as modern Christians is to see our faith as valid through inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives.
Theresa and I watched a streamed Mass from Chichester last Sunday by one of the Canons of the Cathedral. We both found this prayer used at the end of the Mass very helpful.
In union, O Lord with the faithful at every altar of your church, where the Holy Eucharist is now being offered this day I long to give you praise and thanksgiving for creation and all the blessings of this life, for the redemption won for us by your life, death and resurrection, for the means of grace and the hope of glory.
I present to you my body and soul as a living sacrifice, with the earnest wish that I may always be united with you. Since that I cannot receive you sacramentally, I pray that you will come spiritually into my heart.
I unite myself to you and embrace you with all the strength of my soul and the life you have given me. Let nothing separate me from you. May I live and die in your love. Amen