Service Link

CHRIST CHURCH

9th May 2021

 

Greetings

Alleluia. Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

 

  • Good morning everybody.
  • I hope this morning finds you well and that all your families and friends are well too.
  • We meet, once again, in church and at home. We celebrate, as always, being God’s people, and part of his family. We come together, in our different places, to worship our amazing God – who never changes yesterday, today and tomorrow.
  • So, we bring ourselves into the presence of God, once again knowing that we are surrounded by a host of witnesses across time and space.

 

Call to Worship

Jesus said: ‘No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’
So, let us join together as friends, Jesus’ friends,
to worship and serve the one who,
because of his great love, gave his all for us.

 

Hymn 11:  Alleluia, sing to Jesus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJDWFYIkBns

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A Gathering Prayer

Lord Jesus, we come from separate houses,
from one street and another.
We may have come with others,
we may have come alone;
but we all come as neighbours and friends.
We come as different but equal.
We come to worship you, our ‘Ultimate Friend’,
and to commit ourselves afresh
to one another and to you. Amen.

 

Prayers of Approach

Creator God,
you have called us to worship you,
chosen us to be your friends
and invited us to extend that friendship
to your people in all the world.
May we live as Jesus lived,
serve as he served,
and love as he loved,
to the glory of your name. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Adoration

God of relationships,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, together and as one,
you draw us into friendship with you,

that we may draw others.
You command us to love as you love,

that we might inspire others.
You fill our hearts with the passion of your heart,

that we might serve others.
You are the truest of friends, the most faithful friend,
the most enduring – and we praise you

for all you are and more. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

God of all families and all nations, we give thanks
that even when we are separated from friends and family
we are still held together by love;
love that makes us one; love that is a uniting force.
So help us, dear Lord, to cherish that gift,
and to celebrate the even greater gift
that is the love that you have for us all.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Confession

We come before God to say sorry for all that we have done wrong. 

Forgive us, Lord,
when we are too busy going our own way
to wash the feet of others;
when we are too busy finding quick fixes of happiness
to notice the joy that is around us
in everyday things and in ordinary people;
when we are too busy naming our own wants and needs
to hear the voices of those we could help and serve;
when we are too busy looking for satisfaction in life
to realise our capacity to love and be loved.
Forgive us and transform us, we pray. Amen.

 

Absolution

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.

 

A Prayer of Assurance

God of hope and healing:
for choosing us – we thank you.
For trusting us – we thank you.
For befriending us – we thank you.
For empowering us – we thank you.
For loving us – we thank you.
And for forgiving, redeeming and blessing us –

we thank you,

in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving

God of all,
we give you thanks for the gift of friendship:
for the giving and the receiving;
for the opportunities and the challenges;
for the laughter and the tears;
for the conversations and the silence;
for the moments and the memories.
Draw us deeper into your love,
and bless us with the confidence
to proclaim Jesus as our dearest friend,

teacher and Saviour.
We ask this in his name. Amen.

 

Prayer for Today

Risen Christ,

by the lakeside you renewed your call to your disciples; help your Church to obey your command

and draw the nations to the fire of your love,

to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

 

New Testament Reading:        Acts 10: 44-48

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, ‘Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptised with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

 

Hymn 637:  The Lord’s my shepherd

  • So, we sing the song that we are singing since the beginning of the first lockdown and during the pandemic, as a reminder of God who is with us, and in whom we put our trust week by week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN4tPkX0MG0

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Gospel Reading:      John 15: 9-17

Jesus said, ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: love each other.

 

Reflection

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.’ This sentence from John’s Gospel could be a sermon in itself. If one were to have a Desert Islands Discs programme of readings from the Bible, this reading would most certainly be one of my choices. The gospel summed up in a few verses. Whilst one verse could be a sermon this passage could fill a library with the depth and breadth of all that it says to us about God and Jesus.

 

These wonderful words about God’s love are inviting us to live in God’s love. As we dwell in God’s love so we will learn to love God, to love one another and to love ourselves. They are also wonderful words for our everyday lives, for the good times and the bad. They give us an identity with God, a meaning and purpose to our own lives; they are words of profound comfort. Yet, they are also words that are incredibly challenging.

 

As we know, love is at the heart of our Christian faith. Through love, God sent his only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us. Jesus came to earth to live among us, to die and to rise again, to reveal God’s overwhelming and amazing love for each one of us. God created each and every one of us because of his love for us – he knew who we were before we were born. We are called by name to follow him; called because we are loved. In verse 16, Jesus says ‘You did not choose me but I chose you.’ Another verse with meaning for me as it was the one chosen for the icon in the Chapel at Westcott House, where I did my training, the only image or picture on otherwise whitewashed walls. It is vital that each of us knows that we are loved – by God… and by others. It is as we know that we are loved that we can begin to share God’s love with those around us.

 

Last week, on Thursday, as usual, although not the case last year of course, the church was a polling station. On these days, I love it when sitting in my study I see people from our community walk past to go into the church. It feels like God in all his love is present in the ordinariness, and extraordinariness of daily life, even though many passing by would not be thinking about our and their God of love. Yet God in his love surrounds us and knows each one of us.

 

I wonder, how many of you will read the ‘Terms and Conditions’ (Ts&Cs) before signing an agreement or similar? We hear so much about them – even on adverts on Classic FM or other programmes. Even if we start to do so, there are usually so many that we don’t read them all – but we still sign. So, what are the ‘Ts&Cs’ of following Jesus? Have we read them all? Do we know what we are ‘signing up’ for? In fact, Jesus’ Ts&Cs are actually rather brief and straightforward: ‘Love God with all your heart and mind and strength.’ ‘Love one another as I have loved you’ and ‘You are my friends if you do what I command’. Straightforward in description but, of course, we spend our whole lives exploring and learning what that means, as we follow Jesus, our friend.

 

So, what kind of friendships do you have? You might be a friend of a local community group. On Facebook, people ask others to be friends. You might, by virtue of membership, be a ‘Friend of the Earth’ or some other groups. At another level, you might still be in touch with a few friends from school, even if you haven’t seen them for years. We all have all sorts of friendships, starting in all sorts of different ways. As an example, I came across this story recently about a friendship.

 

The first time she saw her favourite comedian perform ‘live’, Alison went with her parents. They all enjoyed the show so much that she wrote to the comedian afterwards to say so. She didn’t expect a reply, let alone what she actually received: ‘Let me know if you’re coming to another show – I’d like to meet you all.’ And they did, and a few months later it happened. And it was the start of a lifelong friendship. When the comedian died, his widow invited Alison to sit with her at the funeral. ‘You’ve never been just a fan,’ she told her, ‘you’re a friend.’ It was a friendship that started with a surprise invitation and brought great and lifelong joy.

 

So, how do we make friends. Of course, that can happen in all sorts of ways too. I would like us to imagine, as we are not actually able to do this at present, that I am giving out a template of a person and some body parts with scissors, glue and pens with the instruction that you, in your group, are to ‘build a friend’. Indeed, I believe there are some computer games, where part of the game is to build different people giving them particular characteristics. With our friend building, we would have to decide what makes a good friend, then write one or two suggestions on each body piece; and then we could share what we think is important regarding the person that we have created. Of course, we know that is not how friends are made. Friends are made through relationship, through getting to know one another, by sharing things, and stories – by liking, and caring, and loving.

 

We have worked out, then, what a good friend looks like. I wonder, therefore, what makes Jesus a good friend? Some friendships are deep and lasting, others come and go. There are different kinds of friendship. What kind of friendship do we, do you, have with Jesus? Because, perhaps we are even more inclined to build Jesus into who we want him to be. But, in reality, Jesus is more of a friend than we can even begin to comprehend. He is a friend who leaves no-one out. He includes us all, helping each of us to be the person that God has made, and called, us to be. He loves us, and cares for us.

 

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, once commented that ‘We are all on the receiving end of the same grace.’ Being part of a Christian community, sharing together in Christian worship, is a great equaliser. Each one of us is chosen by God. We are all God’s adopted children – with the same status in God’s eyes. We are all beloved by God and befriended by Jesus. We are all invited to abide, to dwell, to live, in God’s love each and every day from now and into eternity.

 

Knowing this, we could ask the question of how do we show friendship? After all, there are, of course, so many different ways that we can show friendship. Perhaps there are things that you can think of in the next few days. We can show friendship through our monthly harvests for our Iranian friends. This coming week is Christian Aid Week, whose slogan in 2020 was: ‘Love never fails. But love unites us all.’ During this week, we can think about people whose lives and circumstances, values and aspirations, may be very different from ours, and yet Jesus calls us all to be friends with him and with one another. More ways of being friends with other people. We are united in friendship and in love with people across the world first and foremost because of the friendship that Jesus shared with us. Jesus does not call us servants, he calls us his friends. So, what kind of friendship do you have with Jesus? What kind of friend is he? What kind of friend do we want him to be? And, since friendship is by its very nature, mutual, reciprocal: what kind of friend do you think Jesus wants us to be?

 

As we go into the week ahead let us go knowing that Jesus, our friend goes with us; that we are called to be friends with one another and the world around us. And, let us also seek to be the friend that Jesus calls us to be with him, as we share with him, and with everyone around us, in the greatest friendship that the world has ever known. Friendship with Jesus and a coming together of heaven and earth that has been there from the beginning of time and will be with us for eternity, and which incredibly starts afresh today, and every new morning.
 

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

 

Hymn 714:  What a friend we have in Jesus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SCorW9r_Is

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We Proclaim our Faith

We proclaim, and affirm, our faith in our amazing God.

 

Do you believe and trust in God the Father,
source of all being and life,
the one for whom we exist?

We believe and trust in him.

 

Do you believe and trust in God the Son,
who took our human nature,
died for us and rose again?

We believe and trust in him.

 

Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit,
who gives life to the people of God
and makes Christ known in the world?

We believe and trust in him.

 

This is the faith of the Church.

This is our faith.
We believe and trust in one God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

The Peace

Peace be in all that you do.

Peace be in your thinking.

Peace be in your life.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.

 

We would, at this point, share the peace with one another. Of course, now, we are not able to do that. Instead, let us take a moment to think of one another across the Ortons. Peterborough, our country and the world. So,

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.

 

Hymn 54:  Beauty for brokenness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaMPE53uP38

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Prayers of Intercession

  • This week, Valerie brings us our prayers.

 

Father God, your Son Jesus Christ gave us a new commandment to love one another in the same way that you love us. We ask you to teach us how to love you in our neighbours, and recognise that by serving them we are also serving you.

Lord in your mercy. 

Hear our prayer.

 

Father, we pray for all Christians worshipping around the world in different places: in rural and town churches, in great cathedrals and, in these days, on the internet. We ask your protection for all those persecuted as a result of their Christian faith, especially those in Iran who bravely shared their faith with Bahador, Hamid, Hossein and Mehrdad, whose whereabouts are known only to you.

 

Father, we pray for the churches here in the Ortons. Bless the leaders so their preaching and teaching inspires those who listen with the message of your salvation. We remember Sarah and Lynessa here at Christ Church, and ask that through their words you will pour out your Holy Spirit on our congregation to give us a renewed vision of your purpose for us in this local community. Father, show each of us the part you want us to play in our church life.

Lord in your mercy. 

Hear our prayer.

 

Father, sometimes when we hear the news the world can seem to be a violent and fearful place. Give us the strength to love our enemies and to pray for those who, by violence and acts of terrorism, distort and pervert your wonderful creation.

Lord in your mercy. 

Hear our prayer.

 

Father, you gave us a beautiful world to live in and to care for. We know that we have not always been good stewards of your gift, but through the victory of Jesus Christ we know that you can restore all things in creation. We pray for a change of heart and attitude, an awakening to a better way of living, and the courage to reject wrong principles and decisions throughout the world.

Lord in your mercy. 

Hear our prayer.

 

Father, we thank you for all those who help our local community run smoothly. Help us be supportive and encouraging and to step into situations where we can serve. Give strength to those who are working to bring healing and comfort to those in need. We continue to give you thanks for the ongoing vaccination rollout and ask that our government will be generous in donating supplies to those countries who are struggling to vaccinate their own populations.

Lord in your mercy. 

Hear our prayer.

 

Father, help us all to be a part of the healing ministry here at Christ Church. Encourage us to constantly pray for those we know who are suffering in body, mind or spirit, particularly those affected by the Covid pandemic. We remember out loud, or in our hearts, any who are in particular need of God’s help today.

 

Father, we ask you to draw close to all of those mentioned so that they may be aware of your healing presence, and we ask you to provide your peace and comfort for them at this time.

Lord in your mercy. 

Hear our prayer.

 

Father, as we hear again this morning your commandment to love one another in the same way you love us, we realise that it’s all about the healing and difference we can make in someone else’s life. Teach us to dig deeper into this vein of true discipleship – your way of love.  Amen.

 

Notices

  • I know we say it each week, and we will continue to say it... Do continue to remember each other, pray for one another, telephone and talk to one another.
  • Do join us for coffee as we Commune over Coffee after the service on Zoom, starting perhaps a little after 11.00am now that we are back in church. Joining instructions are in the latest edition of Nuggets.
  • On Friday, we have Coffee Connect at 2.00pm on Zoom. Joining instructions in Nuggets. Do come along with cake/biscuits/tea/coffee ready for a chat.
  • Also on Friday, there is a short service of Compline at 8.00pm on Zoom. The joining instructions are in Nuggets.
  • Next Sunday, we have one service, of Morning Worship at 10.00am, which will also include our AGM. Do think about whether you would like to serve on Church Council. Any questions, please let me know.
  • Banns.
  • It is with great delight that I announces that Alexandra Podd will be coming to us as Assistant Curate. Alexandra will be ordained a deacon, and licensed to me on the 4th July 2021, and to St Andrew’s, Alwalton and St Michael’s, Chesterton.  Alexandra’s ordination will take place at Ely Cathedral on Sunday 4th July, and we await information as to how many will be able to attend in person, or how this service may be accessed online. Alexandra will live in the Rectory in Alwalton.
  • Have a good week, everyone, and may you know the joy, the love, the hope and the peace, of our Lord through this week. And keep well.

 

Hymn 364:  Joy to the world

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqi8aphPtNQ

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A Sending Out Prayer

Lord Jesus, we rejoice
that you have chosen us to be your friends.
Help us to be a friend to you by obeying your commands.
As we go out into your world,
help us to live a life that reflects your love,
by being a friend to others. Amen

 

The Blessing

Love the Lord your God,

with all your heart and mind and strength:

your neighbour as yourself;

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 peace to love and serve the Lord. Alleluia.

In the name of Christ. Alleluia.

 

Closing Music

The UK Blessing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUtll3mNj5U

  • We listen, once again, to the UK Blessing which was recorded near the beginning of the first lockdown. Having thought we would hear it again, I see that it is a year to the Sunday since we last listened.
  • Jesus came into the world to share God’s love, and joy, with all people everywhere.
  • And he helps us to share in his love, and to share it with others.
  • Alleluia

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