Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Paul Blackheath

A short service for the seventh Sunday of Easter 24th May 2020

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.

A gathering prayer.
Mighty God, we gather in humility to worship you.
Caring God, we bring to you our concerns.
Glorious God, we exalt your holy name.
Unite us – make us one in you,
that your love may strengthen and empower us. 

A prayer of approach
Lord of all glory, we come before you 
seeking your wisdom, 
that we may glorify you through our thinking; 
seeking your love, 
that we may glorify you through our emotions; 
seeking your strength, 
that we may glorify you at all times; 
seeking your perseverance, 
that we may glorify you in all places.
Show us how to live, 
that our lives shine with your glory,
and those who encounter us may know you 
and that you are at work in your world. 

Psalm 68 verse 1-10, 32-35
God rises up and scatters his enemies.
Those who hate him run away in defeat.
2 As smoke is blown away, so he drives them off;
as wax melts in front of the fire,
so do the wicked perish in God's presence.

3 But the righteous are glad and rejoice in his presence;
they are happy and shout for joy.
4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
prepare a way for him who rides on the clouds.
His name is the Lord—be glad in his presence!

5 God, who lives in his sacred Temple,
cares for orphans and protects widows.
6 He gives the lonely a home to live in
and leads prisoners out into happy freedom,
but rebels will have to live in a desolate land.

7 O God, when you led your people,
when you marched across the desert,
8 the earth shook, and the sky poured down rain,
because of the coming of the God of Sinai,
the coming of the God of Israel.

9 You caused abundant rain to fall
and restored your worn-out land;
10 your people made their home there;
in your goodness you provided for the poor.

32 Sing to God, kingdoms of the world,
sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides in the sky,
the ancient sky.
Listen to him shout with a mighty roar.

34 Proclaim God's power;
his majesty is over Israel,
his might is in the skies.
35 How awesome is God as he comes from his sanctuary—
the God of Israel!
He gives strength and power to his people.
Praise God!

Our bible reading is John 17 verses 1-11
Jesus prays for his disciples
Jesus looked up to heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the hour has come. Now is the time for me to be glorified. You have given me power over everyone. I will give eternal life to all those you have given to me. They will know you as the one true God and they will know me as Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

‘I have brought glory to you in the way I have lived my life on earth. But now I have finished the work you gave me to do. And so, Father, the time is right for you to glorify me in heaven.

‘I have told the people that you sent me and that you are God. They believe in you and have been faithful to you. They know that the things I have taught them come from you, and that everything I have comes from you.

‘I am not asking for the world’s sake, but for the sake of those who belong to me. And all those who belong to me are yours. Now I am no longer in the world, but they are still in the world. I am leaving them to come to you. So I ask you, Holy Father, to protect them in your name, so that they may be as one, just as you and I are one.’

A Thought for the Day by Revd. Mike Sermon
Cast all your anxiety upon him
I wonder how you are feeling today in this season of social distancing and lockdown?

If we are honest with ourselves it seems like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes we are hopeful and optimistic. On other occasions we are sad, hurt and angry. Unable to properly mourn the death of a loved one. Anxious over financial worries and fearful of an unknown future. It is a challenge to keep up with these competing emotions and with them, can come a great weariness. In these days it is important for us to be able to forgive and love ourselves, as God instructed, so that we in turn may love each other and love God.

In these uncertain times, the certainty of what we can rely upon becomes ever more important. God’s commitment to us, God’s love for us, is one of those certainties that we can rely upon. The recognition that God is for us and not against us. That God empathizes and understands our suffering, because of the cross of Jesus is a comfort.

I am reminded of the moment when things were getting tough for Jesus and his disciples. Crowds of people were walking away and rejecting his teaching and so Jesus asked his disciples if they also wished to leave. To which Peter memorably replied,

“To whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6.68-69). One of the finest declarations of faith in the New Testament and solid ground for our feet in uncertain times. You are the Messiah, you are our hope you are the way, the truth and the light, through the darkened days of pandemic. There is no other way good enough.

From our bible reading we have Jesus speaking about glory. The glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the glory of the moment when he, Jesus, will return to the Father’s side. Jesus speaks of his departure, of physically leaving our world with a drama equal to that of his birth in Bethlehem. But before he leaves he prays for his followers. Not a single prayer, but a prayer on repeat, to be whispered across eternity and for all time. A prayer for protection, Oh how much we need that just now, and a prayer that we shall be one.

So in these uncertain and troubling times, Jesus the Messiah is there for us, prayerfully watching over us, fully committed to us and overflowing with love. So rest in that love, ask and pray for whatever you need confident that Jesus hears and answers our prayers.

I finish with the words of Peter who writes this to a struggling people,

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you (1Peter 5.6-7).

Let us pray,

Loving God, continue to meet us in the joys and sorrows of this life, and help us to cast our anxieties to you that in return your peace may dwell with us. Amen.

Revd. Mike Sermon Vicar St Paul’s Blackheath, Priest in Charge St James’ Rounds Green

Christ triumphant, ever reigning,
Saviour, Master, King.
Lord of heav’n, our lives sustaining,
hear us as we sing:
ours the glory and the crown,
the high renown, th’eternal name.

© Michael Saward/Jubilate Hymns

Our prayers.
We bring before God our concerns for our world:
where there is war we pray for peace; 
where there is sickness we pray for health; 
where there is despair we pray for hope. 
Cast all your anxiety on him,
because he cares for you.

We pray that you would be active in health care:
in the work of doctors and dentists, psychiatrists and psychologists,
nurses and administrators, 
pharmacists and researchers.
Cast all your anxiety on him,
because he cares for you.

Guide our activity in the church:
may we find ways to grow; 
may we always honour you; 
may we serve our communities.
Cast all your anxiety on him,
because he cares for you.

We hold in your love those whom we love:
those who are sick;
those who are sorrowful; 
those who need guidance and direction.
Cast all your anxiety on him,
because he cares for you.

Come to us, God of glory.
Hear us, heal us and shine through our lives.
Cast all your anxiety on him, 
because he cares for you. 

A sending out prayer
Go into the world to show God’s glory,
and may you always know God’s blessing 
and God’s peace. 

So now may the God of hope
heal us and restore us,
that we may know the power of God’s love at work in our lives,
today and every day.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd. Reproduced with permission.
Good News Translation (GNT) Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society