Home Service 9th May 2021

 

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. 

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 have 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. 

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. 

Music: Give me joy in my heart (R&S 523) 

Readings: Acts 10:44-48 

John 15:9-17 

Introduction  

Jesus encourages the disciples to keep his commandments and, above all, to love one another as he loved them. He says that those who do this are his friends and he emphasises that this is his choice rather than theirs. 

But what does ‘love one another mean in practice? What is the nature of this love? And what are the implications of knowing that everyone who follows Jesus, whatever our relationship with them might be – good, bad or indifferent – is chosen by him? 

Music: A new commandment I give unto you (R&S 745) 

Sermon/Reflection 

‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love… This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’ 

Love one another. It sounds so beautifully simple, doesn’t it? Surely we are doing it already? The problem is Jesus wasn’t just talking about our closest family and friends. He was talking about loving everyone, including the neighbour who never has a kind word to say about anyone, the relative who is so mean and ungrateful, the so called friend who you can’t trust not to gossip, and the unsympathetic teacher or boss. Loving these people is much more difficult. 

There is a gap between what Jesus told us to do and actually doing it. A gap which is so difficult to bridge that sometimes we are reluctant to even try because we expect to fail, and we don’t want to fail so we don’t try. So how can we love each other? Jesus said, ‘Greater love has no-one than this, that they lay down their life for their friends.’ (John 15:13). Most of us, thankfully, will never be in such a position, but it still leaves us trying to find ways in which we could show our love. Maybe it would help if we start by looking at what ‘love is…’   

We all probably have our own definitions of what love is. The Greeks had many different words for different kinds of love and we can find several of them in the Biblephileo, usually translated as brotherly love, was often used for the disciples relationships with one anotheragapowas the community love of the early church from which we derive the word agape for the shared community meals or ‘love feasts’; caritasthe ‘loving kindness’ shown to others, especially those in need, from which we get our word charityand eros, sexual love. All these together still only give us part of the picture of what ‘love is…’ The cartoon series gives us lots of short pithy descriptions (you can find dozens on line by googling ‘love is…). And we can help each other to find examples of what love is and what it means to love each other too. 

Whatever we finally decide, or discover, that love is we must remember that love is not limited by our human feelings, preferences or prejudices. Peter discovered for himself that God’s love is for everyone when the Holy Spirit was poured out on Gentiles too when he was at Cornelius the centurion’s house in Joppa (Acts chapter 10). So as we approach Christian Aid week, even though it may still not be possible to collect in the usual way, let us not forget all those around the world who are in need of God’s love and our love at his time.  

 

Music: Bind us together Lord (MP 54) 

Prayers of Intercession 

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you: 
abide in my love. 

Lord, you call us your friends, 
help us to be a friend to others: 
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. 

Lord, you call us your friends, 
help us to be a friend to others: 
through generosity, 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. 

Lord, 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, Lord, that as we follow your saints in faith and hope and love, 
we may be neighbours and friends to all we encounter. 
Amen. 

Music: O Lord all the world belongs to you (R&S 90) 

Blessing. 

Lord Jesus, we rejoice that you have chosen us and called us your friends. 
As we go out into the world 
help us to live a life that reflects your love 
by being a friend to other. 

And may the blessing of God 
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 
go with us and remain with us always. 

Amen. 

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