Home Service for Sunday 22nd May 2022

Prayers of Approach

God of light and life, you see all our problems and our pains: help us to open our hearts and minds to you, to receive your healing and forgiveness, and to learn how we can bring hope and healing to others. Amen.

All-encompassing God, we bow in adoration. There is no need of sun or moon in the radiance of your majesty. We bow in adoration, basking in the light of your love, and exalting your name.

Son of God, we bow in adoration. Lamb of God, you light up our world with your glory. We bow in adoration, basking in the warmth of your saving grace, and exalting your name.

Holy Spirit, we bow in adoration. Blessing of God’s goodness, you cause our hearts to leap for joy. We bow in adoration, basking in the power of the river of life, and exalting your name.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we bow in adoration, basking in the eternal light, and exalting in the powerful glory of your radiance.

Nothing is hidden from you, Lord. Thank you for your light shining into the darkest corners.

Thank you for the hope and healing you bring about in our life, our world. Thank you for guiding and using us to bring your light to others.

One day there will be no more darkness, no more pain or disappointment. All people and nations will be healed and renewed. We thank you, Lord, for your promise that all will be well. Amen.

Hymn Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart (R&S 489)

Readings: Revelation 21:10, 21:22-22:5

John 14:23-29

Introduction

The reading from Revelation is John’s vision of hope and healing for the world. He sees God and Jesus form the Temple in the new Jerusalem, and they are the light of the world. John sees the water of life flowing clear and bright like crystal, and the tree of life bearing fruit that will bring healing to all nations. Together the tree, water and light give life to all things – a hopeful picture of the future for all humanity and all God’s creation.

Written for Christians facing extreme persecution, the powerful imagery encouraged them to hang on to the promise that, in the end, light will triumph over darkness, hope over despair, and all people, nations – and indeed all of creation – will be healed and made whole. The promise of the Holy Spirit given in the Gospel reading assures us that until this time we will not be alone in facing whatever troubles life brings.

Hymn Blessed city, heavenly Salem (R&S 559)

Sermon/Reflection

From a mountain God showed Moses the promised land; from a mountain Ezekiel was given a vision of a restored Temple in Jerusalem from which flowed a river on the banks of which were trees which bore fresh fruit each month and whose leaves were for healing; from a mountain John sees the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven. In John’s vision however there is no Temple in the city since the Temple is God’s dwelling place and is no longer needed because God now lives with and among his people (21:3).

This is what Jesus had promised in his long conversation with his disciples at the Last Supper, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.’ (John 14:23). And where John at the beginning of his Gospel had pictured Christ as the ‘light of the world’ in the new Jerusalem the glory of God will be their light and the lamb (Christ) their lamp. In ancient times night was a dangerous time when wild animals prowled and the darkness could hide many perils but now there will be no more darkness because God’s light is always with them.

If you’ve ever worked nights you will know what it’s like waiting for the first gleam of daylight. There’s a saying, ‘The darkest hour is just before dawn’ – or, as we got used to hearing during the pandemic, ‘Things will get worse before they get better.’ The Book of Revelation has a similar point of view, with today’s reading painting a glorious picture of the heavenly city where everything dazzles with God’s light – so much brighter than the sun. But here and now, it’s easy to get discouraged by all the problems we see, whether personal or political.

Jesus knew how people might get discouraged but he reassured his disciples by promising that they would not be alone because God would send the Holy Spirit to help them, to teach them and remind them of all that Jesus had said to them. He also gave them his ‘peace’, a peace that is so much more than an absence of conflict, a peace that brings healing and wholeness. In the holy city, the new Jerusalem, this peace is effected through God’s presence and the river of life which flows through the city, and by the leaves of the trees which are for the healing of the nations.

For many of us today cities are dangerous places but for the people of Jesus’ and John’s time they were places of safety. Most cities would have had walls with gates which would have been closed at nightfall to keep out the dangers that lurked outside. The city of God however is the ultimate place of safety. It is open to everyone, all God’s people, ‘It’s gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there.’ (21:25). All nations are welcome there – an idea that is as attractive today as it was for John’s readers then. To the persecuted and suffering Christians for whom John wrote the assurance of living in peace, seeing God face to face and living with God was a great comfort, support and encouragement.

What might give the suffering people of our times, the people of the Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, parts of Africa and so many other places, encouragement and hope today? We may not be able to solve the big problems of the world on our own but how might we, called to be God’s lights in a dark world, be one small part of the solution to one problem this week?

Hymn For the healing of the nations (R&S 620)

Prayers of Intercession

We pray for peace in our world. Not just absence of war, although that would be great, but also that many would come to experience the deep peace of truly knowing God in their lives. Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with compassion.

We pray for those who feel that they have no voice, that they might as well be invisible, that no one really knows them, or cares for them. We pray that they might find their own special voice in you. Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with compassion.

We pray for peace where we live. For people who have experienced – or who are experiencing now – unhappiness, or worse, in their homes. Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with compassion.

We pray for those we love, especially those who are troubled; and those who are ill in body, mind or spirit. We pray God’s peace for those who mourn, those who find it so difficult to live without their loved ones. Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with compassion. Amen.

Hymn Christ is the world’s light (R&S 600)

Blessing.

Glorious God, you shine your light into the dark places of our lives and of our world. Gentle God, you touch us with your healing love and make us whole. We ask you to be with us and shine through us this week, and use us to bring hope and healing to others. Amen.

Prayers © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.

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