Home Service Sunday 5th May 2024

Prayers of Approach

Lord God, you bless us with your holy presence and your almighty power when we least expect them. You challenge us to respond to you. You push us beyond our limits. Here we are ready and open to hear your Word: and expecting your blessing. Ready to do your will: and expecting your blessing. Ready to share your love with our neighbours, whoever they may be, whether we like them or not: and expecting your blessing. Ready to have our hearts opened, our minds stretched: and expecting your blessing. Bless us, good Lord, beyond our wildest expectations.

Amazing God, who created every language, who knows our every question before we even think it, who understands not only our words, but the thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears behind them. You hear the loudest cry and the smallest sigh. We are amazed and astounded by your love. We long to share it, especially with those who think they are beyond the limits.

God of surprises, we come as we are but wanting to be more like Jesus. Journey with us as we seek to be surprised by you today. As we challenge ourselves to respond to your surprising love, give us grace to welcome others into your kingdom. Amen.

Hymn God is love; his the care (R&S 274)

Readings Acts 10:44-48

John 15:9-17


Peter is preaching the gospel in Caesarea, and – just as at Pentecost – people are filled with the Holy Spirit. But these people are Gentiles. Those with Peter are astounded, but Peter knows this is because the gospel is for all people. The people are baptized and Peter stays with them for a while.

Stereotypes are nothing new. Early Church believers had fixed ideas about who was included in their community and their ideas were challenged so that the Church could grow. Can we open our minds, hearts and doors to new people? Like the apostle Peter, we may be surprised by what God has in store.
Jesus encourages the disciples to keep his commandments and, above all, to love one another as he loved them. The greatest expression of love is to lay down one’s life for one’s friends and, he says, his friends are those who do what he commands.

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


In our world today it seems that there is a day for everything – last month we had Earth Day, in the church in March it was the World Day of Prayer, in December there is World Aids Day, and then there are the special weeks or even months such as Black History Month in October, and just this week May 1st was designated as World Love Day. It seems quite fitting therefore that our Gospel readings over the recent weeks revolve around love and what it means to love one another.

Love presents itself in many ways; the love we have for our family and friends, our hobbies and passions, perhaps animals or the planet. And sometimes, love is even displayed with a simple act of kindness to a complete stranger. Jesus’ words, ‘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,’ however present us with quite a challenge. It’s not too difficult to love those who love us, our close friends and family, sometimes it’s even quite easy to extend our love to people we have never met but who we are aware of who are in need, it becomes much harder though when Jesus extends his command to ‘love your enemies’.

It must have been very hard for some of those in the Early Church to accept that Jews were no longer the sole beneficiaries of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that Gentiles too, even those of the hated occupying forces, could receive God’s spirit. In Joppa Peter had to re-think his perspective, questioning pre-conceptions and concluding that all were welcome within the love of God. This is what happens when the love of God cascades down, first to individuals such as Peter, and to you and me; then to those we meet, even though they may seem at first to be unlikely companions in the faith.

People are creatures of habit, holding strong political, social and religious views. These views are shaped by cultural and societal norms that are often deeply ingrained. So we can see Peter’s dilemma when faced with the task of delivering a message that embraces non-Jews in the plan of redemption. Peter’s acceptance was the beginning of something great happening.

So 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? Whatever we finally decide, or discover, that love is we must remember that love is not limited by our human feelings, preferences or prejudices. So as we approach Christian Aid week let us not forget all those around the world who are in need of God’s love and our love at his time.

Love is…the reason we are here on earth

Hymn Bind us together Lord (MP 54)

Prayers of Intercession

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.

Jesus said, ‘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 charity, 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.

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


Lord God, may we be empowered by the commandment to love, encouraged in your ability to love, and blessed in your receiving of love, day by day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayers and other material © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.

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