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Sixth Sunday of Easter : 14th May 2023

What follows is a worship service which, I pray, you can participate in at a time(s) that are convenient to you. This 'service' will take about forty five (45) minutes.

I pray that you will feel called to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this service.

The text that is in regular typeface (that is what you are reading at the moment) is to be read quietly, while the text that is in
bold face (like you are reading right now) is meant to be read aloud.

Opening Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we commence our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A Call To Worship:

We meet in the name of God,

Creator of the universe,

source of true humanity,

mother and father of all. Amen.

An Assurance of Forgiveness:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

The Absolution
00:00 / 00:18

The Sentence For Today (let us say aloud):

Without having seen Christ you love him; though you do not see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy.

The Special Prayer For Today (let us pray aloud):

Eternal God, light of the minds that know you, joy of the hearts that love you, strength of the wills that serve you; grant us so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may gladly serve you, now and always. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Acts 17:22-31
00:00 / 02:21

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

1 Peter 3:13-22
00:00 / 02:24

Gradual Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we raise out voices in praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A reading from the holy gospel according to Saint John
(click the 'play' button below to listen)

John 14:15-21
00:00 / 01:36

Listen to David speak to this gospel
(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Not Orphans, Never Alone!
00:00 / 10:04

or, if you prefer, you can read the sermon, below:

Sermon Easter 6, 14th May 2023

May the words of my mouth and the meditations in our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. <Amen>

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” The words of Jesus - the wonderful promise of The Holy Spirit. <PAUSE>

At some point we all want or even need to hear these words. They speak directly to some of our greatest fears and challenges; abandonment, isolation, loneliness, vulnerability. They remind us that we are not destined to walk this earth without an identity or direction. They remind us that we do not stand alone!

To be sure there are seasons of life, moments, when the transitions, changes, and tragedies can leave people feeling deeply uncertain, afraid of what is happening, concerned for the future. Is this how the disciples felt listening to Jesus during the Last Supper? Is this how you have felt at times in your life? <PAUSE>

It’s the last supper. Disciples have been fed, feet have been washed, after several years of working with him, the person who has let Jesus down so very badly has left. It is night, dark, and Jesus announces he is leaving.

The one in whom they placed their trust, hopes, dreams for the future now says he is leaving. <PAUSE>

As we heard last week the concerns come thick and fast - - - “We do not know where you are going!” “How can we know the way?” “Can you show us the Father?” More questions from people who worry about being orphans.

The feeling of being an orphan can be real for each and everyone of us at some point(s) along our earthly journey. Anyone who has ever loved and lost – a spouse, a child, a friend, a job, security, hope – knows the orphan’s questions.

We fear becoming orphaned. That fear points to the deeper reality that by ourselves we are not enough. It is not, however, because we are deficient. It is rather because:

We were never intended or created to be self-sufficient.
We were never intended to stand alone as individuals.
We were created to love and be loved, to live in relationship as persons giving themselves to each other, to dwell, abide, and remain within each other even as the Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father; the absolute opposite of being orphaned.

It is into this, our humanity, that Jesus speaks … “I will not leave you orphaned; I AM coming to you.”

That is the promise. Regardless of the circumstances of our lives, earthquakes, senseless violence in the world, storms, death, separation, we have never been and will never be orphaned by God. <PAUSE> How strange that must have sounded to the disciples. In the same conversation Jesus tells them that he is leaving and coming. Leaving and coming certainly sound like opposites to me. If we are not careful we can get bogged down trying to to figure this out. It is not, however, something to figure out. It is rather a means to see and live in a different away.

Leaving and coming. Presence and Absence. We must understand that these are not mutually exclusive and this is exactly what Jesus has set before us in today’s gospel.

What confronts us is the question of whether Jesus, for us, is a past memory or a present reality, a sentimental story that makes us feel good or a living experience that challenges, guides, and nurtures our life.

According to Jesus the answer to that question is determined by a love that is revealed and fulfilled in keeping his commandments. The commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves, to love our enemies, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength … So. whose feet do we wash and whose feet do we ignore? What are our boundaries of love?

Is Jesus a PRESENT reality for us? Do we grasp the fulfilment of His promise that we are not left orphaned. Here, today, now, AT THIS VERY MOMENT … can you feel the presence of His Holy Spirit in your church, your room, your heart? <PAUSE>

Jesus’ promise is still real and He remains faithful … we simply need to open our hearts and claim it for ourselves.

“I will not leave you orphaned; I AM coming to you.”

Over and over, day after day, regardless of what is happening in our lives that is Jesus’ promise of His Holy Spirit. <PAUSE>

We have not been abandoned.
Do not abandon yourself, and …
do not abandon others to the ‘orphanages’ of this world.

I runga e te Ingoa o te Atua, te Matua, te Tama me te Wairua Tapu.
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit <AMEN>

Pause and Reflect

Just take a moment now to pause. Bow your head, close your eyes.
 

Allow these words of Holy Scripture and this interpretation of them today to speak to you.

An Affirmation of Our Faith

Let us affirm our faith by saying aloud, and together, "The Apostles Creed":

apostles_creed_pic02.jpg
Image by Allef Vinicius

... and now let us pray for the Church, the World, and Ourselves, giving thanks for God's goodness.An Affirmation of Our Faith

​Let us pray aloud, and together:

Gracious God, help us as we strive to keep your Son’s commandments that we may proclaim your presence to all the earth.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Holy God we pray for Your church throughout the world, for sceptics and believers, for clergy and laity. For all those who seek God at home, at work, in the streets, and in the pews, for all who search for the new, abundant life offered through Christ.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Creator God, we pray for Kings and Queens, Prime Ministers and Presidents, for bosses and workers; for leaders and trendsetters. For those who set the targets at home, at work, in the streets, and in the pews. For all who wield power, that they may be guided by Your Holy Spirit.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Lord, we continue to pray for the world that was given to us as an inheritance, on the understanding that we would care for it. Forgive us where our stewardship has fallen short of Your wishes. Teach us to look after our beautiful planet and care for it ever more wisely, whilst sharing its gifts more fairly and working together with all of its inhabitants to ease its violence, pain. and sufferings.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Father God, we pray for family and colleagues, friends and lovers, for neighbours and strangers, For all those from whom we may be parted at this time. We continue to pray for ALL who work on our behalf.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Loving God, we pray for the sick and troubled, for the fearful and alone, for those in pain at home, at work, in the streets, and in the pews. We pray that all who suffer, may they feel Your Holy Spirit’s healing presence.

We now raise before you those who have asked for our prayers … Eric, Rose, Mark, Fiona (here in the Wakatipu), Deb, David, Barbara and Lynley (in Christchurch), Andrew, Fiona, Glenys in Dunedin, Sam (in Singapore) and others we now name aloud, or in the silence of our hearts, and those who are known only by you.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Merciful God, we pray for those kept fresh in our memory and for those long forgotten, For all who ever took the breath of life at home, at work, in the streets, and in the pews.  We pray for mercy and forgiveness for the dead and those who mourn them, may they find rest in the Spirit’s embrace and we commend the departed to your safe and gentle keeping for ever.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer Loving God we thank You for Your Son and His promise of The Holy Spirit. The knowledge that we are never alone, never orphaned. Thank you for our companion in life, The Spirit of truth. To you alone we turn our eyes and lift our hearts. Help us to keep Your commandments and live the life of The Risen Christ.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

lord's_prayer_pic01_edited.jpg

Remembering that we are confident to pray this day, and every day, because Jesus Christ continues to teach us:
 

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,

your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever.   Amen.

Let us conclude our prayers by praying together and aloud:

 

God of mercy,
you have given us grace to pray with one heart and one voice,
and have promised to hear the prayers
of two or three who agree in your name,
fulfil now, we pray,
the prayers and longings of your people
as may be best for us and for your kingdom.
Grant us in this world to know your truth,
and in the world to come to see your glory. Amen.

The Blessing

May The Risen Lord Christ turn His face towards each and every one of you.

May He cause His light to shine upon you, and

may He grant you His peace, and

 

The blessing of Almighty God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you and all of those whom you love,

on this day and forever more.

A Closing Hymn:

Let us conclude our worship today by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we unite in another hymn our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

The Dismissal

Go now, go out into the world

to love and serve The Lord.

 

Go in peace.

AMEN, we go in the name of Christ.

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