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Seventh Sunday of Easter : 21st May 2023

Sunday After The Ascension.
Sunday Before Pentecost

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):

Blessing and honour, glory and might, to the one who is seated on the throne and to the lamb forever and ever!

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

Christ our great high priest, You understand our weaknesses;  You pray for us while we are sinners.  Help us, through You, to find a new and living way to God;  for the glory of Your holy name.  Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Acts 1:6-14
00:00 / 02:17

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11
00:00 / 02:11

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 17:1-11
00:00 / 01:50

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

Jesus Prays For His Disciples
00:00 / 10:44

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

Sermon Easter 7, 21st May 2023

Take my lips O God and speak through them, take our minds O God and think through them, take our hearts O God and love through them this day.   <Amen>

I’m not sure what the fascination is but there seem to have been more films and TV series with the central themes of The Crusades, King Henry VIII, The Spanish Inquisition and the like than there are people in Aotearoa\New Zealand. The entertainment industry has been producing them since the 1920’s and continues to do so.

As we come to the close of our recent weekly journeys through the “Final Discourse” of Jesus during The Last Supper we remember that Jesus told the disciples many things about what was to come and the trials they would face. Today I would like to remind you that, then Jesus looked up to heaven and prayed for His disciples.

Jesus asked God to keep them, and us, safe from the evil one and to make them, and us, holy.

He prayed for people of all times, asking His Father that followers of Jesus would be united so that the world would believe that God sent Jesus to die for their sins so that everyone could be with God forever. <PAUSE>

Unfortunately, we all know that not everything that is done in the Church is always done for the glory of God. We know that at times in history, the Church, full of humans, has ignored the Will of God in order that some people might have their own way. As a consequence, there has been discord and disunity in God’s Church. This earlier disunity is still apparent in the numbers of denominations that we have today.

At first it was just a family squabble. One group put Scripture above Church structure and called for change but they were rejected, so they protested. So, then the one family became two: the “Protesters” (Protestants) and the Roman Catholics. However, once the squabble started, it snowballed. It wasn’t long before the Protestants began disagreeing and became disagreeable toward their brothers and sisters in the faith. There was disunity in the body of Christ.

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus prayed for us, His disciples, because we are still “in the world.” Sadly, being “in the world” we still witness division in the Church.  I’m not only talking about long rooted denominational differences.  I’m talking about Christians being divided by moral and social issues that are often so big, they divide nations.

One church accepts abortion on demand. Another doesn’t. One considers homosexuality to be a God given condition to be celebrated and nurtured.  Another considers it a sin. One considers the definition of marriage to be changeable - subject to the will of the people. Another considers marriage to be an inviolate institution created by God to be solely between one man and one woman.

Beyond moral issues, the Church is divided by doctrine and practice too.  One considers the bread and wine of Holy Communion to be simple bread and wine.  Another considers the bread and wine to be the very body and blood of Jesus.  One withholds baptism from children because they are considered unaccountable for their sins until a certain age.  Another insists that we are all born dead in our sins and that baptism is God’s means of rescuing us from the peril of eternal death.  One ordains women into the office of the Holy Ministry in keeping with the demands of changing culture.  Another ordains only men in keeping with their interpretation of the word of God … get my drift? <PAUSE>

Ecumenical efforts, of course, attempt to foster unity among churches, but at best they amount to nothing more than tolerant diversity. At worst, they minimise the importance of God’s Word, which is supposed to be the sole source and norm of everything that is believed and taught in the Church.

Some are left wondering if unity in the church should even be sought anymore, or, if churches are better off just doing their own thing without regard for structural traditions and even other churches ? <PAUSE>

Well, today, Jesus prays for unity in the Church, praying from the very heart of God.

“Holy Father, protect them in Your name that You have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

It is a deeply profound prayer. Jesus asks that unity among God’s people be a reflection of the unity of the godhead.  Even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One God, so the church, He prays, would be one. 

Divisions in the church are not God’s will, nor are they helpful for the Church’s mission of reaching an increasing secular, and skeptical, world with the Gospel of Christ!

As “The Christian Church”, we all hold a faith based on divine revelation, we ALL must find unity in Jesus’ name - “the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. <PAUSE>

As simple as that may sound, history has proven that it is anything but simple.  In the end, unity in the Church is a divine gift, which comes from the very heart of God, through the fervent prayer of both His Son and - I ask you this day - of you and I.

So please, keep the unity of the Church always in the forefront of your prayers.

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:

Almighty God, as we remember the day that Jesus Christ, Your Son, was taken up to heaven, may our prayers ascend to you just as He did. As we celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus let it inspire in us feelings of joy and hope rather than fear and separation as we await the coming of the Holy Spirit. That promise of Christ that we will never be orphaned - that He Will come to us.

<Longer silence for personal reflection>

In response to the call today : Lord, in your Mercy, our response will be Hear our Prayer.

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

Everlasting God  we pray for our Archbishops, Bishops, and all Church Leaders; for all the clergy, readers and laity of all denominations around the world. Guide, strengthen, encourage and unite them as they seek to live The Life of The Risen Christ <PAUSE>

We particularly raise before you the faithful people who serve this parish.  May The Lord bless and guide them in their work as they move into the future living the Gospel here in The Wakatipu.

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

Creator God, we pray for our troubled world its peoples and their leaders. We pray for those caught up in war, and violence, and hatred; especially the innocent victims of these evils and those who are abused because of Christ. May peace abound and righteousness flourish, that we may vanquish injustice and wrong and that the suffering will cease.


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

Father God, we pray for all the people that we encounter in our daily lives.  Help us to recognise Christ in one another however stressed and tired we and they may be. We ask that you help us to recognise the risen Christ in the face of someone we meet today and give us an opportunity to  brighten their day with a smile or a word.

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

Loving God, we pray for all those in need; for those who are filled with guilt; who are broken-hearted; who are confused and afraid. We pray for all suffering from illness, particularly those requesting our prayers and give joyful thanks for those on the road to recovery.

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 all who have died; especially those who encouraged us in our faith by their example. As we pray for them, may they in turn continue to pray for us that we may stay true to our faith and give the same kind of example to others.

May all the faithful departed rest in peace as they surely have risen in glory.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Faithful God, as we go out into the coming week make us mindful that we should constantly pray for your world and your people just as Jesus, Your son, prayed for his disciples before returning to you.

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

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our 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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