Readings And Sermons or Talks

The Collect for today, the Sixth Sunday of Easter

God our redeemer, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son: grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Post Communion Prayer for Today

God our Father, whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life: may we thirst for you, the spring of life and source of goodness, through him who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. 

Today’s Psalm is Psalm 98

O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. The Lord has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord. Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, nd the peoples with equity. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and shall be forever. Amen

Today’s first reading is taken from the book of the Acts of the Apostles : Acts 10 : 44 - 48

 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days. This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God

Today’s Gospel reading is taken from the Gospel according to St John ; John 15 : 9 - 17

Hear the Gospel of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, according to John Glory to You, o Lord !

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to You, o Christ

Today’s sermon is brought to us by Denise

ONCE UPON A TIME there was an explosion that radiated out throughout the world. Countless people were touched: many people found it contagious, as someone who was already touched passed it on to them. The explosion happened on a hill called Calvary just outside Jerusalem. Here love broke out in great power, defeating darkness. In a flash of blinding love, Christ released a new way of life for the world. The love of God radiated through the whole earth and all times. The results of that explosion are still being felt today because he who died rose again! He lives and seeks to share his love with us. He chooses us! There are always those who will ignore his presence and avoid his radiant love. But he will transform all who come to be touched and he gives them the power to become the true children of God. As a result we should all shine for Jesus, hence my choice of hymn.

In the Acts reading, Peter is talking to a small group of people in Cornelius’ house. There is an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit or God’s love, which does not even wait for Peter to stop speaking. A bit like a second Pentecost, I thought. After his resurrection, Jesus tells his disciples to tell everyone, ‘tell them they can be forgiven.’ As Peter says this, the small crowd experience the rush of God’s forgiving love, and the freedom it brings. This is the kind of love we are given as an example to follow- the kind of forgiving, accepting love that wants people to be free. When we love one another we are allowing the Holy Spirit to live in us and grow in us. The stronger our faith, the more we will do and it is the things we do for God and for others that bring glory to God and strengthen the Holy Spirit within us.

I have experienced that sudden rush of God’s love many times in my life as I know many of you will have. The example that springs to mind is on Alpha Spirit Away Days, where a few are gathered together in a room and they decide to give their lives to Jesus. They are thrilling times and leave us in no doubt that Jesus is with us always.

A lot of people talk about choosing to be a Christian or not as if the choice is theirs. The choice is not ours; it is Jesus who chooses us. In verse 16 from our Gospel reading, Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” we are asked to respond by saying whether we want a relationship with him. Any who excuse themselves, exclude themselves.

We are chosen for joy. No matter which way our path goes, whether life is tough or easy at the moment, we are called to rejoice. Paul tells the Philippians, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice.’ Philippians 4v4

Not always an easy thing to do, but we should be people of joy because we know he is with us always. Amidst all the gloom and tough times we are called to show joy, because we are loved and have an eternal destiny. It is a special kind of joy, similar to the peace which ‘knows no understanding.’

We are chosen for love. Jesus shows us the love of the Father. He gives us his own love also. What greater love could there be than his laying down his life for us. He has chosen us to love one another. V12 in the Gospel.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Parents love children, husbands love wives, sisters love brothers and so on. But there is a particular quality to Christian love which can only be expressed by abiding in Christ. It is as his love flows into us that we are able to love others in this way.

Verse 9 “As the Father has loved me so I have loved you. Now remain in my love.”

His point is this: we cannot love one another in the way that he wants us to unless we are connected to him, unless we remain in his love. As Christians we don’t have the option to choose certain people to treat with God’s love. We cannot claim to love God and then decide that some people are not worth treating with respect and understanding. Of course it is not always easy, lots of people are difficult to love, and perhaps we are ourselves. When we look at how amazingly God treats us, copying his way of loving is the very least we can do. And the surprising thing is that putting ourselves out and making the effort to live God’s way is very rewarding and makes us feel much happier usually. Something we talked about in our virtual coffee morning last week.

We are chosen to be friends of Jesus. V15.

I do not call you to be servants any longer.”

In the Old Testament, both Moses and Joshua were called Servants of the Lord, David too in Psalm 89. But Jesus calls us to a far greater privilege: to be friends. We need not stand far off; we have access to his presence whenever we want. He has chosen us to be his friends and we should take delight in obeying his commands and living the loving way. He does not want us to obey like servants who are simply doing their job.

As always with privileges come responsibilities. We have been chosen to ‘go for Jesus’. We are called to bear lasting fruit, to be witnesses to the riches of his glory. We are advertisements for our God and his love--- or we ought to be!! We cannot achieve this work in our own strength, but only in the power and presence of God. The command to love one another, were Jesus’ final words before he was betrayed and crucified. At the beginning of the chapter it was the story of the vine, about remaining connected to Christ in order to live fruitful lives. This was his last piece of advice or set of instructions.

God has chosen all of us for the purpose of bearing fruit. Characteristics such as joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness will grow within us and help us when we tell others about Jesus. We can say that Jesus is our friend, but can we say that we are his friends? Do we listen to him or do we only want him to listen to us. Do we want to know what is on his heart and mind, or do we only want to tell him what’s on ours? Being a friend of Jesus means listening to what he wants to tell us and then using the information to do his work in our community and in our lives. Amen.

Let us pray. Lord Jesus, you have chosen us to be your disciples, you ask us to come and work with you as your friends. You give us the choice to respond to your love or not. Help us to enjoy your presence and to tell others of your love. Amen.