Sunday 9th May 2021 – Rev Arnold Dixon
Jesus encourages the disciples to keep his commandments and, above all, to love one another as he loved them. He says that those who do this are his friends and he emphasizes that this is his choice rather than theirs.
We explore what ‘loving one another after the example of Jesus' means in practice. What is the nature of this love (in contrast to popular usage – e.g. in something such as Love Island )? What are the implications that everyone who follows Jesus, whatever our relationship with them might be – good, bad or indifferent – is chosen by him?
This week we explore what Jesus means by friendship.
Call to worship
Jesus said: ‘No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.'
So, let us join together as friends, Jesus' friends,
to worship and serve the one who,
because of his great love, gave his all for us.
A gathering prayer
Lord Jesus, we come from separate houses,
from one street and another.
We may have come with others,
we may have come alone;
but we all come as neighbours and friends.
We come as different but equal.
We come to worship you, our ‘Ultimate Friend',
and to commit ourselves afresh
to one another and to you.
Alleluia Sing to Jesus: Sing/ Read / pray /proclaim the words or listen to this version
Click on the Link: https://youtu.be/UJDWFYIkBns
A prayer of approach
you have called us to worship you,
chosen us to be your friends
and invited us to extend that friendship
to your people in all the world.
May we live as Jesus lived,
serve as he served,
and love as he loved,
to the glory of your name.
A prayer of adoration
God of relationships,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, together and as one,
you draw us into friendship with you that we may draw others.
You command us to love as you have love, that we might inspire others.
You fill our hearts with the passion of your heart that we might serve others.
You are the truest of friends, the most faithful friend,
the most enduring – and we praise you for all you are and more.
A prayer of confession and an Assurance of forgiveness
Dear Lord, your love is so precious;
but we have turned away from you when our lives have been easy
forgive us and help us to turn back to you.
You have commanded us to love others;
but we have turned away from them when their lives have been difficult
forgive us and help us to be there for them.
You have shared with us your ministry of welcome;
but we have turned people away
forgive us and help us always to be open to them.
For the sake of Jesus, whose life and death, deeds and words have saved us.
Assurance of forgiveness
God of hope and healing:
for choosing us – we thank you.
For trusting us – we thank you.
For befriending us – we thank you.
For empowering us – we thank you.
For loving us – we thank you.
And for forgiving, redeeming and blessing us –
we thank you, in Jesus' name.
A prayer of praise and thanksgiving
God of all,
we give you thanks for the gift of friendship:
for the giving and the receiving;
for the opportunities and the challenges;
for the laughter and the tears;
for the conversations and the silence;
for the moments and the memories.
Draw us deeper into your love,
and bless us with the confidence
to proclaim Jesus as our dearest friend, teacher and Saviour.
We ask this in his name.
Beauty for brokenness, hope for despair: Sing/ Read / pray /proclaim the words or listen to this version Click on the Link: https://youtu.be/mcGfPkzksS8
Reading: John 15. 9-17
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
The Lord's my Shepherd (I will trust): Sing/ Read / pray /proclaim the words or listen to this version
Click on the Link: https://youtu.be/pN4tPkX0MG0
Be still, my soul: the Lord is at your side: Sing/ Read / pray /proclaim the words or listen to this version Click on the Link: https://youtu.be/8148fGchA5A
Prayers of intercession
God of love,
hear our prayer.
God of love, friend to those in power,
with the local elections this week we are reminded of the privilege we have in being able to engage in democracy and vote. Whatever our political leanings, we pray for those who have retained or gained places on our local councils. May they be diligent in working for the communities they serve, passionate about improving the lives of others, and open to listening to views different from their own. Equip all of our political representatives with the gifts of thoughtfulness, grace and integrity.
God of love, friend to those in pain,
we look at the situation unfolding in India and continue to feel despair for those who are ill and dying and for those grieving for loved ones. We pray for the urgent supplies India needs to arrive quickly. We pray for more oxygen, medicine and vaccines. May countries who have plenty be generous in their response to the crisis. Please bring the people of India some signs of improvement and some signs of hope.
God of love, friend to those who are tired,
even though we are moving out of crisis mode we know that many of our medics and nursing staff are exhausted after a year of Covid. Help those in the NHS who are weary and tired find rest and renewed enthusiasm for their work. There are also many members of our wider communities left with long covid symptoms, struggling with daily life. We ask for insightful research into the after effects of coronavirus and ways to help those who are finding it hard to return to normal life.
God of love, friend to those who are struggling,
as the country opens up and some of us move back to real life meetings or going out to work we are aware that there are many for whom the pandemic has brought profound change to their circumstances. We think of the people who have lost their jobs and faced financial hardship as a result. We ask for resilience in the face of such difficult times, perseverance as people seek new work and try to cope with the demands of everyday life and courage to face the challenges each new day brings.
God of love, friend of our friends,
thank you for the gift of friendship. Thank you for the people who bring fun and joy into our lives. Thank you for the warmth friends bring. Thank you that we can once again see those we love and enjoy their company. Despite the pain and struggle this year has wrought we thank you for the friends that have helped us, stuck by us, cheered us up, listened and sympathised and helped us cope. Bless our friends and help us to look to Jesus to learn how to deepen our friendships and live the life of love he modelled.
All I once held dear (Knowing You): Sing/ Read / pray /proclaim the words or listen to this version
Click on the Link: https://youtu.be/Merf00qcQik
The Lord's Prayer
Who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
A sending out prayer
Lord Jesus, we rejoice
that you have chosen us to be your friends.
Help us to be a friend to you by obeying your commands.
As we go out into your world,
help us to live a life that reflects your love,
by being a friend to others.