Our Worship for 5th Sunday of Easter (10th May): Christian Aid Sunday

This is the beginning of Christian Aid week and our worship links our bible readings to the work of Christian Aid which is, of course, under severe strain at the present time. You will need a quiet place and about half an hour to enjoy the music, readings, reflection, videos and prayers in our ‘service’ for today.

Jesus is risen, Alleluia. He is risen indeed, Alleluia

Hymn: How sweet the name of Jesus sounds

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
  In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
  And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
  And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
  And to the weary rest.

Dear Name! the Rock on which I build;
  My shield and hiding-place;
My never-failing treasury, filled
  With boundless stores of grace.

Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
  My Prophet, Priest, and King;
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
  Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
  And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
  I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
  With every fleeting breath;
And may the music of thy Name
  Refresh my soul in death.

First Reading: Psalm 31; Prayer and Praise for Deliverance from Enemies. You can play the Psalm and follow the words.

  1. IN THEE, O Lord, have I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion, deliver me in thy righteousness.
  2. Bow down thine ear to me: make haste to deliver me.
  3. And be thou my strong rock, and house of defence: that thou mayest save me.
  4. For thou art my strong rock, and my castle: be thou also my guide, and lead me for thy Name’s sake.
  5. Draw me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.
  6. Into thy hands I commend my spirit: for thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, thou God of truth.
  7. I have hated them that hold of superstitious vanities: and my trust hath been in the Lord.
  8. I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble, and hast known my soul in adversities.
  9. Thou hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: but hast set my feet in a large room.
  10. Have mercy upon me, O Lord , for I am in trouble: and mine eye is consumed for very heaviness; yea, my soul and my body.
  11. For my life is waxen old with heaviness: and my years with mourning.
  12. My strength faileth me, because of mine iniquity: and my bones are consumed.
  13. I became a reproof among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours: and they of mine acquaintance were afraid of me; and they that did see me without conveyed themselves from me.
  14. I am clean forgotten, as a dead man out of mind: I am become like a broken vessel.
  15. For I have heard the blasphemy of the multitude: and fear is on every side, while they conspire together against me, and take their counsel to take away my life.
  16. But my hope hath been in thee, O Lord: I have said, Thou art my God.
  17. My time is in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of mine enemies: and from them that persecute me.
  18. Shew thy servant the light of thy countenance: and save me for thy mercy’s sake.
  19. Let me not be confounded, O Lord, for I have called upon thee: let the ungodly be put to confusion, and be put to silence in the grave.
  20. Let the lying lips be put to silence: which cruelly, disdainfully, and despitefully, speak against the righteous.
  21. O how plentiful is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee: and that thou hast prepared for them that put their trust in thee, even before the sons of men!
  22. Thou shalt hide them privily by thine own presence from the provoking of all men: thou shalt keep them secretly in thy tabernacle from the strife of tongues.
  23. Thanks be to the Lord: for he hath shewed me marvellous great kindness in a strong city.
  24. And when I made haste, I said: I am cast out of the sight of thine eyes.
  25. Nevertheless, thou heardest the voice of my prayer: when I cried unto thee.
  26. O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth them that are faithful, and plenteously rewardeth the proud doer.
  27. Be strong, and he shall establish your heart: all ye that put your trust in the Lord.
  28. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.
  29. As hit was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.

Gospel Reading: John 14: 1-14. Jesus: the Way to the Father. You can follow the dramatised reading or simply read the Gospel below.

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’

Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’

Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

Hymn: Ye that know the Lord is gracious

A Reflection: from Rev. Jane Cresswell. First, watch the video called ‘Florence’s Story’ then read the reflection.

I wonder if you, like me, were moved and inspired by the video clip of Florence in Kenya?  Facing great suffering and hardships, she nonetheless showed such resilience and joy. In these exceptional days of the Coronavirus global pandemic, maybe we in the west begin to understand our own need to wait on God for the strength and courage we might otherwise find it difficult to summon.

The psalms have always expressed the whole gamut of human emotion.   Psalm 31, set for today, expresses many of the honest emotions of grief and lament different people are currently experiencing.  And there is something very honest about these prayers of lament which tell God how things really are.  They remind us that God is interested in our physical suffering and our bodily wellbeing.

The psalmist prays for the refuge and fortress of God to protect us and for deliverance from that which is hidden and invisible to us but would threaten our very lives.

God, incline your ear to us; rescue us speedily. Be a rock of refuge for us,  a strong fortress to save us. In your mercy, hear our prayer.

For the past six weeks we have had to retreat to the fortress of our homes, and perhaps this gives us the opportunity to gain a new understanding of God as our fortress, our place of safety and security in this time of trial.  But God is not a fortress that barricades, but rather one that strengthens and enables us to look out for our most vulnerable neighbours both near and far.

Christian Aid week has always been about how we can be good to our global neighbours.  And asking ourselves how we can extend the love of God that never fails to our neighbours near and far is particularly important this year.

The world’s poorest people are the most vulnerable in the present crisis.  They are less resilient physically, have less access to healthcare and will be less able to weather the economic impact.  Christian Aid has stood alongside them for the past 75 years and will continue to do so now.  We may not be able to fundraise or collect for Christian Aid as we normally would, but we can show our love for our vulnerable neighbours by giving at www.caweek.org/payin

In today’s gospel Jesus offers hope and reassurance to his disciples facing bereavement and that will resonate particularly with those who have lost loved ones in recent weeks and months.  Christian Aid has always believed in life before death and so these words challenge and inspire us in this rather different Christian Aid week. 

As those in more cramped accommodation may find themselves falling over one another and struggling to find their own space whilst confined to home, the spaciousness of the Father’s house with many dwelling places may sound appealing!  For others struggling with the loneliness of enforced isolation, it offers the equally attractive possibility of companionship.

Jesus often uses the word we translate as “dwell” when he talks of his relationship with his Father and whilst our church buildings are empty and closed we have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of what it means for us to dwell in the Father’s presence and to know God’s spirit dwelling in us.  The gospel invites us to spend time dwelling the presence of God and to not let our hearts be troubled.  Our homes can become for us a place of spiritual retreat and when we are finally allowed to go out and mingle, we can still carry this dwelling place in our hearts wherever we go.

Be still and know that I am God

Dwelling in the presence of God, we find fresh joy and hope and strength and discover afresh that Jesus is not only the way but the destination, that his presence embodies truth, and that knowing him brings life … remembering back to last week’s gospel … life in abundance.

Anthem: Beati Quorum Via. C V Stanford

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord

Our Prayers for Today

Click the link below to hear the prayers and you can follow the words below.

Christian Aid has been alleviating suffering around the world for over seventy years.

A Christian Aid Week prayer from 1958

O Holy Spirit of love, quicken our imaginations that we may feel more deeply for the needs of others as we put ourselves in their place. Give us hearts of self-forgetting compassion which will move us to give from that which you have given us, and to be good neighbours to those both near and far, for the sake of him who taught us that it is more blessed to give than receive, even Jesus our Lord.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

A Christian Aid Week prayer for Today

O God, our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble, we pray for all those who, in the midst of this global pandemic, cannot stay at home but are forced to flee and face uncertain and frightening futures.  We pray for the partners of Christian Aid working with refugees across Europe and the Middle East.  We pray for peaceful resolutions in places of conflict around the world and that governments may make wise, compassionate decisions to protect refugees.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

A Prayer for Ourselves

O Lord, our current situation has brought into sharp focus our inter-dependence on each other.  You are the Way, the Truth and the Life.  May your presence in our hearts and minds enable us to care for those around us, to do what we can to alleviate the suffering of those worse off than ourselves, to acknowledge all that we can be thankful for and to learn from what we are going through in order to play our part in building your Kingdom here on earth.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

A 60th anniversary Prayer of Thanksgiving for Christian Aid

As a diamond catches the light and refracts it into a kaleidoscope of colours, we give thanks, O God, for the myriad acts of kindness, generosity and love over six decades of Christian Aid Week. 

  • For the willingness of collectors
  • For the generosity of neighbours
  • For the donation of cakes, books and works of art for the concerts, recitals and dramatic performances
  • For the walks, cycles and sponsored swims
  • For the bowls of soup, pots of coffee and cups of tea
  • For the posters, bunting and banners displayed
  • For the heads and hearts that have been changed
  • For the prayers spoken and campaign postcards signed
  • For the acts of worship and stories shared
  • For the calls for justice challenging the causes of poverty
  • For the millions of envelopes, weighted with coins or light with notes and for the cheques and the texts to donate. 

For all these things, we give you thanks and most of all, we give thanks for the millions of lives transformed so that together we may all flourish. Amen. 

Hymn: Fight the Good Fight

Fight the good fight with all thy might!
Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.
2
Run the straight race through God’s good grace,
Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face;
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.
3
Cast care aside, lean on thy Guide;
His boundless mercy will provide;
Trust, and thy trusting soul shall prove
Christ is its life, and Christ its love.
4
Faint not nor fear, His arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear;
Only believe, and thou shalt see
That Christ is all in all to thee.

Notices for this Week

  1. If you would like to participate in a Eucharistic ‘Virtual Service’, we can recommend streaming either the Diocese of Oxford ‘Church at Home’ service at 10:00am at oxford.anglican.org/livestream  (You can also download the order of service) or visit the St Martin-in-the-fields website for both a Sunday Morning (10:00am) service and also daily Morning Prayer.
  2. Wednesday Compline: This weekly service led by Jane and Suzanne continues on Zoom: 8:45 for 9:00pm and it lasts about 20 minutes. If you would like to join us next Wednesday, just drop Jim a line on oliverjim1@sky.com and he will send you the link.
  3. 2.6 Challenge: Our efforts have raised around £250 to date and we will know the give.net figure later this month. Thank you to all who participated.
  4. Offerings/Donations: Our urgent need to increase our funding continues as our weekly offerings are significantly reduced without our church services. If you haven’t reviewed your stewardship in a while, please might you consider doing so this month? If you don’t regularly contribute to St Nicolas Church, might you make a donation today? Please click this link to donate now. Thank you.
  5. Action on Coronavirus: If you are aware of anyone who especially needs our prayers or perhaps some contact with Jane or Suzanne, please don’t hesitate to email Jane.

Blessing:

May the blessing of the Lord rest and remain upon all his people, of every race and language; may the Lord meet in mercy all who seek him; may the lord comfort with tenderness all who suffer and mourn; and may the Lord hasten his coming, and give us the blessing of peace.

Si Ya Hamba: we end our worship today with a wonderful recording of Si Ya Hamba – We are marching in the light of God. Have a good week everyone.

We are marching in the light of God. We are living in the Love of God.

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