Welcome to our seventh online Sunday worship offering with some lovely hymns, an anthem sung by two members of our choir, our Gospel reading, a reflection from Jane, our Vicar, related intercessions and of course, the weekly notices. It takes about half an hour to go through it so find a quiet time and place and enjoy it.
Alleluia, Christ is risen; He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
The Prayer for today [Collect]:
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
Our opening Hymn: Today is Rogation Sunday when the Church has traditionally given thanks for the beauty and bounty of our earth and prayers are offered for a good harvest. O Lord, My God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works Thy hand hath made.
Our Gospel Reading: John 14: 15-21. The Promise of the Holy Spirit
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Hymn: Alleluia, Sing to Jesus
A Reflection: from Rev Jane Cresswell.
I chose this picture of a beautiful local Taplow landscape and landmark because today is Rogation Sunday when people traditionally walked the bounds of the parish. A custom not so much followed today, but perhaps one we might adapt to the current situation by praying systematically for the protection and wellbeing of different areas of our parish – the village itself, Taplow Riverside, those who live along and across the Bath Road, as well as those amongst our worshipping community who live outside the parish. And perhaps as we walk around the local area during daily exercise we might pause to pray for those who live in each road we cross or walk along as well as noticing and thanking God for the beauty in which we are privileged to live.
We don’t yet know when we will be able to gather together again as a worshipping community and the uncertainty is unsettling making separation harder. Jesus first disciples were going to find it hard when he left them and so he reassures them again in today’s gospel passage with the promise of the Holy Spirit.
In the reworking of today’s gospel (below), Stephen Wright invites us to imagine Jesus speaking directly to us amongst his disciples, reminding us not to despair because we are not alone.
“We’ve been really close, you and me. I know that you love me: well, the way that you can go on showing that you really love me is not to collapse in despair when I’ve been killed, but to go on keeping my way – the Jesus way you’ve all been learning. And you know what? You won’t be on your own. I’ve supported you and stuck up for you and stood by you for the last three years as I’ve tried to show you the way – though you’ve tested my patience at times! Well, I’m praying to God that there’ll be no break in that support. Although I won’t be around, I’m asking God to give you his own Spirit, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit who keeps us grounded in the reality of God’s awesome holiness and love.
He’ll be your new supporter. And don’t worry. He’s no stranger to you. Actually, you know him well already, because he’s been in me. Now he’s going to be in you! Unfortunately, you can’t expect that the world at large will recognise this, or come on to your side, because at the moment it seems to be set against him, just as on the whole, it has been set against me.
But the thing is that you won’t be bereft, like children without parents, or refugees without a defence lawyer. In fact, God is going to make sure that the handover from one advocate to another is as smooth as possible. Because after I’ve died you’ll see me again. You’ll realise that I’m not dead anymore, in the only sense that matters. And that means you won’t feel abandoned. In fact, your life will grow stronger and you will gain in confidence, not lose it. Because I live, you also will live!
When that happens, things will at last fall into place for you. You’ll see that I’ve brought you into that same amazing intimate relationship with God that I’ve always had myself, brought you into a place where you are safe and utterly supported, no matter how much you are betrayed by circumstances or people or even your own foolishness.
Yes, I won’t be walking around on earth in the old way anymore, after tomorrow. But my death will be the gateway to new life, for me and for you. And I will have many ways of showing myself. Sometimes in special dreams or visions, but more often, I expect, in the glint of others’ eyes, or in a strange and unexpected turn of events, or in a puzzle falling into place …
Yes, I’ll show myself, your old advocate, still the same, 100 percent on your side, whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, whatever you will do. And God’s own Spirit, who has been in me will be in you.”
Anthem: The Father’s Love. [Simon Lole]
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, Remain in my love. This is my commandment: that ye love one another, As I have loved you. God is love, and those who live in love, God lives in them. To remain in my love, as I have loved you, Then your joy will be complete. ( John: 15 9-11 )
Our Intercessions for Today
A prayer for Rogationtide:
Loving God, teach us your children how to love your world so that we are careful stewards of your creation. On this Sunday when we remember especially the countryside and all who work there; we pray for farmers, growers, all who tend the livestock and all who by their labour here and in every place, bring food to us. Bless their endeavours, and their crops. May we value their work and not merely seek cheap food at their cost. We pray also for those who will go hungry or thirsty today. May they be filled, and may we do what we can to make sure that their needs are met.
Lord hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.
A Prayer related to today’s Gospel
Loving God, may your Spirit of Truth shine in our hearts and minds that we may keep and declare your commandment to love one another as we love you.
Bless those in authority and lead them into the way of truth, that all nations may be healed and your praise declared to the ends of the earth.
With the eyes of faith, may we see Christ in our families, our friends and neighbours and all who we meet…Help us to live as He has commanded, to know his love and to be channels of the Spirit in our community.
Wrap in the arms of your love, those who have no comfort, the lonely, the sick and the suffering and those who feel themselves to be without a guide.
We give thanks for those we know who have sought to live by the truth in this world and are now brought to truth in its fullness to be your children in the light of heaven.
Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us.
A prayer related to the pandemic Loving God, we pray: For the health workers tending the seriously ill for the scientists working on a vaccination for the researchers analysing data and identifying trends for the media outlets working to communicate reality for the supermarket workers, hygiene and sanitation providers for the good news stories of recoveries and effective planning for the singing from balconies by locked-down communities for the recognition that isolation doesn’t need to mean loneliness for the notes through letterboxes offering help and support for the internet and telephones and technology that connects for the awakened appreciation of what is truly important Thanks be to God. For those who are unwell and concerned for loved ones for those who were already very anxious for those immune suppressed or compromised for those vulnerable because of underlying conditions for those in the ‘most at risk to coronavirus’ categories for those watching their entire income stream dry up for those who have no choice but to go out to work for those who are afraid to be at home for those who are more lonely than they've ever been for those who are bereaved and grieving. God be their healer, comfort and protection, be their strength, shield and provision be their security, safety and close companion And raise up your Church to be your well-washed hands and faithful feet to be present to the pain to respond with love in action if even from a safe distance.
Lord hear us, Lord, graciously hear us.
A prayer for the end of Christian Aid Week
Loving God, we thank you for the vision of Christian Aid to end poverty and bring justice to all people. We pray that in this difficult year when the demands on Christian Aid are greater than ever, ways are found to resource your work wherever it is needed around the world. In the words of the Christian Aid prayer:
God of the impossible, we pray for justice, peace and reconciliation. And when the challenges seem too many, remind us of your resurrection power, and the miracles of your love that happen whenever injustice is dismantled and rebuilt with peace. Help us to hope that the impossible can happen and live as if it might do so today.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
Hymn: Come Thou Holy Spirit, Come
Notices for this Week:
- 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). Today, Revd Canon Sue Booys, Recotr of Dorchester Abbey is leading the service and the Very Revd. Prof. Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, will deliver the sermon (he is always well worth hearing!).
- 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 for a chat and a short service, just drop Jim a line on firstname.lastname@example.org and he will send you the link.
- Ascension Day: Next Thursday (21st) is Ascension Day and there will be a special, short worship offering with music, the Gospel Reading, a reflection from Jane and prayers, on our website from first thing in the morning. Do find time to use it. There is also a Diocesan streamed Ascension Day service at 8:15pm (after the clapping!) on Thursday. Details will be published at oxford.anglican.org/livestream
- Thy Kingdom Come: This global prayer movement invites Christians around the world to pray between Ascension Day (21 May) and Pentecost (31 May) for more people to embrace Christianity. This year, there is an exciting eleven day online programme of prayers, reflections and music. If you haven’t got the booklet (Novena), go to the Thy Kingdom Come website for all the resources.
- 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.
- 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.
- As the song puts it “Let us go back to church”! In terms of using our church building for worship once again, the Diocese is clear that this is still some way off. It appears that the first stage of opening is likely to be for personal prayer rather than corporate worship and quite a bit needs to be done to set this up before even this can happen. So for the time being, do continue to come online for our worship offerings and do feel free to inter-act with it using the ‘comments’ section.
Best wishes for this week.
Spirit of Truth and Light, Hover over the chaos and make new this world. Rest on us and change us: Give us peace that we may share it gladly, And give us your blessing that we may hear your voice And do your will, this day and always. AMEN
Final Hymn: I the Lord of Sea and Sky
A Poetic Final Voluntary! When this is over, May we never again take for granted A handshake with a stranger Full shelves at the shops Conversations with neighbours A crowded theatre Friday night out The taste of Communion A routine checkup The school rush each morning Coffee with a friend The stadium roaring Each deep breath A boring Tuesday Life itself. When this ends, May we find that we have become More like the people we wanted to be, We were called to be, We hoped to be And may we stay that way - Better for each other because of the worst. [Laura Kelly Fanucci]