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The Sixth Sunday of Easter

God is Love

 May 9, 2021

Morning Prayer and Meditation

A Meditation

 Last week, we were reminded that God is love by the author of the First Epistle of John. This week, we hear the same message from Jesus himself. “I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another,” Jesus says.

The trite image of a white God, with a flowing gray beard, floating in the clouds, is an immature and essentially useless way of looking at God. Through repetition, this God of the white beard has become a cliché. The question presents itself: “What am I to do with a god that looks like that?”

Jesus’ linking of God with love gets much closer to the existential truth at the center of our theology. And the practical observation becomes “who doesn’t need more love in their lives?” Who among us would say, “Oh, love. Well, I have all that I can use. Give it to someone else. I’m fine.”

Jesus knew the immensity of God, and he was also aware that what is lacking in our lives is the sense of being loved. The converse of love is hurt. We know what that looks and feel like. How often have we encountered (perhaps encountered that every person in our bathroom mirror first thing in the morning) someone who is broken in soul and spirit, and who can’t accept love even when it’s offered to them? Said from the other side, we know lonely and broken people with the capacity for love (and kindness, connection, and friendship), and they seem to push everyone away who might want to connect with them.

In a “what goes around comes around” fashion: something we all learned way back in Sunday school, “For God so loved the world, …” The world comprises that love. Open our hearts and capture all the love God is sending us.

Pastor Neil

OPENING ACCLAMATION

Celebrant    Alleluia! Christ is risen.

People        The Lord has risen indeed. Alleluia!

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.    Acts 1:8

 

SONG OF PRAISE (The Gloria)

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks,  we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Celebrant: Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Silence may be kept.

People:      Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Celebrant:             Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in
eternal life. Amen.

 

THE COLLECT OF THE DAY

 Celebrant             The Lord be with you.

People                 And also with you.

Celebrant    O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Reading from Acts at the 10th Chapter

To be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ

Reader        A Reading from Acts

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.

Reader        The Word of the Lord.

People         Thanks be to God.

 

Reader        From Psalm 98, said together, said responsively

 

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, and the peoples with equity.

 

  

The Epistle from First John, at the 5th Chapter

Whatever is born of God conquers the world

Reader        A Reading from First John

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

Reader        The Word of the Lord.

People         Thanks be to God.

 

The Gospel of John, at the 15th Chapter

I have called you friends

 Celebrant    The holy gospel according to John

People         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.

Celebrant    The Gospel of the Lord.

People        Thanks be to God.

Sermon                                                            Pastor Neil

 Response to the sermon:

Celebrant: Let us bless the Lord.

People: Thanks be to God.

 

THE NICENE CREED

 We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

 We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.  Amen.

 

Prayers of the People    

 Reader        In peace, we pray to you, Lord God—

Grant, Almighty God, that all who confess your name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Guide the people of this land, and of all nations, in the ways of justice and peace; that we may honor one another and serve the common good. Heal the rifts that bind, vex, and scare us. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Give us all a reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory. Heal the wounds of those who have been victimized by climate change and destruction. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Bless all whose lives are closely linked with ours, and grant that we may serve Christ in them, and love one another as he loves us. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give us purpose and hope in troubles, and bring us the joy of your salvation. Bestow courage upon those who look out at the world, and who wonder if there is a safe and gracious place for them. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We commend to your mercy all who have died, that your will for them may be fulfilled; and, we pray that we may share with all your saints in your eternal kingdom. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Silence to lift up our own prayers to God

 

Celebrant             Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage, we may always be supported by this community of fellowship of love and prayer. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

People         Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. Alleluia.

Celebrant    God of all power, Ruler of the Universe, you are worthy of glory and praise.

People         Glory to you for ever and ever.

Celebrant    At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.

People         By your will they were created and have their being.

Celebrant    From the primal elements you brought forth the human race, and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us the rulers of creation. But we turned against you, and betrayed your trust; and we turned against one another.

People        Have mercy, Lord, for we are sinners in your sight.

Celebrant Again and again, you called us to return to your fold. Through prophets and sages you revealed your righteous Law. And in the fullness of time you sent your only Son, born of a woman, to fulfill your Law, to open for us the way of freedom and peace.

People         By his blood, he reconciled us. By his wounds, we are healed.

Celebrant   And so, Father, we who have been redeemed by him, and
made a new people by water and the Spirit, now bring before you these gifts. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Celebrant   Lord God of our Ancestors: God of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar; Isaac and Rebekah; and Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, born to Mary, his mother, and watched over by Joseph, with a father’s care: Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Send now, we pray, your Holy Spirit, upon your redeemed and holy people, ☩ that we may bear fruit worthy of repentance.

People        Bless us to abound in hope, be filled with all joy and peace in believing, and receive our inheritance with all your saints in light. Amen.

Celebrant    And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to pray:

 

The Lord’s Prayer

People         Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

The General Thanksgiving

Celebrant and People

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Celebrant    Let us bless the Lord.
People        Thanks be to God.

The Blessing

Celebrant             Sisters and brothers, we go out into the world in peace. We live and walk as part of God’s beloved community. May God help us all to be of good courage, to hold on to what is good, and to return to no one an evil for an evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, aid the suffering, do justice and hope, honor all people, and let our gentleness be known by everyone. May God, who raised our Lord Jesus from death, lift us up and restore us to wholeness. And may God bless us all, ☩ in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Celebrant    Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Alleluia, Alleluia.

People         Thanks be to God. Alleluia, Alleluia.

MORE ABOUT THE ARTWORK ON THE FRONT OF THIS BULLETIN Imagine either having visited the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican or seeing photographs of the breathtaking frescoes painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling and walls. Now imagine seven glorious tapestries hanging beneath the ceiling paintings—gold and silver and all the colors of the rainbow—all along the lower chapel walls. Imagine how extraordinary they would be if they had been designed by the other grand Renaissance artist Raphael and woven in the finest tapestry workshop in the world. The photo below is how that would look.