As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will to seek post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer
Sunday 16th May 2020
'Sacrifice motivated by love'
CALL TO WORSHIP
Jesus said “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.
source of life and giver of love,
we praise you for all that you are.
With all creation we praise you,
the one who gives us life.
With all creation we sing your song,
the song of hope and celebration.
we rejoice that you are not a distant,
but have revealed yourself
in your Son Jesus Christ,
and poured out your love upon the world
inviting us to share the life you offer
for all you have done for us,
for all your love, mercy and joy,
what have we to show to you?
We are too quick to anger.
We are too slow to share grace.
We are too ready to judge.
We are too reluctant to welcome.
when our lives do not proclaim your love
Give us the time we need to amend our ways and experience your grace.
> silence to reflect on the shortcomings of the past week.
God of encounter,
of conversation and of conversion,
As we gather in this place of prayer,
we bring you our anxiety:
open our minds to receive your peace.
We bring you our longing:
open our ears to hear your word.
We bring you our wounds:
open our hearts to receive your healing.
We bring you our future:
open our lives to hear your call.
This we pray in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour
15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever. 17This 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 inc you.
18 ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They 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.’
Although it is almost 10 years ago since it happened, most of us will remember the disaster that hit Fukushima in Japan in 2011. The nuclear power plant was overwhelmed when it was struck by an earthquake and the tsunami which followed. Three nuclear reactors melted when the plant’s cooling system was destroyed. The disaster caused untold misery. 154,000 residents were evacuated. The clean up is still continuing today with about 4000 workers on the site.
What is less well known is what happened in the immediate aftermath. The power company were finding it difficult to recruit people to work on the site. And a group of Japanese pensioners volunteered to rebuild the cooling system at the plant. This group of volunteers called themselves the Skilled Veteran’s Corps. They set up a web-site and recruited 180 members, aged 54 to 78. These members included construction workers, welders, crane and bulldozer operators, former members of the Japanese Self Defence forces and engineers as well as retired academics.
The Skilled Veteran’s Corps argued that it was clear that human activity was essential if the plant is to be made safe. However the place was already severely contaminated. And they did not wish to see young people endangering their lives and health by exposing themselves to potentially deadly levels of radiation. Instead they volunteered to carry out this dangerous task. They argued that as their generation, consciously or unconsciously approved the construction of the Fukushima nuclear power plants and enjoyed the benefits of vast supplies of electricity, they should be given priority when it came to repairing the plant.
A year later the group were still waiting for permission to enter the plant and despite international pressure, that permission was never forthcoming. But that does not detract from the willingness of the Skilled Veteran’s Corps to take over the hazardous work at Fukushima to protect others.
Over the last weeks and months we have seen a similar willingness on the part of our NHS and care home staff. Day after day many of them have put their own lives on the line as they have entered wards to care for those suffering from corona virus. In doing so they display tremendous courage and selflessness.
And each time I hear stories like this I am reminded of Jesus words “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. Those words are perhaps some of the best known words in the Bible. Sadly we tend to encounter these words most often in the context of war. But in the bible they are found in a speech about love.
The author of John’s Gospel after many years of prayer and reflection on Jesus life and death pulls together into a farewell speech many of the things Jesus said. In that Gospel we read of Jesus gathering with this disciples around the table the night before he dies. And he tells them at great length what he wants them to know, what he needs them to know - about who he is, about what he has done, about what he will yet do, and about what he is calling them to do after he is physically gone. And this knowledge Jesus shares with his friends for one reason only. And that is love.
At the heart of the Christian Gospel is a message of love. In the Bble we encounter the God of love – the living God whom Jesus calls Father, the God who in Jesus Christ lays down his life for the life of the world. And God’s love for the world has a purpose. And that purpose is to make God’s way of love a reality in the world. To that end God’s love is at work transforming us and our relationships with God and with one another.
Love one another as I have loved you commands Jesus. That was a tall order even for the first disciples. Surely Jesus recognised that. We might wonder how, when Jesus is gone, the disciples will have the patience to cope with all the questions that Thomas has? Will James and John get up to their old tricks putting on airs and graces, pretending that they are better than the rest? How will Peter manage his jealousy of the beloved disciple? Is that why Jesus lays such a stress on love – in that short portion of his farewell speech that we read together earlier the word love appears no less than 9 times in 8 verses.
The disciples are going to need to be rooted and disciplined in love, more than that, they will need to allow themselves to be transformed by love if they are going to be able to live at peace with one another, to cope with one another let alone all those who will be added to their number, as the Church begins to grow and bear fruit as Jesus has promised it will. Did you know that the word believe originally meant live by. Believing is not just something we do with our heads. To believe in Jesus is to live his way.
Love one another as he has loved us…
Dear Lord and Father of mankind
PRAYER FOR OTHERS
We lift before you in prayer
our nation in all its parts
At this difficult time
We pray for those in government
Those who advise them
Those who uphold
our legal and justice systems
Those who are involved
in the provision of health and social care.
Those taking small steps back to work
And those who have worked throughout lockdown
To provide for our essential needs
From food supply to refuse collection.
In you we live and move and have our being:
we lift up to you
a nation in need.
We lift before you in prayer
those for whom we want to pray this day:
The sick, the grieving, the anxious
the ones we love, the names you know,
the people known to us in our hearts...
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. You will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.
The deep peace of the powerful wave be with you,
The deep peace of the air that moves be with you,
The deep peace of the water that flows be with you,
The deep peace of the silent land be with you,
The deep peace of the shining stars be with you,
The deep peace of the Creator,
Redeemer and the Spirit of Peace be with you.
Until there is clear guidance about the lockdown can be eased and public gatherings held in safety, the church building continues to be closed. In the meantime, we have moved online
Tuesday evening @ 7.00 pm, Fellowship Group (Chat & informal Bible study)
Thursday morning @ 11.00 am, Coffee & Chat
Sunday Evening @ 7.00 pm, An evening service with responses.
Please contact Sean for a link to these activties