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notre dame montreal

Worship, prayer and Bible resources

Fifth Sunday of Easter - Year B

Liturgical Colour - White


Introduction

How do we abide in Christ, and how do we know that Christ abides in us?

Our faith is often challenged and we might wonder whether God is close to us. The passage from John this week reminds us that Jesus makes a promise that he is with us and that we need never doubt that we are connected to the source of life, just as surely as a branch takes its source of strength and feeds from the trunk of the tree. Even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death God is with us, even if we find it hard to trust and believe. 

How can we be sure that we are truly rooted in Christ?

The evidence of our connection with Christ is clear, we bear fruit. Lives that are lived in the strength of God produce obedience to God's way and a demonstration in Christian living. There is nothing more mysterious than that. If we say we belong to Jesus, then our lives must be living examples of him.


Opening Verses of Scripture  1 John 4:7

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
 

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Risen Christ, your wounds declare your love for the world and the wonders of your risen life: give us compassion and courage to risk ourselves for those we serve. Common Worship Shorter Collect

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect; through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen   Common Worship

Eternal God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life: grant us to walk in his way, to rejoice in his truth and to share his risen life; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen. Methodist Worship

Loving and eternal God, through the resurrection of your Son, help us to face the future with courage and assurance, knowing that nothing in life or death can ever part us from your love for us in Jesus Christ our Saviour; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.   Methodist Worship

First Bible Reading    Acts 8:26-40

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road--the desert road--that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet.

The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture:  "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.  Who can speak of his descendants?  For his life was taken from the earth." The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?"

Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and travelled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea. 

Second Reading   1 John 4: 7-21

 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.


Gospel Reading John 15:1-8

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 

Post Communion Sentence

Eternal God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life: grant us to walk in his way, to rejoice in his truth, and to share his risen life; who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.  Amen
 

Commentary'

Live obediently and live in prayer’

How do we remain close to Christ as he calls us to do in the reading today? How do we remain or stay in union with Him? This is a question which many people often ask? We are told that it is love which unites the believer to Christ, as a branch is grafted to the vine. Often when people speak about their faith they complain they feel far from the love of God. If by love we mean the emotion which is often spoken of as 'being in love' then this is perhaps not surprising. However what John means by abiding in the love of Jesus is shown in verse 10
"If you obey my commands you will remain in my love"

It might seem disappointing to be told that the love of Christ is about obedience, but the two go very closely together. The effect of Christ's love is obedience from the believer. The example of this is found in verse 10 in the relationship which Jesus had with God the Father, "even as I have kept my Father's commandments"
Jesus remained in God's love by keeping the commandments and if this is how Jesus remained close to God - then this is how we must also seek to draw close to God.
This may all seem very mundane, but it is also reassuring. The love of God is continuous even when we feel that we are far from God. If we remain obedient then we will enjoy God’s love, it is not subject to the vagaries of life. So it was that Paul would have known the love of God when he was shipwrecked, Peter when he was imprisoned, Stephen when he was stoned to death. They all had something which was capable of carrying them through the emotional up's and downs of life, so that their faith was not tossed to and fro like a leaf on a pond. They had a faith which was built upon the rock of their obedience to God. Likewise, the difference between the wise man who built his house upon the rock and the foolish man who built his house upon the sand was obedience. Both men heard the word. This is not a parable about the believer and the unbeliever- both build houses. The difference is obedience. The wise man is obedient and so his faith works. The fool is not obedient. Our love is synonymous with obedience and if we are obedient, then we will begin to know the presence of God ever more deeply in our lives.
Surely is this not true of any human relationship? Is our love not shown in commitment irrespective of all else? Even when we think we feel more strongly for another we know that love does not follow such feelings. Instead we are obedient to the promise we have made and the commitment which has been promised.

Prayer is also important in this. Jesus says
‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.’
Jesus is saying that prayer is not asking God for things for ourselves. It is about being in fellowship with Christ and able to discern His will so that our will becomes one with the will of God. Charles Royden  

Meditation

Christian Aid Week is seven amazing days of fundraising, prayer and action against global poverty. Add your time, money and voice to Christian Aid Week, and see them multiplied to make an impact around the world through Christian Aid. You add. We multiply.

Thirsting for justice
In the month in which Christian Aid Week challenges us to renew our commitment to the poor, let us remind ourselves why we believe in life before death. Life in all its fullness means freedom to be and to grow, to make mistakes and to start again, which for Christians is symbolised by the baptismal gift of water ‘to cleanse and revive’ us. And yet millions of people in the developing world are denied this potential precisely because they die for lack of water. The knife-edge between life and death, which is the lot of so many people, is a recurring theme in the Old Testament, with its references to drought and famine, pestilence and disease. And it is a knife-edge that Jesus confronted. Aware of the fragility of life, after his baptism he heads straight to the desert to face death and to struggle with what it means to live. Here, in the dry heat and the parched lands, his journey of solidarity with the poor takes shape. And it reaches its climax in those stark words from the cross, ‘I thirst!’ Here he identifies with all those who long for life, who cry out for justice and beg for mercy. Their struggle is his. Their parched land is his. Their cracked earth is his. Their dry mouth is his.
But it is ours also. For in the waters of baptism we become one with Christ. When we respond to those who cry out in hunger and thirst, we respond to Christ into whose body we are baptised. When we plead the cause of the poor and needy, we acknowledge our oneness with those who suffer. When we rejoice with those who defy death, we proclaim our oneness in resurrection. Christian Aid Week gives us a chance to renew our commitment to the poor, and also to reflect on our baptism as we journey in solidarity with them. Annabel Shilson-Thomas

Prayer

Christ, whom we meet in bread and wine, in body broken and love outpoured, fill us with your compassion that we may hear the cries of the poor and challenge the satisfaction of the rich.
Engender in us a thirst for justice that our longings may turn to action and our actions lead to transformation. And nourish us with a vision of a world made whole that we may reach out to friend and stranger and work together to make all things new. Amen. Annabel Shilson-Thomas

Collect
God of every people and nation, who sent your only Son into the world so we might live through him;
grant that we, abiding in the love of Jesus, may so love our brothers and sisters throughout the world
that poverty may end, prejudice be overcome, and fear be cast out, through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


 

Hymns

  1. O worship the King, all glorious above

  2. He is Lord Tune Hanover 

  3. Thy ceaseless unexhausted love Tune University

  4. Come Holy Ghost our hearts inspire Tune Veni Creator

  5. Crown him with many crowns Tune Diademata
     

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayer encouragement in the Christian life

Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian,

if it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die

Prayers for Sunday and the Week Ahead

Lord Jesus, it is better to light one candle than to give up hope and curse the darkness. It is better to save one stranger from deportation and reunite one separated family, than it is to say it is not our problem and we can’t do much to help. It is better to join hands in one work of love than to sit on our hands and feel powerless. Lord, help us to love you in the stranger and the refugee. Help us to love ourselves enough to believe that we can change things for the better. Help us to love as you have loved us. Amen. Christian Aid

I saw a child today, Lord, who will not die tonight, harried into hunger’s grave. He was bright and full of life because his father has a job and he has food and water, but somewhere, everywhere, ten thousand life-lamps will go out and not be lit again tomorrow. Lord, teach me my sin. Amen.
An African Christian prayer Christian Aid Prayers for the drought in east Africa /05.06

We come before you Lord needing the love you alone can provide, and knowing that within you and by you and through you all that we need can be found. Pour out upon us today your grace and mercy - make your Spirit move strongly within us - that in our hearts their may be an abundance of your holy love and in our minds the fullness of your sacred word. Abide in us and with us and help us to abide in you as we proclaim your glory and seek your strength - both now, and indeed forevermore. Amen.


 

Additional Material

Commentary

The encounter between the Ethiopian traveller and Philip recounted in the reading from Acts, is a wonderful example of the collision of two cultures. Philip, a follower of the Lord Jesus from a Jewish background, met up with a high ranking financial advisor to the queen of the Ethiopians. Philip was just embarking upon what would be an exciting life of evangelism and travel, and this meeting, apparently a chance, one would kick-start him on his life’s work. In fact the life-changing meeting was ordained by God, as we are told that an angel decided the direction that Philip’s journey would take.

We have always tended to read the meeting from the perspective of what the Ethiopian learnt from Philip. Of course it was profoundly valuable for the Ethiopian, since it converted him to Christianity. But we can see that Philip too was changed by the stranger. Philip was challenged by the directness of the questions fired at him, and was forced to address deep questions about the faith. He might also have been thrown by the spontaneity and enthusiasm of the Ethiopian “here is water, why shouldn’t I been baptised here and now?”

The encounter reminds us of the experiences of the wonderful Missionary women and men who have gone out across the world to spread the name of Jesus. When they get home, they are frequently scathing of the legalistic and solemn approach to faith here. What matters is the love and faith of Jesus’ followers, not their ability to stick to traditions and formulas. As the Ethiopian challenged Philip, we must allow ourselves to be challenged by the people we encounter, perhaps children or those without faith, those who make us reassess the way that we conduct our mission and worship. Sometimes we must ask “why do we do this”, does this really advance the Kingdom or is it a rut that we have fallen into!   Revd Dr Joan Crossley

Meditation

As followers of Jesus we live in a relationship of love which we seek to share with others. This sharing of love is God's mission - our calling is to work in partnerships, based on trust and respect, offering mutual support. The nineteenth century idea that we should encourage people from other cultures to be just like us, the British, have now gone. The paternalistic model of mission abroad and at home has been replaced by one more mindful of the traditions of other societies and respectful of what is valuable within them. We now recognise that in giving to and interacting with mission partners, we are also fortunate recipients. St. Paul wrote to the Church in Rome: "I long to see you that I may impart some spiritual gift to make you strong - that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith." (Romans 1:11-12). So it is with the worldwide Church today - we have much to learn from each other and then to share with others.

Prayers

We pray, mighty God, for those who struggle that their life’s flickering flame may not be snuffed out. We pray for the poor and deprived, for those exploited by the powerful and greedy and for a more human sharing of the plenty you have given your world. Amen

Grant us, O Lord, the royalty of inward happiness; and the serenity which comes from living close to thee. Daily renew in us the sense of joy, and let the eternal Spirit dwell in our souls and bodies, filling every corner of our hearts with light and gladness, so that, bearing about with us the infection of a good courage we may be diffusers of life and meet all that comes, of good or evil, even death itself, with gallant and high hearted happiness, giving these thanks always for all things. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Jesus our healer, we place into your gentle hands those who are sick. Ease their pain and heal the damage done to them in body, mind or spirit. Be present to them through the support of friends and in their care of doctors and nurses, and fill them with the warmth of your love now and always. Amen

Eternal God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life: grant us to walk in his way, to rejoice in his truth and to share his risen life; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Loving and eternal God, through the resurrection of your Son, help us to face the future with courage and assurance, knowing that nothing in life or death can ever part us from your love for us in Jesus Christ our Saviour; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Hymns

  1. Ye servants of God

  2. He’s got the whole wide world

  3. What a friend we have in Jesus

  4. Take my life and let it be

  5. Thine be the Glory