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notre dame montreal

Worship, prayer and Bible resources

Sixth Sunday of Easter - Year B

Liturgical Colour - White


Introduction

At the start of a wedding we often use the words from 1 John 4:16

'God is love and those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them'

These are beautiful words and they are important not just at weddings. They express the conviction that love and God are interchangeable terms. When we experience real love, then we experience God. Giving and receiving love are divine acts. When we share love with others we experience God, love makes God present. This is something which Jesus showed in his life as he loved people and encouraged us to love. 

It is love which lies at the heart of the universe, the power which holds all things together.

Opening Verses of Scripture Psalm 51:17

The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart He will not despise.
 

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Risen Christ, by the lakeside you renewed your call to your disciples: help your Church to obey your command and draw the nations to the fire of your love, to the glory of God the Father. Common Worship Shorter 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

God of mercy as we rejoice in the resurrection of your Son, the Bread of Life, feed us with your plenty and increase in us compassion for the hungry; 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.  Amen. Methodist Worship

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear that we to pray, and give more than either we desire or deserve. Pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, save through the merits and mediation of 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.   Methodist Worship
 

First Bible Reading    Acts 10:44-48

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Second Reading   1 John 5:1-6

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the one who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

Gospel Reading John 15:9-17

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other. 

 

Post Communion Sentence


God our Father, whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life: may we thirst for you, the spring of life and source of goodness, through him who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. . Amen

 

Commentary

In my sermon today I will invite you to focus on just a small part of the passage from the Gospel according to John. After Jesus has given his Great Command “love one another as I have loved you”, he goes on to exhort his followers that they should “bear much fruit”. The words continue the metaphor, begun at the start of chapter fifteen, of Jesus as the True Vine. In this imagery, Jesus was drawing upon the writings of the prophet Ezekiel (15:1-8). The language of the vine and the useless branches would thus have been familiar to Jesus’ listeners, but what is new is that Jesus identifies himself as the Vine, from which all life and fruitfulness stems. Scholars argue a great deal as to what that word “fruit” means. I have chosen to consider only one aspect of being fruitful Christians: of living out the Gospel in loving practical service to God and to our sister and brother humans. But we must note that we serve, not because it makes us feel good or to impress others, but because we are branches of the True Vine and because we depend on that Vine, our thoughts and actions do not glorify ourselves but Him. Being fruitful Christians is entirely rooted in being prayerfully dependent on the inspiration of God, in every aspect of our lives and work.
Coming as it does, straight after Jesus’ injunction to love one another, I take the phrase to mean that Jesus is warning us that love is not just about feeling, but acting upon that feeling. It is no good loving your child, if you don’t also feed it, clean it or relate to it. Love is what you do, not merely an emotional state. Jesus’ own ministry was a combination of healing, praying, teaching and serving. We must strive for a similar balance in our service to God. Joan Crossley 

Meditation


Julian of Norwich had a lot to say about love. Her book “Revelations of Divine Love” was based on her mystical experiences which began with a grave illness in 1373. She experienced a series of mystical “showings”, visions, which were later written down by her admirers. Her visions are of God’s surpassing love for us, and present a tender, intimate portrait of Jesus that many find profoundly moving. She lived in an anchorites cell, but seekers after spiritual guidance could come and consult her through a window. Her advice was always practical and pithy as well as deeply rooted in God’s word. In our time Julian’s words resonate with us, perhaps far better than they did in her own time, when the Church taught that God was prone to anger and inclined to punish. This is what she wrote: 'There is no wrath in God….It is the most impossible thing that can be that God would be angry, for wrath and friendship are two opposites.' Does it change your perception of God, if you view Him as a friend? Not as Lord, Master, Teacher, Saviour (although of course God is all these things too!) but seeing God as a friend brings Him very close to us indeed. Real friends are interested in the details of our lives, they do not mind sharing our darkest thoughts and are companions in our worst times. God wants to be that kind of friend to us, but we often distance God, by pushing him on to a throne far away. Joan Crossley


Hymns

Mine eyes have seen the glory
Give me joy in my heart
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
Lo, he comes with clouds descending

 

 

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

“O Fountain of Love, love Thou our friends and teach them to love thee with all their hearts, that they may think and speak and do only such things as are pleasing to thee. Though Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen   St Anselm

From Prayers from the Ark, the Ox’s prayer.
“Dear God, give me time. Men are always so driven! Make them understand that I can never hurry. Give me time to eat, Give me time to plod. Give me time to sleep. Give me time to think. Amen   Carmen Bernos de Gasztold

“O Saviour Christ, we beseech you, when the wind is boisterous and our faith weak, and we begin to sink although we wish to come to You. Stretch out Your hands, Lord, as you did to Your fearful disciple and say to the sea of our difficulties, “peace, be still”. Amen  Dean Vaughan

O Beauty, so ancient and so new! Late have I loved you though you were always with me. You call to my heart. You burst through my deafness. You scatter my blindness. I draw breath at your fragrance. My heart pants for you. My soul hungers for you. You touch me and I am consumed at the thought of your peace. St Augustine, 354-430

Loving God, when we grow weary, undisciplined or unexpectant and cease to pray, help us to see that prayer is not a burden or demand but your precious gift. Remind us of all who pray with us on earth and in heaven and of Jesus Christ our great High Priest, who ever lives to make intercession for us. Then with faith reawakened, hope restored and love renewed, turn us again to share in the ministry of prayer for the salvation of all people, for this is both our calling and your longing. Amen. Leo Osborn
  

Additional Material

Commentary

Self-Expression / Self-control
This week we were blessed with a visit from the Riding Lights Theatre Company, who performed a play called “Saving Grace”. The play cleverly interwove the “pilgrimage” of a writer to Wesley’s birth place in Lincolnshire, during the dark days of the Second World War, with scenes from the life of Wesley. There were many wonderful things about the play, but most striking for me was honest portrayal of Wesley’s character, based on the family’s letters and journals.
In an age such as our own where self-expression and self-fulfilment are almost seen as duties, it was extraordinary to be confronted by a man who strove so hard for self-discipline. We were shown that Wesley was strongly influenced in this self-dedication by his mother Susannah. All his life Wesley struggled to subdue his weaker side, to control any needs or desires which would imperil the work to which he had committed himself. Such determination to be better, to grow in self-control must command our respect.
By the end of the play, I found myself loving Wesley, because despite his best intentions, he remained, like each of us, a flawed individual. These lapses from perfection, far from spoiling Wesley’s image, make him endearingly fallible and human. Surely what is significant is that Wesley strove consistently to rise above his faults and that God chose not a perfect man, but a good man, to be His instrument. And that Wesley, through self-denial, study and prayer, did his best to keep the instrument of self fit for God’s purpose. Joan Crossley


Meditation

Grace
“The grace or love of God, whence cometh our salvation, is free in all, and free for all.... It is free in all to whom it is given. It does not depend on any power or merit in man; no, not in any degree, neither in whole, nor in part. It does not in anywise depend either on the good works or righteousness of the receiver; not on anything he has done, or anything he is. It does not depend on his endeavours. It does not depend on his good tempers, or good desires, or good purposes and intentions; for all these flow from the free grace of God; they are the streams only, not the fountain. They are the fruits of free grace, and not the root. They are not the cause, but the effects of it."   John Wesley

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

God of power, may the boldness of your Spirit transform us, may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us, and may the gifts of your Holy Spirit equip us to serve and worship you, now and always. Amen

I am no longer mine but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will: put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen

Govern all by your wisdom, O Lord, so that my soul may always be serving you as you will, and not as I may choose. Do not punish me, I beg you, by granting what I wish or ask if it offends your love which should always live in me. Let me die to myself, so that I may serve you; let me live for you, who in yourself are the true life. St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
 

Hymns

I've got Joy
Love divine, all loves excelling
Forth in thy name