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Worship, Prayer and Bible study resources for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Year C, Colour = White or Gold


Introduction

My peace I leave with you….
In this morning’s passage from the Gospel according to John we hear an extract from the long speech of farewell which Jesus makes to his disciples. In these last hours before he leaves them forever, Jesus reels off powerful words of hope, of exhortation and empowerment. Gone is the playful Jesus. The words spoken by Jesus now would mean the difference between spiritual life or death for his followers, both then and through the centuries. To help them remember them clearly Jesus spoke in short staccato sentences, with key phrases repeated several times.
What are they to remember in the dark and confusing times when Jesus has gone? They are to remember that the way to God is through obeying Jesus’ teaching on love. They are to remain faithful to that teaching. They are to remember that God will remain with them through the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor . They are promised the gift of peace.

Opening Verse of Scripture    Ephesians Chapter 1:3

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Collect Prayer for the Day—Before we read we pray

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. Common Worship

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

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. Methodist Worship  

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than 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 16 v 9 – 15

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. From there we travelled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.

Second Reading  Revelation Chapter 21:10, 22- 22:5

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Gospel Reading   John 14:23-29

Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe."

Post Communion Prayer

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

The Presence of God
In the reading from Acts we see that Luke now joins Paul in his travels (‘we got ready at once’) and together they start the expansion of the gospel mission to Europe by coming over to Macedonia.  Paul’s normal practice was to visit a synagogue when he first arrived in a new location, where a quorum of ten men was required for prayer and worship.  In Philippi Paul expects to find such a venue by the river but rather than finding a synagogue with ten men, he finds an informal gathering of gentile women in what appears to be an group meeting for prayer.  One of the women who listened to Paul was a believer called Lydia, a dealer in purple cloths, a merchant, someone who is relatively wealthy and, for a woman, someone who is probably reasonably positioned in society. It would appear Lydia and the other women with her were worshippers of God, non Jews who had embraced something of the Jewish faith but had not converted fully to Judaism.  These God Fearers, as they were known, were Gentiles who had adopted components of the Jewish faith, such as its code of morality, and in all probability attended synagogue services.  They remained a gentile community and, in general, had no desire to submit in full to all the Jewish rituals and regulations, such as Sabbath observance and circumcision.  Such practices remained largely unattractive to Gentile believers but because they restricted themselves to only specific points of the ceremonial law, they were not only regarded as a gentile community, they were seen as outsiders by the broader Jewish community.  When Paul comes and speaks to the group of women its perhaps not surprising that his message of an invitation to a relationship with God through salvation in Christ, without the harsh constraints of the Jewish religion, falls on receptive ears. Lydia responds to Paul’s message and invited Paul and Luke to stay in her household.  Whatever she may have believed and practiced before, she becomes a convert to the Christian religion.  No longer would Lydia be on the outside looking in on her religion.  The relationship she could now enjoy with God, her religion and her spirituality would be at the very core of her being.  God Himself was a reality to her.  The signs of religious observance had been transformed by the reality and presence of God in her life.  Moreover, it’s clear that many of the communities and individuals known as God Fearers were to become a critical group in the development, growth and expansion of the early church.  Lydia’s conversion was no one off experience many others with similar beliefs and backgrounds would convert to the Christian faith.

We need to be clear.  This was not a case of Lydia being convinced by Paul’s slick rhetoric, as gifted a public speaker as he was.  Whilst not being a great diplomat, Paul may have made a great politician and convincing argument was his stock in trade.  But we are clearly told that it wasn’t that Lydia was convinced by Paul’s arguments, but that God opened Lydia’s heart to respond to what she was hearing from Paul.  The Holy Spirit which Jesus speaks about in John was in action.  Similarly we need not be concerned about our own powers of persuasion and debate when we are speaking to others about God, we simply need to be able to explain our faith in understandable and cogent terms and let the Holy Spirit open the hearts of those to whom we speak so that they too can respond in the same manner as Lydia and God can become a reality for them. 

The reading from Revelation speaks about a new heaven and a new earth, the city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.  And it’s a Jerusalem without the Temple – a statement of huge significance.  The Temple, and before that the tent of the Tabernacle, had for generations been the sign of God’s presence with His people.  Now there is no need for a sign as God Almighty and the Lamb are there, the sign has given way and been replaced by the reality.  The access to the tree of life, which had been denied from the fall onwards, has now been reinstated.  Humanity will never again be remote from the reality of God.  In John’s Gospel too, Jesus asks His followers to obey His teaching. To make God present for others as He has done for His followers whilst on earth. 

Sometimes with all the paraphernalia of our religions we can get caught up in the outward signs which represent God and the salvation that was brought by the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus.  Many can get enchanted by the beguiling attraction of the signs and power of the Holy Spirit which enables us to live our daily lives.  These outward signs and symbols can be very helpful and assist us in understanding who God is and what He has done for us.  Help us understand the power and majesty of a saviour who is fully God yet fully human.  Ultimately however, what really matters is the inward reality of God in our lives and the lives of others.  How we experience God day by day as we seek to be transformed ourselves and through us allow God to transform the world as Lydia and many of the God Fearers around her came to understand.
Sam Cappleman

 

Meditation

Honesty and integrity are highly prized. We’re often challenged to ‘keep our word’, to follow through on the things to which we have committed. In John’s gospel the command is not to ‘keep our word’ but to ’keep God’s word’. To obey God’s teaching as exemplified by Christ. To enable us to do this Jesus then promises the Holy Spirit, a divine indwelling through which we are re-created as people able to live and love as Jesus himself did. As God’s new creations we are imbued with an inner power, hope and confidence which enables us to live out that life which reflects the glory of God in the world and demonstrates His love and peace for all people. Jesus knows that to do so will involve stepping out in faith, speaking out when sometimes we’d prefer to keep quiet and say nothing. That’s why He also reminds the disciples that they have no need to fear, God will be with them, and as they live out their lives in obedience to Him, so they will know the peace that only God can bring. We do not know what turbulent times there may be in the future, both in this country and abroad, but we do know that Jesus has promised His Holy Spirit to His obedient people that they may know the peace that only He can bring.

'Love Separates the saints from the world' St Augustine

Hymns

  • Come down O love divine,
  • Fear not, rejoice and be glad
  • Breathe on me breath of God
  • Meekness and majesty
  • Christ triumphant, ever reigning

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

representation of prayer as seed growing

"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."

Lord Jesus, as God’s Spirit came down and rested upon you, may the same Spirit rest upon us, bestowing his sevenfold gifts. First grant us the gift of understanding, by which your precepts may enlighten our minds. Second grant us counsel, by which we may follow in your footsteps on the path of righteousness. Third, grant us courage, by which we may ward off the enemy’s attacks. Fourth, grant us knowledge, by which we can distinguish good from evil. Fifth grant us piety by which we may acquire compassionate hearts. Sixth, grant us fear, by which we may draw back from evil and submit to what is good. Seventh, grant us wisdom, that we may taste fully the life giving sweetness of your love. Amen (Bonaventura (1217-74)

God, hold our brokenness gently in the shelter of your hand. Amen Take, Lord, and receive my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will, everything I have and call my own. You gave me all this gifts and to you I return them. Dispose of them entirely according to your will. Give m only your love and your grace. (Ignatius of Loyola)

God of glory, as you made yourself present in the person of Your Son, grant that we, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, may be your presence and glory in the world, that through you and obedience to your precepts all nations would know your lasting peace and hope.  Amen

All shall be Amen and Alleluia.  We shall rest and we shall see, we shall see and we shall know, we shall know and we shall love, we shall love and we shall praise.  Behold our end which is no end.  Amen       St Augustine

At Easter we rejoice in the salvation of the world.  Christ is risen; let us arise in him!  Christ enters new life; let us live in him!  Christ has come forth from the tomb; Let us shake off the fetters of evil!  The gates of hell are open, the powers of evil are overcome!  In Christ a new creation is coming to birth, Alleluia! Lord make us new, Alleluia!  Amen

Living God, you have given us an eternal and living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead: grant that we, being risen with Him, may fix our hearts on heavenly things and share in your eternal life, worshipping you for ever at your throne in heaven.  Amen

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight; and may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.  Amen

Additional Resources

Commentary

The passage from John
Imagine that you are leaving your loved ones and will never see them again. No time for polite conversation, cut to the chase—words would take on new meaning, they would be focussed on the important things. So now the death of Jesus is immanent, and we can understand that the teaching which Jesus is giving to his disciples at this time is important. There would be no anxious relatives waiting to hear the will read out when Jesus died. There would be no decisions as to who would get what. Even his clothes would soon be the property of the soldiers who crucified him. The only things which Jesus had to leave were spiritual things. So this is Jesus' last will and testament. These are the words which he wants them to remember when he is no longer with them.

So what is it that Jesus sharpens the dialogue about in our lesson today from John?
Jesus uses his words to encourage and make promises, but they are not promises just for the disciples, they are spoken to ‘anyone’ who loves him—they are spoken to us!
He encourages the disciples to show their love for him through obedience to his teaching.
He promises that the Holy Spirit will be with them to teach them.
He promises them that although he has gone away, God will dwell with them.
He promises them peace.

The importance of obedience. Our love for Jesus is not expressed in our singing, our poetry, our writing, our praise…….we could go on. Instead love for Jesus is demonstrated in the willingness to keep his word. It is when we do this that Jesus assures us of the love of himself and of the Father. The indwelling of Christ comes as we are faithful in deed, following the teaching which Jesus gave. Jesus calls us to be a faithful expression of himself, and the only way that we can accomplish that is through obedience to his word. Love for one another is at the heart of Jesus' words.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (15:12).
It is as we love one another that we keep Jesus' words.

The presence of the Holy Spirit. In verse 16, Jesus introduces the word parakletos, which he uses to describe the Holy Spirit. The word is translated variously as Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, or Helper, and describes a Spirit who remains at our side forever (v. 16) to represent us, defend us, argue our case, give peace, or provide counsel as needed. However the Holy Spirit does not behave like a solicitor in court, arguing our case right or wrong, representing the client's case favourably rather than revealing the truth. Instead the Paraclete "is the Spirit of truth, revealing that which is hidden and exposing our weakness that we might become more obedient to Christ. Jesus has taught the disciples a great deal, but they will begin to understand much of it only after the resurrection. Then the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, will take them to the next level, helping them to remember Christ's teachings and to interpret those teachings for the immediate situation. The Paraclete, the one who stands beside them day and night, will make all things clear. This is still an encouraging word today. The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, stands beside us to guide us. If we follow, the Spirit leads us to truth. If we obey, the Spirit leads us to life. But the blessings are not automatic. We must listen; we must obey.

God dwells with us. Jesus says, "I will not leave you orphaned." The Greek word orphanous means fatherless. Jesus will be going back to the Father, but he will make provision for the disciples, current and future, through this gift of the Spirit. Jesus promises that he and the Father will make their home with us. The word for home is mone. In verse 2, Jesus said, "In my Father's house there are many monai, (dwelling places or rooms) a home for us in God’s house. Now in verse 23, Jesus promises that the Father and the Son will make their home with us where we are.

So, Jesus promises that here on earth God dwells with us and after death we will dwell with him forever. This promise is to the whole church, the community of faith, rather than to individuals. All of the personal pronouns in these verses are second-person plural, not singular. This is an important insight for an age that glorifies the individual. We are tempted to celebrate individual spirituality and to downplay the role of the church, but the church is the body of Christ, the agency through which God has chosen to dispense blessings and to keep promises. We cannot honour the head (Christ) while despising the body (the church). As Cyprian said, "Who has not the Church for mother can no longer have God for father." His wording might be a little to sharp, but only a little.

Jesus promises peace. Jesus encourages the disciples not to mourn, but to rejoice that he was going to the Father. His mission on earth was finished and anyone who truly loves him will rejoice in his renewed glorification. Jesus had taken upon himself the form of a servant, now he would be glorified with the glory that he had in before the world existed" (17:5). Anyone who doubts the true divinity of Christ from Scripture needs to read these words. The ascension which we will remember next week was not abandonment of the disciples, but rather the enthronement of Jesus. For this reason his death was victory and with that victory over sin and death came ultimate peace. Jesus told the disciples not to be troubled or upset, he had authority to promise peace and that was his gift to them and to us.

The full impact of Jesus' words would not hit the disciples until the things about which he spoke had taken place. Jesus was laying the foundation so that they would be able to believe once the events about which he is speaking begin to unfold. Charles Royden
 

Commentary

My peace I leave with you….
In this morning’s passage from the Gospel according to John we hear an extract from the long speech of farewell which Jesus makes to his disciples. In these last hours before he leaves them forever, Jesus reels off powerful words of hope, of exhortation and empowerment. Gone is the playful Jesus. The words spoken by Jesus now would mean the difference between spiritual life or death for his followers, both then and through the centuries. To help them remember them clearly Jesus spoke in short staccato sentences, with key phrases repeated several times.
What are they to remember in the dark and confusing times when Jesus has gone? They are to remember that the way to God is through obeying Jesus’ teaching on love. They are to remain faithful to that teaching. They are to remember that God will remain with them through the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor . They are promised the gift of peace.
 

It is important to explore this familiar yet mysterious concept of peace. It is what we wish one another when we shake handsbefore communion. It is a phrase we use in the final blessing to end services “The peace of the Lord which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds on the knowledge and love of God….” Jesus used the word in his teachings but as so often he took a familiar word and built into it his own rich meanings. The word which John wrote down for peace ,“eirene”, is the nearest he could get to the Hebrew word “salom”, the word used customarily in greeting and bidding farewell. Therefore it was a word which would be said and heard many times every day. But peace is much, much more. “Peace” is the state of mind and soul which Jesus bequeaths to his disciples (isn’t this whole passage like a last will and testament?). The prophets of old had taught that peace would characterise the messianic kingdom. In Isaiah 9:6-7, we read “ and he will be called …Prince of Peace” and “of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end”. In Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them who bring good news and proclaim peace….” and Ezekiel 37:25 “I will make a covenant of peace with them, it will be an everlasting covenant” So the disciples would have known that God had promised that peace would be the great gift of the Messiah and they, perhaps, imagined that it might mean the coming of an era of perfect harmony on earth, the end of war and suffering. Jesus was aware that his gift of peace was not what they imagined or hoped for “I do not give it to you as the world gives” that it, not according to the popular conception of what it means. Jesus’ peace was inner peace, strength against the invasion of evil, composure in the midst of trouble, steadfastness in danger and despair. Jesus showed the outworking of inner peace in his own trial and execution, in the face of popularity and unpopularity, when he was misunderstood and betrayed. Divine peace is not to be found in a place or at a time. The Romans used to boast that they had made the Pax Romana, Roman Peace, won only by violence and subjugating weaker peoples to their will. Jesus’ peace starts from within and works its way out into the actions and interactions of that person. The kingdom of peace will prevail when more souls have found that inner strength, inspired by Jesus’ teachings and sustained by his Holy Spirit. Joan Crossley

Commentary

The Good News Hits Europe

Just as Cornelius was the first Gentile convert to Christianity (Acts 10) it would appear that Lydia, who lived in

Thyatira, a centre for dyes and dyeing, was the first European convert. As we read these two accounts we can see that there are many parallels between the stories, not least of which is the outcome of baptism as a sign of conversion and introduction into a new way of life.

Lydia may not have even been her real name, it could just have been the name she traded under, like River Island, West Coast Fashions, Thyatira Home Stores or the Lady of Lydia. She is clearly a businesswoman of some means. She sells a luxury item (purple cloth) to the rich and famous of the region. She would know her clients and they would know her. She was also head of her household, and lived in a home large enough for her to offer it as a centre for Paul and his companions to use a as base for their work (Acts 16 v 40).

Paul obviously expected to find a place of prayer, a synagogue, just outside Philippi. This would require a quorum of 10 Jewish men. The fact that he started speaking to the women indicates that either the men either rejected or ignored what Paul had to say, or that they were not there at all and it was left to the women to uphold and sustain the spiritual life of the area. Lydia was one of these women, a Jew and a worshipper of God.

It's a strange, brief and powerful encounter. The fact of Lydia's conversion would have spread around the region quickly, especially around her customer base in the upper classes. Being Jewish was respectable, understandable and to a certain extent gave position and social standing (although sadly less so for women in those times). Being part of a new religious set called Christianity was a very different thing. You can almost hear other Jewish women saying to each other over the Thyratiran equivalent of afternoon tea, 'Poor Lydia, what has happened to her? How did she get caught up in all this? We really must try to gather round and help her.' and the Jewish men talking to each other in superior, knowing and condescending voices, agreeing with each other that women do these kind of things.

What they missed was that God had spoken through Paul and Lydia had responded. She was not concerned about what people said, the gossip that was started, the effect her conversion might have on her business. She did not demand a position of leadership, even though it was her house which was being used as a church, she did not try to keep her decision and commitment to herself, nor did she see any conflict between her faith and her vocation.

What she demonstrates to us is the power of keeping spiritual and temporal life together, not in separate compartments. Her faith was a faith for every hour of the day, every day of the week, not just a few hours on a Sabbath anymore. A faith that was as relevant to her daily life as ours is today. God spoke, she responded. Do we do the same?

Prayer

Psalm 67

God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us,
That your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
O let the nations rejoice and be glad, 
for you will judge the peoples righteously and govern the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
Then shall the earth bring forth her increase, and God, our own God, will bless us.
God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.
Amen

Saving God, we pray for those, like Lydia, who witness to the gospel by word and deed amongst those whom they live and work. Spirit of God, give us wisdom, courage and love that we may be disciples of Christ. let the people praise you God. Amen

We pray for those involved in the industrial and commercial life of our nation. Remove barriers of mistrust, bitterness, prejudice which sometimes exist. Help us not to undermine and belittle others by speaking badly of them or criticising them in an unjust manner. Give to all a spirit of tolerance and understanding, and an earnest desire to seek after you, that all may work for the common good. Amen

Thank you, Father, for our homes and our families. Thank you for a place where we can feel safe.
Thank you for all the things we own which make our life comfortable. We ask that you will help those people who feel locked out from a place where they can feel safe and where they can live in comfort. May our country play its part in helping people who are outside the borders of safety and comfort which we take for granted.

Mother/Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we praise and thank you through Christ Jesus for your presence and action in the world. In the midst of conflict and division, we know it is you who turn our minds to thoughts of peace. The Spirit changes our hearts: enemies begin to speak to one another, those who were estranged join hands in friendship, and nations seek the way of peace together. The Spirit is at work when understanding puts an end to strife, when hatred is quenched by mercy, and when vengeance gives way to forgiveness. For this we never cease to thank and praise you. Amen.

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.

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than 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 Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. Methodist Worship

Grant to us, O Lord, the royalty of inward happiness, and the serenity which comes from living close to you. Daily renew in us the sense of joy and fill our lives with your light and grace. Let us be of good courage that we may meet the ills that overtake us with strength of heart and singleness of purpose; through the might of Christ our Lord. Amen Louisa H M Soulsby, 1856-1927

Meditation

In the sermon this morning I describe the dreams that inspired groups of settlers to go off across the wide ocean to America in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. Many of them wanted to found a New Jerusalem, a system of living based more closely on what they believed the Bible told them. The ambition, energy and optimism of these adventures makes inspiring reading. But the world cannot be changed just by making laws or changing the social system, although these are vitally important: change come about through individuals drawing upon the teachings of God and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Changing the world starts from the changing of hearts and minds. It would not matter if we were given Utopia, Paradise. Like Adam and Eve in the story from the Book of Genesis we would soon ruin Eden because we are prone to disobey God and fail to love properly. In Jesus we have a real hope that we might grow and perfect ourselves. This week, work with God to see where you can spiritually improve. Jesus believes in your ability to grow, believe in yourself!.  Joan Crossley

 

Meditation

Lydia said, "If you consider me a believer in the Lord,...", how would the world respond to us if we asked the same question? 

Peace
The Pax Romana (Roman Peace) was brought about and sustained by brutal might. The Jews thought that the Messiah would bring peace by a more powerful sword. Instead the peace of Christ was brought about by the death of an innocent man, little surprise that it transcends all understanding  (Phil 4:7)

Hymns

  1. O Worship the Lord
  2. I've got Joy
  3. Broken for me
  4. God is our strength and refuge
  5. Blessed Assurance
  6. Fear not rejoice and be glad
  7. Beauty for brokenness
  8. And can it be
  9. I am a new creation
  10. Led like a lamb
  11. Meekness and majesty