Led by Peter Powers
If you would like to join this service of worship using just the videos playing one after another, you can visit our playlist on Youtube by following the link below:
Activity sheet for children can be downloaded here; https://www.rootsontheweb.com/lectionary/2021/113-may-june-2021-b/easter-7/activity-sheet
‘The potential of prayer’
Welcome & call to worship
You who are passing through hard times: come! You who need strength to support those who are suffering: come! You who are full of happiness: come! You who are burdened and busy: come! Come; let us unite in worship of the one who offers us protection, comfort and joy.
Song: How shall I sing that majesty
We come to you, Lord, ready to worship, ready to learn, ready for prayer, ready for action. May our worship here spill out into our every day.
Gracious God, set apart as your people yet together in your world, we worship you as one. Emboldened by your power, protected by your promises and filled with your peace, we worship you as one. Upheld by your word, inspired by your truth and named as your friends, we worship you as one. Keep us safe in the world. Keep us praying for the world. Keep us serving the world. As one, in Jesus’ name.
God of yesterday, tomorrow and today, we are children of the world you love and care for. We praise you, heavenly Father, for calling us into relationship with you. We praise you, Lord Jesus, for the power of your name and the protection of your prayers. We praise you, Holy Spirit, for your guidance and gifts that enable us to draw others to you.
For you are faithful in times of uncertainty, strong when we are weak, and the breath of all our being, the energy of all our doing and the peace of all our resting.
Forgive us, gracious God, when we have turned away from your word and immersed ourselves in the distractions of the world. Forgive us, when we have sought to belong to the world and compromised your truth to fit in. Forgive us, when we have bickered among ourselves and not shown the world that we are one. Forgive us, when we have distanced ourselves from those you have called us to serve. Forgive us, O God; protect us and unite us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Gracious God, we thank you for the enduring prayer of Jesus for his disciples which reaches and reassures us today as we walk in their footsteps, reminding us that we are not alone but protected, empowered, forgiven, and surrounded by your grace every step of the way. Amen.
Reading Acts 1.15-17,21-26
Reading: John 17.6-19 (PLG video)
Prayer after the readings
We do not ask for escape from hardships that we know are part of life in this world. Rather we ask: protect us from evil, make us one, and be with us through your Spirit. Show us your truth and guide us as we go out in your name. Amen.
Sermon ‘The potential of prayer’ (John 17.6-19 & Acts 1.15-17,21-26)
The traitor Judas must be replaced.
Two candidates are shortlisted – not for their gifts, skills or qualities, but because they witnessed the ministry of Jesus from start to finish. The initiative throughout lies with God. Just as, according to Luke, the Holy Spirit spoke of Judas in the Psalms, so prayer reveals his replacement, though in a way that we might not recognise today as divine guidance.
Matthias restores the number of the apostles to 12. Jesus chose 12 disciples from among a larger group of followers to symbolise one of the aims of his ministry. Twelve apostles stand for 12 tribes, Israel as a whole. In the Bible, Israel’s vocation is to be a light to the nations as in Isaiah 42.6 for example. By restoring the core group of Jesus’ followers to 12, Peter and the others show that they have not lost sight of the breadth of this vision. The heart of the Jesus movement is a Jewish people that is about to discover its universal mission.
Before his arrest, Jesus prays for his friends that they may be one as he is one with the Father. He asks that they may be protected in the uncertain times they face and made holy, set apart from the world’s unbelief – by the truth about who Jesus is.
The way in which Jesus prays helps us to understand the breadth and potential of prayer – not a formula of words, but an ongoing conversation and relationship with God/Jesus that helps to inform and shape everything that we are and everything that we do. This is surely the heart of our prayer life because it is at the heart of how Jesus prayed. Jesus would know of and use the great liturgical prayers of Judaism in the Psalms in particular, but also the prayers of the prophets. It is clear that Jesus calls his follows to develop a prayer life that is a conversation with God. Prayer is listening as well as speaking.
Our gospel reading is taken from the account of Jesus’ last words to his disciples at the supper before his arrest. He prays for those he will shortly leave through his Passion. There are echoes of the Lord’s Prayer in Jesus’ address to God as ‘Father’ and his prayer for protection from worldly powers of hatred and evil. It is as if Jesus looks for the coming of God’s kingdom in the unity, joy and faithfulness of his disciples.
Throughout his Gospel, John reframes the humiliation and tragedy of Jesus’ brutal execution. He likens it to the liberating sacrifice of the Passover Lamb, or the healing serpent that Moses raised up in the desert, or the tender care of the shepherd, or the fruitful seed that falls into the ground and dies, or the slave’s washing of feet. Here the death that takes Jesus away from his friends is his prayer for them, and for all who will believe through their testimony. Anxious as they are in the absence of Jesus, his Passion-as-prayer is the triumph of God’s love for the world over the destructive powers of evil.
We are linked to John’s audience as they and we naturally hear these words as coming from the crucified and risen Christ. Not only does Jesus pray for them and us, he also prays with us and them as together we are drawn into the offering of his whole life. Here, then, is a new perspective on what it means to ‘ask in my name’: it is to allow our life to be moulded by the vision that shapes his Passion. The potential of prayer is not a series of requests, it is to be aligned with God’s way of seeing the world and earthly living in the light of heaven.
Song: When the music fades
Prayer of thanksgiving
Lord Jesus, as your disciples in the world today, we thank you that your word of truth, your prayer of power and your heart of love, continue to protect, inspire and unite us as we live out our faith, build up our relationships, and hold the world before you in prayer. Amen.
Prayers of intercession Once again, the tensions between Israel and Palestine have reached the news cycle. We pray for the peacemakers in that area. Hold them from despair, give them the energy and vision for a better future that will keep them going during these difficult times. Help the local politicians and those in the international community who are trying to mediate and resolve this crisis. Equip them with the skills they need, give them the words that will speak into this situation and help those who need to hear listen to their words and cease their fire.
Lord, in a dark hour, let your light shine.
As we roll out the vaccine in this country and celebrate a return to something that feels more normal, we are aware that this is not the experience of many people around the world. The scenes and stories from India and Nepal are deeply upsetting. We pray for help to arrive, for oxygen, doctors and for relief for those suffering. As things improve for us may we not forget to pray for people around this world who still face many dark days battling coronavirus.
Lord in amongst the pain and suffering, let your light shine.
In the aftermath of the local, mayoral and crime commissioner elections we pray for everyone who has either lost or gained a job. Give people who are leaving their posts a sense of closure. Help them as they move on to something new. May they take the experience they gained and find ways to use it to empower and help others. For those who find themselves with a new job, give them the grace and humility needed to get to know new colleagues and work out what is required of them, and as our towns and cities emerge from coronavirus give us all patience with each other as we re-establish how to work and live with one another.
Lord, in a world of losses and gains, let your light shine.
The blossoms on the trees and parks filled with plants and flowers at this time of the year remind us of the wonders of the natural world. But we are well aware of the difficulties facing our planet. The issues around climate change can feel overwhelming but we pray that the church has a voice in the debate and that we face up to our personal responsibilities.
Lord, in a world challenged by the climate crisis, let your light shine.
In uncertain times we thank you Lord for the relationships and friendships that have carried us through: for those who have made us laugh, for those who have listened, for those who have stood by us. Thank you for the love, care and attention of others. Help us to learn to pray as Jesus did. As we move through this week and encounter our friends help us to pray for their needs and that they would know your peace in their lives.
Lord, in all of our lives and friendships, let your light shine.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Song: Here on the threshold of a new beginning
As we set down this time of worship, Lord, may our prayers be just beginning. May our worship, our time here, what we have learned and what we have discovered, lead us into action and lives full of worship every hour of every day. We ask in the name of Jesus, whose whole life was an offering of worship to you. Amen.
Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 547
Leo van Doeselaar plays the organ of the Walloon Church, Amsterdam