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Sunday 17th May 2020

Spen Valley Methodist Churches

Worship at home Service sheet

Sunday 17th May 2020 Easter 6A


Opening prayers

Creator God,

You are the life that sustains us and the hand that claims us; you are worthy of our praise.

Reveal yourself In our gathering, and by your spirits join hearts as one in this, our joyful offering.

Come, let us sing to the Lord.

How great is his name!

Your love surrounds us, reaches and finds us, fills us, spills over in blessings around us.

Come, let us sing to the Lord.

How great is his name!

Your love forgives us, restores us and guides us, takes us and daily in service empowers us.

Come, sing to the Lord.

How great is his name!

Reading 1: Acts 17:22-31

Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,

“For we too are his offspring.”

Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’

Hymn 1

I cannot tell why he, whom angels worship, should set his love upon us, now or then, or why, as Shepherd, he should seek the wanderers,

to bring them back, they know not how or when.

But this I know, that he was born of Mary when Bethlem's manger was his only home, and that he lived at Nazareth and laboured, and so the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is come.

I cannot tell how silently he suffered, as with his peace he graced this place of

tears,

or how his heart upon the cross was broken, the crown of pain to three-and-thirty years. But this I know, he heals the brokenhearted,

and stays our sin, and calms our lurking

fear,

and lifts the burden from the heavy-laden, for yet the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is here.

I cannot tell how he will win the nations, how he will claim his earthly heritage, how satisfy the needs and aspirations of east and west, of sinner and of sage. But this I know, all flesh shall see his glory, and he shall reap the harvest he has sown, and some glad day his sun shall shine in splendour,

when he the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is known.

I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship, when at his bidding every storm is stilled, or who can say how great the jubilation when every human heart with love is filled. But this I know, the skies will thrill with

rapture,

and myriad, myriad human voices sing, and earth to heaven, and heaven to earth, will answer:

‘at last the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is King!’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDEgli 4aQDo

Prayers of confession

Almighty God, You have set before us the path but we have wandered on our own to try to find our way.

Sometimes we are like toddlers and we hear Your call and come back.

Other times, we are children testing boundaries, ignoring Your call until fear finally makes us look back.

And still other times we are full of youthful rebellion, demanding to be cut loose and set free, not knowing how much we still need to seek Your wisdom and guidance.

But most of all, too often we think we are adults

and have figured it all our and know our own way, only to stumble and stray so far.

Remind us, Father God, that we are always Your children, that we are never fully grown up in Your sight, that we always have much to learn.

Help us to seek You every day, to acknowledge that we need Your wisdom and guidance, and help us to return to the path and walk with You.

In the name of Christ, who is our companion on this journey of faith, we pray. Amen.

Reading 2: John 14: 15-21

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This 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 in you.

‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They 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.’

Reflection

In a world of many faiths it can be difficult to say that Jesus is the only way to God. Paul lived and worked in such a world as this. Many scholars have commented on the fact that our society today, is as pluralistic as the Roman Empire was at the time of Paul. And Paul being Paul, having spent some time in Athens observing the city, basically soaking up the culture and the rays, begins to see the many gods on offer. So, Paul heads off the Areopagus. In many respects this was the Athenian equivalent of Hyde Park Corner, a place where new ideas were debated and discussed, often in very load forums, with very clever thinkers of all colours. And it’s here that Paul demonstrates to us possibly the best way to build bridges and to come to an understanding of how people think.


Paul sees that God is already at work in Athens and he finds and develops a point of contact in the sense of wonder at something beyond our world that every person experiences at some point. Today even ardent atheists have a sense of wonder, a sense of something bigger than themselves, usually directed at the natural world. It comes so easily for children but as we grow older it diminishes. Paul draws the scholars attention to this in the form of the ‘Unknown God’, that sense that there is something bigger than even their understanding of God, and shows us how we can be looking for points of contact and never to underestimate what God is doing already in preparing people hearts.


How often have we not built bridges, reached out or spoken out, because we are afraid we don’t have all the answers? Paul most likely didn’t think he had all the answers when he started out. It’s not always easy to make sense of the world, especially when we are confronted with conflicting truth claims. It’s here we need help. Help that Jesus promised us when he promised to send his Spirit who would help us. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. The Spirit’s purpose is to help to know more about God and God’s plans for us., The Spirit helps us to see and to know God and the Spirit will help others to see the truth too.


When we step out in faith to tell others of Jesus, like Paul did in all of his journeys but particularly in Athens, we don’t need to worry about what to say as if it all depends on us. We have a helper. A supernatural helper and we can be confident that the Spirit will help us because the Spirit lives in us, showing us the truth about God, and who God is, and reminding us at all times that God is with us. All we need to do is recognise that the Spirit will use us if we allow it to.

Prayers of intercession

God has shown his love to us, sending his own son to rescue us. May we learn to love God in return. Jesus asks us to love one another as he has loved us.

May our eyes be opened To see his great love for us; then may we love him in return.

Silence

Jesus, you gave your life for us; may we love you in return.

God has no favourites. Each one of us is loved as much as any other.

May we eat rejoice that God gives us all his love as a mother loves each of her children.

Silence

Jesus, you gave your life for us; may we love you in return.

God has no favourites among nations, but loves people from everywhere. We pray to be free from our prejudices against people who come from other nations or other cultures.

Silence

Jesus, you gave your life for us; may we love you in return.

‘Now thank we all our God’, because God is not hatred or jealousy or pride or anger or anything bad. Instead, God is love. Silence

Jesus, you gave your life for us; may we love you in return.

In silence we pray, with Jesus, for all we need. Silence

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

We say together the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples:

Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, The power, and

the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn 2

Deep in the shadows of the past, far out from settled lands, some nomads travelled with their God across the desert sands. The dawning hope of humankind by them was sensed and shown: a promise calling them ahead, a future yet unknown.

While others bowed to changeless gods, they met a mystery, invisible, without a name: ‘I AM WHAT I WILL BE’;

and by their tents, around their fires, in story, song and law, they praised, remembered, handed on a past that promised more.

From Exodus to Pentecost the promise changed and grew, while some, remembering the past, recorded what they knew, or with their letters and laments, their prophecy and praise, recovered, kindled and expressed new hope for changing days.

For all the writings that survived, for leaders, long ago, who sifted, copied, and preserved the Bible that we know, give thanks, and find its story yet our promise, strength and call, the model of emerging faith, alive with hope for all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSQgY tUg6Z8

Closing Prayers

God of all time and space, you initiated the relationship of love and generosity with creation at a time before and beyond all knowing. Through the Word and the Spirit, you continue in eternal love for all beings. Fill us with a deep and abiding awareness of your presence, your call, and your grace in our lives and in our world.

Shape us to into the people you have made

us to be – poured out in creative mercy for the sake of Jesus Christ in all creation.

Amen.


Raphael’s painting of Paul preaching at the Areopagus

Credits

Prayers

Opening Prayers

John Birch – The Act of Prayer (2014) Bible Reading

Fellowship Prayers of confession https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2017/01/prayer-ofconfession-walking-with-god.html?spref=tw

Prayers of intercession

Gerald Mahoney – Over 150 Themed Intercessions

(2011) Kevin Mayhew Closing Prayers

http://revgalblogpals.org/

Bible Readings

Acts 17:22-31

John 14:15-21

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

http://nrsvbibles.org

Hymns

Hymn 1 – I cannot tell why him who angels worship

William Young Fullerton (1857–1932) Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 350 .

Hymn 2: - Deep in the shadows of the past,

Brian Wren (b. 1936)

Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words

Edition, number 463

Words: © 1975, 1995, Stainer & Bell Ltd, 23 Gruneisen

Road, London N3 1DZ www.stainer.co.uk

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