5th Sunday of Easter Worship

The Fifth Sunday of Easter – 10th May 2020

The Preparation

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Great is the Lord and worthy of all praise.
Amen!
Praise and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honour,
power and might, be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.

‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life,’ says the Lord.
‘No one comes to the Father except through me.’ John 14:6

Hymn of Praise – Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord!

Text: Donald Fishel.

The words are printed below.

Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord.
Alleluia, alleluia, give praise to his Name.

Jesus is Lord of all the earth.
He is the King of creation.
Alleluia…

Spread the good news o’er all the earth:
Jesus has died and has risen.
Alleluia…

We have been crucified with Christ.
Now we shall live for ever.
Alleluia…

Come, let us praise the living God,
Joyfully sing to our Saviour.
Alleluia…

Great and wonderful are your deeds
O Lord God the almighty:
just and true are your ways
O Sovereign of the nations.
Who shall not revere and praise your name O Lord?
for you alone are holy.
All nations shall come and worship in your presence:
for your just dealings have been revealed.
To the One who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb:
be blessing and honour, glory and might
for ever and ever.  Amen.                      Revelation 15:3b-4; 5:13

Love one another,
for love is of God,
and whoever loves is born of God and knows God.
Spirit of God, search our hearts.

We remember our need for God’s forgiveness.

Silence

Let us confess our sins to God.

God of mercy, we have sinned against you and against others.
We have sinned in what we have done,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,

who died for our sins,
forgive us all that is past
and raise us to newness of life. Amen.

Almighty God, who pardons all who truly repent,
forgive our sins, strengthen us by the Holy Spirit,
and keep un in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

Collect

Eternal God,
your Son Jesus Christ
is the way, the truth and the life for all creation;
grant us grace to walk in his way,
to rejoice in his truth,
and to share his risen life;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

The Ministry of the Word

A reading from Acts 7:55-60 (New Revised Standard Version)

(A deacon of the church, Stephen, preaches before the high priest and the council, culminating in a vision of Jesus standing at god’s right hand.)

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephen gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.

Acts 7:55-60 (New Revised Standard Version)

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

Psalm 31:1–5, 15–16

In you Lord I have taken refuge:
  let me never be put to shame,

deliver me in your righteousness:
  incline your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue.

Be to me a rock of refuge:
  a stronghold to keep me safe.

You are to me a rock and a fortress:
  for your names sake lead me and guide me.

Release me from the net they have secretly laid for me:
  for you O Lord are my strength.
I hear the whispering of many, fear is on every side:
  while they conspire together against me, and plot to take away my life.

But my trust is in you O Lord:
  I say, ‘You are my God,  my fortunes are in your hands.’

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Alleluia! Amen.

A reading from John 14:1–14 (New Revised Standard Version)

(Two related images in which Jesus is first the shepherd in charge of the sheep and then (Jesus speaks with his disciples shortly before his passion and tells them he is the way, the truth and the life.)

Rev Alister Hendery reading today’s Gospel.

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.


John 10:1–10 (New Revised Standard Version)

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

The Sermon  

SEE THE SERMON below – OR just WATCH THE VIDEO

5th Sunday of Easter 5 (A)
Final Words
John 14: 1-14
 
One of the privileges of priestly ministry is to keep
company with people as they are dying. It’s a time and
place where I have a strong sense that I’m on holy
ground; that I’m in a space that stands on the borders
between heaven and earth. Sometimes little is said, but
at other times conversations take place as the dying
person reflects on their life, asks questions, and
ponders what it all means. These conversations are some
of the most treasured and precious ones I’ve ever had,
and I often feel that I have received far more from the
dying than I’ve ever been able to give, for their words
can be packed with deep wisdom. 
 
Today’s Gospel passage is set within a similar context.
They are verses that begin an extended passage (from
chapter 14 through to the end of chapter 17 of John’s
Gospel) that’s described as Jesus’ Farewell Discourse.
He’s aware that he’s approaching death, and he shares
with his disciples his accumulated wisdom. I think of
these chapters as like a final love letter to his
friends as he shares with them what they need to know as
they prepare for a life without his physical presence.
 
Some of the words we heard may be particularly poignant
because they are ones that we’ve heard at funerals: “Do
not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe
also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling
places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I
go to prepare a place for you?”
 
As Jesus faces suffering and death, he knows that his
relationship with his disciples will not end. The bond
will continue, and he will remain in their lives. What’s
more, that relationship will take on a new dimension and
lead to something even richer and lasting: “Do not let
your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in
me.” Even though he will not be physically present the
disciples will not be abandoned. That promise reaches
out beyond the first disciples and embraces us. We can’t
see the way ahead; the future is unknown and uncertain;
yet a welcome, a home, a place of belonging is assured
to those who believe in Jesus. It reminds me of the
lines in the Prayers of the People which speaks of when
we come to the end of our journey, we will know the joy
of our homecoming and the welcome of God’s embrace.
 
When Jesus speaks of belief, he doesn’t mean a doctrinal
or intellectual thing. It’s relational. It’s about
trusting him; trusting the love he has for us; the love
which Paul described as that from which nothing in death
or life, in the world as it is, or the world as it shall
be, nothing in all creation, can separate us from. In
this passage Jesus goes on to elaborate on that
relationship by responding to a question put by Thomas:
“Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we
know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the
truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except
through me.”
 
More than anything, these familiar words point us to
that trusting relationship with Jesus as ‘the way’;
trusting him as our companion and guide upon the way;
trusting him to see the fulfilment of our hopes, our
longings and desires. These words point us to that love
that holds us even in the face of death and offers
meaning and purpose when all the glitter of the world
about us has become tarnished.
 
Sometimes these words have been used by Christians in an
arrogant manner, implying an exclusion of those who
don’t follow their understanding of the gospel. But the
more I seek to follow Jesus, the more I experience it as
a journey of discovery which entails questions and
searchings, but always in the company of Jesus. He’s the
companion on this journey that takes us through the
trials and tribulations, as well accompanying us in our
joys and delights of life.
 
W.H. Auden wrote an extended poem entitled For the Time
Being: A Christmas Oratorio. In it there is a chorus
that draws on the imagery of Jesus as the way, the
truth, and the life. It paints a picture of that journey
which we all travel in unique ways.
 
            He is the Way.          
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;          
You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.
           
He is the Truth.        
Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;          
You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.
           
He is the Life.
Love Him in the World of the Flesh;
And at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.
 
For me, Auden’s words say something about how on a
journey with Jesus we learn to expect the unexpected.
Rare beasts and unique adventures are everywhere. Just
when we think that we’ve have seen it all, when we think
we’ve worked it out, we experience something new. When
we think we’ve arrived, there, around the corner is
another challenge, another opportunity to grow and to
experience God in fresh ways. And there’s the suggestion
that it’s in the embracing of our anxiety, of somehow
welcoming what frightens us, instead of running from it,
that truth is found. And we find God in the world we
live. We find Jesus, not apart from life, but in life;
in the flesh, in all that we do, in all that we are. We
find God in this challenging time. We find God in one
another and we love Christ by loving the world about us,
of which we are a part.
 
He is the way – follow him.  He is the truth – seek
him.  He is the life – love him.  Here is a journey, a
lifetime journey of relationship that culminates in a
dance for joy as we are welcomed home – a relationship
encircled in a love that will never end – that will
never let us go.
 
Alister Hendery
 St Matthew’s, Hastings – 10.5.2020 

A meditative song: Thou art the way


BY CHRISTOPHER WALKER.
The words are below.

Thou art the way: to Thee alone
From sin and death we flee;
And he who would the Father seek
Must seek Him, Lord, by Thee.

Thou art the truth: Thy Word alone
True wisdom can impart;
Thou only canst inform the mind,
And purify the heart.

Thou art the life: the rending tomb
Proclaims Thy conquering arm,
And those who put their trust in Thee
Not death nor hell shall harm.

Thou art the way, the truth, the life;
Grant us that way to know,
That truth to keep, that life to win,
Whose joys eternal flow.

Prayers

Lord, our way, our truth, our life,
in you the mystery of eternity is opened and we behold your glory.
Inspire your church with this vision in these challenging times
that we may find transformation and new life together…

Risen Lord, fill our hearts with Easter joy.

Lord, our way, our truth, our life,
you cast out fear and in trusting in you we rejoice.
Expand the vision of our political leaders
and as they lead us through this time may they respect the needs of all…

Risen Lord, fill our hearts with Easter joy.

Lord, our way, our truth, our life,
move between us and unite us into a community as your beloved children.
Strengthen the bonds that make for a loving and caring life together…

Risen Lord, fill our hearts with Easter joy.

Lord, our way, our truth, our life,
in you our troubled hearts are eased and we are enfolded in your love.
Hear our prayer for all whom we name before you…
May your presence in their lives give hope and peace.

Risen Lord, fill our hearts with Easter joy.

Lord, our way, our truth, our life,
you prepare a place for us and take us to be with you for ever.
Carry to yourself all who have died…

Risen Lord, fill our hearts with Easter joy.

Lord, you have called us to serve you.
Grant that we may walk in your presence:
your love in our hearts,
your truth in our minds,
your strength in our wills;
until, at the end of our journey,
we know the joy of our homecoming
and the welcome of your embrace,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.    Amen.

The risen Christ is in our midst, and so we pray

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.
Save us from the time of trial
   and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours    now and for ever.    Amen. 

May Christ who out of defeat brings new hope and new alternatives, bring us new life.

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

KEEP IN TOUCH

Our St Matthew’s website is being updated regularly:  https://stmattshastings.com

Also our St Matthew’s Facebook

CONTACTS

The Rev’d Alister Hendery: 021 742 434
Email: alister.hendery@waiapu.com

Parish Office (Tracey at home):  06 878 9476
Email: stmatthews.hastings@gmail.com

~ This copyright material is taken from A New Zealand Prayer Book / He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, © Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and is used in accordance with regulations.

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