Sunday at St Andrew's

Sunday 18 April 2021

Morning Worship, 10 am on Zoom 

Repeated as Evening Worship at 4 pm in Church by advance booking only

 

Third Sunday of Easter

Series: 1 John ‘Living in the Love of God’

2. 1 John 3.1-7 

‘See what love’

Speaker: Phil Rodd

 

If you find this type difficult to read, 

please look at this page.

 

A version of the talk in video format will be available on the St Andrew’s channel on YouTube, from later on Sunday 18 April. 

 

Welcome to this service at St Andrew’s Eaton

 

‘See what love’.

 

We’ve seen much love in recent times.  

Supremely, love is what Easter is all about – not just love that ‘sits there’, but love that reaches out, love that transforms, love that makes a difference.

There’s been the example of a very different love in the life of the Duke of Edinburgh.

For many of us, there’s been love of families and friends that we’ve begun to experience again after a long period when perhaps it’s seemed that love has been limited.  

And today, we’re invited again to ‘see love’, to see, to contemplate, to receive.

 

As we begin, let’s pray that God will still our hearts and minds and speak to us in this time today.

 

INTRODUCTION                

 

Leader:  Alleluia. Christ is risen.

All:        He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

 

Leader:   Praise the God and Father 

             of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All:        He has given us new life and hope.

             He has raised Jesus from the dead.

 

Leader:   Alleluia. Christ is risen.

All:        He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

 

            Faithful one, whose word is life:

            come with saving power

to free our praise,

inspire our prayer

and shape our lives

for the kingdom of your Son,

Jesus Christ our Lord.

 Amen.

 

HYMN: The price is paid 

 

CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS

 

Leader: Christ died to sin once for all, and now he lives to God.

Let us renew our resolve to have done with all that is evil

and confess our sins in penitence and faith. 

cf Romans 6.10

 

Jesus Christ, risen Master and triumphant Lord,

we come to you in sorrow for our sins,

and confess to you our weakness and unbelief.

We have lived by our own strength,

and not by the power of your resurrection.

 

In your mercy, forgive us.

All:        Lord, hear us and help us.

 

Leader: We have lived by the light of our own eyes,

as faithless and not believing.

 

             In your mercy, forgive us.

All:        Lord, hear us and help us.

 

Leader: We have lived for this world alone,

and doubted our home in heaven.

 

In your mercy, forgive us.

All:        Lord, hear us and help us.

 

Leader: May the God of love and power

forgive you and free you from your sins,

heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,

and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord.

All:        Amen.

 

SONG: Purify my heart

 

PSALM 4

 

All:        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. Amen.

 

FIRST READING

Luke chapter 24 verses 36-48

Jesus appears to his disciples

 

This is the word of the Lord.

All:        Thanks be to God.

 

HYMN: Dear Lord and Father of mankind

 

SECOND READING

1 John chapter 3 verses 1-7

Children of God
 

This is the word of the Lord.

All:        Thanks be to God.

 

SERMON (Phil Rodd)          

‘See What Love’

1 John 3.1-7

 

At the Service of Commemoration for the Duke of Edinburgh in church on Thursday, I mused how in a way it had seemed that Prince Philip had been present all my life: a fixture – in the background, but very much present – not like a parent or other close relative, but maybe like a great-uncle – there in the background.  So much so, that I think I have a memory as a very young child, in church, wondering what this ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ was that got mentioned in the prayers along with the Queen week by week – and whether it might actually be me that everyone was praying for – and that perhaps I was Prince Philip, and no one had ever thought to tell me!

 

We were chatting at home the other week about someone else who I’ve been aware of nearly all my life: Jackie Pullinger, who has spent her adult life working as a missionary with the poor and destitute of Hong King – and also with triad gang members, heroine and opium addicts, and the like.  She’s helped thousands to come off drugs, simply by means of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit.  She’s seen transformation in thousands of lives and has made a huge impact on her adopted city of Hong Kong.

 

In one of her books, Jackie wrote the following: ‘I have spent over half my life in a dark, foul smelling place because I had a “vision” of another city ablaze with light, it was my dream.  There was no more crying, no more death or pain.  The sick were healed, addicts set free, the hungry filled.  There were families for orphans, homes for the homeless, and new dignity for those who lived in shame.  I had no idea how to bring this about but with “visionary zeal” imagined introducing the Walled City people to the one who could change it all: Jesus.’  That’s some vision!  And how that vision has motivated her and sustained her, over so many decades.  

 

What about vision, though?  How might we define it?  The great preacher and Bible scholar John Stott wrote about vision as the combination of ‘…a deep dissatisfaction with what is and a clear grasp of what could be.’  It’s a picture, in other words, of the future – a picture that inspires hope.

 

Of course, you’ve got to do something with vision.  Another preacher once said that ‘Vision without action is merely a dream.  Action without vision is a nightmare.  But vision combined with action can change the world.’  And that’s the kind of vision that lies behind the mission that Jesus himself carried out – a mission that demonstrated the clarity of vision that he had for his life, a vision that was very clearly combined with action.  As we heard in verse 5 of our reading from 1 John chapter 3: ‘[Christ] appeared so that he might take away our sins’ (from The Message version of the Bible). And in the verse immediately following where we left off, in verse 8, John goes on to say: ‘The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work’.  Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has taken away our sins and destroyed the devil’s work.

 

God had a very clear vision in sending his son to die for us: he wants to lavish his love on us.  His vision for us is that one day we will become like Jesus and see Jesus ‘as he is’ (v.2).  So - God does indeed have a vision for our lives.  And Jesus, too, has a vision for our lives – a vision that kept him going to the bitter end at Calvary, so that our sins might be taken away for ever.

 

And right at the beginning of our reading this morning, we’re invited to catch that vision.  From the very first word of chapter 3: the invitation, or rather the imperative, ‘See’:  ‘See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God.’  It comes out a bit staid in our church Bibles; perhaps the sense is more as the NIV has it: ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!’ (… with an exclamation mark!)  And I love the way that John the writer follows that up – with the excitement of an excited teenager, who’s just ‘got it’: ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!’  It’s the nearest you get to the word ‘Wow!’ in the New Testament!  See what great love our Father God has lavished on us.  Wow!  

 

The sense is that, in his love, God has called us to be his children, enfolding us in the embrace of his love, his forgiveness, his adoption.  There’s an enormous privilege implied with this – because it means that God himself has chosen us.  There was no obligation, nor any great reason for this choice.  He chose us because he loves us.  And he loves us because – well, as I’ve said before, the reason God loves us is simply – that he loves us.  And this love isn’t carefully measured out – you know, according to how good we’ve been.  Not in the least bit!  This love is doled out in the biggest dollops you’ve ever seen, using great ladles the size of giant cauldrons!  

 

And again, it’s worth repeating, that we are invited to ‘see’ this love – to stay with it, in contemplation, and in wonder.  We don’t deserve it – and yet, it’s lavished on us – more real, more effective, more transformative than anything we could ever imagine.

 

‘See what love…’

 

That’s the vision.  But seeing that love, contemplating that love, is only the start of the vision.  Because as I said a moment ago, vision must travel hand-in-hand with… action.  And action will really start to change things.  Action will make us more and more like Jesus.  As it says in verse 3: ‘All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.’  Or, reading again from The Message: ‘All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own’. 

 

We are to ‘look forward’ – always to look forward.  Never to stop where we are, and to say, ‘Well, what a jolly good chap I am,’ nor even to say what a jolly good chap the Duke of Edinburgh was (even if he was), or Jackie Pullinger, or whoever.  But to look first and foremost to Christ – to be captivated by his amazing love and transforming purity – and to look forward to what we will be at his ‘Coming’, when all things are made new, at God’s final act of resurrection.  

 

A version of this talk in video format will be available on the St Andrew’s channel on YouTube, from later on Sunday 18 April.

 

HYMN: One thing I know

 

PRAYERS (Margaret Smith)

 

John says: ‘See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God.’ 

So, as God’s own children, let us come with boldness into his presence and pray.

 

God of love,

All:        hear our prayer.

 

God of love, you created the world and made us in your image. Yet there is often little sign of love amongst humankind. We pray for countries where the people are controlled by hatred, violence and oppression. Forgive us for taking our freedom for granted. Give world leaders strength and wisdom to uphold justice and mercy for all. Especially we pray for people in Myanmar, Congo, Somalia, Nigeria, the Sudan, Yemen – and at home we pray for the people of Northern Ireland. We feel helpless, but cry to you to have mercy on those who suffer and bring healing and reconciliation.

 

God of love,

All:        hear our prayer.

 

Thank you, Father, for the easing of restrictions to our lives as the roadmap out of lockdown is rolled out. Thank you for the scientists developing vaccines and those who administer the vaccination programme. We pray especially for the situation in Brazil and India where the Coronavirus rages out of control. Give hospital workers and morticians courage and strength as they cope with increasing numbers of patients and mortalities, and bring an end to this pandemic, we pray.

 

God of love,

All:        hear our prayer.

 

God of comfort, we continue to pray for the Royal Family at this sad time, especially for Her Majesty the Queen and her close family members. Inevitably there are sometimes tensions in family life for us all but we can hide in the privacy of our lives; the Royal Family are always in the public eye. We pray for your comfort, strength and grace for them all, and make us as a nation and individuals less critical and more understanding. 

 

God of love,

All:        hear our prayer.

 

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the pleasant place in which we live – near parks and gardens, river walks, the Norfolk Broads. As the newly formed Eco-Church Team considers way for us to use the world’s resources more responsibly as a church, we pray that each of us will play our part on conserving the environment and becoming more aware of environmental issues.

 

God of love,

All:        hear our prayer.

 

Lastly, Heavenly Father, we pray for ourselves, our families and our friends. We pray for our children and young people returning to their studies in school; we pray for businesses reopening; we pray for those working from home, or currently on furlough, or looking for work. Give us opportunities to encourage, support and help one another; let us be patient with one another; and may we not worry but commit ourselves into your care, knowing that you are Lord and Father and you love each one of us individually with a love that never ends.

 

God of love,

All:        hear our prayer.

 

The Collect for today

 

Almighty Father,

who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples

with the sight of the risen Lord:

give us such knowledge of his presence with us,

that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life

and serve you continually in righteousness and truth;

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.

All:        Amen.

 

Rejoicing in God’s new creation, 
as our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

 

All:        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. 

Amen.

 

HYMN: Be thou my vision

 

THE BLESSING

 

Leader:   God the Father,

by whose love Christ was raised from the dead,

open to you who believe the gates of everlasting life.

All:        Amen.

 

Leader:   God the Son,

who in bursting from the grave 

has won a glorious victory,

give you joy as you share the Easter faith.

All:        Amen.

 

Leader:   God the Holy Spirit,

             who filled the disciples with the life of the risen Lord,

             empower you and fill you with Christ’s peace.

All:        Amen.

 

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always.

All:        Amen.

 

Leader:   The peace of the Lord be always with you

All:        and also with you.

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION

 

Can you think of any ‘heroes of the faith’ who have inspired you?  What do you think may have motivated them to achieve whatever it was that they did achieve?

 

What difference might it make if you were to catch that vision just a little bit more of God’s love lavished on you?

 

How might you (personally) and St Andrew’s (corporately) better combine this kind of faith with ‘transformative action’?

 

 

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