St. Mary's Church

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Sixth Sunday of Easter

8 May 2021 • General news

Acts 10.44-end

44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 46for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ 48So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

1 John 5. 1-6

5Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 4for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. 5Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

6 This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

John 15. 9-17

9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

12 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

Thought for the Sixth Sunday of Easter by Malcolm Tyler

Loving people can be difficult! We do not always see eye to eye with those around us and difference can be hard to overcome on occasions. A difference which maybe starts as something quite small can escalate almost for no apparent reason, into something so large that relationship is lost and no-one is quite sure why or how it may be possible to restore what has been lost. Whilst it is easier to say than to do, my own advice is to be prepared to take the first step. As the saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

But it is sometimes difficult to love those with whom we have no relationship but whom we find different from ourselves. I recall growing up in a suburban town northwest of London during the 1960’s. It was at a time when a significant number of Pakistani immigrants came to the town and at about the age of 8, I used to pass on my way to school a group who used to gather each morning, I now realise to be bussed to work somewhere. At the time I remember being frightened of this largish group of men who both looked different and spoke a language I could not understand. That fear stayed with me for a far longer period than I perhaps like to admit. Through my teens and into my twenties I had very little contact with people who had been born in Asia and it was only after I was ordained that I started to have more to do with any Asian family. In my first curacy I lived next door to a Church School and was in and out regularly taking assemblies and being a Christian presence there. It happened that there were a significant number of Asian families, not Christian, who sent their children to the school. What I found was what I later discovered elsewhere, namely that I was more respected by people of non-Christian faith than I was by those who saw themselves as Christian. It was as though people with a strong faith, Christian or not, could recognise a faith position in someone else. It was then that the fear I had felt as an 8 year old, which had lain unchallenged by me for years disappeared. In my second curacy, I was blessed by a large proportion of the congregation being from the Caribbean, many from Barbados. I was taken into their hearts and as a consequence they have a special place in mine.

This taught me an important lesson in life. Looking and behaving differently doesn’t matter a jot. Families of whatever background share the same humanity. When a family member dies the same sorts of emotions are felt. I hope too that I learnt that different ways of grieving (or celebrating for that matter) do not imply one is better or worse than another.

Jesus commands us, in today’s gospel to love as he has loved us. That was a self-giving love, one that did not stop at giving up his life for us. Whilst we may not be called to emulate that, Jesus valued all humanity, sticking up for the outcast and the marginalised. We too, as his followers, are called to emulate that, not least because all of humanity is created in the image and likeness of God himself and deserves to be valued.

Intercessions for the Sixth Sunday of Easter by Malcolm Tyler

Creator God grant that your faithful people, being chosen by your grace and sealed in baptism, may always proclaim your greatness by their deeds of love. May we always be ready to welcome the stranger, not allowing our prejudices to influence our treatment of those we may feel different from ourselves. Bless and guide those who are working for the spread of the Gospel throughout the world and today we especially pray for the Anglican Church in Kenya. May her bishops and clergy be faithful to their calling.

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Lord, may the power of love overcome the anger and  bitterness that divides people and nations. Within our own nation we pray for those struggling to bring reconciliation between different political factions in Scotland and Northern Ireland. May all those in positions of authority work for the good of all the people in those lands. Here in Coventry we pray for those recently elected as councillors both in this ward and throughout the City. May your Holy Spirit heal all divisions and to make known the love of the Father which is revealed in Jesus Christ.

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Lord, make us gracious and loving in our relationships, that we may show ourselves to be those whom Jesus calls his friends. We pray for those whom we may find it difficult to love either because of disagreements in the past or because we have lost touch and don’t know how to re-establish a relationship. May our actions seek to heal rather than further divide us and keep us faithful to your commandment of love.

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Lord, have mercy on those who cannot love because they have never known love. We pray for those who have known abuse of any kind either within the church or within their own families. Heal the hurts of the past in ways that only you can do but help us, in our dealings with those who feel such pain, to be understanding and not uncaring. Visit new life upon the outcasts and neglected of our society and give us compassion and understanding when the will to love grows cold.

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

We pray for those whom we know to be sick at this time. Especially we pray for Trefor Richards and Mary his wife as they come to terms with his recent diagnosis. May they find strength and comfort in their faith and in the ability of medical professionals to alleviate Trefor’s suffering. We pray too for others known personally to us who are struggling with ill health, bringing them before you in a few moments of silence.

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

We give thanks for those who were called to be followers and friends of Jesus Christ in this world but have now died. Receive them into eternal life with that divine love which they partly knew through the gift of human love and help us to express that human love to those who are grieving.

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