Virtual Services

Easter 7 – 24th May 2020

Welcome

Welcome to our service today, whether you are a regular at All Saints, whether you have started to join us in our online services or whether this is your first time – welcome.

As we continue in this period of lockdown, although slightly eased, our lives have all been turned upside down.  Not only by the practical issues of dealing with being confined to our own four walls for much of the time and all that entails in terms of working (either from home or on the front line  with the associated risks), having children at home etc, or the loneliness, anxieties or grief that many people have had to and continue to bear, but also by our having to accept that much of what we took for granted has changed – and in may in fact never go back to what we thought of as normal.

But one thing that has definitely not changed during this time is the love of God for his people and this world.  In a world of uncertainty the certainty  of the passionate love of God is something to hold on to.  In our reading today from John 17 that love is expressed in quite extraordinary terms as Jesus prays not only that through his actions, God would be glorified but, in the same prayer he asks that his disciples would have the same relationship and unity, the same one-ness as he and his Father have.  And we shall be looking at these two themes of glory and unity later.

But let’s start today by coming before God, seeking his wisdom and his presence in the words of our opening prayer.

Lord of all glory,
we come before you seeking your wisdom
that we may glorify you through our thinking;
we come seeking your love,
that we may glorify you through our emotions;
 we come seeking your strength,
that we may glorify you at all times;
we come seeking your perseverance,
that we may glorify you in all places.
Show us how to live, that our lives shine with your glory,
 and those who encounter us may know you
and that you are at work in your world.
Amen.

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020.Reproduced with permission.

Worship

We continue with our worship with that great hymn ‘To God be the glory’.  The version in  below uses the traditional words set to a modern arrangement.

To God be the glory! Great things He has done!
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son;
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life-gate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the people rejoice!
Come to the Father, through Jesus the Son:
Give Him the glory! Great things He has done!

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood!
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the people rejoice!
Come to the Father, through Jesus the Son:
Give Him the glory! Great things He has done!

Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be;
Our wonder, our worship, when Jesus we see.

raise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the people rejoice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the people rejoice!
Come to the Father, through Jesus the Son:
Give Him the glory! Great things He has done!

Word

Our reading is from John 17, verses 1-11.  And although in the lectionary it comes at the end of the Easter period it actually took place at the end of the last supper, before Christ’s passion.

Jesus prays to be glorified

17 After Jesus said this, he looked towards heaven and prayed:

‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Jesus prays for his disciples

‘I have revealed you[a] to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.

John 17
1-11

In the Synoptic gospels we read of Jesus’ anguished prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and yet this prayer has a completely different feel to it.  It is deeply personal and reveals an intimacy between Jesus and God that is profoundly moving.  But it not only reveals the love that Jesus has for his Father but also the depth of love that he has for his disciples.  One of the key themes in this passage is relationship – that between God and his Son, God and his world, and Jesus and his disciples.  One of the other themes is that of glory – and the two themes are inter-connected.

But what do we mean by glory?   Well, it is a word with many meanings depending on the context and is used throughout the Bible in different ways.  On one level it can mean praise, honour and renown or radiant beauty.  In the Old Testament we read about the ‘glory of God’ that was often manifested in fire and bright light and indicated the divine presence – think about the pillar of fire that went before the Israelites, or the glory of God that descended like a cloud on Mount Sinai.  This is where Moses asked to see God’s glory but the Lord shielded him from it – even so when Moses came down the mountain his face was radiant.

To the people of Israel, God was the very epitome of light.  We read in Psalm 104 “You are clothed with splendour and majesty.  He wraps himself in light as with a garment.”  And Timothy echoed this when he wrote “He … dwells in unapproachable light.” (1 Timothy 6:16).  So it is with this image in mind it is no wonder that Jesus is known as the Light of the World.

But God’s glory is also seen through his actions.

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1)

At the very beginning of John’s gospel he signposts the work or action of God in the incarnation of Jesus   “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

And if God’s glory is seen in his actions, in our reading today Jesus ask God to take action   Jesus prays ‘Glorify your Son’.  It seems a quite strange thing because of what was to come; the horror and brutality would normally not be something that could remotely be seen as glorifying by human standards.  And yet the crucifixion will be the hour in which Jesus would be glorified – with the ultimate act of divine love..  Jesus also knew that by finishing his work on earth i.e. through His actions, he would be glorifying his Father.  This shows the nature of the relationship between Father, Son and Spirit i.e.  lifting one another up to be glorified.  Each part of the Trinity, glorifying another, but never glorifying itself. 

And what is really remarkable, at least to me, is that in the part of the prayer where Jesus prays for the disciples, he says that   ‘glory has come to me through them’. Because they believed and passed on what he taught they had glorified Jesus.  And whilst it was not in our reading this morning, if we look further ahead in the chapter, when Jesus goes on to pray for the believers we read this.  “My prayer is not for them alone (i.e. the disciples) . I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one” – John 15:20-22

Jesus prays that ‘may they also be in us’ – he asks God that his believers be part of that remarkable relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It is a lovely reminder of the close bonds between the Trinity and believers and it quite unique to the Christian faith.  But it is also a reminder of the whole purpose of God’s creation –God created this world, for the single purpose of unity with all of creation. Intimacy and unity. Jesus came to reveal that as God’s sole intention, to model that unity, to complete that unity.

Finally, I said earlier that God’s glory is seen through His actions and this I think is what is meant when Jesus declared that he had given [believers] the glory that God had given him.  And this is the ability to become the sons of God doing his works and declaring His word.   Glory and relationship intertwined.   As believers, followers of Jesus, the challenge for us today, regardless of the circumstances which we find ourselves in is to continue lift up Jesus and bring glory to God through our actions as well as our relationships with one another, echoing the relationship between the Trinity – as Jesus prayed: ‘that they would be one, as we are one’.

Amen

Where do you see the ‘glory of God’?

What sort of things do you ‘glorify’ by the way you live?

How best can we lift each other up?

Witness

Prayers of Intercession

Lord, we praise you for the ways you far exceed the limits of our minds
Your mercy is beyond compare
And your love knows no end
We praise you for your glory which is utterly beyond imagination
And for your goodness to us and the world you created.

As the impact of the crisis continues to felt by individuals and families
We pray for those affected directly by the virus
And those who are unwell from other reasons
We pray for those who fighting illness and for those who will never recover
For those who wait with them and share their burden of worry
Lord – hear our prayer

We bring before you the doctors, nurses, health care workers, hospital cleaners,
delivery drivers, postmen, supermarket staff, the police and fire brigade
bus and train drivers and all those who provide support in these testing times.
We thank you for all that they have done and continue to do.
For all those who care for others and keep the nation moving
We ask your blessing and that they may know your peace.
Lord – hear our prayer

We pray for ourselves
Lord, touch our words and our deeds
The way we think and our attitude to others
May we be lights for you in this world
And may all we do bring you praise and glory
Lord – hear our prayer

You may wish to use the song below as a prayer as you consider how you might glorify God in all that you do in the coming days.

Community

The community of S17 has drawn together during these unusual times in a very special way. This is reflected in the great work of the S17 COVID-19 Community Support group.

The group aims to support those in the community who may be in need and to provide a support network to the S17 community at this time.

“If there are needy people in our community let’s ensure we help them out with things like bringing shopping to their door.”

The Wardens of All Saints Totley have been producing regular newsletters with helpful links, thoughts and resources. The latest of these is here.

We have also started to add resources for the younger members of our church, to add to this virtual service. They can be found here, and here.

Close

Notices

We are all urged to join in with Thy Kingdom Come which this year begins on Ascension Day (21st May) and runs until Pentecost (31st May). Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray for more people to come to know Jesus. What started in 2016 as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer resources linked to Thy Kingdom Come 2020 which you can find here:
https://www.thykingdomcome.global/about-us#taking-part.

Blessing

Go into the world to show God’s glory,
and may you always know God’s blessing
and God’s peace.
Amen.

Reminder

If you have any feedback on this service or any other ideas, suggestions or contributions, for future services please do send these to comments@allsaintstotley.church