Welcome to the virtual service for the 6th Sunday of Easter (17 May 2020).
Rev. Geoff McKee’s sermon is below in audio format. It is based on John 14:15-21 in which Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to his disciples.
We set out all four Scriptures for this week from the Lectionary, including the passage from John’s gospel. You’ll also find the prayers and a choice of music at the end.
The following is taken from the Church of Scotland website for this week.
“In the days following the first Easter Sunday, the disciples of Jesus would have gone through any number of different reactions, from uncertainty and anxiety to joy and celebration, through incomprehension and fear to recognition and hope. If the Cross had robbed them of his presence, the Resurrection has restored his presence. Surely Jesus will continue to be with them always?”
“The Gospel of John (14: 1-21) portrays the disciples wrestling with the dawning reality that Jesus will not continue to be physically present to them. It would seem that they are again to be left bereft and ‘orphaned’. Uncertainty and anxiety threaten once more. In response, Jesus speaks into their incomprehension and fear with the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus reassures them that they are not alone and that his spiritual presence will be renewed in this world through the Spirit. Jesus, through the Spirit, continues with us always as the assurance of God’s love for us.”
Acts 17:22-31 (New International Version)
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
8 Praise our God, all peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
9 he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.
10 For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
11 You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
12 You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.
13 I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
and fulfill my vows to you—
14 vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
when I was in trouble.
15 I will sacrifice fat animals to you
and an offering of rams;
I will offer bulls and goats.
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
1 Peter 3:13-22
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Call to Worship
Draw near to receive the blessing
of the Lord Jesus.
May he watch over us and renew us
as he renews the whole of creation.
May our hearts and lives echo his love
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Eternal and ever-blessed God, we give You thanks for the joy that comes when we worship together and are truly united as the people of God. We thank You for the family of faith, united in our desire to follow Jesus. Thank You for those with whom we have laughed, who have made this world a more cheery place. Thank You for those with whom we have wept and we have shared our sorrows in our times of need. We bless You for those we have served alongside sharing together in a common task, whose support has made the work more manageable. We bless You for those who have shared our dreams and pursued our visions, as partners in a common purpose, working to an agreed goal.
Forgive us for everything that has interrupted the companionship we should enjoy: for selfishness that made us want nothing but our own way, for intolerance which made us see nothing but our own point of view, for self-assertiveness that made us seek to impose our own will upon others. Forgive us for arguments in which we lost our temper, for discussions in which bitter words and sarcastic comments were thrown about, for things we said in the heat of the moment and now bitterly regret.
So cleanse and purify us, that in the days to come we will work to live in unity with one another because we are one in Christ. Hear this our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Prayers of Intercession
Bless those, good Lord, who are bowed down under the burdens they must carry. We are especially mindful of all who labour at this time to bring comfort and healing to the sick. We remember our NHS staff and carers; those who offer their help to ease the burden of others.
We pray for those who are crushed by their responsibilities at work and those who feel the pain of our world, who marvel that others can seem so indifferent to it. Help them to keep on going. Bring supportive friends alongside them. Give them tokens of Your grace, fresh vision and courage and signs of encouragement in their struggle.
God our Father, bless those who are lonely, those who have grown old and whom the passing years have taken all their friends and contemporaries. Bless those who are fearful of a threat they cannot see but are aware of every day.
Bless those who are shy, who find it hard to initiate conversation and have never known real friendships.
We pray for strangers in a foreign land, for asylum seekers and refugees, separated by language and culture from familiar ways and much loved customs. We remember all those who even in the midst of crowds feel alone.
Help the Church, we pray, in these days of lockdown, to be a community of acceptance and belonging, a community of welcome and inclusion, where all can find a home, a listening ear, a friendly smile and a helping hand.
Bless those whose hearts are sore today. Be very close to those whose family circle has been invaded and whose joy has been darkened by death. We remember those who have lost loved ones for whom they have cared, whose needs they have met, whose lives have been so intertwined that they still listen for a voice they will not hear again. We remember wives who have lost husbands and husbands who have lost wives; parents who have lost children, who find their homes strangely silent and empty now and children who have lost parents, who are confused by a world that seems less secure and more frightening than before and all who for whom familiar places, and sounds and smells awaken memories that bring tears in their wake.
Help us all to trust in Jesus who taught us to pray…
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
The photographs of Lossiemouth West Beach on this page were all taken on 10 May 2020.