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THE SHIRWELL MISSION COMMUNITY

A Mission Community in the Diocese of Exeter

Sunday Service at Home


Sunday 10 May 2020

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Shirwell Mission Community

Morning Prayer for Sunday 10th May 2020

You may like to light a candle to begin our worship if you can do so safely.

 



We meet in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. 

Lord, speak to us that we may hear your word.

Move among us that we may behold your glory.

Receive our prayers that we may learn to trust you. Amen.

 

The Beatitudes

Let us hear our Lord’s blessing on those who follow him. 

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, 

for they shall be satisfied. 

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. 

Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

Some questions to consider: In what ways are you blessed? Who has blessed you? Who else might be added to this list during these times? Care workers? Shop staff?

 

Prayers of Penitence 


Let us confess the faults and failings in our lives:

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed.

We have not loved you with our whole heart.

We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

In your mercy forgive what we have been,

help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be;

that we may do justly, love mercy,

and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

 


Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Scripture Readings       Acts 7:55-end, John 14:1-14

Sermon by Revd. Preb. Chris Tull  (see the end of service sheet)

 

Affirmation of Faith    (From Ephesians 3)



Let us declare our faith in God.  


We believe in God the Father, 

from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son, 

who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love. 

We believe in God the Holy Spirit, 

who strengthens us with power from on high. 

We believe in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

 

Intercessions      

Let us pray to God, who alone makes us dwell in safety:

For all who are affected by coronavirus, through illness or isolation or anxiety, that they may find relief and recovery:

Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us.

For those who are guiding our nation at this time, and shaping national policies, that they may make wise decisions: 

Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us.

For medical staff, scientists and researchers, that through their skill and insights many will be restored to health: 

Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us.

For volunteers and workers who continue to serve our community and protect those most in need: 

Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us.

For the vulnerable and the fearful, for the gravely ill and the dying, that they may know your comfort and peace: 

Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us.

Lord, we especially pray for ............................................................

We commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray, to the mercy and protection of God. Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

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. 

 

The Collect

Risen Christ, your wonds declare your love for the world and the wonder of your risen life: give us compassion and courage to risk ourselves for those we serve, to the glory of God the Father. Amen. 

 

Dismissal

In darkness and in light, in trouble and in joy, help us, heavenly Father, 

to trust your love, to serve your purpose, and to praise your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Blessing

The almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 

bless us and keep us. Amen. 

 

*****************************************************************************************

A sermon from Chris Tull


Acts 7: 55-end plus John 14: 1-14


STEPHEN LOOKED UP! (Acts 7.55)

My father left behind him something I really value - a well written diary through which I can re-live my early years. Turning to May 1940, it begins quietly enough, but by the end of the month and then on through much of the year he records in red ink Hitler’s rapid advances over the free world. I was too young to take it all in, but for adults how totally hopeless the situation must have seemed.   


LOOKING ROUND there was little hope in 1940. The same could have been said for the future of Christianity in Acts 7 when Stephen was martyred. At the first Pentecost many believers filled with the Holy Spirit had come out of hiding and poured out into the streets. For a short while they could remain in the open, but not for long. The authorities began to get a grip on the situation. Soon they were picking off their leaders. Peter and others were put into prison, but not even that stopped them. Next the authorities turned on this very promising young spokesman – Stephen. After a parody of a trial, he was martyred. James would soon face the same fate. One by one, others would be silenced. Looking round, from an earthly point of view the prospects for the faith must have seemed hopeless.


In today’s gospel Thomas queried what Jesus was saying about a heavenly home. Rather Like Pooh’s Eeyore he tended to keep his eye firmly on the ground and could not see beyond it. He was good at putting into words everyone’s doubts. He was well meaning, but he needed Jesus to help him raise his sights higher. 


In the same way, gloomy was the news in 1949 when Missionaries forced to leave China when the Communists took over. They were forced to abandon their 4 million followers. What possible hope could there be? None if they merely looked down. 


Likewise we may wonder what hope there is for our faith in days of small struggling churches, and the apparent abandonment of God in our world.


Yes – merely looking round, what hope is there often in life?... just looking round.

LOOKING UP, can be so different. We see in Acts 7 verses 55-6 that Stephen at the climax of his trial looked up, and in a vision he actually saw Jesus at the right hand of God. Was this a mere illusion of mere wishful thinking? Did God have some bigger purpose behind Stephen’s death, as was the case when Jesus also suffered and died?  In verse 58 Luke adds an important fact:- Saul (who became Paul the great apostle) was there at the time approving of what was going on. Later Saul deeply regretted it, and God used the blood of Stephen to change a persecutor into an apostle. God’s plan was far greater than anyone could imagine at the time.   

 

 This change in Saul was God’s doing. People prayed. Saul could no longer ignore the pricks of his own conscience. God used this to change history. When Peter was held in prison due to be martyred the next day again ‘the church prayed earnestly for him’(Acts 12.5), and in his case he was able to escape. When Christians raise their sights and believe, things begin to happen! 


During the Second World War King George V1 called for days of national prayer, and at those critical moments things began to go our way. On one occasion quite unexpectedly when we were at our weakest, Hitler took the pressure off us.


Many prayed (and still do) for the Chinese Christians. When the bamboo curtain was finally lifted, 4 million had become 70 million believers. Today we understand there are very large numbers of secret believers in many of the harsh persecuting countries of the Middle East. Many of them, like Stephen, look up by faith beyond their terrible circumstances and see the living God.  Pray, too, for them!


In our country as Christians we may not face persecution, but we face belittling, contempt, even downright hostility. God, faith, and the home in heaven for all believers of which Jesus speaks in today’s gospel are dismissed by many as fantasy - foolish imaginings by gullible minds. Yet. as I said in my previous address, something like 5 million people apparently ‘went to church’ on the first Sunday after the lock-up (via the media).  As well as joining in our own local phone or zoom services, many of us have seen Sunday services on TV. Not only have the words spoken in empty buildings been impressive. but so also from previously recorded services, the stories of transformed lives. This has often been reflected in the obvious joy in the faces of people of all ages joining in. Far from being dead, we are seeing a new dynamism, nothing less than the gradual re-birth of the church in our times. The more we pray for this, the more this will happen.        


Jesus promised Thomas then, and all of us today that anyone who has faith will do the things Jesus did, and greater, too. (John 14.12). Stephen looked up, Thomas looked up, and so must we. Look around, and you don’t see very much. Look up and you will see!     


The story in my father’s diary runs on to the event on May 8TH 1945 which we celebrate just now. The seemingly impossible happened. All this can happen again, be it over the corona virus or the re-birth of the faith. In each case prayer made all the difference.


So – be encouraged. In 1945 the almost impossible happened.  We thank God with all our hearts for that.  God it still doing the impossible in our day – be it over the corona virus, or the re-birth of the church.  Whatever the cause, like Stephen LOOK UP and pray and pray and with more time on our hands PRAY even more! 

And thank God, too.   

 

 

Copyright notes for the service:

 

Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2000.

 

All Praise service includes prayers from the Iona Community, WGRG Iona Morning Liturgy from the Wild Goose Worship Group, ‘A Wee Worship Book’ 4th incarnation, 1999