An act of worship at home
Reading John 17 vv 1-11
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.
‘I have revealed you 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. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 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 your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.
Today (or at least “today” if you are reading or listening to it on the day this act of worship has been prepared for) is Sunday the 24th May. It is the last Sunday of the Easter season, next Sunday will be the Day of Pentecost. During the week there was the day of ascension, the story of how Jesus was taken from the disciples. The day when, he told his followers to wait for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. After Jesus left them his followers entered into one of those between-times common throughout the Bible, they began a time of waiting. Of course we don’t face the exact same situation that these disciples did. The promise has been realised – the Spirit fills us with God’s presence everywhere and always, closer than the breeze on our cheek. But still, we are certainly in one of those between times, aren’t we?
And it’s hard, isn’t it? We may find ourselves standing with those first disciples thinking, “Lord, what now?”
Over the last few weeks, many of the gospel readings have been about what Jesus said to his disciples to prepare them for life when he would no longer physically with them. Much of what Jesus said was about the relationship between Father, Son, Holy Spirit and us. When we are drawn into the eternal dance of love that is the inner life of God, we are drawn into the ultimate mystery of God, the mystery that lies at the heart of the universe, at the centre of life and meaning itself.
When we’re busy with life we don’t always have the time for the deepening of our relationship with God. When we’re busy with life there’s often little time to just love and be loved in God. When one chapter of our activity in the world has ended and the next has not yet been opened we are given a gift of a breathing space, a time-out.
“This is eternal life,” said Jesus, “to know the only true God, and to know Christ, whom God has sent.” This is the essence of life for us. It is for this relationship, for this dance of love, that we exist.
It is certainly true that we are called to reach out to the world with God’s love and grace, but that mission finds its source and its energy from within the dance of love, the life of God. And that is found and nurtured through time for prayer, for reflection, for simply being still and knowing God with us..
So let’s thank God the gift of this “in-between” time. Let’s accept it as a time for prayer, for growth, a time of waiting. A new chapter will open, in time. God will call us to new missions and all our energies will be needed again. And when that happens we will know the blessings that can be ours through the in-between times, times to nourish our soul and refresh our life and fill us with the power of God’s Spirit.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.
Lord God, you travelled with your people through the wilderness, turning the desert into a garden,
changing a barren landscape into a place of plenty, with water and bread and meat provided for all.
May we rest in your presence now, surrounded and filled with your pure love, taught by your word of life, transformed by your grace.
God of compassion, we come to you with our prayers for all that is less than love in our world —
open hearts and minds to know and express your love.
God of grace, turning the sufferings of Jesus into a glory of redeeming love —
God of love, transforming the struggles of our lives into a way in which we bring peace to others —
hold us with your gentleness.
God of peace, renewing the fabric of society through our challenge to be your children justice —
give us your strength to build a better world.
Hymn StF 685 – In Christ there is no east or west
In Christ there is no East or West,
in him no South or North,
but one great fellowship of love
throughout the whole wide earth.
In him shall true hearts everywhere
their high communion find;
his service is the golden cord
Join hands, then, all the human race,
whate’er your nation be;
all children of the living God
are surely kin to me.
In Christ now meet both East and West,
in him meet South and North,
all Christlike souls are one in him,
throughout the whole wide earth.
John Oxenham, pseud. (1852-1941)
That the world may be blessed by your humility and holiness:
be with us creating Father.
That the people of world may live out your grace in sacrifice and love:
be with us loving Jesus.
That the loving power of God may be recognized throughout the world:
Be within us inspiring Spirit!
And so may we know your blessings
this day and forever more. Amen.