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5th Sunday of Easter 2020 (with audio) | Barn Church Kew

Our worship together is in the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you:

              and also with you.

Hymn: Christ is made the sure foundation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p73XRON9r78

Let us pray

              Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:  cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Confession:

              Christ died to sin once for all, and now lives to God.  Let us renew our resolve to have done with all that is evil and confess our sins in penitence and faith.

              Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned 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.

.

              Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

Let us pray

              Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect: through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen

Acts 7: 55-end

Acts 7: 55-end

When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.

This is the Word of the Lord  Thanks be to God.

1 Peter 2: 2-10

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For in Scripture it says:

‘See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
    will never be put to shame.’

 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,’

 and,

‘A stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.’

They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for.  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

This is the Word of the Lord Thanks be to God.

Hymn:  As we are gathered: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCdD5Ouq-2Q

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John  Glory to you, O Lord.

John 1: 43-end

John 1: 43-end

 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’  Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’  ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.  ‘Come and see,’ said Philip.  When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.’  ‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked.  Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree before Philip called you.’  Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.’  Jesus said, ‘You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig-tree. You will see greater things than that.’ He then added, ‘Very truly I tell you, you will see “heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on” the Son of Man.’

              This is the Gospel of the Lord.

              Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon

My head is buzzing, ideas are whizzing around inside my brain, and there isn’t enough time or space to get them all down on paper.  Some weeks, the process of writing a sermon is slow and laborious, but not today.  So much has moved on in just 7 days.  On Thursday just gone we launched our telephone sermon option for people who cannot access the internet (020 8016 2474).  After a successful Zoom Patronal get together last Sunday, we launch today our first Zoom act of worship.  We have gone from a dry written sermon to a multiplicity of ways of sharing in worship, and it is very exciting.  In addition, on Wednesday of last week, the House of Bishops allowed a slight relaxation of our churches’ closure, with permission to live stream acts of worship from inside our buildings, as long as only two people are present, and suitably distant from each other.  The ways of keeping in touch with each other and of sharing worship together are increasing daily.

This is exactly what the writer of 1 Peter is talking about when he uses the image of “living stones”.  Christ is that first, all-important living stone, the cornerpiece, the foundation of all that God is building in his Church, but we his people are also living stones, built up into an ever-expanding building for worship and for witness.  However separated we are, we can come together to praise our God, to pray together and individually, and to share our joy in Christ.  However separated we might be, we can still show in acts of love and generosity what Christ has done for us and how God’s world ought to be. 

This building, so full of opportunity and challenge, does not get built without its tragedies.  The death of Stephen is one such awful event, when stones are used not to build up, but to destroy.  Just as the water of baptism talks of life and death, so stones were very much part of the Early Church’s suffering.  Stephen was not the only martyr to be stoned and the apostle Paul and his companions on their missionary journies were frequently chased out of town by stone-throwing mobs.    The writer to this group of churches in northern Turkey very deliberately uses this image to redeem those murderous stones that were used against Christians, stating that Christ himself was rejected as a useless part of the building of Israel, yet in resurrection he proves himself to be the most important part of God’s universe.  What is so marvellous is that we are included in that living stone, part of the fabric, a piece of the whole.  Resurrection includes us in God, totally, and that is wonderful.

However, our buildings are solidly locked this morning, and will remain so through this week.  There will come a time when they will re-open for private prayer, but we may well have to sit tight for many more weeks before full congregational worship will restart.  Therefore, this living building which offers prayer and worship to Almighty God will have to be active in different ways. 

One positive part of the national lockdown has been the safe removal of 90% of rough sleepers from our streets, into the warmth and safety of unused hotel rooms across the country.  The night shelter project was drawn rapidly to a close as this process happened, but the charity with which we work in providing these shelters continues to meet with these people, to support them into longterm accommodation, to restore their documentation and benefits or to get them back in contact with their families.  The work of Glass Door, St Mungo’s, the Salvation Army and many more charities working with the homeless carries on, day by day, with case workers making remarkable progress, and food banks supplying meals and other practical support.  In an article in Thursday’s Guardian, it was reported that of the over 500 homeless people now in hotels in London, many had tested positive for Corvid 19, but none had died – testimony surely to the skill and professionalism of their support teams.

Today is also the start of Christian Aid Week, when normally we would be out inviting people to share in the work of Christian Aid with disadvantaged people across the world, but this year we can ony do this online, via the Just Giving pages set up for our congregations (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/the-barn-kew &  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/st-lukes-kew or by phone: 02075232493 )  Please share this with your with your family and friends – many lives depend on our generosity.

The Kew Neighbourhood Association is providing much-needed support for vulnerable people here In Kew.  They are blessed with a large number of volunteers, but they need our prayers for their continued efforts. 

The Richmond FoodBank is continuing to operate, delivering hundreds of food parcels and frozen meals every week across the borough.  If there is anyone you know who needs this service, which is free to anyone who cannot afford to buy food, please encourage them to ring 0808 2082138 Monday-Friday, or 8940 0274, and help will be arranged as soon as possible.  Donations of food or of cash are always welcome: visit https://richmond.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-money or phone 8940 0274, and surround your generosity with prayer for all those involved in this critical work in our borough.

The one major difficulty we have during this time of lockdown is actually telling people what we are doing as God’s people and how they can get involved.  We start with prayer, which must undergird all that we do, but the example of Philip in today’s Gospel reading is perhaps the most helpful in this.  Nathanael responds as an old curmudgeon when Philip says that Jesus is from Nazareth – Nathanael was from the neighbouring village of Cana, and old rivalries run deep.  “Come and see” says Philip, drawing Nathanael out of his aloof reticence and into the very presence of God.  As Nathanael meets Jesus he sees immediately that this is the Messiah – and it was Philip who gently encouraged him to encounter Jesus.  We are called to do the same today, but we cannot bring people with us to church on Sundays for the time being.  So we have to be creative.  Share sermons or acts of worship via email with your friends.  Like and retweet or share our Facebook and Twitter pages.  Make sure that people know that support is available and there are opportunities for worship for everybody – the glory of the internet is that anyone can access what we are providing from anywhere in the world.  Just because our buildings are closed does not preclude us from inviting people to meet the risen Jesus – “come and see” can easily become “join us online” or “read this” or “listen to this”.

Living stones, alive to God, growing together, worshipping, prayerful and outward-looking – all of that is encompassed in what we have read this morning.  May God give us grace this week, like Philip, gently to offer a meaningful encounter with the risen Jesus to all with whom we are in contact.  And may almighty God keep us and bless us through these difficult and uncertain times.  Amen

Taizé Community: Nada te turbe:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go1-BoDD7CI

Please remember in your prayers:

The Sick:   Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz, Luci Mitchell-Fry,

Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter,  Kevin Willoughby, Max Weston

RIP  Mary Smith, Revd Peter Holmes, Pattie Johnson, Norma Williams

Prayers – with thanks to Ben Worsley

Prayers

Dear Lord, we thank you for all the people who have risked and sacrificed much to provide us with all the privileges we have in Britain today. We pray for those still sacrificing, risking, and striving to make it better for everyone. We pray for clarity and reassurance in this time of uncertainty and we hope people use their power and privilege to help our communities to be safe and well. Our reflections go especially to those gone before us, for the lives of those we remembered this Friday gone.

Dreamers

by Siegfried Sassoon

Soldiers are citizens of death’s grey land,

Drawing no dividend from time’s to-morrows.

In the great hour of destiny they stand,

Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.

Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win

Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.

Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin

They think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives.

I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,

And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,

Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,

And mocked by hopeless longing to regain

Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,

And going to the office in the train.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

We pray for our local community. We confess our own failings and lack of compassion and love. We thank you that you forgive our failings and ask us to rise us up in your grace. Our community in this time is important. It brings us together, helps us and teaches us to care. We can see many great examples around us. Shopping for others. Stepping to the other side of the path. Talking over a hedge. Ringing someone for a chat. Help us to create a better community. We thank you for; Peter, Michael and Richard who are working hard at keeping us together when we are apart.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

At a time when people question the relevance of the church, give us the presence to be a witness in the world.

Prayer of Abandonment

By Charles de Foucauld

Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

We pray for the comfort and healing of those who suffer in body, mind and spirit;

Alan Hay, Julia Holboro, Annie Kunz, Luci Mitchell-Fry, Joan Pritchard, Johanna Procter,  Kevin Willoughby, Max Weston. Give them courage and hope in their troubles. And we pray for the dead, Mary Smith, Revd Peter Holmes, Pattie Johnson, Norma Williams. Please bring peace to those left and help them remember the bright sparks of the life once lived.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

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

The Peace

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then they were glad when they saw the Lord, Alelluia.  The peace of the Lord be always with you: and also with you.

              Be present, be present, Lord Jesus Christ, Our risen high priest;

Make yourself known in the breaking of bread

Hymn:  Jesus Christ is waiting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ai-OydgMLSs

              The Lord be with you

              and also with you.

              Lift up your hearts.

              We lift them to the Lord.

              Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

              It is right to give thanks and praise.

              It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, always and everywhere to give you thanks, almighty and eternal Father, and in these days of Easter to celebrate with joyful hearts the memory of your wonderful works.  For by the mystery of his passion, Jesus Christ, your risen Son, has conquered the powers of death and hell and restored to women and men the image of your glory.  He has placed us once more in paradise and opened to us the gate of life eternal.  And so, in the joy of this Passover, earth and heaven resound with gladness, while angels and archangels and the powers of all creation sing for ever the hymn of your glory.

              Holy, holy, holy Lord,
              God of power and might,
              heaven and earth are full of your glory.
              Hosanna in the highest.
             
+Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
              Hosanna in the highest.

              As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

              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 trespasses,

              as we forgive those who trespass against us.

              And lead us not into temptation;

              But deliver us from evil.

              For thine is the kingdom,

              the power and the glory,

              for ever and ever.      

              Amen.

              The God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
and the blessing of God almighty,
+ the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be with you and those you love, today and always.                Amen.

Hymn: We are marching in the light of God: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoJE2HYx_Z8 

or if you prefer it in the original version from South Africa:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1KZbMprW8U