7th Sunday of Easter








Pew Sheet with Readings

The Eucharist

The Gathering
In the name of the Father, †and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Greeting
Alleluia. Christ is risen. 
He is risen indeed.  Alleluia.
Prayers of Penitence
What God has prepared for those who love him,
he has revealed to us through the Spirit;
for the Spirit searches everything.
Therefore, let us in penitence open our hearts to the Lord,
who has prepared good things for those who love him.
The Confession
Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us,
forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name.  Amen.

The president pronounces the Absolution,
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.
The Gloria
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.
The Collect
New Testament Reading
For the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Gospel Reading
Alleluia, alleluia.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people
and kindle in them the fire of your love.  Alleluia.                             

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to N.
Glory to you, O Lord.
The Gospel Reading concludes with:
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
Affirmation of Faith
Let us declare our faith
in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he was buried;

he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen. 
Prayers of Intercession
The Peace
God has made us one in Christ.
He has set his seal upon us and,
as a pledge of what is to come,
has given the Spirit to dwell in our hearts.
The peace of the Lord be always with you and also with you.
Let us offer one another a sign of peace.
Offertory Prayer
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:
through your goodness we have this bread to offer,
which earth has given and human hands have made.
It will become for us the bread of life.
Blessed be God for ever.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:
through your goodness we have this wine to offer,
fruit of the vine and work of human hands.
It will become for us the cup of salvation.
Blessed be God for ever.
The Eucharistic Prayer (Prayer B)
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.
Father, we give you thanks and praise
through your beloved Son Jesus Christ, your living Word,
through whom you have created all things;
who was sent by you in your great goodness to be our Saviour.
By the power of the Holy Spirit he took flesh;
as your Son, born of the blessed Virgin,
he lived on earth and went about among us;
he opened wide his arms for us on the cross;
he put an end to death by dying for us;
and revealed the resurrection by rising to new life;
so he fulfilled your will and won for you a holy people. 
And now we give you thanks
that, after he had ascended far above all heavens,
and was seated at the right hand of your majesty,
he sent forth upon the universal Church your holy
and life-giving Spirit;
that through his glorious power
the joy of the everlasting gospel
might go forth into all the world.

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.

Lord, you are holy indeed, the source of all holiness;
grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit,
and according to your holy will,
these gifts of bread and wine
may be to us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ;
who, in the same night that he was betrayed,
took bread and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.
In the same way, after supper
he took the cup and gave you thanks;
he gave it to them, saying:
Drink this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.
Jesus Christ is Lord:
Lord, by your cross and resurrection
you have set us free.
You are the Saviour of the world.

And so, Father, calling to mind his death on the cross,
his perfect sacrifice made once for the sins of the whole world;
rejoicing in his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension,
and looking for his coming in glory,
we celebrate this memorial of our redemption.

As we offer you this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving,
we bring before you this bread and this cup
and we thank you for counting us worthy
to stand in your presence and serve you.

Send the Holy Spirit on your people
and gather into one in your kingdom
all who share this one bread and one cup,
so that we, in the company of all the saints,
may praise and glorify you for ever,
through Jesus Christ our Lord;
by whom, and with whom, and in whom,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honour and glory be yours, almighty Father,
for ever and ever.  Amen.

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us.
The Lord’s Prayer
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.
Breaking of the Bread
The Agnus Dei
Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world,
grant us peace.

Giving of Communion
Alleluia. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.
Therefore let us keep the feast.  Alleluia.
Prayer after Communion
Alleluia.  Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed.  Alleluia.
The Spirit of truth lead you into all truth,
give you grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
and strengthen you to proclaim the word and works of God;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.  Amen.

Go in the peace of Christ.  Alleluia, alleluia!
Thanks be to God.  Alleluia, alleluia!


The Intercessions by Pat Lovegrove

With faith, hope and love let us pray to the Lord.
We pray for your Church throughout the world remembering that we your people are the Church and not the buildings.  Although church communities are separated at this time of lockdown we pray that we may find fresh strength in the good news of Easter and at Ascentiontide.  Help us Lord to use the gifts you give us for work in your service.  We pray for Fr. Michael and the Ministry team and give thanks for technology which allows us keep in touch with one another.
Lord in your mercy........Hear our prayer.
We pray for your world especially for people in countries, such as, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, Yemen and Syria, who are not only suffering from war, starvation, injustice, inequality, poverty, but also now coping with Covid-19.  We pray for people isolated in overcrowded migrant and refugee camps.  We give thanks for charities and agencies, Christian Aid, working tirelessly to stand out against injustice, and the faith to believe something can be done about it.  Give them strength and courage to continue their work and keep us mindful of the challenge which Jesus gives us, to help the poor and needy and to act justly and wisely in the world.
Lord in your mercy.......
We pray for our families and friends and all our neighbours and we give thanks for all the acts of kindness taking place in our community every day, from supplying and delivering meals to those in isolation, shopping for neighbours, helping at Food Banks, making scrubs and masks, and all who are raising money for charities.  We pray for our local businesses not knowing when they can open again, for our schools and teachers which have been open throughout lockdown for children of key workers, for those who have lost their jobs, for those who live alone in isolation, for carers unable to have a break from their loved ones, and for all key workers.  Lord you taught us to love our neighbour and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you.  In this time of anxiety and uncertainty give us strength and compassion to assure the fearful and isolated of our love and your love.
Lord in your mercy.....
Heavenly Father we thank you that you love us just as we are, though we are all in some way broken and imperfect.  At the end of Mental Health Awareness Week we pray for all, especially young people, who suffer from anxiety, depression, eating disorders, or have suicidal thoughts.  Help us to be aware of, and understand, the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness and have care, compassion and kindness.
Lord in your mercy.....
We bring before you Lord all who are sick, in difficulty or in pain, especially praying for; Joanna, Andrea Linsell, Caroline Wareham, Sam, Sonya, Harriet, Molly O'Day and all others known to us personally.  We pray for all those in hospital or at home suffering with Covid-19.  Grant them the comfort of your ever loving presence.  We pray for and give thanks for all frontline workers in hospitals, care homes and hospices.  Give skill, sympathy and resilience to all who are caring for the sick and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.  Strengthen them all with your Spirit that through their work many will be restored to health.
Lord in your mercy......
Merciful Lord we pray for the bereaved and we commemorate the departed praying especially for John Ansell and for all those who died from the cyclone in India and Bangladesh.  At the anniversary of death we remember Joseph Burkett, Joan Hodgson, George Major, Frank Carter, Daphne Wall, Ted Drake, Ethel Parker and Betty Hooper.  May we be assured that they are secure in your unconditional never ending love.
Lord in your mercy......
Let us 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.


The Sermon

As a teenager experiencing all things Anglican for the first time, I was very struck by the importance of symbols and symbolic actions in worship and how they resonated meaning that mere words couldn’t quite capture.  This was very different from the Southern Baptist way of doing things where words were the important thing, the worship and church building itself pared down without visual distraction.  Some actions were startlingly obvious in their message; blacks and whites receiving Communion from the shared cup unknown elsewhere locally, and the washing of feet on Maundy Thursday; but one of my favourites happened only on Ascension Day.  As Fr. Bill finished reading the gospel the Paschal Candle was extinguished by a server waiting in the wings for their big moment, returning the Candle to its place by the font after the service.  It was a “Wow!” moment, an enacted message that Jesus had in effect “left the building”, he had gone into heaven until his return at the end of all things.  It underlined that Jesus had physically left the earth in order to send his Spirit.  What Jesus alone had made present would soon be available to everyone, everywhere.  Liturgy fashions change with time and now our Easter celebrations emphasise the whole of the Easter season as one from Easter Day until Pentecost, as did the ancient Church.  I can’t help feeling we might just be missing the point of what the Ascension has to say.
Had the Risen Christ remained in Jerusalem you and I would likely still be painting ourselves blue with woad like our ancient ancestors.  We wouldn’t be Christians and very few people would have heard anything of the Gospel.  This is because Jesus disciples were utterly dependent on him from the beginning of his ministry until his ascension.  Like a cherished teddy bear they would have clung to him and sat at his feet basking in his reflected glory, in permanent celebration mode that he was alive.  Would you be willing to leave the person you loved most to travel to the ends of the Earth not knowing if you would ever return and see them again?  Of course Jesus could have gone on tour with his disciples, but that was not a very effective way of sharing the good news all around the world.  So we can see how Jesus’ message of love and hope would have been stuck in Judea for the very lucky few.  But it wasn’t.  It quickly spread across the Roman world and beyond, and that is thanks to the Holy Spirit.
I can’t help but wonder how they felt after the Ascension and before Pentecost.  It doesn’t feel like a repeat of the crucifixion.  There isn’t grief and anguish at Jesus’ leaving them.  Miss him, yes, but not despair.  They were confident that, even though they didn’t understand the when and how of the Spirit coming, Jesus would definitely keep his promise and send it.  A mixture of apprehension and excitement?  Perhaps like a child’s Christmas Eve unable to sleep with anticipation at what tomorrow will bring.  Or a constant waiting and watching for any sign that something was happening?  For them this betwixt and between time wasn’t frightening, it was one of longing for God’s promises to come to fruition tinged with a touch of sadness that their Master had left them, only to meet again on the other side of eternity. 
In July of 1969 my parents bought a new television set in anticipation of the historic moon landing.  A bit like the Coronation here, everyone in America was glued to their televisions as they watched history in the making.  Unfortunately for my mother, who was heavily pregnant with my brother at the time, the footage went on so long that she eventually fell asleep and didn’t get to see Neil Armstrong’s walkabout live.  She never quite got over the disappointment.
The Ascension was like that for Jesus’ friends.  Easter was the most tremendous experience ever and as the days went on they were lulled into a sense that everything was fine and would always be that way.  They had Jesus, what more did they need?  Then, out of the blue, he’s gone!  Not, definitely not, a magic trick or some sort of disappearing act.  Jesus isn’t a visitor, he hasn’t escaped earth to return to heavenly bliss, to lounge on clouds in the tidy perfection that we think of Paradise.  Jesus is where he has always been, he is with his Father and ours.  He is living the sort of life that he has called us to share.  The sort of life we can live here and now.  A deeper, more meaningful way of being that looks only to the Father and rejoices in his overflowing love forever. 
Jesus had to go, to go on ahead of us that we might long to be there too.  He has accomplished all that his Incarnation, his self-sacrificing death, and his resurrection required.  He has taken our common humanity, that which makes him and us uniquely human, into the very heart of the life of the Trinity, into the very soul of divinity itself.  To quote Neil Armstrong “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.  But Ascension is not just exaltation and celebration.  There is also a sharp note of uneasiness, a disquiet it leaves behind.  What would this Spirit do?  What would they do?  How would their lives change?  How would the Kingdom become a reality without its king present in the flesh?  Questions as relevant then as now.
So between Ascension and Pentecost we are left at a loose end.  We wait patiently to see what the Spirit will do for us, what it will bring.  The question then is will we be ready to receive afresh the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Will we be open to the possibility that our lives will be forever changed, changed in ways unexpected and unforeseen, shaping us into the very image of the love that sent it in the first place?  Or do we retreat into our selves, seek cover that this formidable power that brings forth creation and works perpetually in the world around us, bringing healing and wholeness to all that is broken; would we rather it pass us by and leave us as we are.  Let the Spirit come, we’re watching and waiting.  We won’t miss the best part this time.  Amen.

Alleluia, Sing to Jesus