May 24, 2020

From the heart of Jesus

Passage: 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 and John 17:1-11

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Call to Worship

Hymn: Come, let us sing

Come, let us sing of a wonderful love, tender and true; tender and true
Out of the heart of the Father above, streaming to me and to you
Wonderful love, wonderful love, dwells in the heart of the Father above

Jesus the Saviour this gospel to tell joyfully came, joyfully came
Came with the helpless and hopeless to dwell, sharing their sorrow and shame
Seeking the lost, seeking the lost, saving, redeeming at measureless cost.

Jesus is seeking the wanderers yet; why do they roam? Why do they roam?
Love only waits to forgive and forget; home, weary wanderers, home
Wonderful love, wonderful love, dwells in the heart of the Father above

Come to my heart, O thou wonderful love; come and abide; come and abide
Lifting my life till it rises above, envy and falsehood and pride
Seeking to be, seeking to be, lowly and humble, a learner of thee.

Prayer of Adoration and Confession

Assurance of Pardon

Family Hymn: Lord, listen to your children praying

Lord, listen to your children praying
Lord, send your Spirit in this place
Lord, listen to your children praying
Send us love; send us power; send us grace.

Time with our Children

Prayer for Understanding

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11

12 Beloved do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.
14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.
7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
8 Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.
9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.
11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

Scripture: John 17:1-11

1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,
2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.
5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
6 "I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you
8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.
10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.
11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

HYMN: Open our eyes, Lord

Open my eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus
To reach out and touch him, and say that we love him
Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen
Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus.

The Message: From the heart of Jesus

When it comes to reflecting on the heart of Jesus, John is the one to whom people most often turn. His gospel is full of what the love of God meant to him and to those who encountered God in Jesus in the flesh. John believed that it was important for us not just to be aware of the teachings of Jesus but to understand that the teaching was always in the context of an encounter – the building of a relationship. John wanted us to know that Jesus had emotions. He also wanted us to experience both the compassion and tenderness of Jesus but also feel the passion that sometimes sparked anger. But through it all John wanted us to remember why God came into the world in the form of Jesus:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through him, the world might be saved. John 3:16-17 (The Complete Jewish Bible, tr. by David H. Stern)

It is God’s great love for this world and its peoples that moved him repeatedly to come to the people of Israel. It is God’s love for us that caused him to come in Jesus – to give of himself in a way that he hoped would touch the hearts of all people. He chose to come as a child, as a son, as a first-born son and offer himself to show us that his great desire was ever for a relationship of love and life between him and us.

As John reveals the heart of God in Jesus, he also reveals a great angst God. The course of events that led to our separation from God in the Garden of Eden and our present state in which this life ends in death and darkness is deeply troubling to God. And it is revealed through Jesus that God wants to receive us home and give to us once again that light and life that first moved over the face of the creation and that caused us to come into being.

And so while we find John revealing to us through Jesus a God who is angry at times, frustrated at times, moved to tears and to the point of despair over the struggles, trials and hurts that he personally witnessed in his physical time on earth, we find this same Jesus – this same God - ever willing to be for us a shepherd, a tree in which we can grow, a way for us to follow in this life, a truth that we can trust, and a life that can bring us peace in the midst of any hardship. He wants nothing more than to feed us with a bread that will not only fill our stomachs but also fill any deep longing within our being; he wants nothing more than to give us water that will not only quench our thirst for today but will quench any unsettled thoughts in our minds and hearts and cause all thirst to disappear.

As John reminds us in the opening words of his Gospel:

To as many as did receive him, to those who put their trust in his person and power, he gave the right to become children of God, not because of bloodline, physical impulse, or human intention, but because of God. John 1:12-13 (The Complete Jewish Bible, tr. by David H. Stern)

It is clear that – as far as John is concerned – God was always seeking for reconciliation between himself and humanity. His hope was that through choosing one nation and building a relationship with them that the other nations of the world might come to recognize the One who had set the world in motion and whose desire was for the people to live in peace and to know no pain or suffering. It was his hope that Israel could be that light to the world.

And even though the light of God has now widened to include more than just the nation of Israel, we are still struggling with how to be the light that God so dearly wants us to be. We still struggle with letting the light of God shine through us. But that has never stopped God from trying and it never will stop him. Still his desire is not to impose that light or love or life on anyone. His desire is to draw us into a relationship with him.

Those first disciples who gathered around Jesus came to him not out of fear or a sense that he had come to exact revenge against those who they saw as enemies; rather they were drawn to him by his words, by his demeanour, by his eyes, his touch. Truly it was that very personal sense that he was approachable. They felt in him a true love and compassion for others. As time went by, they were drawn more and more to him and came to understand that he cared deeply for them and for so many others.

Today’s passage of Scripture from John’s Gospel is part of the long prayer offered by Jesus before his arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. It is a summation of the ministry of Jesus and it is filled with reflections upon the time that Jesus has spent with the disciples. He reflects on the teaching that he has imparted to them and his great concern for them as they will have to move into the future without his physical presence. Yet Jesus knows that a comforter, a guide will be given to them for the very Spirit of God will be with them.

Jesus speaks of these people – these first disciples - with great love and concern; but he also is conscious of those who will come after them. He says:

I pray not only for these, but also for those who will trust in me because of their word, that they may all be one. (John 17:20) (The Complete Jewish Bible, tr. by David H. Stern, p. 1353)

Jesus is praying for the family. He is praying for those who will become children of God through their trust in the words of God and the One who has come in the name of God not to judge and condemn them but to love and lead them. He is praying for those who he desires to have as brothers and sisters to him. His concern is for their well-being even when his impending crucifixion should be uppermost in his mind.

This prayer is a reminder to us who trust God and trust in his words that we are to pray for the family as Jesus prayed. We are to remember that each of us who is here in this place has been adopted by God as children; we are to be brothers and sisters to one another; as such we are to ever seek to love one another as best we can; we are to pray for one another and ever seek to show compassion and mercy rather than judgment. We are to ever seek to live at peace with one another by striving to understand each other’s journey through this life and so be able to be supportive to one another as we make our way through this world.

As we do so, we will discover that being part of the family of God is not just about you or me, your wants or my wants or your needs or my needs, but that it is about all those things and more. For it is about our relationship one to another and the relationship we all have to our God. From the heart of Jesus to each one of us.

As God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son that we might love him, let us so love one another from our hearts!

Invitation to the Offering

Prayer of Dedication

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

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 and the power and the glory. Forever and ever. AMEN

HYMN: All the way my Saviour leads me

All the way my Saviour leads me, what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt his tender mercy who through life has been my guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in him to dwell
For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Saviour leads me, cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial, feeds me with the living bread
Though my weary steps may falter, and my soul athirst may be
Gushing from the rock before me, lo, a spring of joy I see.

All the way my Saviour leads me, oh the fullness of his love!
Perfect rest to me is promised in my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal, wings its way to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages, “Jesus led me all the way.”