Sunday 09 May 2021

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Welcome to St John's online Sunday morning Service.

First Hymn, Come let us join our cheerful songs

Tintwistle Band, Derbyshire

This is one of the most widely known and highly esteemed of Isaac Watts's compositions. It has no special history beyond the fact that it appeared in his Hymns & Sacred Songs, 1707.

First lesson from the Acts of the Apostle, chapter 10, verses 44–48


While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.


This is the word of the Lord, thanks be to God

The Collect

God our redeemer,
you have delivered us from the power of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:
grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life,
so by his continual presence in us

he may raise us to eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Psalm 22 verses 25-31

Sing to the Lord a new song,
   for he has done marvellous things.
His own right hand and his holy arm
   have won for him the victory.
The Lord has made known his salvation;
   his deliverance has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his mercy and faithfulness
      towards the house of Israel,
   and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Sound praises to the Lord, all the earth;
   break into singing and make music.
Make music to the Lord with the lyre,
   with the lyre and the voice of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
   sound praises before the Lord, the King.
Let the sea thunder and all that fills it,
   the world and all that dwell upon it.
Let the rivers clap their hands
   and let the hills ring out together before the Lord,
      for he comes to judge the earth.

  In righteousness shall he judge the world
   and the peoples with equity.


The Second lesson is from the first book of St John, chapter 5, verses 1–6.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.

For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

This is the word of the Lord, thanks be to God

Second Hymn, Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire

St Paul's Cathedral Choir

The ninth-century text “Veni Creator Spiritus” has a long history of use for the celebration of Pentecost. Attributed to Rabanus Maurus (ca. 780-856), the archbishop of Mainz, the Latin text appeared in nine manuscripts during the tenth century and was widely circulated in hymnals and breviaries by the twelfth century. John Cosin (1595-1672), an Anglican priest who became the Bishop of Durham during the English Restoration period, provided the 1627 translation, which is the shortest and appears most often in hymnals. Included in the ordination service of the Book of Common Prayer (1662).

INTERCESSIONS, please add your own prayers

The Gospel from St John, chapter 15, verses 9-17

Praise to you O Lord


As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.


Glory to you O Lord

Reflection from Fr David


Reflection for 9 May

Mother Julian of Norwich is remembered in the Anglican Calendar on 8 May. This holy woman was born 1342 and died probably 1416. We honour her today.

Very little is known about Mother Julian of Norwich. Not even her name is left to us, and she is called after the church of St Julian in Norwich, in the east of England, where she lived as an 'anchoress' walled up in a small room attached to the church. She belongs to a great flowering of medieval English mysticism but unlike the Rhineland mystics, Julian and the other English mystics did not live in a religious community, and Julian lived a hermit's life (albeit with a cat).

From her little cell in Norwich, she journeyed into the heart of God, and over many years she received visions of God's passionate love for all humankind. And these 'Showings' were intended for a greater audience, and thus she wrote them down and preached from her anchorite's cell, and to many people, what she had contemplated of God's grace and love. The collection of her writings, 'The Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love' (c.1393), is thought to be the first book written by a woman in English, and has been likened to a traveller's first-hand description of what she had seen and experienced.

As with most Christian mystics down the ages, what they learn through contemplation is meant to be preached and given to others, so that all may benefit from their gift of spiritual insight. For such is the direction of Love: that it flows outwards and seeks the good of the other. So, Julian says at the end of her work: "Would you know Your Lord's meaning in this thing? Know it well. Love was His meaning. Who showed it to you? Love. Why did He show it to you? For Love."

Mother Julian is rightly popular today for her 'optimism', notably her teaching that we are loved into existence and held in being by God's love, and that at the end of all things, "all will be well" for "all that is done is well done, since our Lord God does all". In her famous image she saw that all creation is being held in God's hand, as small and insignificant as a hazelnut, and all this God held in being because of his eternal and unchanging love.

At the beginning of the Revelations, Julian says that she asked for three wounds in her life: "the wound of true contrition, the wound of kind compassion, and the wound of earnest longing for God". This desire for God, which is written into every human heart, and grows in love, the more we know and experience God's love, providence and mercy, is that which directs us to our final end in God and leads us home to him. So, when my soul longs for


God, it also longs for goodness and being, and so shuns sin which is simply the absence of good and of being.

With these wounds imprinted on the heart, Julian has given us the core of the Christian faith; confidence in God and hope in salvation through a loving God. And she demonstrates that the mystical life is not restricted to the few but is promised to all of us who, like her, would have Jesus Christ as Friend.


Fr David Houghton

Closing Hymn, In heavenly love abiding

The text was written by Anna Laetitia Waring, who was born on Apr. 19, 1823, at Plas-y-Velin near Neath in Glamorganshire, south Wales. The daughter of Elijah Waring, she was brought up in the Society of Friends or Quakers. However, after moving to Bristol, England, where she spent most of her life, she became a member of the Anglican Church or Church of England in 1842. In order to read Hebrew poetry in the original, she learned the Hebrew language and thereafter studied from the Hebrew Psalter every day.

Miss Waring had begun writing poems in her teenage years and first published her Hymns and Meditations by A. L. W. in 1850. It contained nineteen hymns, including "In Heavenly Love Abiding" which was originally entitled "Safety in God."