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Weekly Online Service
17 May 2020 The Sixth Sunday of Easter

Please find below our service for this week. You can also click on the PDF button to open and download a copy of the printed generic Service booklet.

You will find an opening hymn played on the organ by Keith Beniston - words are included. This is followed by the service. Finally there is a closing hymn. Please feel free to follow along in whichever way you feel most comfortable. Words in bold are for everyone to join in.

This week Caroline James has recorded Be Still. As we draw close to the Lord in this act of worship please sit and listen or join in as part of preparation for the Service.

Be still for the presence of the Lord.

Be still for the presence of the Lord,
The Holy One is here
Come bow before Him now,
With reverence and fear
In Him no sin is found
We stand on holy ground
Be still for the presence of the Lord,
The Holy One is here.

Be still for the glory of the Lord,
Is shining all around
He burns with holy fire,
With splendour He is crowned
How awesome is the sight
Our radiant King of light
Be still for the glory of the Lord,
Is shining all around.

Be still for the power of the Lord,
Is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal,
To minister His grace
No work too hard for Him
In faith receive from Him
Be still for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place
Be still for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place.

Hymn

Thine be the glory

Thine be the glory,
Risen, conqu’ring Son;
Endless is the victory,
Thou o’er death hast won;
Angels in bright raiment
Rolled the stone away,
Kept the folded grave clothes
Where Thy body lay.

Refrain

Thine be the glory,
Risen conquering Son,
Endless is the victory,
Thou o’er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us,
Risen from the tomb;
Lovingly He greets us,
Scatters fear and gloom;
Let the church with gladness,
Hymns of triumph sing;
For her Lord now liveth,
Death hath lost its sting.

Refrain

No more we doubt Thee,
Glorious Prince of life;
Life is naught without Thee;
Aid us in our strife;
Make us more than conquerors,
Through Thy deathless love:
Bring us safe through Jordan
To Thy home above.

Refrain

Service Audio

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

All say Amen.

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

and also with you.

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.

The Prayers of Penitence

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments and to live in love and peace with all.

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.

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.

Gloria in Excelcis

Glory to God
Glory to God
Glory to the Father

Glory to God
Glory to God
Glory to the Father

To him be Glory
For ever.

To him be Glory
For ever.

Alleluia, Amen.

Alleluia, Amen.
Alleluia, Amen.
Alleluia, Amen.

Glory to God
Glory to God
Son of the Father

Glory to God
Glory to God
Son of the Father

To him be glory
For ever.

To him be glory
For ever.

Alleluia, Amen.

Alleluia, Amen.
Alleluia, Amen.
Alleluia, Amen.

Glory to God
Glory to God
Glory to the Spirit

Glory to God
Glory to God
Glory to the Spirit

To him be glory
For ever.

To him be glory
For ever.

Alleluia, Amen.

Alleluia, Amen.
Alleluia, Amen.
Alleluia, Amen.

The Collect of the Day is said or sung.

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. Amen.

The Old and New Testament Readings

Genesis 8.20 – 9.17 - Read by Katie Smart

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelt the pleasing odour, the Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.

22 As long as the earth endures,
   seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night,
   shall not cease.’

9 God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life.

6 Whoever sheds the blood of a human,
   by a human shall that person’s blood be shed;
for in his own image
   God made humankind.
7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.’

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ 12 God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ 17 God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Acts 17.22–31 - Read by Vic Harrington

22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28 For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,

“For we too are his offspring.”

29 Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

The Gospel

John 14.15-21 - Read by Pam Hagan

All sing: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

The Gospel reader says

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John

All say: Glory to you, O Lord.

15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18 ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’

This is the gospel of the Lord.

All say: Praise to you, O Christ.

All sing: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Sermon

The Rainbow

Genesis 8.20-9.17

Have you joined the new religion? I don’t mean the online worship, streaming services, virtual choirs and orchestras and WhatsApp contact groups. I expect many of you have done that and a good thing too. This is the old religion, done anew. It’s all very creative and exciting (to some), and it remains to be seen what the full impact of it will be. Apparently, according to one survey, a quarter of the nation of turning to online church services of some kind. This is very interesting news, even if it is only half-true.

But there is also a new form of ‘church’ that has arisen, involving a secular ritual. At 8pm every Thursday millions of folk go onto the street to applaud not only nurses and doctors but all NHS staff and those who have been keeping the show on the road and caring for our health and wellbeing. Many of these people are taking huge risks and serving us sacrificially. You will know of the sad and heart-breaking stories of those dying in the line of duty, young and old. So, galvanized by a lady from Holland who has got our country clapping, we boldly go beyond our bunkers to offer praise and thanksgiving to these marvellous people. All this applauding is both audible and laudable.

It is, actually, quite close to the concept of worship – weorþscipe - as the Old English called it, which means to offer honour to a worthy object or person. There is a real sense in which we are now worshipping the NHS. Our doctors and nurses are the priests and deacons of physical ministry in a world that is not so much neglecting the spiritual as parking it in virtual space. The Coronavirus pandemic is highlighting the duality of body and mind, separating the two, but also, to some extent helping us recognise the interconnection of the two. This is good. So we worship God online and each other in the street. Church rituals have been replaced by pray-as-you-go downloads, and positive thinking about and audible and laudable applause for those who serve and save us has become a weekly ritual.

The logo of this new worship is the rainbow, which has taken on a lovely modern hue these days. For most of us, the rainbow motif has its origins in the Biblical Flood story, found in today’s reading. Even those who do not comprehend its cultural heritage or original meaning still recognise the rainbow as a sign of hope today. It has become a symbol of thanks for the sterling work of the NHS, and many have reported seeing rainbows in the sky as they venture out on Thursday evenings to applaud key workers and NHS staff. (See BBC News website). This is the new going to church - standing in street, garden or balcony, or leaning out of the windows of our own arks, clapping. It is a new ritual with new unity, new purpose. It is built on a blend of appreciation and fear. These are archetypal religious motivations that when combined direct our hopes, fears and prayers skywards, where the bow after rain sends its beams of hope upon us.

One wonders whether it is deliberate or coincidental that the rainbow symbol, beloved and copied by children has become associated with all of this. On a simple level the rainbow symbolises hope. The original story makes this clear: it is one of the best bits of the Old Testament.

Adopt the rainbow as we may, we must also learn patience from the Ark story, and from Noah himself we gain insights into what family life on the ark might have been like. For as in any family, there are troubled moments, as revealed in Noah’s case by the strange story of him making wine, becoming drunk and being embarrassed by Canaan, whom he consequently curses. Noah was a righteous man in the eyes of God, but he was not perfect.

It is not easy to be perfect in lockdown, and there are tensions of various kinds that arise. There are isolation-specific difficulties; family lockdown tensions, and normal life issues that can be exaggerated simply by being in lockdown. Most of us thrive on a blend of social interaction, company, conversation, solitude and ‘downtime’. Alongside a ‘balanced diet’, we also need balanced interaction with others. Like many of the creatures on the ark, we are social animals, and in one of the Creation narratives God does not think it good for mankind to be alone, and so creates not only animals but another human being for company and family procreation (Genesis 2:18). Family life is part of the order of Creation, and so it is no wonder that isolation can cause emotional, psychological and even physical stress when it is imposed. There are those who choose solitude (which is not quite the same as loneliness), or lived as hermits or anchorites (Antony of Egypt and Julian of Norwich, for example), and we know from our own acquaintances that some people are happier with their own company than others. Yet isolation can be an ordeal, while for others, enforced company can be.

For some this makes the current lockdown an excruciating ordeal of claustrophobia, even danger. For when one person cannot cope with the situation, or has already present tendencies exaggerated by close and continual proximity to other family members, it can lead to agitation, short-temperedness, cruelty, violence; causing physical and mental suffering. We have a sense of the immediate threat of the virus, but its virulence expresses itself violently in some domestic contexts, financially and physically. The unseen enemy is doing unseen harm. For some the tensions and insecurities are knife-edged, and the stresses therefore sharp and painful. Bankruptcy, unemployment, loss of status, purpose or security accompany the bereavement that so many are forced to face. The range of family experience in lockdown spans from minor irritations and frustrated outburst to criminal domestic violence. To be imprisoned in lockdown with someone whom one cannot trust; of whom one is afraid; or from whom one is in palpable danger is unbearably stressful. This requires vigilance and prayer from us all.

But I am reminded of a more modern rainbow, etched into the canvas of the great novel of that name by D H Lawrence. Controversial as the book became after its publication in 1915, The Rainbow is an all-encompassing take on family relationships. The novel tells the story of three generations of the Brangwen family, and as we travel the wide arc of their family history, we encounter a profound exposition of passion and power amidst the familiar social roles of husbands, wives, children, and parents.

We meet Ursula Brangwen, who is probably the central character and whose ongoing exploits are continued with that of her sister Gudrun in the sequel, Women in Love. She sees “in the rainbow the earth’s new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven.” It is to be the optimistic dawn of a new modernist age, in which the idea of truth is to be recast. The First World War – the war of machines - had begun, but it is the ancient, religious, Biblical, hopeful symbol of the rainbow that Lawrence uses to span the arches of his magisterial literature. And for Lawrence the archetypal themes of flood and covenant are transformed into an ebb and flow of passion ameliorated by power, and as the book concludes the catalogue of trials and tribulations of young lives confused and conflicted by passion, they are given a hopeful future in the rainbow which recolours and brightens life.

Whether it is Lawrence’s modernist metaphorical rainbows, or the children’s drawings we see in front windows, we are so much reminded of the power and promise of the rainbow in this our current, challenging age. The rainbow is the badge of the modern cult of clapping for key workers. It is only two weeks since we were reminded of the flood, and now this week we reach the end of the story, the happy ending as it were. But we have been reminded that the flood did not last a mere 40 days and nights, but 150, and that it was 11 months before Noah and his family were able to leave the ark.

Back in March when the Lockdown was imminent, we launched the ASK Force. You might remember that ASK stands for Action, Supplication and Kindness. These are the three things that can carry us, and be carried by us at this time. We can act for others, not necessarily outside our home (not everyone can distribute food and be the ‘heroes’ we applaud), but we can ‘act’ at home, with kindness. The way we act affects how others live, and we can all do our bit. Acts of kindness are simple, cheap and healthy. Kindness, like a smile, is free, but hugely valuable. It might require some effort sometimes. So be it. Supplication (prayer) also requires some effort. Yet alongside kindness it is vital, for prayer is action, and all action needs to be accompanied by supplication, for then it can be kind in a distinctively Christian way.

The 2007 film, Evan Almighty is a contemporary recasting of the story of Noah’s Ark, set in the USA. One of its recurring themes is that the world can be changed through Acts of Random Kindness: ARK, for short. Now the ‘rain’ of the virus has stopped pouring down upon us so relentlessly, we still have to gingerly navigate the uncharted waters which we hope will lead us out of lockdown. Let us continue to be an ASK force, offering action, supplication and kindness in all sorts of both random and targeted ways, praying always for those for whom the waters are stormy and lockdown a terrible ordeal. Also, of course, to continue to offer praise and thanksgiving for, and to those who keep the show on the road and the nation healthy. Amen.

The Rev'd Dr Gordon Giles, St Mary Magdalene, Enfield, 17/05/2020

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Domenico Morelli Noah's Dankgebet (Thanksgiving)

Service Audio

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit
and the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Intercessions 

The Intercessions list has been circulated with petitions for the Church, The World, The Community, Our Keyworkers, The Sick and the Deceased. The Diocesan Cycle of Prayer is found at:

London Anglican Cycle of Prayer

This or another response may be used:

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you promised through your Son Jesus Christ to hear us when we pray in faith.

Strengthen N our bishop(s) and all your Church in the service of Christ, that those who confess your name may be united in your truth,
live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world.

Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen; give wisdom to all in authority;
and direct this and every nation in the ways of justice and of peace;
that we may honour one another, and seek the common good.

Give grace to us, our families and friends, and to all our neighbours,
that we may serve Christ in one another, and love as he loves us.

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit …;
give them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring them the joy of your salvation.

Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ …; according to your promises, grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom.

Rejoicing in the fellowship of all your saints, we commend ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.

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

The Peace

We are the body of Christ.
In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
Let us then pursue all that makes for peace and builds up our common life.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

and also with you.

A sign of peace may be exchanged.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray.

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.

The Collect

God our Father, whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life:
may we thirst for you, the spring of life and source of goodness,
through him who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.

The Blessing

The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

The Dismissal

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ.  Amen.

Recessional Hymn

O Jesus, I have promised

O Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me,
My master and my friend;
I shall not fear the battle
If Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway
If Thou wilt be my guide.

O let me feel Thee near me!
The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,
The tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me,
Around me and within;
But Jesus, draw Thou nearer,
And shield my soul from sin.

O let me hear Thee speaking
In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of self will.
O speak to reassure me,
To hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen,
Thou guardian of my soul.

O Jesus, Thou hast promised
To all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory
There shall Thy servant be.
And Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow,
My master and my friend.

O let me see Thy footprints,
And in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly
Is in Thy strength alone.
O guide me, call me, draw me,
Uphold me to the end;
And then in Heav’n receive me,
My Saviour and my friend.

Material from Common Worship 2000 is included in this service and is copyright © The Central Board of Finance of the Church of England.