The 6th Sunday of Easter
We welcome you to our online written service this Sixth Sunday of Easter. Today we are happy to welcome Rev Joop Albers who leads us in worship and has provided our sermon for today.
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 hymn is: NEH 408 – Love divine all love excelling
New Testament Lesson: Acts 10: 44 – end
New Testament Lesson: 1 John 5: 1-6
The Gospel Reading: John 15: 9-17
Love divine all loves excelling We all know this wonderful hymn. A hymn that is popular for more than 250 years The first word is LOVE. A word that is mentioned throughout the whole bible umpteen times
Love, that’s what my sermon is all about.
From the moment you are born until the moment you die; and every second and every minute and every hour and every day and every month and every year and every decade, the purpose of life is God giving you and me the time to learn how to love, in the way as God loves. God is teaching us what it means to be a truly loving people.
The shape of God’s love in us is forever changing throughout all of our lives. The shape of God’s love in us never stays the same.
The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians one of the most beautiful odes to love found in either secular or religious literature when he wrote the following words.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I give all I have and if I deliver my body to be burned, but am not a loving person, I gain nothing. … A loving person is patient and kind; he or she is not jealous or boastful, arrogant or rude, irritable or resentment. A loving person does not insist on one’s own way. A loving person does not rejoice in those things that are wrong but a loving person rejoices in those things that are right. A loving person bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. … If this quality of love ever becomes yours, it will never pass away.
So, faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest gift that God has given to us is his love. Therefore, make love your goal, your reason, your purpose for living.”
In First John, chapter 4, (the chapter before our second reading from scripture) today the author says, “God is love.” That is the first time in the history of the human race that the phrase has ever been said, “God is love.”
I ask you the question, “How did the Apostle John come to that conclusion?”
“God is love?” I would briefly like to answer that question. …
Did he look at the history of the human race and come to that conclusion that God is love?
It seems to me that looking at human history, all you see is war and killing throughout all of centuries. … Did the Apostle Paul look at Mother Nature and come to the conclusion that God is love? I think not. You look at nature and its beauty, its mystery, its symmetry, and you can conclude that the creator of the universe understands beauty, artistry and mystery, but you can’t conclude that God is love.
Well, how did the author come to the conclusion for the first time in human history that God is love?
… He looked at the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
The author looked at the quality of love in Jesus, for his parents and family, for his disciples, for all the lepers, blind, lame; he looked at the quality of love that he died on the cross in behalf of everybody. The author realised that Jesus was the most loving person he had ever seen. Secondly, he saw that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Jesus had been raised from the dead and had conquered death itself. The author then came to the following conclusion. Listen carefully and slowly to the flow of this logic. “Jesus is God. Jesus is love. Therefore, God is love.”
“If Jesus is God and God is love, then God must be love.” I believe that is the way that the Apostle John came to that brilliant, first time ever, conclusion that God is love.
If it is true that the very core of the universe is love, then God wants us to grow in love.
I am suggesting to you to experience God is to experience the love of God.
It is to experience love for other people, and most often, those are not feelings of elation at all. When I think of experiencing the love of God,
That is what it means to experience God, to experience love. Love almost always is a lot of hard work.
To experience the love of God for others always involves work, exhaustion, tears. When you think of your own stories and experiences with this love, your stories always involve work, commitment, exhaustion. That’s what it always means to love.
God commands us to love one another in these ways. It is like God commanding fish to swim. It is like commanding birds to fly. It is like God commanding daffodils to be beautiful. When God commands us to love as God loves, God is simply commanding us to be the kind of people that we were created to be in the first place.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this–to lay down his life for his friends.” And we are hearing this program during the season of Easter; we know how the story ends, we know Jesus suffered terribly, but God could not leave his son, the one he’d loved, his friend, in the grave.
How did the Father love Jesus? On the third day God raised him up–which really tells us less about some automatic destiny we might have after we die than about how magnificent God really is; and if we think about it, we fall down on our faces and we laugh, then we pick each other up and begin to sing some great chorus of praise to a God who loves like that.
And that is what it is all about: being a loving person.
If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him, alleluia.
Let us pray to God the Father, who raised Jesus to life and exalted him at his right hand.
Lord protect your people through the glory of Christ.
Christ, you are the light of the world and the salvation of nations; -set us on fire with your Spirit as we proclaim the wonder of your resurrection.
Through the exaltation of Christ send your Spirit into the Church; -make her a sign of unity for the whole human family.
Through the exaltation of your Son raise up the sorrowful, set prisoners free, heal and comfort the sick; -may the whole world rejoice in your wonderful gifts.
You nourished the faithful departed with Christ’s body and blood; -let them share in his glory on the day of resurrection.
God gave us new life as his sons and daughters, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, so that we have a sure hope and the promise of an inheritance that will never perish, alleluia.
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Anthem: If ye love me – Thomas Tallis
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 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.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.