O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father
Psalm 96.1-3, 7-10
Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord and bless his name;
tell out his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations
and his wonders among all peoples.
Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples;
ascribe to the Lord honour and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name;
bring offerings and come into his courts.
O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
let the whole earth tremble before him.
Tell it out among the nations that the Lord is king.
He has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘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.’
I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you.
When you think of going to Church, what images and memories spring to mind? Do you think of the peace, the presence and the joy of Christ, or do you think of rows of solemn and disapproving faces? Do you think of the living word of God, of joyous singing and meaningful prayer, or do you think of dry and solemn words in an archaic language that is difficult to understand? Do you recall inspiring preaching with a message that both feeds and encourages, or do you think of those interminable minutes that have to be gone through because they are part of the tradition of going to Church?
Being part of a Church community is an essential part of living the full and faithful Christian life. We are called to come together in community on a regular basis in order that we might be fed, nurtured and strengthened as both disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ in the world. This is the teaching we find throughout the New Testament. The followers of Christ gathered together, either with him in person, or in his name, to be fed, to meditate upon his teaching and their relationship with God, to pray together and to go out and emulate his life of love and service. This was not the situation solely for those who were members of the early Church, it is our calling too!
For so many, the joy of being part of a community of faith has turned into a chore. Joy has been replaced with a sense of social obligation. The joy and strength of Church membership has become a matter of personal preference and private spirituality. But … Jesus said: I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you.
We know that joy is infectious. Just think of the times when you have been in the company of others; think of the moments when the joy of one person has ‘infected’ the whole group and there has been spontaneous laughter and merriment. That is what Jesus is calling us to experience when we come into his presence. Of course, there are times when we need to be quiet and still, but that does not mean that we should be distanced from the joy of knowing and loving Jesus.
When we read scripture and when we pray we should be prepared for our hearts to burst with joy and song because of the life-giving and life-affirming activity with which we are engaged. We should approach all moments we share with fellow believers in Christ with the joy that Jesus himself has given us.
Let us pray that we might find the joy of Christ in every moment of our lives.
Let us pray that we might set aside our fear of the disapproval of others and that we might, instead, be super-spreaders of God’s love and joy with all whom we meet.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God in the love that he has shown and commanded.
Grant that your faithful people, chosen by your grace and sealed in baptism, may always proclaim your greatness by their deeds of love. Bless and guide those who are working for the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.
May the power of love overcome the anger and bitterness that divides people and nations. Send your Holy Spirit to heal all divisions and to make known the love of the Father which is revealed in Jesus Christ.
Make us gracious and loving in our relationships, that we may show ourselves to be those whom Jesus calls his friends. Keep our families faithful to follow his commandment of love.
Have mercy on those who cannot love because they have never known love. Visit with new life the outcast and neglected of our society. Give us compassion and understanding when the will to love grows cold.
We give thanks for those who were called to be followers and friends of Jesus Christ in this world. Receive them into eternal life with that divine love which they partly knew through the gift of human love.
We make our prayers through Christ, our Friend and Redeemer.
Prayer for the week
O Lord, the first and the last,
the beginning and the end:
you who were with us at our birth,
be with us through our life;
you who are with us through our life,
be with us at our death;
and because your mercy will not leave us then,
grant that we die not,
but rise to the life everlasting.
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 trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.