O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope:
strengthen us to proclaim your risen life
and fill us with your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.
Be joyful in God, all the earth;
sing the glory of his name;
sing the glory of his praise.
Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds!
Because of your great strength
your enemies shall bow before you.
‘All the earth shall worship you,
sing to you, sing praise to your name.’
Come now and behold the works of God,
how wonderful he is in his dealings with humankind.
He turned the sea into dry land;
the river they passed through on foot;
there we rejoiced in him.
In his might he rules for ever;
his eyes keep watch over the nations;
let no rebel rise up against him.
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 the crowd, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’
What do the words ‘eternal life’ mean to you?
Many books and poems have been written, many pictures painted and much music composed in an attempt to provide some sort of answer to this question. But, each work of art is an expression of one person’s understanding of that phrase: ‘eternal life’.
In our church in Corby Glen there are many famous medieval wall paintings. A detail from one of those paintings shows the dead, still in their shrouds, rising out of their graves. Surely this is another attempt to make understandable the truly incomprehensible.
Jesus says: all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life. Those with a more logical turn of mind may struggle with these words. How can we see the Son? Even if we are convinced that Jesus is that Son, we know that he died on a cross and then ascended to his Father in heaven some two thousand years ago. Is Jesus really setting us an impossible task?
Of course, Jesus is not confronting us with the unachievable. Rather, Jesus is inviting us to look outside the blinkered parameters within which we live out our daily lives. In scripture we read of the glories of God’s creation. We also read that Jesus was there, with his heavenly Father, as that creation was brought into being. So, let us really look around us. Let us not focus on how we might create a beautiful back garden for ourselves, but rather on how the wonders of the totality of God’s creation engulfs and sustains us.
In the gospels we read of Jesus’ teaching about love … that is, love for our neighbours and for our enemies. He says that every time we indulge in an act of kindness and care we are really demonstrating our love for him.
When Jesus speaks of us seeing the Son and believing in him, he is pointing us away from our inward-looking approach to life towards the totality of all that reflects the glory of God in this world.
Today’s big question revolves around our willingness to let go and to believe and trust in the God who sent his only Son into the world in order that we might come to share in the joy of eternal life in his nearer presence.
Over the last couple of weeks we have been revelling in the joy and the power of the resurrection. What more evidence do we need before we let go of our flawed human logic and believe and trust in God and his risen Son?
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God for the eternal life which he has promised to all who trust in him.
Grant that the Church may be always faithful to feed your people with the living bread of the Eucharist. Bless her ministers with grace to serve the Kingdom through word and sacrament.
We pray for the world, fed by the life of Christ, for the places were he is not known and the hearts where he is not loved. May his sacrifice prevail for the healing of the nations and for peace in all places of strife and violence.
Teach us to recognise the holiness in those around us, in friends and neighbours and all who come into our lives. Fill this community with mutual care, for the familiar and for the stranger, as equal children of the Father.
Have mercy on those who are rejected, whose qualities are despised and whose love is not returned. Feed with the living bread those who hunger and thirst, in the flesh or in the spirit.
Raise up, in their last day, those who have been drawn back to the loving heart of the Father. Give us grace so to follow faithfully in this world that we may rise to the glory of eternal life.
We pray in the name of Christ, the true and living bread.
Prayer for the week
Eternal God, in whom is all our hope
in life, in death, and to all eternity;
grant that, rejoicing in the eternal life which is ours in Christ,
we may face whatever the future holds in store for us
calm and unafraid,
always confident that neither death nor life
can part us from your love in Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.