Morning Service for the Seventh Sunday of Easter


The episode from the Acts of the Apostles we heard this morning is an interesting study of freedom and captivity.

Morning Service for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

HYMN Hail the day that sees him rise NEH 130 – Llanfair

1 Hail the day that sees him rise Alleluya!

Glorious to his native skies; Alleluya!

Christ, awhile to mortals given, Alleluya!

Enters now the highest heaven! Alleluya!

2 There the glorious triumph waits; Alleluya!,

Lift your heads, eternal gates! Alleluya!

Christ hath vanquished death and sin; Alleluya!    Take the King of glory in. Alleluya!

6 Lord, though parted from our sight, Alleluya!

Far above yon azure height, Alleluya!

Grant our hearts may thither rise, Alleluya!

Seeking thee beyond the skies. Alleluya!

7 There we shall with thee remain, Alleluya!

Partners of thine endless reign; Alleluya!

There thy face unclouded see, Alleluya!

Find our heaven of heavens in thee. Alleluya!.

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


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.

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.


O God the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ 

with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:

we beseech you, leave us not comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us

and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,

who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

FIRST READING – Acts 16.16-34
One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptised without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

HYMN Come let us join our cheerful songs NEH 349 – Nativity

1. Come, let us join our cheerful songs

With angels round the throne.

Ten thousand, thousand are their tongues,

But all their joys are one.

2. “Worthy the Lamb that died,” they cry,

“To be exalted thus!”

“Worthy the Lamb,” our hearts reply,

“For He was slain for us!”

3. Jesus is worthy to receive

Honour and power divine;

And blessings more than we can give,

Be, Lord, forever Thine.

4. Let all creation join in one,

To bless the sacred name

Of Him who sits upon the throne,

And to adore the Lamb.

GOSPEL – John 17.20-26

“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”


“I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”

The free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wings

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with fearful trill

of the things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill 

for the caged bird

sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn

and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

That poem by Maya Angelou does a good job of evoking what it means to be free, not just freedom of body from captivity, but also a freedom of spirit – a feeling of freedom that is so hard to explain. It’s a feeling perhaps most often felt in its absence – a feeling not of being free but of being trapped, either trapped in an unrewarding or unpleasant job, or trapped in a difficult relationship or home situation – trapped by children that can’t be left is a common one. I guess most of us have felt a lack of freedom at one time or another. 

The episode from the Acts of the Apostles we heard this morning is an interesting study of freedom and captivity. The fortune-telling girl was a slave, a slave to those who would exploit her, her owners, and a slave towards whatever it was that the writer of the Acts calls “a spirit of divination.” It is a powerful irony that she calls out and describes Paul and Silas as “slaves of God” and saying that they proclaim a way of freedom. What happens next presses the point further, in freeing the girl from her spiritual captivity Paul and Silas are imprisoned, made captive. Their beating served as an attempt to subdue their spirit, to bring that too into captivity. But they are unbowed – as slaves of God they know a perfect freedom that cannot be taken away. It is a freedom that must be shared, their very jailer, with yet more irony, is someone else they bring into freedom. But what is this liberty which these slaves of God have in abundance? 

Richard Bach, the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, wrote this parable: 

“Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. The current of the river swept silently over them all – young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way. Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth. 

But one creature said at last, “I am tired of clinging, though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.” 

The other creatures laughed and said, “Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!” 

But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks. Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling on, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more. 

The creatures downstream to whom he was a stranger, cried, “See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he’s free!” 

And the one carried in the current said, “I am no more special than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare to let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.”

This adventure of freedom is a work of the mind and spirit, and it all about owning a different set of priorities, but then we who have been baptised know the basis upon which this freedom can be experienced. 

As Jesus told his disciples in our gospel reading we must… be, know, and do. Be one in him and with him. Know Christ’s love. And do make it known, live it, demonstrate it. For in Being and Knowing and Doing we walk the way of faith and so the world cannot cling on to us, cannot drag us into its petty anxieties, its scramble for more – we are beyond all that – flying in the free air – buoyed along in the current of life to the full – at least that’s what’s possible.

That’s how it was lived out in this story of Paul and Silas. They knew that they were one with Christ, one in Christ, which gave them the freedom and the confidence to demonstrate the love and the welcome God has for all people.

Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried; he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles: this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.
1 Corinthians 15.3-7

HYMN Jesu the very thought of thee NEH 385 – St Botolph

1 Jesus, the very thought of thee

With sweetness fills my breast;

But sweeter far thy face to see,

And in thy presence rest.

2 Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,

Nor can the memory find,

A sweeter sound than thy blest name,

O Saviour of mankind!

3 O hope of every contrite heart,

O joy of all the meek,

To those who fall, how kind thou art!

How good to those who seek!

4 But what to those who find? Ah, this

Nor tongue nor pen can show;

The love of Jesus, what it is

None but his loved ones know.

5 Jesu, our only joy be thou,

As thou our prize wilt be;

Jesus, be thou our glory now,

And through eternity.


God of all time, we bring our thanks for this week’s joys, solutions and the kindnesses we have encountered. We pray for the approaching platinum celebrations and the thousands of volunteers working to make this a time of real jubilation. We bring our grateful thanks for the steadfast, faithful and uncomplaining example set by our Queen.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

God of compassion, bring your healing to the victims of war. We ask for your special mercy for those who have been physically injured or mentally traumatised. Lord, comfort them in their ordeal. And we ask that you work upon the hearts and minds of all leaders waging war, that they come to see each single death as a failure – a failure in their responsibility for the lives of the people they lead.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

God of vision, daily the media present us with a nation troubled by mendacity, greed and predatory behaviour all centred on the word ME. But lord as we look around us, we see the acts of those who are unselfish, honest and caring. Help us to retain a positive and balanced perspective, assured that your kingdom is always within our reach. 

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

God of healing, we pray for those who are ill, those caught in the black maze of depression, those struggling to come to terms with a diagnosis. We ask that you come close to them and they come to trust in your presence. 

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

We pray for those who have died. Here in Compton we give thanks for the life of Penny Neyroud who devoted so many hours to decorating the church with flowers. We remember her family and friends who mourn her passing and those grieving for the loss of children and adults caught up in the school shooting in Texas.

Merciful Father, 

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

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

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 love of the Lord Jesus draw you to himself,

the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen you in his service,

the joy of the Lord Jesus fill your hearts;

and the blessing of God Almighty,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

bless you and keep you, always. Amen

HYMN All hail the power of Jesu’s name  NEH 332 – Miles Lane

1 All hail the power of Jesu’s name;

Let angels prostrate fall;

Bring forth the royal diadem

To crown him Lord of all.

2 Crown him, ye morning stars of light,

Who fixed this floating ball;

Now hail the Strength of Israel’s might,

And crown him Lord of all.

4 Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race,

Ye ransomed of the fall,

Hail him who saves you by his grace,

And crown him Lord of all.

5 Hail him, ye heirs of David’s line,

Whom David Lord did call;

The God incarnate, Man divine,

And crown him Lord of all.

6 Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget

The wormwood and the gall,

Go spread your trophies at his feet,

And crown him Lord of all.

7 Let every tribe and every tongue

To him their hearts enthral,

Lift high the universal song,

And crown him Lord of all.

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