Morning Service for the Sixth Sunday of Easter 2023


We have just heard part of John’s farewell discourse of Jesus, given at the last supper to his disciples. In the discourse John has in mind not only what happens immediately after the trial and crucifixion but also what happens in the years that follow. The community of Jesus’ followers would not be left bereft, but that Jesus’ presence would be with them in the form of the Paraclete or Advocate - names which give a sense of the Spirit’s function for John’s community - to give words to Christians on trial for their faith, as an advocate in a court hearing.

Morning Service for the Sixth Sunday of Easter 2023

HYMN – Be thou my vision – NEH 339/10 Hymns for Today (Do NOT use MP) – Slane 

1 Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,

Be all else but naught to me, 

save that thou art,

Be thou my best thought in the day 

and the night,

Both waking and sleeping, 

thy presence my light.

2 Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word

Be thou ever with me, and I with thee, Lord,

Be thou my great Father, and I thy true son,

Be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

3 Be thou my breastplate, 

my sword for the fight,

Be thou my whole armour, 

be thou my true might,

Be thou my soul’s shelter, 

be thou my strong tower,

O raise thou me heavenward, 

great Power of my power.

4 Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,

Be thou my inheritance now and always,

Be thou and thou only the first in my heart,

O Sovereign of heaven, my treasure thou art.

5 High King of heaven, thou heaven’s bright Sun,

O grant me its joys after victory is won,

Great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

Still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all.

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.


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. Amen.

FIRST READING – Acts 17.22-31
Paul Speaks at the ancient court of Athens, the Areopagus on a hill near the Agora, or market place. He may well have been there defending himself, though this isn’t the context the writer of Acts gives us. Paul quotes Aratus of Soli, a favourite poet of c. 300BC. But in the main Paul responds to the complexity of religion in Athens in a somewhat dismissive manner, as if he really didn’t understand it at all – either that or, perhaps more likely, the writer of Acts doesn’t have time, space or inclination to give it much of an airing. In the end the message boils down to ‘repent, the end is nigh’. I am not sure that this was ever a way to communicate the gospel, and it sells Paul rather short. But it does remind us that Paul walked a tightrope all his life as an Apostle of Christ, between Jew and Greek, and the struggle he had to discover a language that he could use to talk to both about ideas neither would naturally have experienced or understood. 

Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 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. 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, 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. 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, 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.

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.’

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. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 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.”

HYMN Lord of our life – NEH 404 Iste Confessor

1 Lord of our life, and God of our salvation,

Star of our night, and hope of every nation,

Hear and receive thy Church’s supplication, 

Lord God Almighty.

3 Lord, thou canst help when earthly

armour faileth, 

Lord, thou canst save 

when deadly sin assaileth;

Christ, o’er thy rock 

nor death nor hell prevaileth;

Grant us thy peace, Lord.

4 Peace in our hearts, 

our evil thoughts assuaging;

Peace in thy Church, 

where brothers are engaging;

Peace, when the world its busy war is waging:

Calm thy foes’ raging.

5 Grant us thy help till backward they are driven,

Grant them thy truth, that they may be forgiven;

Grant peace on earth, and, 

after we have striven,

Peace in thy heaven

GOSPEL – John 14.15-21

“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.

“I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you. In a little while the world will not see me any longer, but you will see me; because I live, you will live too. You will know at that time that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you. The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.”


We have just heard part of John’s farewell discourse of Jesus, given at the last supper to his disciples. In the discourse John has in mind not only what happens immediately after the trial and crucifixion but also what happens in the years that follow. The community of Jesus’ followers would not be left bereft, but that Jesus’ presence would be with them in the form of the Paraclete or Advocate – names which give a sense of the Spirit’s function for John’s community – to give words to Christians on trial for their faith, as an advocate in a court hearing.

But at the heart of John’s meaning is an indefinable, but palpable sense of Jesus’ presence; a presence synonymous with the presence of God, the Father. Present after they see him no more but in Spirit, available as power and comfort, inspiration and encouragement.

We might recall the story of Moses drawn to the burning bush, he is instructed to go back to Egypt and free his people. He asks ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” The voice replies, “I will be with you…”. The rest of the story of Moses is about God’s abiding presence with him, the same is true of the prophets and people of faith ever since.

Thomas À Kempis wrote in his “Imitation of Christ”, ‘When Jesus is with us all is well, and nothing seems hard; but when Jesus is absent, everything is difficult.’ 

Such an awareness, however strong or weak, is what provides that assurance that gives courage in the face of any of the trails of life and confidence at life’s closing. It was certainly central to the resurrection experience of the disciples who had the courage to witness to the life of Christ after his crucifixion, for which many paid with their lives.

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 Jesus, good above all other  NEH 387 – Quem Pastores

1 Jesus, good above all other,

Gentle Child of gentle Mother,

In a stable born our Brother,

Give us grace to persevere.

2 Jesus, cradled in a manger,

For us facing every danger,

Living as a homeless stranger,

Make we thee our King most dear.

3 Jesus, for thy people dying,

Risen Master, death defying,

Lord in heaven, thy grace supplying,

Keep us to thy presence near.

4 Jesus, who our sorrows bearest,

All our thoughts and hopes thou sharest,

Thou to men the truth declarest;

Help us all thy truth to hear.

5 Lord, in all our doings guide us;

Pride and hate shall ne’er divide us;

We’ll go on with thee beside us,

And with joy we’ll persevere!


Dear Lord, in our humble faith we bring to you our thanks, our concerns and fears, knowing that we are safe in your hands and You Lord, are in the midst. 

We thank you Lord for every Christian soul the world over celebrating the festival of Easter where resurrections lies at the heart of our faith. We pray for all bishops, ministers and missionaries as they serve all your people and especially we pray for the Episcopal Diocese in Jerusalem serving in a time of hostility and danger. We pray for all Christians who are suffering because of their trust in you. We pray for this Diocese, this benefice and each of our churches, and for William and the pastoral care that he gives us all.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Through the resurrection love has overcome evil and we pray for your world especially in places where hatred and cruelty, injustice and violence appear to have the upper hand. We pray for all nations where war is raging, and the people of Ukraine, Russia and Sudan are especially on our hearts. We ask you to be close to all refugees and people living in fear, for all those who have lost everything they hold dear, and we pray for the children. 

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We thank you for our own country, for our own community, for our families and friends, both near and far. Help us to value all that we have and hold dear, yet ever mindful of those who for various reasons are facing real hardships at this time. Those who are worried about livelihoods, are experiencing family tensions or have financial concerns. Keep us mindful of each other, treating everyone with respect and unconditional love, just as Jesus loves us.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We bring to mind  any we know to be sick – and in this benefice especially Ray Hills … and in a time of quiet we bring them to you. Give all of them courage and confidence and a special feeling of your healing grace.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for any one we know who has died recently, or whose anniversaries fall at this time. In the sure hope of the resurrection we rejoice with all the saints that those we have loved now rest with you in glory.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

So Lord we will walk from this place into a new week, with confidence and trust in you, and in your Son, Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit 

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.

May Christ, who out of defeat 

brings new hope and a new future,
fill you with his new life.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen

HYMN Love divine, all loves excelling NEH408 – Blaenwern

1 Love Divine, all loves excelling,

Joy of heaven, to earth come down,

Fix in us thy humble dwelling,

All thy faithful mercies crown.

Jesus, thou art all compassion,

Pure unbounded love thou art;

Visit us with thy salvation,

Enter every trembling heart.

2 Come, almighty to deliver,

Let us all thy life receive;

Suddenly return, and never,

Never more thy temples leave.

Thee we would be always blessing,

Serve thee as thy hosts above,

Pray, and praise thee, without ceasing,

Glory in thy perfect love.

3 Finish, then thy new creation,

Pure and spotless let us be;

Let us see thy great salvation,

Perfectly restored in thee,

Changed from glory into glory,

Till in heaven we take our place,

Till we cast our crowns before thee,

Lost in wonder, love, and praise!

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