Sunday at St Andrew's

31 May 2020, 10am

Pentecost

Virtual Morning Prayer at St Andrew's Eaton

‘Locked in, Locked down, or Free?’

John 20.19-23

Speaker: The Revd Canon Susanna Gunner

(Diocesan Spirituality and Discipleship Adviser)

 

If you find this type difficult to read, please look at this page.

Welcome to this ‘virtual service’ from St Andrew’s Eaton. 

Today is Pentecost Sunday.  
Jesus Christ, whom we worship, is our crucified, risen and ascended Lord, and in these last weeks we have walked with him 
through his journey of love.

And today, along with the followers of Christ’s own time, we await the coming of the promised Holy Spirit, his gift to his people, through whom we make Christ known to the world.

As we begin, let’s pray that God will still our hearts and minds and speak to us in this time today.

 

GREETING

Leader:   Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
 and the Lord Jesus Christ
be with you

All:        and also with you.

Leader: Alleluia. Christ is risen!

All:        He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

 

HYMN:  O thou who camest from above.
 

RESPONSORY

Leader:    As we wait in silence,

All:          fill us with your Spirit.

Leader:    As we listen to your word,

All:          fill us with your Spirit.

Leader:    As we worship you in majesty,

All:          fill us with your Spirit.

Leader:    As we long for your refreshing,

All:          fill us with your Spirit.

Leader:    As we long for your renewing,

All:          fill us with your Spirit.

Leader:    As we long for your equipping,

All:          fill us with your Spirit.

Leader:    As we long for your empowering,

All:          fill us with your Spirit.

 

CONFESSION

Leader:     What God has prepared for those who love him, he has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything. 

Therefore, let us in penitence open our hearts to the Lord, who has prepared good things for those who love him.       1 Corinthians 2.9,10

Leader:   You raise the dead to life in the Spirit:

              Lord, have mercy.

All:          Lord, have mercy.

Leader:    You bring pardon and peace to the broken in heart:

               Christ, have mercy.

All:          Christ, have mercy.

Leader:    You make one by your Spirit the torn and divided:

              Lord, have mercy.

All:          Lord, have mercy.

Leader:    May the God of love and power

forgive us and free us from our sins,

heal and strengthen us by his Spirit,

and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.

All:          Amen.

 

HYMN: Holy Spirit, living breath of God. 
 

FIRST READING

Acts 2.1-21 or listen here

The coming of the Holy Spirit

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

CANTICLE

All:           The Spirit of God fills the whole world.

Alleluia.

1 I will take you from the nations,

and gather you from all the countries.

2 I will sprinkle clean water upon you,

and you shall be clean 

from all your uncleannesses.

3 A new heart I will give you,

and put a new spirit within you,

4 And I will remove from your body 

the heart of stone

and give you a heart of flesh.

5 You shall be my people,

and I will be your God. 

Ezekiel 36.24-26,28b

All:           The Spirit of God fills the whole world.

Alleluia.

 

HYMN: O Spirit of the living God.

 

SECOND READING 

John 20. 19-23 or listen here

After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples receive the Holy Spirit

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

SERMON  

… with an introduction by Phil Rodd

A couple of weeks ago, I (Phil) was in another Zoom meeting, reflecting with some other clergy from around the diocese on the passage we’ve just heard read from John chapter 20, after the resurrection when Jesus appears to his disciples for the first time, and breathes his Holy Spirit on them – and particularly making connections with our own context of lockdown.  It wasn’t hard to spot some very obvious parallels!  The disciples cowering in their upper room, the fear that gripped them, the doors locked.

And suddenly, we’re told, Jesus is there.  As on other occasions in the gospels, Jesus’ sudden appearance might prompt us to ask the question, what difference will it make?  Never a bad question to ask: when the disciples are at their wits’ end, when we are at our wits’ end, what difference will it make when Jesus is there?

We might think that, what with the mention of the disciples’ fear, Jesus would respond with the most-repeated command in Scripture: ‘Fear not’.  But he doesn’t.  Rather than a negative command, what he tells them – what he gives them – is altogether positive: ‘Peace be with you.’  And responding to their need not just to hear, but to receive, he repeats his words: ‘Peace be with you.’

Susanna Gunner, the Diocesan Spirituality and Discipleship Adviser was leading our reflections that morning, and so I’ve asked her to come and share with us today.  She’ll also reflect on several contemporary works of art.

Address for Pentecost 2020: St Andrew’s Eaton (Canon Susanna Gunner)

You can watch the sermon on YouTube here (warning: we missed the first few moments, apologies!)

It’s very good to be with you all this morning. Lovely to see some familiar faces on my screen…

Phil has asked me to share with you a little of some work I’ve been doing recently, using some images as ways of exploring the Holy Spirit’s arrival and looking at them through the lens of Covid 19. So here are three images which I myself find thought-provoking as I muse on Pentecost in this very particular year. 

This is by the German artist Kathe Kollwitz. She knew about great loss. Her younger son, Peter, died on the battlefields of WWI.   In this drawing she shows us the depth of the bond between a mother and child and makes clear how shattering separation would be. The two figures are locked together, the woman’s sturdy arms and hands enfolding her little one with infinite tenderness.  We know that if we were that baby, we would feel utterly safe. 

When Jesus had broken the news to his disciples that he must leave them, he’d said to them, “I will not leave you orphaned”. He knew that when he left, they would feel as bereft as a parentless child, so he promised to send them the Holy Spirit to parent them instead. The Spirit was to offer both protection and tenderness, was to be “The Comforter”. 

In our current context of coronavirus, this drawing can highlight for us those separated from parents or children by lockdown or even by death.

And, today of all days, we may see in those strong, shielding arms, the ‘comforter’ Jesus promised to send.

This is a painting in oils by John Brokenshire (b.1958). Most of the canvas is covered by a deep, inky darkness, blue-black. There seems to be nothing in this darkness apart from a pale central shimmering. But here, there ismovement, a suggestion of beating wings, discernible wing-tips. 

Brokenshire says that he wanted to convey a sense of a hovering bird. He takes us first, then, to the bird brooding over the world prior to creation, darkness covering the face of the deep - the ‘spirit of God’, hovering over the chaos of the world’s first day. Bird and spirit are images which go hand in hand and so the painting also speaks of that same Spirit which would re-create the disciples, filling them with radiant courage.

What do we see as we gaze at the painting in this strange bleak year of 2020? Perhaps it is the darkness more than anything which resonates – but the longer we look, we understand that it is not a dead darkness. It is not nothing. The delicate shimmering is casting around it the most delicate strands of light for one thing, and for another, we are acutely conscious of the sky in the top left hand corner. Something is happening. A new dawn? A new creation?

John Brokenshire writes that he hopes this painting will lead his viewers into “a place of involvement, journey, even encounter”. Where might it lead us? What might the new creation offered us this Pentecost by God’s Spirit look like? A sustaining of the new ways of being neighbourly, perhaps? A gentler way of being in the world, a lighter footprint?   

You may recognise the setting for this ‘Pentecost’. It is the Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit in Guildford. 

The artist Kate Wilson has dotted twelve figures about the nave. She has brought Jesus’ first disciples to Surrey, catapulting them into our culture. They are no longer figures from a distant time and place but inhabit the world which is ours. And along with the disciples, she has brought the Holy Spirit. Literal tongues of fire rest on each head and huge flames leap in the vast spaces above. 

As we heard earlier, Luke, in Acts, paints his picture of the Spirit’s arrival – the fiery tongues, the rushing wind, the strange new ability to be understood – in a mere 3 verses. Then he gives no less than 27 verses to Peter’s fiery speech to the multi-national festival crowds. He thus makes abundantly clear what the Holy Spirit is for… not to fill us with religious feelings or give us unshakeable certainty or power, but primarily, to allow the disciples – and us – to do as Jesus said: to be “his witnesses to the ends of the earth”.

What do you see as you gaze at this painting? What lines of thought does it trigger in you?

You will probably notice first that, uncannily, the figures seem to know about social distancing and also that they are inside a church – an experience denied most of us for months. Maybe they can teach us that you do not have to be close together, sitting in the same spaces, to be together in mood, to be of one heart and mind, to wait expectantly as a body.

But we also need to acknowledge the weight that the Acts reading gives to witness and ask about afterwards. We know how transformational the Spirit’s arrival was to the disciples in Jerusalem but what about those in Guildford? What will they do when they leave the building? 

And what about us? What will we do now that Pentecost is here? When this service is over and we are getting on with the rest of our day? 

Are we open to being Spirit-led in our witness both during and after pandemic? 

How might the Spirit want to set us on fire? 

What winds of change must we embrace?

Amen.

 

PRAYERS (Chris Smith)

As once again we worship together, but in our homes, let us give thanks for God’s presence in the form of his Holy Spirit as we celebrate Pentecost today. Pray that we will bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - in all our thoughts, words and actions this week.

At this difficult time for so many across the world we pray that you will bring healing and comfort to those who suffer, particularly the frail and vulnerable. We ask that you will enable scientists to discover more about this virus and that suitable treatment will soon be available.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.

We pray for your protection for staff in hospitals and care homes as they put themselves at risk in their dedicated service for patients. We thank you for all that they do and pray that they will be able to persevere for the recovery of many patients.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.

We pray for families as they struggle with decisions about sending children back to school, returning to work and managing their finances. Give wisdom to school and business staff as they seek to provide for the safety and needs of all in their care.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.

As the lockdown eases we pray for our government and health advisers seeking to control infection by the test and trace scheme. May we do all we can to play our part and support the especially needy in our community.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.

Finally we pray for those in developing countries without any advanced health service. May this virus eventually lead us to tackle the world’s problems in a more selfless and global way. We think of Caroline and Dick Seed as they seek to continue their teaching ministry in Africa online and for Local Christian Leaders as they continue to work in very difficult circumstances.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.

A moment of silence to pray for anyone who specially needs our prayers at this time.

Lord in your mercy – hear our prayer.

A prayer to collect together all our intercessions today

Holy Spirit, sent by the Father,
ignite in us your holy fire;
strengthen your children with the gift of faith,
revive your Church with the breath of love,
and renew the face of the earth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All:           Amen.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

All:          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.

 

COMMISSION

Leader: 

For fifty days we have celebrated the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over the powers of sin and death.

We have proclaimed God’s mighty acts and we have prayed that the power that was at work when God raised Jesus from the dead might be at work in us.

As part of God’s Church here, I call upon you to live out what you proclaim.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, will you dare to walk into God’s future, trusting him to be your guide?

All:         By the Spirit’s power, we will.

Leader:   Will you dare to embrace each other and grow together in love?

All:         We will.

Leader:    Will you dare to share your riches in common and minister to each other in need?

All:         We will.

Leader:   Will you dare to pray for each other until your hearts beat with the longings of God?

All:          We will.

Leader:    Will you dare to carry the light of Christ into the world’s dark places?

All:          We will.

 

HYMN: Come down, O love divine.

 

CONCLUSION & BLESSING

Leader:   The Lord is here.

All:         His Spirit is with us.

Leader:   Today we have remembered the coming of God’s power on the disciples and we invite that same Spirit to drive us out into the wild places of God’s world.

May the Spirit, who hovered over the waters when the world was created,  breathe into you the life he gives. 

All:        Amen.

Leader:   May the Spirit, who overshadowed the Virgin when the eternal Son came among us, make you joyful in the service of the Lord.

All:        Amen.

Leader:   May the Spirit, who set the Church on fire upon the Day of Pentecost, bring the world alive with the love of the risen Christ.

All:        Amen.

Leader:  And the blessing of God almighty,

     the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

     be among you and remain with you always.

All:        Amen.

Leader:  Filled with the Spirit’s power, go in the light and peace of Christ.

Alleluia, alleluia.

All:        Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

 

 

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