Sunday, 10 May 2020

Sunday intercessions on
Easter V, 10 May 2020

‘In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places’ (John 14: 2) … a tower block in London (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

These intercessions were prepared for use on the Fifth Sunday of Easter, 10 May 2020, in Castletown Church, Kilcornan, Co Limerick, and Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick. However, the churches have been closed temporarily because of the Covid-19 or Corona Virus pandemic:

Christ is Risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Like Saint Stephen, the first martyr,
may we be filled with the Holy Spirit,
and see the glory of God the Father
and Christ at his right hand (Acts 7: 55).
Let us pray in this Season of Easter:

Heavenly Father,
we know that in our Father’s house
there are many dwelling-places (John 14: )

In this diocese,
we pray in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic,
for peoples of all nations:

Loving Father,
we entrust to you the sick, the quarantined, and their families.
Bring them healing in body, mind and spirit.

Comfort the bereaved and anxious;
sustain and protect frontline medical staff;
enlighten the minds of those seeking
to contain the spread of the virus
and those searching for a vaccine;

Give hope to schools and places of education,
to teachers and lecturers,
to students and pupils,
to parents and staff;

Give wisdom to governments,
especially those in government in Ireland,
guide all who make difficult decisions,
and guide us all to protect ourselves and our communities.

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

Lord Jesus Christ:
you came that we may have life,
and have it abundantly (John 10: 10):

We pray for the Church,
that we may share that life generously and in abundance.

We pray for churches that are closed this morning,
that the hearts of the people may remain open
to the love of God, and to the love of others.

In the Church of Ireland, we pray this month for
the Diocese of Connor and the Bishop-elect, George Davison.

We pray for Archbishop John McDowell,
who has taken office as Archbishop of Armagh
and Primate of All Ireland.

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer,
we pray for the Anglican Church of Kenya,
and the Most Revd Jackson Ole Sapit,
Primate and Archbishop of All Kenya.

We pray for our Bishop Kenneth;

In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer,
we pray for the Skreen Union of parishes in the Diocese of KIllala,
Canon Noel Regan,
and the congregations of Christ Church, Dromard,
Saint Mary’s, Kilmacshalgan, and Skreen Church.

Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

Holy Spirit:
at Pentecost we have been made
‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, God’s own people’ (I Peter 2: 9):

We pray for ourselves and for our needs,
for healing, restoration and health,
in body, mind and spirit.

We pray for the needs of one another,
for those who are alone and lonely …
for those who travel …
for those who are sick, at home or in hospital …
Alan ... Ajay … Charles …
Lorraine … James … Terry …
Niall … Linda ... Basil …

We pray for those who grieve …
for those who remember loved ones …
for the family of Rosemary Eacrett …
May their memory be a blessing to us.

We pray for those who have broken hearts …
for those who live with disappointment …
We pray for all who are to be baptised,
We pray for all preparing to be married,
We pray for those who are about to die …
especially for those dying without the presence of family and friends …

We pray for those who have asked for our prayers …
for those we have offered to pray for …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

A prayer on this Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of Easter,
in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG,
United Society Partners in the Gospel:

Loving Lord, we thank you that you created us all equally,
in your own image, and as one inclusive family.
Inspire your church to work to overcome inequalities,
that the world may see your justice in our midst.

Merciful Father, …

Saint Stephen depicted in Saint Stephen Walbrook, a Wren church on the site of a seventh century Saxon church in London (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Why did the disciples
ask awkward questions
at the Last Supper?

‘In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places’ (John 14: 2) … a London skyline seen in Southwark (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 10 May 2020

The Fifth Sunday of Easter


9.30 a.m.: The Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Castletown Church, Kilcornan, Co Limerick

11.30 a.m.: Morning Prayer, Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick

The Readings: Acts 7: 55-60; Psalm 31: 1-5, 15-16; I Peter 2: 2-10; John 14: 1-14.

There is a link to readings HERE.

An icon of the Mystical Supper in a shop window in Rethymnon … was Philip asking awkward questions at the Last Supper? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Questioning plays an interesting role in nurturing and developing faith.

In the first reading, when Stephen is questioned at the Sanhedrin, he replies recalling the whole story of Salvation, from Abraham through to Christ. It leads to his martyrdom, but it eventually also leads to Paul’s conversion.

The Gospel reading (John 14: 1-14) is set within the context of the Last Supper, Christ’s Passover meal with the Disciples, and introduces his ‘Farewell Discourse’ in Saint John’s Gospel, in which he responds to their questions by telling them he is the way, the truth and the life.

Judas Iscariot has left the table and the upper room and has gone out into the dark (John 13: 30), about to betray Christ.

Christ then gives his disciples the new commandment, ‘that you love one another’ (John 13: 34). In response to questions from Peter, Thomas, Philip and Jude, Christ now prepares his disciples for his departure.

This Gospel reading includes some well-known sayings, including:

● ‘In my Father's house are many mansions’ (KJV), translated in the NRSV and NRSVA as ‘In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places’ (John 14: 2)

● ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14: 6), the sixth of the seven ‘I AM’ (Ἐγώ εἰμι) sayings in Saint John’s Gospel

● ‘If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it’ (John 14: 14)

This reading is also the Gospel reading earlier this month, for the Feast of two of the Twelve Apostles, Saint Philip and Saint James on 1 May. They have been associated since ancient times: an ancient inscription shows the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles in Rome had an earlier dedication to Philip and James.

In Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure (III, ii, 204), a child’s age is given as ‘a year and a quarter old, come Philip and Jacob,’ meaning, ‘a year and a quarter old on the first of next May, the feast of Philip and James.’ This day has also given us the word ‘popinjay’ for a vain or conceited person or ‘fop.’

But, despite the cultural legacy they have left us, the Philip and James recalled on 1 May are, to a great degree, small-bit players – almost anonymous or forgotten – in the New Testament, and in the Church calendar.

The Western Church commemorates James the Greater on 25 July, James the Brother of the Lord on 23 or 25 October, but James the Less has no day for himself, he shares it with Philip, on 1 May. Philip the Apostle who has to share that same commemoration is frequently confused with Philip the Deacon (Acts 6: 7; 8: 5-40; 21: 8 ff) – but Philip the Deacon has his own day on 6 June or 11 October.

The Saint James that the Church remembers on May Day is James, the Son of Alphaeus. We know nothing about this James, apart from the fact that Jesus called him to be one of the 12. He is not James, the Brother of the Lord, later Bishop of Jerusalem and the traditional author of the Letter of James. Nor is he James the son of Zebedee, also an apostle and known as James the Greater. He appears on lists of the 12 – usually in the ninth place – but is never mentioned otherwise.

Philip the Apostle, not Philip the Deacon, came from the same town as Peter and Andrew, Bethsaida in Galilee. When Jesus called him directly, he sought out Nathanael and told him about ‘him about whom Moses … wrote’ (John 1: 45).

Like the other apostles, Philip took a long time coming to realise who Jesus was. On one occasion, when Jesus sees the great multitude following him and wants to give them food, he asks Philip where they should buy bread for the people to eat. We are told Jesus says ‘this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do’ (John 6: 6). Philip answers unhelpfully, perhaps in a disbelieving way: ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little [bit]’ (John 6: 7).

When Christ says in this morning’s reading, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life … If you know me, then you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him’ (John 14: 6a, 7), Philip then says: ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied’ (John 14: 8).

Satisfied?

Enough?

Jesus answers: ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14: 9a).

Yet, despite the near-anonymity of James and the weaknesses of Philip, these two became foundational pillars in the Church. They display total human helplessness, yet they become apostles who bring the Good News into the world. Indeed, from the very beginning, Philip has an oft-forgotten role in bringing people to Christ. Perhaps because he had a Greek name, some Gentile proselytes came and asked him to introduce them to Jesus.

We see in James and Philip ordinary, weak, everyday, human, men who, nevertheless, became pillars of the Church at its very foundation. They show us that grace, holiness and the call to follow Christ come to us not on our own merits, or as special prizes to be achieved. They are entirely the gift of God, not a matter of human achieving.

We need not worry about questions and doubts … there are many dwelling places in God's house, and faith grows and develops and matures, just as a child learns, through questions.

Questioning is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of willingness to learn.

It is OK not to have all the answers. It is OK not to have all the answers. For Christ is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14: 6).

In following Christ, we need not worry about our human weakness or that others may even forget us. God sees us as we are, and loves us just as we are. It is just as we are that we are called to follow Christ.

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

‘In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places’ (John 14: 2) … reflections in steel and concrete seen in the Birmingham Diocesan offices (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 14: 1-14 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 1 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ 5 Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ 6 Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’

8 Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ 9 Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.’

‘In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places’ (John 14: 2) … houses and apartments tiered and layered one above another in Vernazza on the Cinque Terre coast in north-west Italy (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical Colour: White (Easter, Year A).

The Greeting (from Easter Day until Pentecost):

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Penitential Kyries:

Lord God,
you raised your Son from the dead.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
through you we are more than conquerors.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Holy Spirit,
you help us in our weakness.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Collect of the Day:

Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
Grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise and honour, glory and might,
now and in all eternity.

Introduction to the Peace:

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said,
Peace be with you.
Then were they glad when they saw the Lord. (John 20: 19, 20).

Preface:

Above all we praise you
for the glorious resurrection of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord,
the true paschal lamb who was sacrificed for us;
by dying he destroyed our death;
by rising he restored our life:

The Post-Communion Prayer:

Eternal God,
in word and sacrament
we proclaim your truth in Jesus Christ and share his life.
In his strength may we ever walk in his way,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Blessing:

God the Father,
by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead,
raise you up to walk with him in the newness of his risen life:

Dismissal: (from Easter Day to Pentecost):

Go in the peace of the Risen Christ. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

‘In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places’ (John 14: 2) … hotels, offices and apartments in Tallaght, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Hymns:

693, Glory in the highest to the God of heaven
459, For all the saints, who from their labours rest (verses 1-3)
595, Safe in the shadow of the Lord
610, Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life

‘In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places’ (John 14: 2) … Centrepoint, one the first skyscrapers in London, was at the centre of housing protests in the 1970s and has recently been converted from office space into apartments (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

This sermon was prepared for Sunday 10 May 2020, the Fifth Sunday, and was shared at a celebration of the Eucharist in the Rectory, Askeaton, Co Limerick.

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.

‘In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places’ (John 14: 2) … reflections in glass, steel and concrete in Lisbon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Praying in Easter with USPG:
29, Sunday 10 May 2020

‘The Church of Bangladesh’s work is based on three principles: awareness raising, capacity building and education’

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Easter. Our churches remain closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but I am continuing to celebrate the Eucharist each Sunday, with all the lectionary readings and a sermon.

I am also continuing to use the USPG Prayer Diary, Pray with the World Church, for my morning prayers and reflections throughout this Season of Easter. USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is the Anglican mission agency that partners churches and communities worldwide in God’s mission to enliven faith, strengthen relationships, unlock potential, and champion justice. It was founded in 1701.

Throughout this week (10 to 16 May 2020), the USPG Prayer Diary is focussing on Climate Justice and the Church of Bangladesh. This focus is introduced in the Prayer Diary this morning by Rebecca Boardman of USPG:

Bangladesh experiences a number of threats from a changing climate, with one third of the population at risk of displacement because of rising sea levels. These rising sea levels are not only causing the erosion of communities that are losing their homes and land to the encroaching ocean; the salt in the sea water is causing other problems too.

The amount of salt-water in the area has intensified significantly in the past 10 years and is spreading further inland each year. The impact is very visible. As you look around, you can see a reduction in vegetation and wildlife. The quality of plants and fruit grown here has dropped; for example, coconuts grown in the area are much smaller than they once were.

Recognising the urgency, Bangladesh has become very active in terms of planning and action on climate change. The Church of Bangladesh has been responding via its development organisation, Shalom, which holds Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management as one of its core mission priorities. The Church of Bangladesh’s work is based on three principles: awareness raising, capacity building and education.

Sunday 10 May 2020 (Fifth Sunday of Easter ):

Loving Lord, we thank you that you created us all equally,
in your own image, and as one inclusive family.
Inspire your church to work to overcome inequalities,
that the world may see your justice in our midst.

The Readings: Acts 7: 55-60 or Deuteronomy 6: 20-25; Psalm 31: 1-5, 15-16; I Peter 2: 2-10; John 14: 1-14.

The Collect of the Day (Easter V):

Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
Grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise and honour, glory and might,
now and in all eternity.

The Post-Communion Prayer:

Eternal God,
in word and sacrament
we proclaim your truth in Jesus Christ and share his life.
In his strength may we ever walk in his way,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow