09 May 2021

‘This is my commandment,
that you love one another
as I have loved you’

A carved relief of Nike, the goddess of victory, on a paved street in Ephesus … but the author of I John writes to the Church in Ephesus about more important signs of victory (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday, 9 May 2021,

The Sixth Sunday of Easter (Easter VI), Rogation Sunday.

10 a.m.: The Parish Eucharist

The Readings: Acts 10: 44-48 or Isaiah 45: 11-13, 18-19; Psalm 98; I John 4: 7-10; John 15: 9-17.

There is a direct link to the readings HERE.

‘You are my friends if you do what I command you’ (John 15: 14) … detail on a sculpture in Knightstown on Valentia Island, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

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

We live in the age of globalisation.

In a recent visual challenge online, people were more likely to recognise seven brand logos than they were to recognise the Seven Wonders of the World, or the seven symbols of the major world faiths.

What symbols or logos do you easily recognise?

Which logos or symbols have you allowed to brand you?

And – what symbols in your life mark you out, make you visible as a Christian?

One of the best-known symbols of globalisation must be the Nike Swoosh logo. We find it on tracksuits, sweatshirts, trainers, sneakers, and T-shirts all over the world. There must be few people who do not recognise the Nike logo. It has been sported by the likes of Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova and Venus and Serena Williams.

The company takes its name from Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, and the ‘Swoosh’ was designed in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student at Portland State University. She met Phil Knight while he was teaching accounting classes and she started doing some freelance work for his company, Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS).

Have you ever heard of BRS? Well, BRS needed a new brand for a new line of athletic footwear it was preparing to introduce in 1972. Knight approached Davidson for some design ideas, and she agreed to provide them – at $2 an hour.

Carolyn Davidson presented Knight and BRS with a number of designs, and they finally selected the mark we now know as the Nike Swoosh – an abstract outline of an angel’s wing that some people think looks more like a checkmark or the tick used on school essays.

The company first used the logo as its brand in 1971, when the word ‘Nike’ was printed in orange over it. The logo is now so well-recognised all over the world, even by small children, that the company name itself is, perhaps, superfluous.

Carolyn Davidson’s bill for her work came to $35. Mind you, 12 years later, in 1983, Knight gave Davidson a gold Swoosh ring and an envelope filled with Nike stock to express his gratitude. It is surprising, then, to realise that her design was not registered as a trademark until 1995.

A logo representing victory is an appropriate and meaningful symbol for a company that manufactures and sells running shoes. A small symbol has brought victorious success to a once-small company.

It is said one of the earliest inspirations for the Nike tick sign is a carved relief of Nike, the goddess of victory, on a paved street in Ephesus.

But when Saint John was writing to the Church in Ephesus in our Epistle reading this morning (I John 5: 1-16), he expressed very different ideas about victory to his company of little children as he discussed love.

In this reading, we are reminded of the connection between faith and love, the two great themes of this epistle, and to victorious faith leading to eternal life. This letter (I John) talks about a very different type of victory than the victories associated with commercial branding, globalisation and the financial glory associated with brand names and over-commercialised sport.

Instead, the writer emphasises the victories associated with faith and love … faith in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the love of God and love of one another that should be the victorious tick sign of Christians.

As we come to the end of a cycle of reading Saint John’s first letter, we are reminded that everyone who believes in Jesus as Christ and the Son of God is a child of God too. And so, if we believe in God and in Christ as his Son, we should love God and love his children, and this is the imperative for Christians to love one another.

The author of this letter refers to love, the Baptism, the death and resurrection of Christ, and the Eucharist as the enduring symbols of Christian life.

The Gospel reading (John 15: 9-17) reminds us that love is the enduring symbol of life in Christ, the one symbol that truly marks out a Christian in this world.

Christ tells us that he loves us as the Father loves him. We are to continue to love him, and to love one another to the point that this is all that matters in life.

He tells us this deep and lasting commitment to Christ is best expressed and found in the way that we love one another (verse 17).

And that love is the only branding, the only logo, the only label, that others should look for to know that we are Christians.

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

‘I do not call you servants any longer … but I have called you friends’ (John 15: 15) (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 15: 9-17 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 9 ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

12 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.’

‘I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last’ (John 15: 16) … fruit on a market stall in Rome (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical colour: White.

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 (Easter VI):

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 our Lord.

The Collect on Rogation Days:

Almighty God,
whose will it is that the earth and the sea
should bear fruit in due season:
Bless the labours of those who work on land and sea,
grant us a good harvest
and the grace always to rejoice in your fatherly care;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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).


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 (Easter VI):

God our Father,
whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life:
May we also thirst for you,
the spring of life and source of goodness,
through him who is alive and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post-Communion Prayer (Rogation Days):

God our creator,
you give seed for us to sow and bread for us to eat.
As you have blessed the fruit of our labour in this Eucharist,
so we ask you to give all your children their daily bread,
that the world may praise you for your goodness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


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!

‘As you have blessed the fruit of our labour in this Eucharist, so we ask you to give all your children their daily bread’ (the Post-Communion Prayer, Rogation Days) … fruit ripening on lemon trees in Platanias near Rethymnon in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)


515, ‘A new commandment I give unto you’
231, My song is love unknown

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.

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