9am Service 29th March 2020
9am Service : Morning Prayer
Please have a bible to hand for the Psalm and to follow the reading.
(The following service is made up of liturgy on this page, prayers, songs on YouTube (a separate website) and a sermon from Steve Bishop. As you progress through this digital service you will be given instructions as what to do next. Please remember that although you may be praying through this physically remote from the rest of the congregation we will be saying these things together today. Physical distancing need not mean spiritual distancing, for we are all one in Christ).
Opening prayer (please say or read through this as you feel most comfortable)
O Lord open our lips, and our mouth shall proclaim your praise
Give us the joy of your saving help, and sustain us with your life giving Spirit.
Introduction (please read this aloud as a sign of our worshiping together)
We have come together in the name of Christ to offer our praise and thanksgiving, to hear and receive God’s holy word, to pray for the needs of the world, and to seek the forgiveness of our sins, that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may give ourselves to the service of God.
Hymn: It’s a thing most wonderful (Now click on the link below and it will take you to YouTube; the lyrics are shown on the screen. Sing as loud as you like!)
It's a thing most wonderful
Confession (please say this confession; it is a corporate confession that uses “we” and is another sign that although physically distant, we stand as sinners together).
Jesus says “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand”. So, let us turn away from our sin and turn to Christ, confessing our sins in penitence and faith.
(Take a moment to contemplate our confession to God)
Lord God, we have sinned against you; we have done evil in your sight. We are sorry and repent. Have mercy on us according to your love. Wash away our wrongdoing and cleans us from our sins. Renew a right spirit within us and restore to us the joy of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Take a moment; then speak words of affirmation of our belief that sins are forgiven through the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. You are speaking those on behalf of the others that are following this service today as much as they are speaking them over you).
May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins, and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
The Jubilate: (please say this Psalm; if more than one is saying this Psalm, maybe you could say alternate lines)
O be joyful in the Lord, all the earth; serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song
Know that the Lord is God; it is he that made us and we are his;
We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and bless his name.
For the Lord is gracious; his steadfast love is everlasting and his faithfulness ensures from generation to generation.
Psalm of the day: Psalm 86 (please have a bible to hand and read the psalm).
Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever. Amen.
Sermon : Steve Bishop on John 15:18-16:15 Ministry: Advocacy
(Steve has provided both the script of his sermon that you find below and a recording of that sermon. Please choose which option you would like to follow.)
Reading: John 15:18-16:15 (please read this passage in your bible; then…).
Click here for Sermon recording
Read Text below
Ministry: Advocacy – John 1518-16:15
This morning we arrive at the penultimate session in our study series on Jesus’ instructions to his disciples in the final few hours leading up to his betrayal, arrest and crucifixion.
Jesus is only too well aware that time is running out as he tries to prepare his beloved friends for what is to come during the next hours and days, as well as for the coming months.
Like we would be I am sure if we were in the same position as the disciples, they were being a tad slow on the uptake, but as usual Jesus was patient, loving and generous to them during this blessed and special time together. A reminder that Jesus is always patient with us, giving us the time to ponder and consider, whereas we probably always expect Him to answer our petitions quickly, immediately - maybe even “yesterday”! And for those of us who are perhaps a little slower than others in understanding things, this is a real bonus, to know that Jesus will spend time with us until we understand sufficiently to make an informed decision or judgement.
In the first part of our reading from John’s gospel, that is, verse 18 of chapter 15 to verse 4 of chapter 16, Jesus turns to deal with the hostility of the world towards those of us who are believers of the gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ.
Although the world was created by God, it has rebelled against Him, refusing to recognise his authority over it as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The world therefore hates Jesus, who asserts God’s claims over his creation and declares it to be sinful. Jesus declares in verse 22, ‘If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now, they have no excuse for their sin’. And the world’s hatred for Jesus will turn to the disciples, and therefore to us as followers and believers in Christ Jesus: ‘if the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first (15:18).
To be a Christian is potentially to suffer for our faith in Christ, who himself suffered first in order that we believers, as Christians, can be called by his name. To be a Christian is to be called out of the world (15:19) to face the force of its hatred at having lost its hold and control over us.
Moving to the second part of our passage, 16:5 we learn of the confused emotions of joy and sadness on the part of the disciples as they realise the imminent suffering and death of Jesus.
On the one hand they are excited knowing that salvation will come to them and the world, whilst on the other, being horrified that the man they have come to love and adore will be taken away from them and slain in such a horrific way before He can take that sin away.
Jesus, as always of course, knows their feelings and so comforts them with the promise of the ‘Advocate’, or ‘Counsellor’, whose presence and power will guide and empower them as they face the future. They will not be alone to deal with what the world will throw at them, and us, but rather, they will be assisted by the Spirit (16:8-9).
And of course, in fulfilment of this prophecy, some 43 days later, at Pentecost, the Spirit was poured out upon the Christian Church as promised for all time.
A speaker at a Harvest Festival service asked the children to name some of the things they saw on display.
One boy said; “Carrots”.
Another said; “Potatoes”;
A third said; “Peas”.
The speaker then asked them the question: “Can anyone give me a word that covers all these things?”
There were a few minutes silence; then one little boy shouted out; “Gravy!”
There are many names and titles attributed to Jesus and the Spirit which cover or embrace a whole load of theological and practical truth!
‘Advocate’ is a word that we rarely use in our everyday language unless we work in the legal environment. And so, we may not be aware of its meaning or how it fits into our everyday world.
The dictionary quotes that "An advocate is one that pleads the cause of another". It simply means someone who will present a third party’s case to some other person or authority, and to represent them in the most favourable light.
An ‘Advocate’ is someone who speaks up for you in a favourable way, one who defends you before others, and stands up for you.
It's also a legal term that you may have possibly come across in TV court room dramas such as Rumpole of the Bailey or Kavanagh QC.
An ‘Advocate’ is a Barrister or an Attorney or councillor, and in a court of law an 'Advocate' can represent both sides: they can act as prosecutors against you, or the defence barrister, for you.
Both are 'Advocates', one who represents the law, and one who represents you.
In the New Testament the word 'Advocate' is only used by one writer - the apostle John.
John 14 verse 16 "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth".
Chapter 15 verse 26: "When the Counsellor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me".
Chapter 16 verse 7b "Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
The original Greek has been translated in our English Bibles to read as 'Advocate' or 'Comforter' or 'Counsellor'. A look at Bible Gateway which provides 59 different translations of the Bible into English alone, reveals 13 cases of “Comforter”; 8 “Counsellor”; 20 “Helper”; 2 “Paraclete”; 10 “Advocate” and 7 ‘other’ variations. Interestingly the more modern versions of the NIV are now using Advocate whereas older versions of the NIV, such as those used in Christ Church and my own NIV Study Bible, use Counsellor.
So, why do we need a Counsellor or Advocate, why did Jesus feel it necessary to assure the disciples that a Counsellor would come from the Father to be with them for ever?
As the prosecuting Counsel, God, through the Holy Spirit shows up our sins. In the presence of Jesus, the Lamb of God, the perfect Saviour, the Light of the World, the darkness of our hearts and minds is clearly seen. We need the continual prompting and leading from the Spirit to guide us in, and through, the paths of righteousness, to keep us on the straight road that lays ahead of us.
The Spirit, acting as our Advocate and guide, comes alongside us, and gives us the words of truth so that we can truly testify to the goodness and grace of God the Father, and the saving power of the death and resurrection of Jesus the Son. The Spirit as Advocate will give us the right words to say at the right time in the right place. For it is not us as believers who utters the words of testimony or encourages others to turn away from their own sin and instead turn to the Light, it is the power and truth of the Holy Spirit, who gives us the words of truth and conviction.
It is the Spirit who comforts us in our darkest times, who encourages us, who brings us the hope and joy of the salvation of Christ Jesus. It is the Spirit who counsels us and works in our lives to rid us of our sinful nature and to lead us instead into forgiveness and redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus paid for on the cross.
Picture a tense courtroom trial. The evidence has been presented by both sides and things aren’t looking good for the defendant. The defence barrister stands before the Judge and begins his closing argument by declaring: “Your honour, my client is, without a doubt, guilty as charged, the evidence against him is overwhelming and compelling.”
What kind of defence lawyer is he?
Yet he goes on to say, “…however, I have sorrow and sympathy for the defendant and I would like to take his punishment.”
Incredible as it may sound, that is what has happened for each one of us. On the day of judgement when we will all stand before the throne of God, the charge sheet against us will be read out by Jesus who will then intercede for us as our Advocate, standing alongside us in our gravest time, and although we will be found guilty, Jesus will say to the Father, this one Father is one of mine own, I have paid the price for his sin, so restore him in your sight O Lord, and bring him to life eternal in you.
John in his Gospel and in his 1st Letter, presents the Holy Spirit and Jesus as both our, ‘Advocate’ and ‘Sacrifice’; they speak on our behalf. They do not declare us innocent, but Jesus himself receives the penalty for our wrong-doing. HIS atoning sacrifice: that is the price that's been paid and that is all we need!!!!!
So, what is our response to this amazing truth?
The Te Deum laudamas, a Latin hymn of praise to God the Father and Christ the Son, begins with these words:-
We praise you, O God:
we acclaim you as the Lord;
All creation worships you:
the Father everlasting.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven:
the cherubim and seraphim, sing in endless praise,
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might:
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you:
the noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you:
throughout the word, the holy Church acclaims you.
Father, of majesty unbounded:
your true and only Son, worthy of all praise,
The Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You Christ, are the King of glory:
the eternal Son of the Father.
Our first response surely therefore must be to praise, thank and worship Father, Son and Holy Spirit for their mercy, love, and counsel. For being our advocate and guide, for showing us the right way; forgiving us when we stray from that path; and restoring us in their sight.
Our second response must then be to obey the command – “go and do likewise” the instruction given by Jesus to the expert in the law who declared that the Samaritan, the one who showed mercy on the man who fell into the hands of the robbers, was the true neighbour.
As the followers of Christ one of our roles is to act towards others in the same way that Jesus has acted towards us.
Therefore, we are called to be advocates for those around us. To stand alongside those who are in need; to stand up for those with no voice; to ensure fair treatment for all, so that no person, is left on their own, undefended, unwelcomed, unloved. As we have been loved, so too should we love.
It is always oh so easy to walk on by on the other side when we see someone in need. We don’t want to become involved. We shy away from supporting others, especially the marginalised and the unwanted in society. Maybe it is because we are fearful of what might happen – we don’t want to put ourselves in the way of danger. Maybe it is because we simply don’t think that we would know what to say or do in those circumstances. Perhaps we just don’t want to be tarnished by association.
As Jesus told his disciples, the world hated him first. They persecuted him first. They spat on him; beat him; ridiculed him; crowned him with the sharpest of thorns; they hammered nails through his hands and feet into the beams of a cross; they lifted him up high on that cross and left him to die in the sweltering heat of the day, whilst playing dice for his clothes.
Whatever we may do for others, especially the marginalised and those without a voice, and for the furtherance of the kingdom of God, we are extremely unlikely to face that level of hatred and spite.
If we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, freeing ourselves to be guided by the Spirit, then, as we testify to the truth through our words and actions, we will experience the advocacy of God, as the Spirit speaks for us and through us; protects and shields us from the world’s hatred and persecution, and we will see the glory of God the Father shine through the darkness of this world, bringing peace, hope and salvation to those who at the name of Jesus bend the knee and confess that he is indeed the king of glory. Amen!
Intercessions: (Bob Benn has provided the following intercessions ; please pray through these, using the responses to acknowledge that we say these prayers together).
Let us pray for the Church and for the world, and let us thank God for his goodness.
Strengthen all you’re Church in the service of Christ; that those who confess your name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world. Lord we give thanks that further to the order to close churches, services on television have received such support from people in our country. Lord continue to bless our religious leaders with wisdom and to speak of the love that Jesus has for us all.
We pray for those involved in leading our Church and our fellowship in Purley, for our clergy and leaders Doug, Steve and Simon and Jude and Chuk our pastors and all our leaders and preachers. Bless our house group leaders, for making contact with church members, to ensure that we are all feeling OK, and our Pastoral team for being available as listeners when required.
Lord as we consider the words from our passage today, may we all be reminded of the advice that Jesus had for his followers as he approached and prepared for that ordeal in Jerusalem. His ascension prepared the way for the coming of the Holy Spirit to make known to his followers a relationship with His Father in heaven. Lord as we approach Easter this year may you make your presence known to us all and bring your peace into our lives.
Lord in your mercy.
Hear our prayer
Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen; give wisdom to all in authority; and direct this and every nation in the ways of justice and of peace; that men may honour one another, and seek the common good.
Lord we pray for our leaders and Government. Given the difficult situation in our country bless all our leaders with wisdom, insight and a concern for the common good. Father, we pray, protect them from partiality and prejudice and may they share in the planning and management of our country to minimise the effects of this epidemic.
Lord we also bring before you the Coronavirus epidemic that is prevalent in our country and round the world at this time. Lord may the nations of the world be vigilant and may we all be aware and obedient to the advice given and not be complacent over maintaining distance. Lord may you protect those who may be vulnerable, and may you bless the skills of our medical staff and provide the treatment to control this outbreak.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Give grace to us, our families and friends, and to all our neighbours; that we may serve Christ in one another, and love as he loves us.
Lord we pray for all those who are fearful of the times we live in and despair of what the future may bring. Lord many have concerns about their work and having enough money to sustain normal life. Lord we bring before you those who are self-employed, who may not be able to work, and those whose work has stopped because their companies have closed at this time. Lord may your love shine into all our lives and may we all take confidence that we are not alone and that you will give us each day our daily bread.
The words of this prayer from St Francis bring all this together:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. Amen.
Lord we pray for Transformation in our town and Borough, and for Kidz Klubs, and the work they do in bringing the Gospel message to children and schools in Croydon. Lord we pray that every school in Croydon to open their doors to Christian assemblies. Lord bless all churches who share in this ministry, including Jude at our church in Purley, that through their work children will get to know about Jesus in their lives and that God will be able to do immeasurably more than you can think or imagine.
Lord in our mercy
Hear our prayer
Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit. Lord we have a number of our fellowship who are living with serious illness at this time, Lord we pray that they can put their trust in you. Lord Jesus in a moment of quiet we offer up to you all those who we know of among our families and friends who need prayer at this time. Give them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring them the joy of your salvation.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer
Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ, according to your promises, grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom. Rejoicing in the fellowship of all your saints, we commend ourselves and all Christian people to your unfailing love.
Accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son,our saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
The Creed: (please now affirm our faith by saying the creed).
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried;
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven,
He is seated at the right hand of the Father
And will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy catholic Church
The communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen
Prayer of dedication : (please say this prayer).
Almighty God, we thank you for the gift of your holy word. May it be a lantern to our feet, a light to our paths, and a strength to our lives. Take us and use us to love and serve all men in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect: (Please say the prayer for this week, the fifth Sunday of Lent; a special prayer for this day said by churches around the world)
Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world; grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; through Jesus Christ your son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the holy Spirit, one God , now and forever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer: (please say this prayer)
Standing at the foot of the cross, 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 forever. Amen.
Closing Hymn: My song is love unknown (please click below to sing our closing hymn, open the windows, let the neighbours hear!)
My song is love unknown
May Christ who bore our sins on the cross, set us free to serve him with joy. Amen.
Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God! Amen
(Thank you for following this Christ Church Digital service. If you have feedback, suggestions, offers of help or prayer requests please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org )
Copyright acknowledgement c The Central Board of Finance of the Church of England. Used with permission of The Archbishops Council 2000