Print to PDF File | Return to Non-Print Version


Service for the Fourth Sunday after Easter

[Keep a moment of silence, calling to mind that, though we are unable to gather together, we share fellowship as a Church family as we offer this short act worship in our own homes]

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14.6]

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Collect

Eternal God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life: grant us to walk in his way, to rejoice in his truth, and to share his risen life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Gospel Reading: John 14,1-6,27 

A reading from the Gospel according to St John

Jesus said, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 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? 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. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.’

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Reflection 

Today’s Gospel reading takes us back to the upper room on the evening of Maundy Thursday. It’s where Jesus shared the Passover supper with his friends and washed their feet in a profound example of servanthood.

We read of how, just hours before his arrest, Jesus attempted to prepare his disciples for the trauma of his death; when he would be betrayed, denied, and when most of them would run away in fear for their own lives. Only the Beloved disciple would remain and keep watch with the Virgin Mary and the other women at the foot of the cross.

As they met for the Passover supper the twelve were probably aware that the tide was beginning to turn against them. The person they had come to know as the Messiah had been welcomed into Jerusalem as its saviour. But the religious and political spin doctors of the time had turned the people against him. Their cries of ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ were about to change to ‘Crucify him! We have no King but Caesar!’

It’s into this situation that Jesus says, ‘Do not be distressed, hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. I go to prepare a place for you.’ Faith is not blind to reality; it does not exempt us from times of trouble and anxiety; but it does assure us that we face nothing on our own.

Much has been said about the phrase, ‘In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.’  While most Biblical commentators agree that Jesus is referring to the kingdom of heaven they disagree on the meaning of ‘dwelling places’. The Authorised Bible famously translated it as ‘Mansions’, for it was written at a time when the word didn’t refer to a large or posh house. Some suggest that it was a living space attached to a larger residence, which seems to fit in with Jesus’ promise to his followers. Others argue that it was more of a stopping off place on which to pitch your tent while on a journey. So it might be more like ‘glamping’ than a ‘mansion’.

What John does affirm is one of the central themes in his Gospel. As the ‘Word made flesh’ has come to dwell with us on earth, so Jesus reveals that it is the Father’s will that we should dwell with him in heaven. It’s why he alone could go to prepare a place for us.

When Jesus says, ‘You know the way to the place I am going’, it is Thomas who says what most of us would ask, ‘We do not know the way!’ It’s in response to this that our Lord says, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life’.

The idea of ‘The Way’ is rooted in the Old Testament. God, through Moses, gave the Law to seal the covenant relationship he made with his people. When they fell short the prophets always called them back, as the prophet Isaiah once said, ‘I have shown you the way, walk in it’. John clearly sees Jesus as the fulfilment of the Law, the very incarnation of ‘The Way’.

‘Truth’ was another important Old Testament concept which was believed to flow from the loving and creative heart of God himself. ‘The God of Truth’ was one of the many divine names used by the Hebrews. Jesus again claims this for himself, asserting that his teaching and way of love are embedded in truth, human and divine.

The scriptures also celebrate how God is the source of all life. In the upper room Jesus tells us that he is the way to everlasting life. It’s the great hope of our faith, summed up in our Lord’s words to Nicodemus, ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life’ [John 3.16].

As the UK coronavirus death toll rises to the second highest in the world; as we think of those known to us who have contracted the virus or lost their lives to this terrible disease; and as we think of how the lockdown may be eased it’s natural to be fearful for what the future might bring.

It’s into this anxious situation that Jesus still says, ‘‘Do not be distressed, hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me.’ He alone can say this to us because he is ‘The Way, the Truth, and the Life’.

Prayers

Risen Lord, you have told us that you have gone to prepare a place for us, so that where you are, we may be also. Help us, in these difficult days, to walk in your way, to know your truth and to live your life in all its fullness.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, we pray for our world; for those who lead the nations and who bear the responsibility of responding to the global pandemic and preparing for what the future will bring. Guide and bless our Queen, our national and Welsh parliaments.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, whose touch alone could heal the sick; hear our prayers for those who have contracted coronavirus, that they may be restored to health.  We thank you for the continuing work of our NHS staff and frontline workers.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, we pray for your Church here and throughout the world. We remember our twinned parishes of St Thomas, Swansea, and St John the Evangelist, Havre de Grace. In these days of social distancing bless us in our fellowship and in our outreach to the community.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, we pray for those known to us who are ill in body, mind or spirit; that they may know the healing love of your presence.

            Lord, hear us.

Lord, we pray for those who have died; may they know the peace and joy in the place you have prepared for them in the Father’s kingdom.

            Lord, hear us.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayer for those who are unable to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion

O Blessed Lord, in union with the faithful throughout the world, at every altar of your Church where the Eucharist is being celebrated, I desire to offer you praise and thanksgiving. I present to you my soul and body with the earnest wish that may always be united to you. Since I cannot now receive you in the Sacrament, I invite you to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to you and embrace you with heart and mind and soul. Let nothing ever separate you from me, so that I may live and die in your love. Amen.

[Keep a moment of silence for spiritual communion with the Lord and with our brothers and sisters]

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, evermore. Amen.


Print to PDF File | Return to Non-Print Version