A Service to follow at Home on Sunday 9th May, which has been prepared for us by a local Preacher. There will also be a service on Zoom on that day, the link will be posted here nearer the time.

The Preparation
Alleluia Christ is risen
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

We pray:
Almighty God unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no Secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy holy spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name through Christ our Lord. Amen


Hymn StF 294 All you, who seek the lord who died

Prayer of adoration
Father I adore you Lay my lives before you
How I love you
Jesus I adore you Lay my lives before you
How I love you
Spirit I adore you Lay my lives before you How I love you

Prayer of confession
Holy God
We confess that we have rebelled against you and broken your law of love; we have not loved our neighbours as you have loved us; nor heard the cries of the needy.
Forgive us, we pray, and free us for joyful obedience;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In Christ we are set free. Through Christ we are forgiven.
Amen. Thanks be to God.

Reading John 15. 9 – 17
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[d] any longer, because the servant[e] 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.


(New revised standard version)

Hymn StF 636 O love that will not let me go.

Sermon
Our words from Jesus in this passage are packed with instruction and wonderful promise.
He tells us ‘Abide in my love’.

How do we do this?
‘If you keep my commandments’.

The result of doing this:
‘so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete’.

What is His commandment?
‘that you love one another as I have loved you.’


How has he loved us?
‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’


It is simple – abide in Jesus love, by obeying His commandment to love one another, with the same self-sacrificing love that He has for us, and His joy will be in us and His joy in us will be complete.
Think for a moment of examples of Christ-like love that you know or have experienced.


Some of you will have heard of Saint Maximillian Kolbe.
He was born in Poland.
As a child, when sent to his room for some childhood misdemeanour, he had received a vision of the Virgin Mary.
He said: ‘That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, and the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.”
Not long after this he was sent to a convent school, with his brother. At the age of about 17, he became a Franciscan novitiate. He was clearly very bright for by the age of 21 he graduated from the Pontifical Gregorian University with a PhD in philosophy. Seven years late he became a doctor of theology.
He organized the Militia Immaculata (Army of the Immaculate One) after witnessing demonstrations against Pope St. Pius X and Benedict XV. His goal was to work for the conversion of sinners and enemies of the Church, specifically, the Freemasons.
He was ordained a priest in 1924 and took on publishing. He founded a weekly periodical titled, “Rycerz Niepokalanej” (Knight of the Immaculate). This became the third most popular newspaper in Poland. He also operated a religious publishing press and founded a new Conventual Franciscan monastery at Niepokalanow.
He travelled to, and founded monasteries in, both India and Japan. The monastery in Nagasaki, japan, was built on the wrong side of a mountain, according to the Shinto, the Japanese religion. Remarkably it survived the bombing of Nagasaki, and continues its work today.
He returned to Poland and was made guardian of Niepokalanow in 1936.
In 1938 he started a Christian radio station.
After the German invasion of Poland, he was allowed to continue in his work, partly because of his Christian love for the German occupying forces and the monastery’s activity in the local community. They were the local fire brigade and offered care for the sick.
Nevertheless, the Germans were worried, and many friars had to leave in fear of their lives. They went into hiding. Maximillian remained with the few who were left until February 1941, when the monastery was shut down That day Kolbe and four others were arrested. The reason was that Maximillian was so influential and his desire to that the Germans should become Christian. In May, he was sent to Auschwitz as prisoner 16670.
There, his Christian love for all, both his fellow prisoners and his guards stood out. He would share his meagre rations. He gave hope to everyone he met. Many said they experienced some of their greatest joy in his presence, and remember this was in the truly horrific, dehumanising circumstance of a concentration camp.
Because he continued to work as a priest he was subjected to constant harassment, and brutal beatings form the guards. He carried on with his work.
After a couple of months a prisoner escaped from the camp. The Deputy camp commander selected ten men to die by starvation in a specially set aside bunker. One man cried out ‘my wife, my children’. Maximillian volunteered to take his place. The guards asked ‘who are you?’ He responded that he was a Roman Catholic priest. So his offer was accepted.
In the cell, with no food, water or heat, Maximillian led the prisoners in prayer and praise. Singing was heard from the cell. This continued, even as men died.
Franciscans had a promise form Jesus that they would never starve to death. In the end, the cell was needed for further prisoners and Maximillian was led out to be executed by lethal injection.
Maximillian had also been told he would die on a Marian feast day. It is said he offered his arm to the doctor who injected him. He died on 14th August 1941. His remains were cremated the next day, the feast day of the Assumption of Mary.
His life, witness and death, led the lives of many, both prisoners and guards, being changed for ever.
So let us abide in Jesus love, loving on another with the same sacrificial love that Jesus loves us, and then His joy will be in us and our joy in Him will be complete.


Prayers of intercession
Let us pray for all people everywhere according to their need.
We pray for the church of Christ throughout the world, for its unity in you, Lord Jesus, for the fulfilment of its mission, for all ministers of the gospel, for all Christians facing persecution.

Silence

Strengthen your church, that we all may be united in your truth, live in harmony with one another in your love, and reveal your glory to the world.

The Lord hears our prayer
Thanks be to God
We pray for all peoples and nations of the world, for all those in positions of power and influence, for the sharing of food, medicines and vaccines.

Silence


Give your wisdom and guidance to all those in authority, direct them in the ways of justice and peace.
The Lord hears our prayer
Thanks be to God
We pray for all who suffer, in body, mind, or spirit, for those who have lost their faith, and those of no faith, for all those who serve the needy.

Silence


Comfort and heal all who suffer. Give them courage and hope. Bring to them the joy of your salvation.
The Lord hears our prayer
Thanks be to God
We remember all who have died, including Saint Maximillian giving thanks especially for those of Christian faith.

Silence


We commend all people to your unfailing love, that in them your will may be fulfilled. We rejoice in faithful witness of your saints in every age, praying that we may follow their example and share with them in your eternal kingdom.
The Lord hears our prayer
Thanks be to God
Merciful Father, please accept all these our prayers, in Jesus name. Amen.
As Jesus taught his disciples we pray…


(The lord’s prayer in whichever form you prefer)

Hymn StF 443 Come, let us sing of a wonderful love.

Benediction
The Lord bless you
 and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
  and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
  and give you peace. Amen