9th May 2021

St Luke's Church in Hedge End

Welcome

Focus verse: Jesus says 'This is my command: Love each other'

Glorious Day

Welcome and Prayers

Bible reading: Matthew 15: 9-17

Reflection Part 1

This passage follows on from John 15 v 1-8 and I would like to thank Juliette for her talk last week. If you have not heard yet that you take time now to do so. It will be on the link for last week’s service.

This week I want us to follow on from last week and think about what it means to remain in his love, and his command to love one another.
If you are able to go outside, can I suggest you take this reflection with you, sit under a tree, or where there are plants, bushes etc.
If you are not able to outside, here is an image (taken from dti.tool.disciplers.org). that could be used instead.

As you reflect on the tree, bush etc, take the thoughts of last week and take time to look at all the connections that have been made by the branches. See how each branch is different, and look at what kind of growth, or signs of growth you can see.

Are there any branches that need cutting back?

Going back to last week’s talk remember what it takes to sustain a tree and the strong foundation it gives. Think about all that it takes in, so that the branches can give out with flowers or fruit.
Look at the branches in the light of your own daily lives and all the connections you have around you.

Reflect:
You may wish to think about a branch that best represents how connected you feel to God in these very strange times. This can often just be a feeling you have. It may vary depending on the day, and what is going on around you.
You may identify with those branches that have a strong good connection, others may be smaller, the main thing to take from this is whichever branch you are, you are still connected. This connection is to One who sustains you.
(If you feel you are no longer connected or are unsure – perhaps spend this time speaking to God and re-connecting with Him in the stillness around you. If you need to chat this through or ask for prayer, please let one of the Ministry Leadership Team know).

This connection with Jesus is something the disciples in this passage needed to hear, even if they did not know it at the time. This is part of Jesus farewell to them. He would no longer be with them, but the interconnections with Him, and his Father would remain.
It is the same for us today. Our connection is, as outlined in this passage many times, related to love.
We are reminded that we remain in Him by the love that binds us all together - Father, Son, and disciples together. (v9-11).
However, as we will see this love is more than a feeling, it comes with a command and it empowers us to do something and bear fruit (v12-17).

V9-11
Read again this passage.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete”.

Jesus is talking here of the love He has shown, of Him dying on a Cross, taking our sins away so that we may be able to get close to God.
This reminds us that He has acted out the greatest thing that love can do. He kept his Father’s commands and paid the ultimate price in showing His love for us and His world.
What a price for Him to pay so that we can have life in all its fullness.
In V11 He tells us that He is telling us this so that “my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete”.
Love in action and the greatest act of love. We are asked to remain in this love. Spend time reminding yourself of this act of love, His joy in each one of us – you can use the words of the song below if you would like to.

Such Love Graham Kendrick © 1988 Make Way Music

Such love, pure as the whitest snow
Such love, weeps for the shame I know
Such love, paying the debt I owe
O Jesus, such love

Such love, stilling my restlessness
Such love, filling my emptiness
Such love, showing me holiness
O Jesus, such love

Such love, springs from eternity
Such love, streaming through history
Such love, fountain of life to me
O Jesus, such love

O Lord, Your Tenderness/Such love

Reflection Part 2

V 12-17
Please read the next part of the passage again:

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other”.

In the last passage we were asked to remain, or abide, in his love, but we can see in this passage that we are also called to bear fruit. We have been chosen by Him for a purpose. At the beginning of the passage Jesus now calls the disciples His friends, He does this as they have now seen the power of the “greater love” He showed them when he laid down his life for them (v13). They, (and we), are now no longer servants (v 13). Their lives have been changed.
In v 16 Jesus tells us of this change. He chose them, (and each one of us). They, (and us) have been appointed to bear fruit in His name.

Take time to consider these words:
He chose you. Jesus chose, and loved you. Even if you had been the only person on earth
Jesus would have chosen to die for you.
I found this a powerful statement in the early stages of my faith when it was said to me many times. It was hard for me to get my head around it. Why would He do that, for me? It goes on to say He has also chosen us for a reason. That reason is to “bear fruit that will last” (v16).
So how do we do this?
He tells us how to do this. It will be through His command for us to love each other. To love others as He has loved us.
Jesus has shown us the model for love – it come at a cost for Him, and it can be costly for us. We have not been called to show God’s love just to those who we feel comfortable speaking to. Instead, we are asked to bring God’s love into the lives of those others and society has rejected; to the unloved, the broken hearted, the lost and the lonely.
We are, therefore, not being asked to lay down our lives in the same way Jesus did, but we are called to make a difference to someone else’s life by bringing Christ’s love into their lives.

Take time to look at the world through Christ’s eyes.
What can you see?
Are there people or places crying out for God’s love.
Could you be that person to bring Christ’s love into their lives?
How could you make a difference to one life? To many lives?
How can we bear fruit for eternity?

Spend some time in prayer asking God to show how you could make a difference and change someone’s life.
Abide in his love and be so in tune or connected to what He has to say to you that you find you are ready to follow his command in the situation. Love one another as He has loved you.

How Deep The Father's Love For Us

Prayers

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 for ever.  Amen.

I could sing of Your Love Forever

Notices and Final Blessing

Our God Saves

Offering

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