Services this coming week are:-
Thursday 6th May The Ascension of the Lord Mass 10.00am
Sunday 9th May Holy Communion 9.30am
Final notice is given of the following meetings:-
APCM Tuesday 18th May at 7.00pm
PCC Tuesday 18th May immediately following the APCM.
Thy Kingdom Come (Novena of Prayer): Between Ascension and Pentecost we keep a special time of prayer for the church. You can obtain resources through the Diocesan web-site.
Sermon Easter 6
Jesus says: “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
Friendship is a wonderful thing. Even at the best of times, it is important to have friendships, but over the past year it has surely been even more vital for our emotional and psychological flourishing. True friendship is a bond that lasts the test of time and that grows through adversity. When we hear Jesus speak of friendship, it is closely linked to what he has to say about love. Jesus invites us to enter into a relationship which is the extension of that loving connection of Jesus with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Of course, that love and that friendship must be more than mere talk and more than just an ideal. When we learn to love God, we find a deepening desire to live by what Jesus has taught us, bringing to life the ancient commandments of God. The Holy Spirit inspires us to live by what we believe.
So we discover that the love of God is not something exclusive, but that God is prepared to come and meet us where we are, willing us to find a love that can never let us down. After all, Jesus held nothing back for those he loved:
“A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.”
The life of Jesus was laid down for us and by taking it up again, he invites us into a friendship that will outlast anything the world may throw in our direction.
There is a lovely story about St Teresa of Avila, a Spanish mystic and reformer of the religious life in the sixteenth century. During one of her last journeys to Burgos to found another convent, she was obliged to undertake it during a period of weather so severe she had been advised not to proceed. However, convinced of her mission, she and her sisters suffered the wet and freezing temperatures, frequently having to drag the carriages out of the mud and reciting the Creed to keep up their spirits.
Teresa understood hardship, but she was ill and this experience aroused real fears for their survival. After eventually struggling to safety Teresa complained bitterly to God that doing his will cost her so much. God is said to have replied: “But Theresa, this is how I treat my friends. To which Teresa replied: “Yes, my Lord, and that is why you have so few of them.”
Well, true friendship can be costly and not everyone is prepared to make that sacrifice. We see just how much Our Lord’s friendship with us cost him in that he did indeed lay down his life for us. There are no short-cuts, but what costs us in terms of our struggles is infinitely repaid because we come to share in a relationship through which we find a perfect love and a life that has no more endings.
Jesus did not invite his followers to enter into a business partnership with him. There is nothing cold or transactional about our friendship with God. He does not bark commandments down to us from on high, but is here with us in our life experiences and struggles, sharing our joys and our sorrows and restoring our hope and our life.
Today Jesus makes clear to us that we should no longer regard ourselves as his servants who know nothing of our master’s affairs. Instead, we are invited to become friends who are intimately acquainted with God’s thoughts and desires for the world. This relationship is not passive, but a dynamic one, involving action. This is where I think many on the fringe of the Church can miss the point. It’s not about signing up to a rather dull list of do’s and don’ts so that in turn you might get special protection for your efforts. Friendship with Christ does not promise an easy life, but becoming God’s friend means that we grow to see things with his eyes, to care in the way that he cares and to love in the way that he loves.