Order of Worship
Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 9, 2021
Organ Prelude

Call to Worship 
One:   We gather together to worship our God.
All:      God gathers us as God’s chosen people. We abide in God’s love.
One:   We enter worship with glad hearts, eager to love and serve God.
All:      Christ has loved us completely and fully. We abide in Christ’s love.
One:   We praise the maker of heaven and earth, whose love spreads to all of creation.
All:      Creation is a gift to all, and we are entrusted to care for the good earth. Creation abides in our love.
One:   We honour the light, the dark, and the hues between. God makes all beautiful.
All:     Life in its fullness holds great joy and great pain. We are witnesses to the depth of love that fills our days. We abide in the joy of love.

Opening Prayer
God of many blessings,
we give thanks for this day.
We give thanks for all that life holds.
We give you thanks for your steadfast love, for your faithfulness, for your justice.
We gather to worship you, share our joy, and receive your love.
Be with us now and always. Amen.

Storytelling        “A New Commandment”

Sharing of Scripture                         John 15:9-17

Message in Music          “Children of the Heavenly Father”
Children of the Heavenly Father
Safely in His bosom gather
Nestling bird nor star in heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given

God His own doth tend and nourish
In His holy courts they flourish
From all evil things He spares them
In His mighty arms He bears them

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever
Unto them His grace He showeth
And their sorrows all He knoweth

Though He giveth or He taketh
God His children ne’er forsaketh
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy

Lo their very hairs He numbers
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers
Your Protector never slumbers
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foe man must surrender.

Children of the Heavenly Father
Safely in His bosom gather
Nestling bird nor star in heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given

This particular arrangement is by Lorie Line, whom many pianists have said “changed church music forever”.  Her beautiful and heartfelt arrangements have won the hearts of millions.  May this music remind us all that even though on earth we honor mothers today, we are all God’s children.

Message               “The Joy of Love”                    Rev. Laura McLeod

Ministry Minute                               Members of the Leadership Team

Prayer of Dedication
God, we love you with our whole hearts.
We believe with our whole lives.
We dedicate all that we are in service to you.
Take us, use us, mould us, make us.
Take all that we are and all that we offer and use our gifts to the service of love. Amen.

A Time of Prayer
Preparation for Prayer
Silent Prayer
Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer
Loving and faithful God,
we are called to imagine a more loving world;
a world where each is treated with mutual respect, where everyone has their daily bread.
We are called to imagine a world in which people have fair housing, food for daily living, and care for health and well-being.
We witness the despair and destruction of lives through abuse, abandonment, and neglect.
We see the lonely, despairing, and those who have lost all hope.
We are called to not only imagine a more loving world but to live in love.
Help us to witness to the love and hope we experience through Christ.
May our living usher hope into the spaces we inhabit.
We pray for our communities, our schools, our healthcare facilities, and all who serve in caring professions and emergency services.
We pray for social workers, teachers, administrators,
for those in the hospitality industry, who clean and care for our parks and public spaces.
We pray for sanitization workers and transportation drivers, for the people we encounter daily whose lives intersect our own.
We pray for those who serve silently and are not encountered, whose work keeps them from view.
We pray for the conflicts and concerns of our wider world.
We pray for those whose safety is in question,
and those who do not know where or when they will taste their next meal.
We pray for those in war-torn spaces,
and for the health and safety of the vulnerable of every age and stage of life.
Loving and faithful God, we are called to live in love.
May our words build up our community and serve to create a more loving world.
May our actions help to bridge the gaps between us.
We pray that our actions and attitudes are your commandments lived in action.
Be in our eyes, our hands, our feet, our minds, and our hearts, we pray.
In Jesus’ name, we pray, using the words that he taught saying, Our Father…

As we go, let us go knowing that God loves us.
Go now to love and serve the Lord, astounded beyond measure.
May Christ’s light guide your path.
May peace grace each step.
May hope lead the way.
May you always find love near.

Organ Postlude

Sharing of Scripture                                 John 15:9-17
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 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. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant 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. 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. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

A New Commandment
Based on John 15:9–17
To be honest with you, most of the time we were with Jesus, we were confused. So much of what he said was hard to understand, like half catching the melody of a song on the wind. You know it’s a song, and you know that if you could just hear a little more of it you would recognize it and be able to sing along. That was us; constantly straining to hear and understand.
Usually, we’d talk together late at night or when Jesus wasn’t around. And most conversations would begin, “What did he mean when he said…?” Or, “Was anyone else confused yesterday?”
For example, that time Jesus said, “I do not call you servants any longer because the servant 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.” When we found time to talk later, Pete started by joking that we had had a promotion. We all laughed, but Jamie said it was no joke. It really was a promotion.
“But,” someone else said, “Jesus has always called us his friends.”
“And treated us that way too,” someone else added.
Jamie said, “I know that. I think he was telling us that there was a change coming somehow. Like he was passing on the job to us in a new way…”
“Yeah,” Pete said, picking up the theme. “That must be why he talked of loving each other as a commandment. I mean, he’s always been on about us loving each other.”
“And everyone else!” someone else laughed.
“But now it’s a commandment,” Pete continued. “A new one.”
“Like one of the ten,” Tom said.
“Number eleven?” someone laughed.
“No,” Jamie said. “I think Jesus wants us to know that his commandment is at the heart of all the ten. It’s the foundation. Without this one, nothing else matters; with this one, everything else is covered.”
There was silence for a while. Then someone said, “Do you mean that if we follow the love commandment, we don’t have to worry about the others?”
“No,” said Jamie, “I think Jesus is saying that by concentrating on this one, we’ll find that we are taking care of the others too.”
“Much easier,” someone said.
“Except for the bit about dying,” Tom muttered.
“Yes,” Pete said, “What did he mean about laying down your life for your friends?”
There was a longer silence. We all knew that Jesus had been talking more about death than we had remembered from the early days.
“We’re going to be by ourselves soon, I think,” said Tom, saying aloud what we were all starting to think. “That’s why he is saying these things. That’s why he wants us to know and remember the important things…”
“How can we love each other as much as he has loved us?” Pete said.
We all looked around at each other. It was as if we had just stopped being teenagers and become adults and realized that we now had to take responsibility. We were the ones. It was up to us.
“So, maybe it is a promotion then?” Tom said. No one laughed then.
Even then, we had no real idea about what was going to happen, what it would mean for us, how central Jesus’ new commandment was going to become for us all.
I can tell you now, all these years later, that of all the wonderful things Jesus did and said, it is this one sentence that has kept me going; “Love one another as I have loved you.”

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