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Sunday 21st January 2018 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Third Sunday of Epiphany
Celebrant and Preacher: Rev'd Nathanial

Sunday 28th January 2018 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Fourth Sunday of Epiphany
Celebrant: Rev'd Nathanial
Preacher: Jack Noonan

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10th May 2015 – Sixth Sunday of Easter – Rev’d Ricky Yates

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Acts 10. 44-48, 1 John 5. 1-6 & John 15. 9-17

Sermon preached at a Joint Anglican-Old Catholic Eucharist held in the Old Catholic Cathedral of Sv Vavřince on Petřín Hill & translated into Czech by ThDr Petr Jan Vinš.

‘Dogs have masters – cats have servants.’ Certainly our adopted Czech cat Šárek, regards Sybille and I as his servants, his tin openers! On this Mother’s Day, I suspect some mothers feel that their children at times, treat them as their servants! But Jesus, in today’s Gospel reading says to his followers, his disciples, ‘I do not call you servants any longer – I have called you friends’. And there is a great contrast between a servant and a friend.

So what makes someone a good friend? Someone who shares similar interests, is fun to be with. Someone who is reliable – not a ‘fair-weather friend’. Someone with whom you can share everything. Jesus effectively says to his disciples, I have shared everything with you. ‘I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.’

We call some people ‘real friends’. They are the ones who will go out of their way to help us. Will do something for us, often at great cost to themselves in time and expense. Jesus says, ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’. This is what we celebrate in our Eucharist this morning – Jesus giving his life for us all on the cross. Even allowing for the fact that these words are spoken before the crucifixion, they obviously point forward to the cross, which is why John the Gospel writer, has recorded them.

When a friend does something for us, we want to reciprocate. As Jesus has done so much for us we are surely called to reciprocate too. And he is quite clear in what he expects in return. ‘You are my friends if you do what I command you’. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you’. There is similar teaching in 1 John – express your love for God in giving Jesus to live and die for us, by loving one another.

As I’m sure you are aware, it is always much easier to love those we have chosen to be our friends. However, we didn’t choose many of our fellow Church members! I hope the Anglican congregation will forgive me repeating my little ditty from last Sunday and that it won’t get completely ‘lost in translation’ when Petr Jan interprets it into Czech!

‘To live in love, with the saints above, Lord, won’t that be glory.

But to live below, with the saints we know, well, that’s a different story’

However, I don’t apologise for repeating myself. I am reminded of a Protestant Pastor I heard about, who preached the same sermon every week, until his congregation acted upon it. Only then did they get a new sermon!

So how are we to do what Jesus commanded? To love one another as he has loved us. Well divine help is available. Our first reading today, from the Acts of the Apostles, describes the response of Cornelius and his family and friends, to the preaching of St. Peter. As Peter was preaching, the Holy Spirit fell upon them. It was the reverse of normal procedure in the early Church, where people were first baptised and then prayer was made for the coming of the Holy Spirit. On this occasion, because the Holy Spirit had come, Peter and his companions realised that there was nothing to prevent these gentiles from being baptised.

Today, we too need to adjust our focus. On Thursday, it will be forty days since Easter Day and we will celebrate the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven – Ascension Day. There then follows ten days of anticipation, including one Sunday, until the Feast of Pentecost, celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first disciples. May I suggest that each of us use this time, to prayerfully ask for the Holy Spirit to empower us to live out our faith. To help us ‘go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.’ And to enable us to love others as God in Christ has loved us. In the name of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.