Also Mothers’ Day in Australia

Acts 10: 44-48
As Peter preaches to the Gentile believers in Cornelius’ house, the Holy Spirit comes on them and they begin to speak with other tongues. Peter then baptises them confirming that God’s salvation is for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews.
Psalm 98
An exhortation to all creation to praise God for the wonderful works God has done, revealing God’s righteousness to all nations and bringing God’s justice into the world among all people.
1 John 5:1-6
When we love God and keep God’s commandments, we love God’s children. It is by this love that we know that we are born of God, and it is this faith that overcomes the world.
John 15:9-17
Jesus calls his followers to love one another just as he has loved them. There is no greater than to lay down one’s life, as Jesus does, for one’s friends. Through this obedience to Jesus’ command to love we bear fruit that lasts.
(Summaries of Bible readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

COCU36B.Easter6B.Readings handout 2018
Recommended resources
Together to Celebrate (music)
Singing from the Lectionary

A Call To Worship (based on Psalm 98)
O sing to the Lord a new song,
For our God has done wonderful things!
Make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth,
Lift your voices in praise and shout for joy!
For the Lord is a righteous judge who come in victory,
And all the earth will worship his Holy Name!

Call to worship (Based on Psalm 98)
Here today there is love, freely available to all.
Not our human loving, fragile and intermittent,
but God’s supreme love.
May a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth,
break forth into joyous songs of praise.

Here today is love, higher than our loftiest hopes,
deeper than the immensities of time and space,
God’s inclusive love.
Let the seas roar their praise,
and everything in them.
Let the rivers clap their hands
and the hills sing together their happiness.

The joy of the living Christ Jesus be with you all.
And also with you.
(Source: Bruce Prewer)

Call to Worship
We gather to worship the One
who crafted creation out of chaos,
our cries of joy join the anthems of the universe.
We gather to lift our praise
to the God who gives us voice,
we bring the songs which have echoed
in our hearts all week long.
We gather as the children of God,
our joy unbroken in God’s love.
young and old, tone deaf and perfect-pitched
lift the new, new songs of faith.
(Source: Lectionary Liturgies by Thom Shuman)

See also general Call to Worship resources

Prayer of Thanksgiving
We rejoice and give thanks, O Lord, that your love is for absolutely anyone who comes to you with humble heart and a searching spirit.  You do not withhold your love and grace because of someone’s nation, tongue or tribe.
We acknowledge that we are not so free from prejudice and intolerance. And yet, humbly we look to you for unconditional love – and we rejoice with all of creation in your lavish gift of love  and tenderness toward us.  How blessed we are that we should be called children of the Living God!
And there is something else we are aware of Lord.  At the heart of it all, we know that if your love should ever be withheld from another because of race, or clan or station in life, it could not but be withheld from us.  If you do not love all you could not love any.  We rejoice in this amazing truth!
O Lord God, we lift up our hearts in praise and open our hearts to receive the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to make our hearts your heart and our lives the vehicle of witness to your divine love! Amen.

See also general Prayers of Thanksgiving.

A Prayer of Confession
Loving God, our lives are ever open to your Spirit.  You know us better than we know ourselves.  Our thoughts are known to you before we think them and our words are already in your ear before we speak.  O merciful God, we acknowledge that we have often spoken without thinking and have hurt those you have commanded us to love.  We have closed our hearts when they should be open and withheld compassion when we should have cared.  O give us grace to live according to the commandment of your love and cleanse our hearts today from all wrong.  Amen.

See also general Prayers of Confession.

A Prayer of Dedication
For the beauty of the earth, the joy of human love and the wonder of your grace, we give thanks O Lord.  All of these things are gifts from you.  May the gifts we bring become instruments that will spread your gifts to others.  Amen.

Prayer (based on John 15:9-17)
God, Source of Love,
Christ, Embodiment of Love,
Spirit, who unites us in Love,
you call us friends,
and in your sure, strong voice,
you command us to love one another.
Your call to love is not:
   a dreamy euphoria,
   a superficial emotion,
   a mere tolerance,
   a naïve flight of fancy.
Your call is to a powerful, resilient, passionate love,
which demands work and discipline,
envisions accompaniment and solidarity,
requires clear-eyed acknowledgement,
and forceful response,
to the realities of this world.
So in the face of
the brokenness of socio-political polarities,
the exclusion of injustice and colonial history,
the oppression of empire and poverty and racism,
guide us to love the world in imaginative and creative and sustainable ways.
In the midst of
the alienation of anxiety and isolation,
the challenge of communities in conflict,
the stress in many relationships,
lead us to a love that encourages,
hospitality and welcome,
care and concern,
respect and dignity.
In this work,
may we abide in your love.
In this discipleship,
may your joy be in us.
In this living,
may your abundance bear fruit. Amen. 
(Source: Diaconal Minister Ted Dodd, United Church of Canada)

See also general Prayers of Dedication.

Prayers for Others

Blessings and Benedictions

Liturgy with communion for Easter 6B by Thom Shuman

Book resource worth exploring: Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-based Faith by Benjamin L. Corey. (The focus in the Epistle and Gospel is ‘God is love’ rather than a vengeful God and this is a journey that the author takes the reader on – moving beyond a fear-based faith to a faith built on love as embodied in the life of Jesus). 
The blurb: Benjamin L. Corey thought he was suffering a crisis of faith, but it turned out to be a spiritual awakening. Corey became aware that the constant fear of hell and judgment that defined his Christian faith was out of sync with the idea that God acts from love, and promises to deliver us from fear. Corey learned that what he had been taught was a distorted version of Christianity that was not only untrue but caused real spiritual harm.
He also discovered that he wasn’t alone. Many Christians are yearning to distinguish between the Christianity that has become a rigid American civil religion and the authentic Christian faith embodied in Jesus. As he recounts his own spiritual journey, Corey offers a powerful and inspiring message of hope for every Christian increasingly frustrated with the church today. Do not be discouraged, he assures them. You do not need to give up your faith; you can rediscover the reality of a vibrant Christianity that delivers us from fear and inspires and guides us all today. Chapter One here.

Reflecting on Psalm 98
In his book “From whom no secrets are hid”, Professor Walter Brueggemann describes
God as a “…great promise-keeper whose resolve guarantees that the world is not a
closed system. Creation, instead, is a world very much in process, sure to come to the
full Shalom… Consequently, the Psalms can gather all the great words of the covenant
and apply them to the future… the entire vocabulary of fidelity is thrown towards the
future – steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness, peace…[are] all in the ‘will’ of the
net yet…” [1] Later on, Brueggemann continued: “…The ‘righteousness of God’ comes
down to concrete actions that intend generous rehabilitation of those without resources…” [2] The Psalms gather all God’s words and actions with fidelity.
God is not only the “great promise-keeper” [1], but the Lord is also the ‘remembering’
God! “…The Lord has…remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel…”
The people who composed the Psalms must have had an exceptional understanding
of God; and of the wider world in which God operated so generously and lovingly; and
who offered frequent support to the rebellious and disobedient Israelites in their times of
trouble! Thanks be to God that our All-inclusive and “Promise-Keeping” [1] God invited
“…all the earth…” and that means us too; the sea, all living things, rivers and hills to
be part of the celebrations because: “…the Lord…has done wonderful deeds. His
right hand has won a mighty and victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power…!”
[1] Text by Professor Walter Brueggemann from “From whom no secrets are hid”
Chapter 2, page 33 © 2014 Westminster/John Knox Press, Louisville Kentucky USA
[2] Ibid – Chapter 5, page 52
(Source: Rev Joan Stott, The Timeless Psalms)

Draw the circle wide
(Gordon Light)
A great song about welcoming all people (perfect for the Acts reading)
“Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still.
Let this be our song, no-one stands alone,
standing side by side, draw the circle wide”.

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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