Sunday 16th May 2021

Welcome to the online service for Reid Memorial and Craigmillar Park Churches on Sunday 16th May 2021. This is the seventh Sunday after Easter. Jesus earthly ministry is almost over, and we focus today on His prayer for the disciples.

Call to Worship.

Psalm 1: 1,2

Happy are those
   who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
   or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
   and on his law they meditate day and night.

Hymn 424: Blest be the everlasting God.

Prayer of Approach

God the creator, we come before you, in awe of every new day.
We are overwhelmed by the wonder of your creation,
we are amazed by the beauty and mystery of your world,
as the season changes and new life appears.

God of grace, we are humbled by your greatness.
Forgive us when we do not focus our attention on you,
When we become distracted, remind us of your constant presence,
Challenge us as Jesus’ disciples were challenged.
Forgive us for our human frailties and failings,
For our prejudices and preconceptions.

You are the light of the world. Help us to shine in your name.
You are the God of wisdom, truth, and power. Help us to see your glory.
You are the God of grace. Help us to continue on in the midst of difficulties.
You give us opportunities. Help us to use them to serve you.

Thank you for the inspiration of your Gospel,
For the healing power of your love
For the community of your church
Renew and refresh us in our worship,
In our mission,
And in our service to you,

Hear us as we join together in the prayer that Jesus taught us.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name, 
thy kingdom come, 
thy will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts, 
as we forgive our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom, 
and the power, and the glory, 
for ever and ever. Amen.

Scriptures

John 17:6-19
I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.

Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

1 John 5:9-13
If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Hymn 547: What a friend we have in Jesus.

Reflection

How many times have you said or heard the words “I’m glad that I don’t know what’s ahead of me”? We will know in the short term what is in our diary for next week. Now that restrictions are lifting, it might be a coffee in a café with a friend or a relative. Next month, or next year, there might be plans for a short trip away or a holiday abroad. But what about the long term, do we know what is ahead of us?
After the many sightings of the risen Jesus, His time on earth is nearly over. He spent his remaining days in prayer and in today’s reading from John’s Gospel, we hear Jesus’ praying for the disciples as they go out into the world to spread the word of God.
Jesus knows that His time with the disciples, physically speaking, is almost over and the thought of leaving them is almost too much. And so, He cries out to His Father to ‘Protect them, look after them, keep them safe!’
The disciples were chosen after a night of prayer. Jesus takes no credit for the choices and totally depending on God to ensure that these were the right people to follow him. Jesus did not simply teach this group of men, passing on the word of God, but lived among them as an example of love, goodness, righteousness, grace, and holiness. Jesus acknowledges their failings and faults. He prayed for the disciples that they would carry His message of love and redemption to the world.
Although the disciples did not fully understand the work of Jesus, they followed him in faith, in hope and in love, honestly believing that He is the Son of God.

This entire prayer was offered to God in the knowledge that his earthly existence would soon be over, and that he would have the promise of eternal life. He realized that although He would no longer remain in the world, His disciples would.
They needed prayer because the unique three years of discipleship during His earthly ministry would be over.
They needed prayer because of their association with Jesus. The circumstances surrounding his departure were difficult and unjust; He was betrayed, and arrest, had an unfair trial, was beaten, and then crucified.
They needed prayer because Jesus would not be there in His bodily presence to help them, they would be exposed to the world without His counsel and defence.
They needed prayer because of the necessary role of the Holy Spirit; both for the sending of the Spirit and their constant reliance upon Him.
In the Jewish world of that day no one continued as a disciple to a dead rabbi. Yet this group of men were to continue as disciples of Jesus. Their continued unity was important; it would have made more sense for the disciples to scatter after the death of Jesus than it would for them to stay together. Jesus prayed that they would remain as one.
He deeply cared for and prayed for fulfilling love and joy in their life and we can be assured that He is also concerned that we have fulfilling joy and love in our lives. God’s purpose is to multiply joy in our lives, not to take it away.
Although Jesus does not specifically pray for the world, the prayer for the disciples brings hope to the world. He did not pray for the disciples to be taken out of the battle but that they would be strengthened and protected by it.

We cannot imagine all that must have been in the disciples’ heads and hearts as Jesus prayed for them, they had a daunting task ahead of them. We should realise that the prayer is for us too, for the followers of Jesus in the here and now. We have the promise of eternal life, a promise made to us now, not at some time in the future.
We do not know what the future of the Church of Scotland will look like. There are difficult decisions to be made at the General Assembly this year, that will affect the church as a whole, the Presbyteries of Scotland and our churches at a local level. The current position is unsustainable.
Just as the disciples did not know what was ahead of them so we must go forward with the same faith, hope, love, and in Christian unity.
The principle focus of the prayer is Jesus’ heartfelt plea that His followers would be kept safe. Just imagine if Jesus was praying that prayer over you and me now. What wonderful comfort is to be found in that thought?
Amen

Prayer of Intercession

God of grace and compassion

You give us many blessing so that our hearts are full of love and joy.
We remember those who are less fortunate than ourselves,
In countries where they are persecuted for confessing Jesus as their saviour.

We pray for those who are facing an uncertain and difficult future,
Because of business failures, job losses and mounting debts. May they find hope.
We pray for the workers in various agencies who offer support in times of crisis.
We think of the unsung heroes who quietly and humbly volunteer behind the scenes giving comfort to those in need. We pray for donors, without whose help, charities would be unable to fulfil their function.

We pray for the church in Scotland and the Church of Scotland as they fulfil their mission throughout our land. Especially we think of those who are meeting for the General Assembly, that they would be guided by your will to discern the future of our church at local and national level.

We pray for those experiencing illness, be it physical or psychological, and for those who have the skills to treat and heal the sick. We remember families and communities emerging from the pandemic still feeling the pain of loss of loved ones. May they experience God’s love and comfort through our actions and our words.

We pray for each other and for ourselves.
May our weaknesses be replaced by strength as we try to follow Jesus’ way in faith and commitment. May we have courage and wisdom in the face of our fears. May the troubles of our day vanish as you walk with us.
We rejoice in the unpredictability and beauty of the natural world that you have placed in our hands, may we protect it and care for it as is pleasing to you.

We offer these prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
Amen

Hymn 512: To God be the Glory, Great things he hath done.

Closing Prayer

Lord God,
we rejoice in your greatness and power,
your gentleness and love,
your mercy and justice.
Enable us by your Spirit
to honour you in our thoughts,
and words and actions,
and to serve you in every aspect of our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen.

Acknowledgements:
Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Aspects of the prayers and reflection adapted from the Church of Scotland’s Weekly Worship resources, and from Christian Aid resources
If you wish to donate to Christian Aid, to help with their vital work throughout the world, you can do so through their website at https://www.christianaid.org.uk/