No Greater Love

Living the Resurrection

Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B

It is not our intention to dampen the spirit of the day, but to remind worship teams of the delicate nature of recognition. By all means, find ways to give thanks and to give honor. That is one of the tasks of the followers of Jesus (Romans 12:10). At the same time, however, offer prayers of healing for those who are struggling on this day.

Of course, you should acknowledge the event of Mother’s Day during worship this week. The real question is how? What would be an appropriate recognition and yet keep the focus of worship where it properly should be, on the risen Christ who calls us to remember whose we are. Too often, our observance of this day is akin to worshiping our mothers or the institution of motherhood. In so doing, we often alienate those for whom the experience of mother was not a good one. Thanking God for mothers is appropriate, as is a call to those who mother with God’s love in mind.

The sacrificial love Jesus talked about in our text for this week is not exclusive to mothers, nor it is an automatic or instinctual response for those in that role. So, it would be good to keep the attention to the high calling of the follower of Christ to live this kind of love regardless of the social roles an individual holds.

Sacrificial love doesn’t always mean dying. It means dying to self or setting one’s self aside in favor of the other. So, worship could be full of such stories or petitions for each heart to be shaped in such a way that the outward focus becomes predominant. A community of faith that seeks to make the lives of everyone around them better – happier, fed, clothed, welcomed, included, loved – is a community of faith that is following the risen Christ.

Call to Worship

Leader: See what love has been given to us, that we should be called children of God.

People: By this we know love, that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, and lived and died, that God’s love might be made plain among us.

Leader: Therefore, beloved, let us not love in word or in speech but in deed and in truth.

People: Because we love one another, we know that we have passed from death into life.

All: This is the victory that overcomes the world, through Jesus our risen Christ. Amen.

Ruth Duck, Bread for the Journey, Ruth Duck, ed., Pilgrim Press, 1981, p.44.

Call to Worship

(inspired by Psalm 98, Acts 10:44-48, John 15:9-17)

The Spirit is coming to bless us all with a new song:
Let our joy be complete!
Gifts for the good of all, poured out on all to teach us a new song:
Love one another!
Strangers and neighbors, foreigners and family will join in the new song:
No longer servants but friends!
Come, let our worship make a joyful noise,
Rejoicing in the friendship of God.

Prayer of Invocation

(inspired by Psalm 98, John 15:9-17)

O Beloved One,
All the ends of the earth marvel
at your deeds of power; we feel your presence
as growth returning to the countryside;
we rejoice as we remember your faithfulness and steadfast love
revealed in the risen Christ.
Surround us with that faithfulness and steadfast love
Fill us with generosity and courage
so that we may be called your friends
and go forth to befriend your world. In Jesus’ name.

From Friends of God: Service Prayers for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, written by the Rev. Susan A. Blain. Posted on the United Church of Christ’s Worship Ways archive. Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/04/call-to-worship-prayer-easter-6b.html.

Father, You Call Us Your Friends

An Opening Prayer Inspired by John 15:9-17

Unison,

Lord, we are gathered here today as one body, because you chose to call us your friends. We come from all walks of life. We have had our share of good days and bad days. In the world’s eye, we aren't good enough or worthy enough to have this bond; but in your sight, we are exactly who you need. Despite all the drama, we made it here to worship and praise your name. May the love we experience today in worship restore us, revive us, refresh us. God, use our broken selves as tools of hope and love on this day. Lord, we love you. Thank you for loving us and calling us your friends. It's in your name, we pray. Amen.

Stephon Carlisle Void, Easter Liturgical Resources from Africana Writers, edited by Safiya Fosua, 2020.

Come and Go with Me to My Father’s House

(A Litany of Song and Scripture based on John 15:9-15)

People: (Sing) Come and go with me to my Father’s house.

Leader: As the Father has loved me, I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as you have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:9-10, NRSV).

People: (Sing) Peace and love abide in my Father’s house (second verse).

Leader: I have said these things to you so . . . that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11, NRSV).

People: (Sing) Peace and happiness there in my Father’s house (third verse).

Leader: 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 (John 15:12-13, NRSV).

People: (Sing) No more dying up there in my Father’s house (fourth verse).

Leader: You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because a 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 (John 15: 14-15, NRSV).

People: (Sing) Come and go with me to my Father’s house (first verse).

Leader: 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 (John 15: 16-17, NRSV).

People: (Sing) Sweet communion up there in my Father’s house (fifth verse).

Marilyn E. Thornton, The Africana Worship Book for Year B, Discipleship Resources, Valerie Bridgeman Davis, and Safiyah Fosua Eds., 2007, pp. 91-92.

Prayer of Confession

Loving and merciful One,
we thank you for the community in which you have placed us,
for the brothers and sisters with whom we walk this pilgrim journey.

Yet, we confess that we fail to love as you love.
We push aside those whom we believe are the least in your Kingdom.
We fail to see your Kingdom in parables
because we fail to see your Kingdom in each other.
Form in us a new vision of community
in which there is neither East nor West, neither South nor North.
We pray for the sake of your Kingdom
that both is and is not yet. Amen.

Posted in Hearing the Parables with the Early Church on the Baylor University website. http://www.baylor.edu/christianethics/parablesstudyguide2.pdf. Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2013/06/prayer-loving-others.html.

Prayers of the People: Easter 6

(inspired by John 15:9-17)

Eternal God, in these moments of quiet we thank you for your presence in our lives. We thank you for all of the testimonies of your profound love for your children. We especially thank you this day for the holy one Jesus. We thank you for his humility. We thank you that rather than elevating himself above us he instead would lift us up and as with his disciples call us “friends.” We thank you for his many reminders that we are to love one another. But we confess that we have great difficulty following his command to love.

We become upset with others and find it easier to reject them than to seek to understand and to love them.

We struggle with the almost impossible command to love our enemies.

We become driven to meet our own needs and become blind to the needs of others.

We are driven to succeed which becomes all-consuming and trumps our command to love.

Forgive us our foolish ways. Help us to keep in our awareness this command to love which Jesus repeated so many times. Help us especially to hear it in those hard times when it is most difficult to love.

Help us to love others when they are power hungry.
Help us to love others when they are inconsiderate.
Help us to love others when they are angry and lash out blindly.
Help us to love others when they are selfish and insensitive.

Help us, O God, to love others so that we may abide in your love and act like the friends of Jesus. Amen.

Written by Richard J. Einerson, from his collection of prayers, Prayers of the People. http://www.richardeinerson.com/ Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/04/prayer-of-intercession-easter-6-b.html.

Commission and Benediction

(based on John 15:9-17)

Go now, and bear fruit for God, fruit that will last.
As Christ has loved you, so love one another,
and abide always in God is love,
that your joy may be complete.

And may God give you all you ask for in Christ’s name;
May Christ Jesus reveal to you God’s ways and call you his friends;
And may the Holy Spirit confirm the truth within you and make your joy complete.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
in the name of Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net. Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/04/benediction-easter-6-b.html.

In This Series...


Easter Sunday, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Third Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes

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In This Series...


Easter Sunday, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Third Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes