Order of Service
Organ prelude: Voluntary in D – Andante vivace – John Alcock (1715-1806)
Welcome and Notices
Call to Worship: John 15: 12-13
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.
This familiar text reminds us of the importance of love and sacrifice – even to the point of the ultimate sacrifice. Friends, join me in considering anew, the abiding love of God in our lives, as we sing our opening hymn, Abide with me.
Tune: Eventide – William H. Monk (1823-89)
Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who like thyself my guide and strength can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.
I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.
Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Henry F. Lyte (1793-1847)
Opening Prayers of Adoration and Confession and the Lord’s Prayer
Friends in Christ,
God invites us to enter into God’s sustaining love and faithful presence, in the midst of all the uncertainty which surrounds us.
In a day when many of us have not experienced human touch, and have been separated from loved ones, God has been closer than our next tear, and more steady than our next heartbeat.
We enter worship, then, in great reverence for our God of Hope and Sustaining Love.
We enter worship with thanksgiving for all God’s marvelous blessings on behalf of the Church and the wider world.
Let us pray:
Precious Lord, we are thankful for your many blessings, ever prompting us to reach out to give comfort, reminding us that true agape love is not easy, but necessary for us to live in relationship with you and with one another.
Help us to understand what it means to be of service and to exhibit the true nature of friendship as taught by Jesus. Help us to remember the words you taught your disciples to pray by saying,
Our Father, who art in Heaven . . .
Introduction to the first reading
Our first reading, from the Gospel of John, demonstrates not only the writer’s priority of revealing the love of Jesus, but it also tell us the way Jesus prioritizes love and faithfulness for his disciples.
Reading – John 15: 9-13
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.
Organ Interlude: Lento cantabile – Carl Czerny (1791-1857)
Introduction to the second reading
In our second reading, Jesus identifies, not only the commandment to love, but the new relational friendship that is offered to us by God. He encourages the disciples by telling them that God will provide what they ask for if they are faithful in their love to one another.
Reading – John 15: 14-17
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.
Sermon: Is this Love?
Tune: What a friend – Charles C. Converse (1832-1918)
What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations,
is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged:
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness:
take it to the Lord in prayer!
Are we weak and heavy laden,
burdened with a load of care?
Jesus is our only refuge:
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
In his arms he’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.
Joseph Scriven (1819-86) altd.
Prayers of Intercession
We come into your presence with thanksgiving, but also with burdens on behalf of those around us.
The world around us feels uncertain and, at times, unstable.
We bring concerns for those who have been afflicted by COVID, especially those who have been alone during this unsettling time.
We long to have the security of our friends and loved ones around us, and we desire to provide the gift of presence to those who are most vulnerable among us.
We pray for your wisdom and courage to help those around us.
We also pray for those who continue to experience inequity and unkindness.
We ask that your righteousness would flow like a never-ending stream.
Give us the courage to denounce those things which do not bring you glory, whether in word or deed.
Give us empathy to feel the hurt of others, the hungry, the homeless, the immigrant.
Help us to know how we might better serve them as we demonstrate, consistently, your love.
May we one day leave our communities and this world a better place than the one we found when we came.
Tune: Hyfrydol – R. H. Pritchard(1811-87); harm. R. Vaughan Williams (1872-1958);
last verse arr. Noel Rawsthorne (1929 – 2019).
Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down,
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation,
enter ev’ry trembling heart.
Come, Almighty, to deliver,
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return, and never,
nevermore they temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray, and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.
Finish, then, thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be;
let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love and praise.
Charles Wesley (1707-88)
Give, and it shall be given unto you, pressed down, shaken together and running over.
Bless those who have to give, and, dear Lord, bless those who do not have to give, but bring to you their steadfast faith and service.
We ask, precious Lord, that you bless all our gifts of faith, and multiply them to achieve your purpose.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and grant you peace.
Organ Voluntary: Postlude – Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911)