Sunday Service for 19th April 2020

Sunday 19th April
Easter 1

Notices

Today marks the first anniversary of Saffrey Miller’s death. Our thoughts are with David and the family. Today’s hymn, which can be heard via YouTube, closed her Memorial Service.

The Scottish Episcopal Church will this Sunday at 11.00 broadcasting video coverage of its Eucharistic service via its website, social media channels and YouTube channel. The web page for the broadcast is located at www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship The website will also contain a downloadable video and audio format of the service.

For those who prefer devotion in another form, the following is a complete service.

SERVICE

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

The Collect for the day

Lord God, in your compassion you granted to the Lady Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 27:5–11
5 One thing have I asked of the LORD;
one thing I seek; *
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life;
6 To behold the fair beauty of the LORD *
and to seek him in his temple.
7 For in the day of trouble he shall keep me safe in his shelter; *
he shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling
and set me high upon a rock.
8 Even now he lifts up my head *
above my enemies round about me.
9 Therefore I will offer in his dwelling an oblation
with sounds of great gladness; *
I will sing and make music to the LORD.
10 Hearken to my voice, O LORD, when I call; *
have mercy on me and answer me.
11 You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.” *
Your face, LORD, will I seek.

The Gospel.

John 4:23–26
Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

The Nicene Creed.

I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered was buried: And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

The sermon

Invariably during the current crisis, anyone of importance appearing on television is filmed against the backdrop of their bookcase. Wearying of being hectored, viewers are beginning to turn attention instead to the shelves behind the speaker’s head. Are the volumes arranged neatly, suggesting the owner’s tidy mind, or stacked at random suggesting perpetual inner whirlwind? Are the spines colour- coded, signifying perhaps pedantry? Did the books reach the shelves by courtesy of a never to be repeated offer from ‘Reader’s Digest’, or to dispatch an uninvited encyclopaedia salesman from the doorstep? In short, are the books simply to impress or have they at some point been opened?
My own bookcase contains a slim volume by one Julian of Norwich entitled ‘Revelations of Divine Love’. In truth, it has never been opened until recently, but is now steady ‘work in progress’. Although penned in the 14th century, it is remarkably relevant to these disturbing times.
Julian of Norwich wasn’t male as the name suggests, but rather a woman. Her birth name remains unknown: her identity is derived from her life-long association with St Julian’s church, which stood in King Street next to one of the busiest thoroughfares in medieval Norwich.
Julian was born in 1342 during the time of The Black Death. The plague led to bad social conditions and oppression of the poor. There was a shortage of labour, high taxes and bad harvests. Unrest led to the Peasants Revolt in 1381. Religious persecution was also rampant, and many people were put to their death because of their religious beliefs.
Julian wasn’t a nun, but a lay person who chose a life of contemplation. In this role she became a special kind of mystic, known as an anchoress. An anchoress was a person called to a solitary life, not cut-off from the world, but rather within it. She anchored the light of God amidst the darkness of life around her. Thus in 1373 she voluntarily entered ‘lockdown’ within a cell attached to St Julian’s church; it was though used before her time and again after her death. Lest she felt tempted to leave, the entrance was blocked behind her with stone. Her life centred on prayer and contemplation a life highly respected at the time.
Julian kept a servant who brought her meals. She listened through a curtained window to passers-by who needed counsel. The only other living soul who entered her space was her beloved cat, that allowed the rat population to be kept at bay.
On 8 May 1373 she was struck by severe illness, doubtless plague related. During sickness, she experienced 16 profound visions. She scribbled each in detail, lest she later forget them. After recovery, and for the next 20 years, she recorded them in full. Her writings became ‘Revelations of Divine Love’, the first book written by a woman in English, and it remains a spiritual classic.
Unlike many religious teachings of her day, Julian did not write of a vengeful or judgmental God, but a God with an all-enveloping love, like a tender mother or father. In its 27th chapter, Julian wrote “All Shall be Well!”
Readers might initially be tempted to judge these as words befitting someone detached and remote from the hardships and troubles of everyday life. In fact, these were not Julian’s words, but those of God. Julian was naturally sceptical that in a plague, things would ever turn out well. She filled thirteen chapters with such doubts. God, in response, assured her that the mysterious action of divine love and power and wisdom will indeed make all things well. God even presented Julian with examples of how suffering had been made well, and sin into glory. But Julian for a long time remained unconvinced, wanting to know how all things could be made well. Ultimately, God doesn’t explain how things could be made well but invites Julian to trust in that future of wellness.
Knowing that Julian argued with God is helpful, because believing “all shall be well” is not a simplistic devotion or a mental mind game; it is an invitation for us all to live more trustingly.
Julian’s hermitage was destroyed at the Reformation and St Julian’s church during the Baedeker air raids of 1942. Later, the cell was rebuilt along with the nave and chancel of the main church. It serves as a shrine to Lady Julian of Norwich who is also commemorated in nearby Norwich Cathedral by a statue and a stained-glass window.
Prayer and meditation from ‘Revelations of Divine Love’
After that the Lord brought to my mind the yearning that I had for Him in the past, and I saw that nothing stood in my way except sin (and thus I observed universally in us all).
And it seemed to me that if sin had not been, we would all have been pure and like to our Lord as He made us, and thus, in my folly, before this time I often wondered why, by the great foreseeing wisdom of God, the beginning of sin was not prevented, for then, it seemed to me, all would have been well. I ought much to have given up this disturbing wondering, but nevertheless, I made mourning and sorrow about it without reason or discretion.
But Jesus (who in this vision informed me of all that I needed) answered by this word and said: “Sin is inevitable, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Amen

Confession
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against Thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings: The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please Thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of Thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Absolution
The Almighty and merciful Lord, grant me pardon and absolution of all my sins. Amen.

The Comfortable Words, Preface. and Sanctus.
Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all who truly turn to Him.
Come unto Me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.
So God loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.
Hear also what Saint Paul saith.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.
Hear also what Saint John saith.
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He is the Propitiation for our sins. 1 St. John ii. 1, 2.
Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious Name; evermore praising Thee, and saying,
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory: Glory be to Thee, O Lord Most High. Amen.

In union, O Lord with the faithful, I desire to offer Thee praise and thanksgiving. I present to Thee my soul and body with the earnest wish that may always be united to Thee. And since I can not now receive Thee sacramentally, I beseech Thee to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to Thee, and embrace Thee with all the affections of my soul. Let nothing ever separate Thee from me. May I live and die in Thy love. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:

The Hymn

1 The day of resurrection!
Earth, tell it out abroad;
the Passover of gladness,
the Passover of God;
from death to life eternal,
from earth unto the sky,
our God hath brought us over
with hymns of victory.
2 Our hearts be pure from evil,
that we may see aright
the Lord in rays eternal
of resurrection-light;
and, listening to his accents,
may hear so calm and plain
his own ‘All hail’, and, hearing,
may raise the victor strain.
3 Now let the heavens be joyful,
and earth her song begin,
the round world keep high triumph,
and all that is therein;
let all things seen and unseen
their notes of gladness blend,
for Christ the Lord is risen,
our joy that hath no end.

The Grace
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with me always. Amen.