Collect and Readings for Sunday 9th May 2021 Year B Isaiah 55:1-11, Psalm 98, 1 John 5.1-6, Acts 10.44-end, John 15.9-17
The Prayer for today
God our redeemer, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son: grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This week in our reading from Acts we witness an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which doesn't even wait for Peter to finish speaking. Not surprisingly, when we look back to what he had just been saying, we find once again that powerful truth about forgiveness, which Jesus ha commissioned his disciples to tell everyone about. 'Tell them they can be forgiven,' he had said straight after the Resurrection. As Peter proclaims this, the little crowd of people in Cornelius' house, who are searching single-mindedly for God's truth, suddenly experience the rush of God's forgiving love, and the freedom it brings.
This is the kind of love we are given as an example to follow -the kind of forgiving , accepting love that wants people to be free. So much of what we name as love is actually to do with self-gratification and possession. It is tied up with our own need for fulfilment. The love that Jesus talks about in today's Gospel is about obedience, willing co-operation, and sacrifice which produces joy.
There is a danger of mishearing what Jesus means here. He isn't saying that in order to be his beloved friends we have to obey his commands. That would be fine if we could ern God's love by clocking up points, and many people conscientiously live like this. But it doesn't set them free. It was because we can't earn God's blessing that we needed a Saviour to give us freely the forgiveness which liberates us to live; and it is because God has treated us with such love and respect and generosity that, as his friends, we take delight in obeying his commands and living the loving way.
Jesus doesn't want to have us as servants, who obey because it's their job but know nothing of their employer's business. He has gone out of his way to involve us at every stage, pointing out the policies and plans, and the 'mission statement'. This makes us more like friends and colleagues with the God of creation, which is a heady prospect and also quite a responsibility.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Christ is Risen. Let us accept God's forgiveness given freely so that we can feel that rush love flood over and through us.
God bless and stay safe and well
Rev'd Fiona Robinson