May 3, 2020

Our Invisible Partner

Passage: John 14:23-29

Fourth Sunday of Easter

May 3, 2020


Call to Worship

Hymn: Draw the Circle Wide

CHORUS:         Draw the circle wide. Draw it wider still.  Let this be our song,

No one stands alone, standing side by side, draw the circle wide.


God the still-point of the circle, ‘round whom all creation turns

Nothing lost, but held forever, in God’s gracious arms. (Chorus)


Let our hearts touch far horizons, so encompass great and small

Let our loving know no borders, faithful to God’s call (Chorus)


Let the dreams we dream be larger, than we’ve ever dreamed before

Let the dream of Christ be in us, open every door. (Chorus)


Prayer of Adoration and Confession

Assurance of Pardon


Family Hymn:   Come! Come! Everybody Worship

CHORUS: Come! Come! Everybody worship with a prayer or song of praise!

Come! Come! Everybody worship! Worship God always!


Worship and remember to keep the Sabbath day.

Take a rest and think of God; put your work away! (Chorus)


Worship and remember the Lord’s unending care,

Reaching out to love and help people everywhere! (Chorus)


Worship and remember your blessings great and small,

Give to God an offering; show your thanks for all! (Chorus)


Worship and remember how Jesus long ago

Taught us how to talk to God; something we should know! (Chorus)


Worship and remember that God is like a light,

Showing you the way to go; ever burning bright! (Chorus)


Time with our Children

Prayer for Understanding


James 5:7-12

Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.

8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

9 Beloved do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors!

10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

11 Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

12 Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your "Yes" be yes and your "No" be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.


John 14:23-29

Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me.

25 "I have said these things to you while I am still with you.

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

28 You heard me say to you, "I am going away, and I am coming to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.

29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.


HYMN: Lay your Hands Gently

Chorus: Lay your hands gently upon us

Let their touch render your peace

Let them bring your forgiveness and healing

Lay your hands gently, lay your hands.


You were sent to free the broken-hearted

You were sent to give sight to the blind

You desire to heal all our illnesses

Lay your hands gently, lay your hands. (Chorus)


Lord, we come to you through one another.

Lord, we come to you in our need.

Lord, we come to you seeking wholeness.

Lay your hands gently, lay your hands. (Chorus)


The Message:  Our Invisible Partner

Over the years that I have had the privilege of being alive, I, like all of you, have had many and varied experiences which have shaped who I am. Each experience has influenced my choices in life and my responses to those choices which circumstances handed to me.  Through it all I have discovered that one of the greatest challenges is having to face those experiences of life alone.

Significant people in our lives are with us for a time and then they leave us and pass to another world. While they are with us, we strive to cherish them, honour them, respect them, love them and seek to be as much a part of each other’s life as we possibly can. In this modern world we live in, that is not always easy. I do not have the opportunity for a lot of contact with my own sons and their families except through Skype and phone calls and yet I am connected to them in so many ways.   These connections we have to one another are bonds formed in our hearts and spirits and nothing in heaven or earth can separate them from us.

Jesus’ disciples had spent three years of their lives following him, learning from him, watching him and being totally supported by him. During that time, they never had to do anything on their own. He was always there to correct their mistakes, get them out of tight situations and ready to listen to all their thoughts and musings. But now things were going to be different. He was talking of leaving them. I can only imagine the sinking feeling of abandonment that must have rushed over them.

But Jesus reassures them.  Even though he will leave, they will not be alone. God the Father will send the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, who will teach them all they need to know and help them to remember all that he has shared with them. They will not have to face anything on their own. Jesus knows that even talking of leaving will cause distress to the disciples and so he encourages them to not let their hearts be troubled nor be afraid. They will have him with them in the form of the Holy Spirit of God. And so, it is that he can say to them with all confidence: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”


Peace, a word that should bring a calming to our souls. It is a word which should give us a sense of hope and a future.  And that is what the peace Christ gives does. The world’s idea of peace is too often just a break from hostility, envy, greed, pride and arrogance. Unfortunately, we find that that peace is too often and too easily forgotten. The peace of Christ is a peace that passes all understanding for it is a peace given by the Creator to the very heart of that which He has created. No one else can give this kind of peace for it is not theirs to give. The peace of God enables us to face everything life throws at us with the confidence that we never live this life alone.  Our love for God and our willingness to be His people and live according to His words, which are food for our souls, reveals to us how much we are loved by God our Father.

Before I finish today, I would like us to reflect on one more truth.  People   called by God to faith and to follow God’s commandments and live as people of faith have ever been faced with challenging situations in their lives and have had to make difficult decisions.  Many times, they felt that they were alone.  But in reality, they – like us – were surrounded by others who were experiencing the same or similar challenges.  Each of the disciples no doubt wondered if they could live up to the expectations Jesus had for them.  And on their own, they probably would have failed. But they were bound together by their relationship with Jesus and that relationship was to encourage them to know that they could share their fears and insecurities with one another and find strength in each other’s company. But right along with that, they would all have the presence of God’s Holy Spirit to guide and encourage them.

The disciples continued to have the support of one another after the departure of Jesus.  Yet even when they found themselves isolated from that community, they knew that they had a partner.  Jesus had promised them the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort them.  That invisible partner would be with them through every experience and circumstance of their life.


That gift of the Holy Spirit of God is there for us as well and we can find the peace that comes from the Spirit’s presence even in our deepest and darkest moments of life.  These are some of the most challenging days of our lives.  But we can remain hopeful and positive and calm knowing that we have an invisible partner from whom nothing can ever keep us apart.


While my early morning Celtic prayer has for many years been a part of my daily routine, its significance has increased through this time. Part of that prayer goes like this:

May the angels of heaven protect me this day and circle me with the fragrance of peace

May Christ my Lord and loving friend protect me this day and circle me with affection and love

May the Spirit of truth who dwells in my heart protect me this day and circle me with joy.

My Father, I am your child. I go forth in your name. Keep me safe.

Be encouraged in your life and know that in every circumstance, in every place you go that you are not alone. You never were and you never will be!

Thanks be to God.


Invitation to the Offering

Prayer of Dedication

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

The Lord’s Prayer


HYMN:  Be not afraid

You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst

You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.

You shall speak your words in foreign lands, and all will understand

You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.


If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown.

If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.

If you stand before the pow’r of hell and death is at your side,

Know that I am with you through it all.

Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.

Blessed are your poor, for the Kingdom shall be theirs.

Blest are you that weep and mourn, for one day you shall laugh.

And if wicked tongues insult and hate you all because of me,

Blessed, blessed are you!

Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.




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