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Do You Love Me?

Live from Tabernacl Baptist Church in Cardiff city centre, with the Rev Roy Jenkins and the Rev Denzil John. Huw Williams directs the Cantemus Chamber Choir.

In the light of the cross and resurrection Christians are invited to look at what drives and defines them. What matters most? Where do loyalties lie? It’s the stark question posed by Jesus to the disciple Peter: ‘Do you love me?’ and explored by the Rev. Roy Jenkins in a live service from Tabernacl Baptist Church, Cardiff. Led by the Rev. Denzil John, the service includes music by the Cantemus Chamber Choir: If Ye Love Me (Tallis); Ubi Caritas (Mealor); The Strife is o’er (Vulpius); This Joyful Eastertide (arr Wood); Love Divine (Blaenwern). Reading: John 21: 15-19. Music Director Huw Williams. Organist Peter King. Producer Karen Walker.

38 minutes

Last on

Sun 5 May 2019 08:10

Script:

This script cannot exactly reflect the transmission, as it was prepared before the service was broadcast. It may include editorial notes prepared by the producer, and minor spelling and other errors that were corrected before the radio broadcast.It may contain gaps to be filled in at the time so that prayers may reflect the needs of the world, and changes may also be made at the last minute for timing reasons, or to reflect current events

OPENING ANNO from R4
BBC Radio 4.  And now on the third Sunday of Easter we go live to Tabernacle Welsh Baptist Church in Cardiff for this week’s Sunday Worship in which the Rev’d Roy Jenkins reflects on the question Jesus posed to one of his disciples ‘do you love me?’.  The service begins with the hymn “The strife is o’er”.

ITEM 1 CHOIR/ORGAN    The strife is o’er vv1-3

ITEM 2 RJ    INTRO:Good morning and welcome to Cardiff.  ‘The strife is o’er, the battle done’: Easter makes the boldest of claims: that through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has acted decisively to deal with all that’s wrong with the world, even with death.   It might not seem like it.  The strife is far from over in places where bombs and bullets shatter lives and everyone is afraid; wherever parents face agonising choices about how to feed their children; wherever people are hurt by division and anger and resentment.Struggle continues, for sure.  Pain, suffering, disharmony. Death.  Yet what was achieved through the strife accepted willingly by Jesus carries with it the promise that evil will never have the last word. His way is the key to how the world is meant to work.Which carries with it a huge challenge.   It’s in the light of cross and resurrection that we’re invited to look at what drives us, defines our purpose, tests our allegiances.  What matters most?  Where does our first loyalty lie? It’s the stark question posed to one of Jesus’ disciples : Do you love me? And we’ll be exploring it in this service together with the minister of this church, the Rev Denzil John. 

ITEM 3 CHOIR/ORGAN The strife is o’er vv4,5

ITEM 4  DENZIL/CHOIR   PRAYER:For your gift of life, and your victory over death, we bless you, Lord.For your care for all creation, and your love for each of your children, we praise you.For the eternal hope you offer through Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, we give you our thanks.With all your people in every place, and with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven, we offer our Easter Alleluias.And in the words Jesus taught, we say:Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.Give us this day our daily breadAnd forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.And lead is not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.

ITEM 5 DENZIL LINKFifty years ago, Fred Pratt Green wrote new words for a carol celebrating resurrection, set to a traditional Dutch folk tune: 'This joyful Eastertide.'

ITEM 6 CHOIR/ORGAN This joyful Eastertide

ITEM 7 DENZIL:Talk of loving Jesus can make some people uncomfortable.   Reticent about anything that seems too emotional, too intense, they say they want their brains engaged, a faith expressed in practical caring.   But there’s no necessary contradiction here.   Finding your heart warmed by God’s love, experiencing a deep joy at the knowledge that you’re accepted and forgiven, can set minds ablaze and stimulate the most creative acts of service.The first Bible verse many children are  taught to recite in Welsh chapels is Duw cariad yw - God is love, an assurance for life of his gracious, merciful protection.   The words point to what Jesus presented as the greatest commandments:  to love the Lord our God with heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbour as ourselves.   That can only ever be a response to what he has already done.  We love because he first loved us - and so our gospel reading from John chapter 21. Jesus has appeared to his disciples at the side of the Sea of Galilee and prepared a meal for them.
ITEM 8 CHOIR/ORGAN  Diolch I Ti

ITEM 9 READER   [John 21. 15-19 GBN]:After they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?”   “Yes, Lord,” he answered, “you know that I love you.”Jesus said to him, “Take care of my lambs.” 16 A second time Jesus said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”   “Yes, Lord,” he answered, “you know that I love you.”Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 A third time Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”   Peter became sad because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” and so he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!”Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep. 18 I am telling you the truth: when you were young, you used to get ready and go anywhere you wanted to; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will bind you and take you where you don't want to go.” 19 (In saying this, Jesus was indicating the way in which Peter would die and bring glory to God.) Then Jesus said to him, “Follow me!”   
ITEM 10 CHOIR/ORGAN Diolch I Ti

ITEM 11 DENZIL  Diolch i Ti yr hollalluog Dduw’ : ‘Thanks be to you, Almighty God, for the holy gospel’  Do you love me? Jesus asks Peter - three times – a stark reminder of his three denials on the eve of the crucifixion.   Nothing is said directly, but Jesus knows, Peter knows, the other disciples probably know.  He had appeared so confident – but he was also impetuous, headstrong, full of himself, and in his time of testing he’d been caught lying to save his skin.   In so many situations it can be easy to make bold claims of loyalty - to another person, to a cause, to a way of living.   Yes, this is what we want, what we dream of.   The enthusiasm isn’t insincere, but at key moments self-interest can trump it.   And like Peter we may feel useless and miserable. Failures. Yet there’s great hope here: Jesus still invites this man’s love - or at very least, his friendship, his commitment, his desire to begin again.   And he invites us, too, however many times we’ve let him down.   There’s a welcome home for even the most spectacular failures.

ITEM 12 CHOIR :Thomas Tallis:  If ye love me

ITEM 13 SERMON 1:But what does loving Jesus mean in practice?  On times there might indeed be deep emotion, high passion, but above all this is an act of will:  ‘If you love me, keep my commandments’ Jesus says .
Many events are marking the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, when maybe a million people were massacred in 100 days; but immediately before that horror (and virtually unknown by comparison) a civil war in the tiny neighbouring state of Burundi cost 300,000 lives.
Last year I met a remarkable midwife who went to Burundi from the Vale of Glamorgan for a Christian charity.  On a short-term mission to open a maternity clinic and dispensary, she got caught up in the violence, and has now served there for nearly three decades, constantly finding her call stretched -  dealing with waves of refugees, setting up a centre for abandoned babies and traumatised children, opening a schools complex - and as a single woman adopting three children and bringing up more than fifty.   
Chrissie Chapman is a down-to-earth, gritty northerner.   She’s brought many children into the world, but also watched others dying in her arms through disease and malnutrition - five in a single night.   
She speaks of the occasion when her little community was in imminent danger of attack and she was   expecting they’d be killed.   Until, that is, what she describes as a squadron of angels helped them to safety.  ‘I’ve never seen another angel from that day,’ she laughs.   ‘But all the fear left me…I am a Christian and I love the Lord… feelings come and feelings go.  Sometimes I feel the Lord’s gone on holiday.’  But she doesn’t stop praying for those in her care, or doing whatever will practically express her love.It’s so with many people with very different stories: caring for a family member with dementia, struggling to make sure everyone gets fed when there’s not enough money, building bridges to people on the other side when a community has been fractured by bitterness.  We best answer the question Do you love me? by getting on with whatever is at hand, and offering that to him.
And sometimes that involves the risk of being misunderstood and rejected.  A few weeks ago I joined a pilgrimage in rural Carmarthenshire to remember a blacksmith’s son from the village of Ffaldybrenin.   Timothy Richard died exactly a hundred years ago, honoured as one of the most influential figures in the China of his day.  
As a young missionary, he’d chosen to live alongside local people, listening carefully to their beliefs, wearing Chinese clothes, taking a Chinese name.  Richard was passionate as he spoke about Jesus, but passionate also to address huge social problems. He led pioneering famine relief, forged contacts with key opinion-formers,  promoted simple medical knowledge, edited a daily newspaper, presided over a vast publishing venture, became chancellor of his province’s first modern university. And there was lots more he could never have imagined as he waded into the tiny River Twrch as a 14-year-old, the first of 52 to be baptised in a single day during a great period of revival.  His approach inevitably created controversy.   It led to some fierce criticism, and painful separations.  But it remained entirely consistent with his enthusiasm for serving the Christ he loved: in daring and imaginative ways, he showed that love by responding to the needs of the people before him. 

ITEM 14 CHOIR  Paul Mealor: Ubi caritas 

ITEM 15 SERMON 2:Paul Mealor’s setting of Ubi Caritas - where charity and love are, there is God.Jesus’ response to Peter’s assertion of his love was to give him a job - ‘Feed my lambs, take care of my sheep.’  His love is offered freely to any who are willing to accept it.  It’s never earned, never deserved, always a gift of grace.   But at some point it will always result in a commission, something to be done.   
For some, that involves massive responsibilities of leadership - setting an example, offering inspiration, making hard choices which can affect the lives of millions.  From a very different world, I think Peter would have understood the terrifying dilemmas confronting many politicians in recent months.  
But influence is exercised at many levels.    Each of us is in a unique set of relationships: we might literally be the only person who can supply a particular piece of help - offer an insight, provide support - and if we don’t do it, no one will. 
And sometimes that can be extremely costly.  Jesus told Peter:  ‘When you were young you used to get ready and go anywhere you wanted to; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will bind you and take you where you don’t want to go.’ 
We all know that age can bring increasing dependency: it can be a tough truth to come to terms with, and it’s also, of course, one of the great social pressures of our day.  But the apostle is being told more than that - rather, that at some point he will follow his Lord to crucifixion, and he will have lived the rest of his days aware of that stark warning.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 
Ruben Zamora was a leading Catholic opposition politician and passionate peacemaker when I met him in El Salvador as the country was being torn apart by civil war.   His brother had been killed by a death squad, his house had been bombed, and he and his family lived with armed guards behind high walls.  In words I’ve reflected on many times since, he summed up their position: 
‘Faith gives you a perspective,’ he said.   ‘In the end you are going to win. Problem is, for resurrection you must have first a martyrdom.  No doubt about that.’  I was delighted to meet him here in Cardiff last year but it’s that first encounter that I’ll never forget.   The hope of resurrection sustains him; but for many years he maintained his struggle for justice deeply conscious that the martyrdom which claimed many of his friends could come to him, too.
As the bombings in Sri Lanka demonstrated dreadfully two Sundays ago, the danger for followers of Jesus remains a daily reality in many countries - and for people of other faiths, too…anyone regarded as a threat.  The intolerance that feeds terror groups or governments can prevent communities meeting for worship, drive families from their homes, put unknown numbers behind bars - and it produces many contemporary martyrs.  Their witness is one to be pondered in humility by those of us who live in relative security: how robust is our love? How are we using our evident freedom?  How ready for the much more mundane sacrifices which might be necessary to remain faithful?
Faced by the witness of the martyrs, any of us might feel tempted to give up in despair.   Do you love me? The question can haunt us.  We know our failures all too well; know how faint and fickle our love can be.
But Jesus knows it too, and also recognises what we try to be, reads the desires of our best moments when we really do want to pursue his way.    And knowing us better than we know ourselves, still says to us as he said to the forgiven Peter, ‘Follow me.’  He also promises that he’ll be with us every step of the way.
ITEM 16 CHOIR/ORGANBob Chilcott: God so loved the world.
ITEM 17 DENZIL  / READERS PRAYERS:God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son:  Bob Chilcott’s setting of the words of Jesus in John 3.16.       We are invited to love because he first loved us.Now our prayers of intercession, with a response from the Northumbria Community: Here I am Lord, I’ve come to do your will 
READER 1Lord Jesus Christ, as we marvel at the love we have received, we pray for all who experience little of human love and know nothing of yours:For children neglected and abandoned, trafficked and abused;For young people sucked into violence and addiction;For women and men conditioned to believing that they are worth nothing.May they taste your kindness. And give us grace to love, Lord  
CHOIR  Here am I, Lord, I’ve come to do your will.Here am I, Lord, in your presence I am still.
READER 2We remember those who suffer because they stand for your way:Those forced to choose between loyalty to you, and their families, careers or liberty;Those who take great risks to share your love demonstrate your compassion; andAll who work for justice and peace, and speak truth to power.Sustain them with your strength.   And give us grace to love, Lord  
CHOIR  
Here am I, Lord, I’ve come to do your will.Here am I, Lord, in your presence I am still.
READER 1Living Lord, at this time of uncertainty we pray for all with responsibility for decisions which will affect the lives of us all.   Grant them humility to seek your way and courage to follow it.We remember all who are bewildered: anxious because their families and communities are divided, because their jobs are threatened, or because they no longer feel welcome in the place they regard as home.Enable them to find their hope in you.  And give us grace to love, Lord  
CHOIR  Here am I, Lord, I’ve come to do your will.Here am I, Lord, in your presence I am still.

READER 2Lord of life and conqueror of death, we pray for all whose earthly end is near, and for loved ones who watch and feel helpless.   Ease their pain, relieve their anxiety, banish their fear.  As you hold them in your loving embrace, enable them to know that you are indeed the Resurrection and the Life.   And give us grace to love, Lord  
CHOIR  Here am I, Lord, I’ve come to do your will.Here am I, Lord, in your presence I am still.
ITEM 18 DENZIL LINK:Our closing hymn is a prayer that the God who is love will fill our lives: Charles Wesley’s Love divine, all loves excelling.

ITEM 19 CHOIR/ORGAN :Love divine, all loves excelling,

ITEM 20 DENZIL  BLESSING 1Gras ein Harglwydd Iesu Grist, a chariad Duw, a chymdeithas yr Ysbryd Glan a fyddo gyda ni oll.The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and forever.  Amen.

BLESSING 2 RJAs we go forth in your name, Lord,grant that we may live faithfully, joyfully and courageously.Through us may your light shine and your love be made visible.Send us out in the power of the Spirit, that by our living the world may discover your gift of life in all its fullness.  
DENZIL:Gras ein Harglwydd Iesu Grist, a chariad Duw, a chymdeithas yr Ysbryd Glan a fyddo gyda ni oll.The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and forever.  Amen.
BLESSING 3RJBlessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God for ever and ever.    
DENZIL:Gras ein Harglwydd Iesu Grist, a chariad Duw, a chymdeithas yr Ysbryd Glan a fyddo gyda ni oll.The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and forever.  Amen.
ORGAN PLAYOUT: PETER KING
CLOSING ANNO FROM R4Peter King with xxx’s xxx  bringing this week’s Sunday Worship to an end.  With music by the Cantemus Chamber Choir, directed by Huw Williams, the service was led by the Rev’d Denzil John. The preacher was the Rev’d Roy Jenkins and the producer was Karen Walker.  “Next week’s Sunday worship comes live from the school chapel of one of BBC Radio 2’s Young Choristers of the Year. Details of this year’s competition can be found on the Sunday Worship webpage

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