Peace to you, brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. (Ephesians 6:23-24)
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
trust in Jesus name
Christ alone, Cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Saviour's love
Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all
When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless stand before the throne
Gather us in, the lost and the lonely, the broken and breaking, the tired and the aching who long for the nourishment found at your feast.
Gather us in, the done and the doubting, the wishing and wondering,
the puzzled and pondering who long for the company found in your presence.
Gather us in, the bright and the bustling, the stirrers, the shakers, the kind laughter makers who long for the deeper joys found in your grace.
Gather us in, from corner
or limelight, from mansion or campsite, from fears and obsession, from tears and depression , from untold excesses, from treasured successes, to meet, to share, to be given a seat, to be joined to the vine and become like the least and the lost, found in Christ
who gathers us in.
(adapted from Gathering for Worship, Baptist Union of Great Britain)
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on
him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Reading – Ephesians 3:14-21
Reflection – The Dimensions of Love
about Ephesus exuded confidence. The largest city in the Roman Province of Asia, its citizens enjoyed opportunities that others could only dream of. Dominating the skyline, the huge Temple of Artemis (Diana, goddess of hunting and the moon) provided employment
for thousands in its bars and restaurants, massage parlours and dancing clubs and its sensuous worship events. Tourists travelled miles to indulge in its seedy world of entertainment.
Paul spent around three years there faithfully teaching and preaching
the Good News of Jesus. His assessment of Ephesian culture was that however big it might be it left people ‘dead in transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1). Like a giant weed it dominated everything but with no proper roots it had no lasting future.
Paul begins to pray for the church as it witnesses in this environment. (3:1). The words roll of his tongue – may you be strengthened with the power of God’s Spirit, drawing out of his glorious riches; may you be rooted and established in love;
may you be empowered to grasp the ever expanding dimensions of God’s love in Christ; may you be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God! (3:16-19)
He reflects on those dimensions of love:
How wide: The Diana cult embraced anyone
who could pay the Temple fees and offer rich sacrifices. It appeared to have opened its arms wide… broad, like the broad way that in Jesus’ words, leads only to destruction (Matthew 7:13). A wide boulevard swept through the ancient city of Ephesus
down to its harbour, a harbour which within a few years had silted up and become useless. In contrast the love of Christ is demonstrated in his outstretched arms on the cross so that for all who will come, for ever, there is a welcome that cannot fade or become
How long: Ephesus now lies in ruins, evidence of a long-gone civilisation. Christ’s love is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
How high: the worship of Diana reached the ceiling of the Temple, but no further. She might
be the goddess of the moon, but the moon was unattainable for those first century worshippers. To come to Jesus is to discover that there is no ceiling to his love. Worship of the living God depends not on our ability to stretch as high as we can, but on his
having first come down to us in Christ.
How deep: The old saying declares that no matter how low your life has stooped, at the cross Christ has reached lower to lift you up to touch heaven. The Greek word for ‘deep’ could also be used to
mean ‘very early in the morning’. It was very early in the morning when Jesus rose from the depths of death to give new life to all who believe.
Reflect on the choice to be made –
the limited scope of false gods, or the measure of all the fulness of God (3:19)
Pray for those people who feel alone and excluded from the embrace of others, and most of all from the wide-open arms of the Christ who died for them.
Pray for those
who have no lasting hope; for those whose horizons are limited by short-term thinking.
Pray for those who want to find God but are searching in the wrong places and never finding satisfaction.
Pray for those whose experience of life is so low
and full of disappointment that they can see no escape from the depths of despair.
For all these we pray that they will begin to discover the full extent of God’s love in Christ – its width, length, height, and depth.
1 There's a wideness in God's mercy,
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in his justice
which is more than liberty.
2 There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more keenly felt than heaven:
there is no place where earth's failings
have such gracious judgement given.
3 There is plentiful redemption
through the blood that Christ has shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the head.
4 For the love of God is broader
than the measure of our mind;
and the heart of the eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
5 If our love were but more simple,
we should take him at
and our lives would be illumined,
by the glory of the Lord.
Frederick William Faber (1814-1863) and Jubilate Hymns © in this version Jubilate Hymns 8 7 8 7
The Blessing of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, rest and remain with each one of us, now and for ever. Amen