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Weekly Worship Resources and Bible Notes

Easter 6


Jesus made a promise to his disciples, he was going to leave them but he would not leave them alone. After he had gone he would send the Holy Spirit to be present with them and the Holy Spirit would be like Jesus himself living alongside them. This was a bold promise, if the promise failed to come true the disciples would feel isolated and abandoned and be unable to face the challenges which Jesus had entrusted to them. However if Jesus was as good as his word then the disciples would feel able to conquer the world. With Jesus alongside them in their mission there was nothing of which they need be afraid.

Of course we know from the history books that this is exactly what happened. After Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came to the disciples, they became fearless in their proclamation of Jesus and they took the message of Good news right across the world. The same Holy Spirit lives with God's people today, reassuring us of the presence of God with us. Although Jesus is not physically present, he is with is and shares with us in all that we do.

Opening Verse of Scripture Psalm 66:1

Shout to God with joy, everyone on earth! Sing about the glory of his name! Give him glorious praise!

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

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. CW

Risen Christ, by the lakeside you renewed your call to your disciples: help your Church to obey your command and draw the nations to the fire of your love, to the glory of God the Father. CW

Noah and the catacombs First Bible Reading   Acts 17:22-31

Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him - though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,
“For we too are his offspring.”
Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’ NRSV

Second Reading  1 Peter 3:13-22

Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you – not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him. NRSV

Gospel Reading  John 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’ NRSV

Post Communion Sentence

God our Father, whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life: may we thirst for you, the spring of life and source of goodness, through him who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. CW


This is what William Barclay says about the reading from Acts.
“There were in fact many altars to unknown gods in Athens. Six hundred years before this a terrible pestilence had fallen on the city. Nothing could halt it. A Cretan poet, Epimenides, had come forward with a plan. A flock of black and white sheep were let loose throughout the city from the Areopagus. Wherever each lay down it was sacrificed to the nearest god; and if a sheep lay down near the shrine of no known god it was sacrificed to “The Unknown God.” Athens had its regiment of unknown gods. From that Paul takes his starting point. Paul could fit his message for any audience. There are a series of steps in his sermon. (i) God is not the made but the maker, therefore He who made all things cannot be worshipped by anything made by the hands of man. It is all too true that men often worship what their hands have made. If a man’s God be that to which he gives all his time, thought, energy, life, many a man is engaged in worshipping material, man-made things. (ii) God has guided history. It was He who had been behind the rise and fall of nations in the days gone by. His hand was and is on the helm of things. (iii) God has made man so that instinctively he longs for God. There is that in man which makes him grope in the darkness after God because man is a child of God and kin to God. (iv) The days of groping and ignorance are past. So long as men had to search in the shadows they could not know God and God excused their follies and their mistakes; but now in Christ the full blaze of the knowledge and revelation of God have come. The days of excuses are past because now the truth has come. (v) The day of judgement is coming. For man life is neither a progress to extinction, as it was to the Epicureans, nor yet a pathway to absorption to God, as it was to the Stoics; it was a journey to the judgement seat of God where Jesus Christ was Judge. (vi) The proof of the pre-eminence of Christ is the Resurrection. It is no unknown God but a Risen Christ with whom we have to deal.”

The language is slightly quaint, but is does bring home to us that we need to be able to defend the faith we hold in a reasonable way. We ought to know what we believe - 1 Peter 3 points to this too. We should think our faith out - and be able to state it in an understandable way. We shouldn’t give the impression that “faith is believing what we know isn’t true!”. It needs to be a first hand discovery and not a second-hand story. That is what Charlie said on Easter Day!

So, if when we are asked what we believe, can we answer honestly? And if we are then asked why we believe it, what can we say then? We need to try to answer with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 315). Lots of people state what they believe with arrogance - seeking to ram their news down other people’s throats and this puts others off easily. But no-one possesses the whole truth. Humility might avoid some acrimonious theological debates. Now there’s a thought and a message to share! In the end, of course, what really carries weight is not so much the words we say but lives we live. Someone said “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day” and “A saint is someone whose life makes it easier to believe in God”. May that become daily more true of us as God continues to energise and encourage us by his Spirit who is his risen presence with us forever. Richard Ledger.



Because he emptied himself of all but love, you can be filled.
Because his body was broken, your life can be whole.
Because his blood was shed, your sins can be forgiven.
Because he submitted to injustice, you can forgive,
Because he finished his Father’s work, your life has worth.
Because he was forsaken, you can never be alone.
Because he was buried, you can be raised.
Because he lives, you don’t have to be afraid,
Because he reached down to you, you don’t have to work your way up to him.
Because his promises are always true. You can have hope. Anna Reid.

Father, forgive.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class, Father, forgive.
The covetous desires of men and nations to possess what is not their own, Father, forgive.
The greed which exploits the labours of men, and lays waste the earth, Father, forgive.
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others, Father, forgive,
Our indifference to the plight of the homeless and the refugee, Father, forgive.
The lust which uses for ignoble ends the bodies of men and women, Father, forgive.
The pride which leads to trust in ourselves, and not in God, Father, forgive.


Easter 6 Hymn Sheet

  1. Now is Christ risen from the dead (Lasst uns erfreuen)
  2. At your feet we fall, mighty risen Lord (as)
  3. The head that once was crowned with thorns (St Magnus)
  4. Christ is made the sure foundation (as)
  5. Hail, thou once despised Jesus (Austria)
  6. Christ is alive! Let Christians sing. Tune Truro
  7. Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
  8. Come down, O Love divine, Tune Down Ampney
  9. As we live and have our being, Tune Sussex See words at bottom page
  10. Love divine, all loves excelling, Tune Blaenwern
  11. Jesus is King
  12. Majesty
  13. This Joyful Eastertide
  14. All shall be well (Tune: Song 46)
  15. The Spirit lives to set us free
  16. Lord of creation
  17. A new commandment
  18. Come an praise the Lord our King
  19. Your mercy flows
  20. May the mind of Christ my Saviour O thou who camest from above
  21. Be bold, be strong
  22. Teach me, my God and King
  23. Take my life and let it be
  24. O Jesus I have promised

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

I thank you, O God, for the pleasures you have given me through my senses; for the glory of thunder, for the mystery of music, the singing of birds and the laughter of children. I thank you for the delights of colour, the awe of the sunset, the wild roses in the hedgerows, the smile of friendship. I thank you for the sweetness of flowers and the scent of hay. Truly, O Lord, the earth is full of your riches!
After Edward King, Nineteenth Century.

O God, it is hard for us not to be anxious. We worry about work and money, about food and health, about weather and crops, about war and politics, about loving and being loved. Show us how perfect love casts out fear.
Monica Furlong, Twentieth Century.

Heavenly Father, we bring to you in prayer people who are suffering in mind or spirit.
We remember especially those facing long and incurable illness; those cast down by the cares and sorrows of daily life; those who have lost faith and for whom the future is dark.
In your mercy maintain their courage, lift their burdens and renew their faith, that they may find in you their strength, their comfort and their peace, for our Saviour’s sake.
Frank Colquhoun, Twentieth Century.

Alone with none but thee, my God, I journey on my way. What need I fear, when thou art near, O King of night and day? More safe am I within they hand than if a host did round me stand.
St Columba of Iona, Sixth Century.

God of your goodness, give me yourself, for you are sufficient for me… If I were to ask anything less I should always be in want, for in you alone do I have all.
Julian of Norwich, Fourteenth Century.

Eternal God, the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, the strength of the wills that serve you; help us so to know you that we may truly love you, so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom.
Pope Gelasius’ Prayer Book, Seventh or Eighth Century.

So send your Spirit, now, dear Lord to me that he may break my bonds and set me free. Amen.


Additional Material


 The Holy Spirit who is with us
The Gospel passage in today’s reading is framed by human anxiety about the absence of Jesus and ultimately about the absence of God. The Chapter opens with the words, ‘Do not let your heats be troubled…’, Jn 14 v 1; and closes with the passage, ‘Peace I leave with you… …do not be afraid’, Jn 14 v 27). John does not seem to try to deny anxiety or distress, but in the centre of the passage, our reading today, he records a promise confirming that the presence of God will be with us for ever whatever our circumstances. A presence of God which offers us love, comfort, peace and support and which are inextricably intertwined with an obedience to the divine nature and will of God. A command to love, coupled with the requirement for obedience and the promise of the Spirit. The Spirit who assists all believers from the moment of their first encounter with God through on into everlasting life. The Spirit who helps believers to put their faith into action, to love others, to be obedient to God and to have real peace. The Spirit who’s presence is both continuous (right now) and eternal (forever).

As He speaks in this passage Jesus is preparing His disciples for the day when He will no longer be with them as a physical presence, an event we remember on Ascension Day this coming Thursday. On Ascension Day we recall the moment when Jesus seemed to part from His disciples - and from the world. One of the hardest things to do is to part from those we love and it must be even harder when we have to part form someone on whom we have relied. The disciples had come to rely on Jesus. They had shared a common life with Him for three years, they had seen the great things He had done - and found that they shared some of His gift for healing and proclaiming the Kingdom. Jesus had conquered death and many of the disciples probably assumed He would therefore be with them forever.

That was not to be the case, Jesus was going to leave them in bodily form, but He was not going to leave them as orphans with no-one to protect them. He would still be with them, but not in a way that they expected or understood. He was to be with them in His Spirit, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of love and truth which comes from the Father and the Son, the third Person of the divine Trinity. The Spirit through which He is with us. The Spirit through which we are able to enter into eternal life.
There are various translations for the word Holy Spirit (Paracletos) which are used in the original Greek version of the passage for the Holy Spirit. Comforter, advocate and “someone who walks with you to give comfort, counsel, or strength in time of need” are all used. The Holy Spirit was to comfort the disciples in their time of sorrow, loss and fear.  He would be their advocate as they sought justice for the alienated and mercy from God. He would walk with them at all times, leading, guiding and supporting them on our journey through into eternity. 

In Bette Midler’s song, ‘From a distance’, the lyrics speak of a God who is watching us from a distance. This may be true and God may indeed be watching us from a distance. But He is not a distant God. He is here with is now through His Holy Spirit in a relationship which is close, intimate and real. As we experience that relationship, the same relationship as the disciples experienced, we begin to catch a glimpse of what it means when Jesus says, "On that day, you will understand that I am in My Father - and you in Me and I in you”. Understand that those who love God and follows Jesus' commands will know and be loved by God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Understand that they will be in God, and God will be in them. Understand that through the Holy Spirit we become no less than part of the mortal and divine nature of God Himself. Sam Cappleman

Additional Commentary

God our Father, whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life: may we thirst for you, the spring of life and source of goodness, through him who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen

Commentary: I will not leave you desolate (John 14:15-21)

This passage takes place at the Last Supper and represents Jesus' attempt to prepare the disciples for what is coming. He introduces two great ideas. First, 'If you love, me, you will keep my commandments....' Second, 'I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.... I will not leave you orphaned" (vv. 16, 18). 1. It is tempting for all of us to talk about God's love without mentioning our duty to obey. We think of God's love as unconditional, but of course love produces obedience, so the passage begins and ends by tying love to obedience.

Our obedience is a sign of our love, faithfulness to Jesus' words is a defining mark of true discipleship (8:31; 37, 51; 12:47-48). The love that Jesus commands is not sentimental feeling, which cannot be commanded, but loving action, which can be. The commandment to love is an open-ended one, in contrast to most Torah laws, which are very specific. It is easy to judge whether one has been faithful to a particular Torah law, but how can one claim to have fulfilled the demands of love?

The commandments of Jesus are not simply moral precepts; they involve a whole way of life in loving union with him. 2. The Father "will give you another Advocate (parakletos)" (v. 16). This is the Spirit that descended on Jesus at his baptism (1:32), although the word there is pneuma and the word here is parakletos. This is the first time that Jesus promises the Spirit to the disciples. Parakletos is used only five times in the NT, four times in this Gospel to refer to the Spirit (14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7) and once in 1 John 2:1 to refer to Jesus. Parakletos can mean a lawyer who pleads your case or a witness who testifies in your behalf. It can refer to a person who gives comfort, counsel, or strength in time of need. The literal meaning is "someone called in; but it is the reason why the person is called in which gives the word its distinctive associations.... Always a parakletos is someone called in to help when the person who calls him in is in trouble or distress or doubt or bewilderment. Parakletos has been translated Advocate, Counselor, Comforter, and Intercessor, but each of those expresses only one facet of parakletos. The original readers of this Gospel would have heard the full richness of its various meanings. Some Bibles use the word Paraclete, which is not an English word but a transliteration of the Greek word. The problem with that approach is that most people don't know what a Paraclete is!

Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as "another parakletos," the implication being that Jesus is also a parakletos. Even though the Spirit-parakletos is coming, Jesus continues to be our parakletos. "But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). Here the ascended Lord is viewed as a Paraclete in the court of heaven, pleading the cause of his own; the Holy Spirit is then understood as the Paraclete from heaven, supporting and representing the disciples in the face of a hostile world.


We share many human traits with the ancient Athenians that Paul encounters. We, as they, can prefer our divinity safely packaged -- appropriately in gold, silver or stone -- and in containers of our own construction. We, as they, can prefer our humanity safely packaged too, in prejudices and systems of our own construction, constructions we even sometimes attribute to God. Paul will have none of it. He introduces the Athenians to a God of the unknown, one that cannot be constrained in any construct of human making, whether shrine or prejudice. Paul doesn’t just exhort the Athenians to trade the gods they know for the God he knows, He asks them to trade the gods they safely know for the God who by nature cannot be known at all. To offer their humanity to His divinity, to step out in faith from the known to the unknown with ‘the God who made the world and everything in it’.

What do we believe ?

The calling of the Methodist Church is to respond to the Gospel of God's love in Christ and to live out its discipleship in worship and mission. Inspired by our calling, we aim:

  1. to increase awareness of God's presence and to celebrate God's love

  2. to help people to grow and learn as Christians through mutual support and care

  3. to be a good neighbour to people in need and to challenge injustice

  4. to make more followers of Jesus Christ

Abandonment by Jesus:

Jesus tells them that he will not leave them as ‘orphans. ’ The word Orphanous describes a child whose father has died, but it also describes a disciple whose master has died. This promise must have been very welcome to the Johannine church, which suffered persecution after the death of Jesus.

Meditation: Many parts, one body

1 Corinthians 12:20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"…... Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. The nation awaited with bated breath, would our England football captain David Beckham recover from his broken foot in time for the World Cup? Manchester United coach Eric Harrison said Beckham will need six weeks to recover and not eight as originally feared. The prediction was made after it emerged he had broken his second metatarsal bone and not his first. The second metatarsal bone is one of five long tubular bones found in the in-step. The bone is in a fleshy, relatively protected part of the foot, and is not often broken. Professor Tom Reilly, of the Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at John Moores University, said: "The first metatarsal would probably be more difficult to heal because players do most of their kicking with that one. he agreed the break would take around six weeks to heal, helped by Beckham's high fitness levels. If ever we needed a modern day example of the passage from 1 Corinthians 12, then this is it. One small bone broken and as a result the question is raised as to whether our national England hopes are shattered. If you are not a football fan then it is much ado about nothing. However for football fans never have our national aspirations rested on such a small part of one football players body. Charles Royden


Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead.

Glory to you, O Champion of all Loves, who for our sake endured the cross, encountered the enemy and tasted death. Glory be to you, O King of all Kings, who for our salvation wrestled with principalities and powers, subdued the forces of hell and won the greatest of all victories. To you be all praise, all glory and all love; now and for ever. Amen. Thomas Ken, 1637-1711

Lord Jesus we praise you that you promise to be with us to comfort us and to strengthen us in your service. Now we pray that your Holy Spirit would so direct and govern our lives that we might at all time show forth our love for you in acts of obedience and faithfulness. Amen.

Eternal God, give us insight to discern your will for us, to give up what harms us, and to seek the perfection we are promised in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

God of power, may the boldness of your Spirit transform us, may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us, and may the gifts of your Holy Spirit equip us to serve and worship you, now and always. Amen

Govern all by your wisdom, O Lord, so that my soul may always be serving you as you will, and not as I may choose. Do not punish me, I beg you, by granting what I wish or ask if it offends your love which should always live in me. Let me die to myself, so that I may serve you; let me live for you, who in yourself are the true life. Amen St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582).

Christ give you the grace to grow in holiness, to deny yourselves, take up your cross, and follow Him; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

God of mercy, as we rejoice in the resurrection of your Son, the Bread of Life, feed us with your plenty and increase in us compassion for the hungry; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

God of mercy, as we rejoice ion the resurrection of your Son, the Bread of Life, feed us with your plenty and increase in us compassion for the hungry;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Words to Hymns

Christ is alive Tune Truro

1 Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
The cross stands empty to the sky.
Let streets and homes with praises ring.
Love, drowned in death, shall never die.

2 Christ is alive! No longer bound
to distant years in Palestine,
but saving, healing, here and now,
and touching every place and time.

3 In every insult, rift and war,
where colour, scorn or wealth divide,
Christ suffers still, yet loves the more,
and lives, where even hope has died.

4 Women and men, in age and youth,
can feel the Spirit, hear the call,
and find the way, the life, the truth,
revealed in Jesus, freed for all.

5 Christ is alive, and comes to bring
good news to this and every age,
till earth and sky and ocean ring
with joy, with justice, love and praise.

Longing for light

Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled.
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has power to save us.
Make us your living voice.
Christ, be our light!

Longing for food, many are hungry.
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us your bread, broken for others,
shared until all are fed.
Christ, be our light!

Longing for shelter, many are homeless.
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us your building, sheltering others,
walls made of living stone.
Christ, be our light!

Many the gifts, many the people,
many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another,
making your kingdom come.
Christ, be our light!


Tune Down Ampney

1 Come down, O Love divine,
Seek thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
O comforter, draw near,
Within my heart appear,
And kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

2 O let it freely burn,
Till earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes, in its heat consuming;
And let thy glorious light
Shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

3 Let holy charity
Mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness becomes mine inner clothing;
True lowliness of heart,
Which takes the humbler part,
And o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

4 And so the yearning strong,
With which the soul will long,
Shall far outpass the power of human telling;
For none can guess its grace,
Till he become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.


As we live and have our being Tune Sussex

1 As we live and have our being,
we will dwell in sacredness;
we will dare to seek for meaning;
we will share life's joyfulness.

2 As we grow and seek for wisdom,
we will look with inner sight;
when all life is seen as beauty,
we will live with deep delight.

3 As we move and act for justice,
we will walk compassion's way,
speak with clarity and courage,
living out the words we say.

4 We will live and move and offer
all this life our dreams have caught,
sharing visions of a future,
far beyond the reach of thought.

5 We will ponder life's rich meaning,
finding bliss within us still;
as we hold our hearts in rapture,
life with wonderment we fill.

6 We are moved and called to being
by a love that knows no bounds;
we discover in our sharing
life and love and joy profound.

Tune Blaenwern

1 Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down,
Fix in us thy humble dwelling,
All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesu, thou art all compassion
Pure, unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.

2 Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
Into every troubled breast,
Let us all in thee inherit,
Let us find that second rest;
Take away our power of sinning,
Alpha and Omega be,
End of faith, as its beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty

3 Come, almighty to deliver,
Let us all thy grace receive;
Suddenly return, and never,
Never more thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve thee as thy hosts above,
Pray, and praise thee, without ceasing,
Glory in thy perfect love.

4 Finish then thy new creation,
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation,
Perfectly restored in thee:
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise!