Holy Week is so different this year. One of the things that I am finding really inspiring is the sheer amount of Christian stuff out there being offered for anyone who wants to see it.
One of the places I love most is the Taizé community in France. Their holy week reflections this week have been short oases of calm in the day. Here’s the first three and there will be more along later in the week. Go to their YouTube channel to find them.
Palm Sunday with Brother Paulo
Monday of Holy Week with Brother Émile
Tuesday of Holy Week with Brother Jasper
Something very different that I am looking forward to next week is Spring Harvest at Home. I have never been to Spring Harvest, which happens every year around Easter time, but I have heard lots about it over the years. I’ve never been confident that I would fit in there – I need a lot of quiet alone time to get through the week and it sounds quite energetic (I may well be wrong about that – it’s funny the excuses we make for ourselves, isn’t it). Still, there is safety in being at home on the other end of an internet connection, so I will dip my toe in the water and see what happens.
Do you have children or grandchildren that you are in touch with?
Some friends of mine in another diocese have put together a list of resources that are available for children to help them experience Holy Week this week.
Have a look at this page and see whether there is anything that might suit them. Please don’t put any additional burdens on yourself or any other family members. This is a lovely opportunity to talk about your faith and share it with the children in your life, but don’t feel pressurised.
On Palm Sunday, we usually have two services. The first with a donkey (where possible) and a procession through the streets, singing hymns. The second service is usually Holy Communion and has, in place of a sermon, an extended dramatised Gospel. Making the dramatised bit work when we are all in our own homes was quite the technological challenge!
So, today, we are joining these together and we begin with the Palm Sunday Gospel, moving on to the Passion Gospel later in the service. I can’t bring you all blessed Palm Crosses, but there is a video here with instructions on how to make your own. I suggest trying with a very long strip of paper!
As usual, if you click the heading, above, you will find the comments section at the end of the service. It is so lovely to know who is joining us for worship each week.
Welcome to worship
Hosanna to the Son of David, the King of Israel. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Hymn – Give me joy in my heart
Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising. Give me joy in my heart, I pray. Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising, Keep me praising ’til the end of day.
Give me love in my heart, keep me serving. Give me love in my heart, I pray. Give me love in my heart, keep me serving, Keep me serving ’til the end of day.
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you and also with you.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, during Lent we have been preparing by works of love and self-sacrifice for the celebration of our Lord’s death and resurrection. Today we begin this solemn celebration in union with the Church throughout the world. Christ enters his own city to complete his work as our Saviour, to suffer, to die, and to rise again. Let us go with him in faith and love, so that, united with him in his sufferings, we may share his risen life.
If you have made a palm cross, hold it now. Otherwise hold any other cross you have available.
God our Saviour, whose Son Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem as Messiah to suffer and to die; let these crosses be for us signs of his victory and grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our King, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Palm Gospel – Matthew 21:1-11
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew. Glory to you, O Lord.
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
Let us pray for a closer union with Christ in his suffering and in his glory.
Silence is kept.
Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; 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.
Hymn – You are the King of Glory
The lyrics to this hymn are still in copyright so I’m not reproducing them. So just listen and watch if you don’t know the words. Remember that we are part of the whole worldwide Church, all praising the same Jesus.
The Passion Gospel – Matthew 26:14 to end of Chapter 27
Prayers of Intercession
We stand with Christ in his suffering. For forgiveness for the many times we have denied Jesus, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For grace to seek out those habits of sin which mean spiritual death, and by prayer and self-discipline to overcome them, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For Christian people, that through the suffering of disunity there may grow a rich union in Christ, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For those who make laws, interpret them, and administer them, that our common life may be ordered in justice and mercy, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For those who still make Jerusalem a battleground, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For those who have the courage and honesty to work openly for justice and peace, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For those in the darkness and agony of isolation, that they may find support and encouragement, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For those who, weighed down with hardship, failure, or sorrow, feel that God is far from them, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For those who are tempted to give up the way of the cross, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
That we, with those who have died in faith, may find mercy in the day of Christ, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, have mercy upon us.
We keep silence and pray particularly for all affected by the Coronavirus.
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
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 bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Once we were far off, but now in union with Christ Jesus we have been brought near through the shedding of Christ’s Blood, for he is our peace.
The peace of the Lord be always with you and also with you.
May the Father, who so loved the world that he gave his only Son, bring us by faith to his eternal life. Amen. May Christ, who accepted the cup of sacrifice in obedience to the Father’s will, keep us steadfast as we walk with him the way of his cross. Amen. May the Spirit, who strengthens us to suffer with Christ that we may share his glory, set our minds on life and peace. Amen. And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen.
One of the cornerstones of our expression of worship week by week is the sharing of the Eucharist or Holy Communion. Now, none of our churches hold a Eucharist every week but, under normal circumstances, there is always one that people can go to somewhere in the group. It has been nearly three weeks since we celebrated communion. Are you missing it yet?
On the 15th March, when we met at Crayke for our joint service as part of the Come and See Mission, I had a fair inkling that it would be the last service for a while. The sense of true communion in the building was profound and the restrictions in place even then seemed to make us more aware of what was happening and feel closer even as we began to distance ourselves physically.
What do we do now?
The rules for presiding at a service of Holy Communion in the Church of England are strict – and with good reason for so fundamental expression of our shared faith.
Only ordained priests may preside.
Holy Communion should normally be celebrated in a consecrated building.
A priest may not celebrate without another person there
In these unusual times, when we have been told to shut the buildings and isolate from each other, normal practice can’t happen. The Church has relaxed the rules on needing more than one communicant present, so clergy are permitted to celebrate the Eucharist in our homes, particularly if livestreaming.
There are a variety of ways to understand what happens when we take Communion. Personally, I believe that in eating the bread and drinking the wine, Jesus is truly present. There is more to it than that though – for me it is the people we gather with who make communion real. That sense of living a shared life in community, bringing the joys and sorrows together in prayer and worship, is true communion. Without that, at the moment, I am a little lost. I know Jesus is close, and I do not feel separated from God, but I am missing you all. The sense of loss in not sharing the bread and wine seems an appropriate symbol for what we are all going through.
It seems to me though that if the congregation cannot receive, why should I? I would rather join you all in your fasting from the sacrament of Communion so that, when we can all join together again, our joy will be shared.
Until that day, we can pray and meditate on the receiving of bread and wine. Here is a link to a way of praying called Spiritual Communion, which can be used when you are unable to attend a service of the Eucharist. It includes this prayer:
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits you have given me, for all the pains and insults you have borne for me. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I ask you to come spiritually into my heart. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen
Here is a poem written by an Irish poet, Kathleen o’Meara in 1869- after a plague devastated Ireland in the late 1860s. How appropriate for today.
And people stayed home And read books and listened And rested and exercised And made art and played And learned a new way of being And were still And listened more deeply Someone meditated Someone prayed Someone danced Some met their own shadow And people started thinking differently…… And people healed And in the absence of people who Lived in ignorant ways Dangerous, mindless and heartless…. The earth began to heal And when the danger ended And people found themselves They grieved for the dead And they made choices And dreamed visions And created a new way to live And heal the earth fully Just as they had been healed
I spoke to someone last week who was upset because they weren’t able to attend the funeral of a friend. Normally, in our villages, funerals are great gatherings of friends and neighbours, with a proper celebration and food and drink shared. Now, funerals have become much more private, with only a handful of close family permitted to attend.
If you are at home and unable to go to a funeral, here is a short prayer card which you can pray through at home at the same time as the funeral.
Each day includes a short piece to read and some suggestions for putting it into practice. It ties together mental health and prayer and shows how prayer practices can contribute to supporting your mental health.
Welcome to Sunday worship online. It has been a very strange week for most of us. I hope this helps you to take some time to be with God and to reflect on your week. I will try and post something to read, watch or listen to each day on this website. The newest material will be at the top of the page. If you want to leave a comment, click on the heading just above this paragraph – then the comments box will appear at the end of the service. Revd Liz
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
The Lord be with you And also with you
Lord, direct our thoughts, and teach us to pray. Lift up our hearts to worship you in spirit and in truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Keep silence and reflect on the week
Your love gives us life. We fail to live as your children.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
You call us to do good. We seek our own good.
Christ, have mercy. Christ have mercy.
You hear us when we cry for help. We ignore the cries of others.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy
May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins, and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; 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.
It is one of the quirks of human nature that we don’t recognise what we have until it is gone. A couple of weeks ago, I didn’t think anything of popping out to see someone, or heading into town to pick something up from the shops, or gathering together for a coffee and a chat. Until now, when it isn’t possible.
This week, of course, we have been shut
out of our church buildings as well. I know it is for the best, in
order to stop the spread of the virus, but it feels so wrong not to
have that place of sanctuary in each village open to all. How often
in the past have I wished to be able to stay in the warm rather than
heading across the road to morning prayer? Suddenly that option is
removed and I realise that it is a privilege rather than a duty.
On the other hand, I know that I can
pray just as well at home. I am no further separated from God in my
study (the chairs are more comfortable too). When out on daily
exercise, pounding up and down the hill, I can be suddenly surrounded
by the certainty that God is with us just as much as when praying at
I’ve been saying for a long time that
Church is made up of the people and doesn’t depend on the building.
Here we have the clearest indication that this is true. In this time
when we can’t go to Church, the challenge is to keep
remembering that we can still be the Church. We are the Church
when we call and speak to someone who might be lonely. We are the
Church when we drop off a prescription or some milk with a neighbour.
We are the Church when we pray, whether together or alone.
So, we find ourselves in a time of
waiting, dealing with a wholly new situation and unsure when it will
end. Or, as someone on Facebook put it this week, the Lentiest
Lent I have ever Lented. Usually, when we fast from something, we
know when the fast will end: 40 days, plus Sundays, and then
resurrection joy and chocolate eggs for everyone. This time, we know
that Easter will not bring the end to this time of deprivation and
the waiting takes on a more uncertain flavour.
Psalm 130, which is one of our readings
today, speaks into our situation. We are waiting in the depths of our
souls, waiting for uncertainty to pass, waiting and hoping for the
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is
great power to redeem.
We need the
reassurance the psalmist gives that we are loved by God, that he is
with us and he will save us.
The gospel passage for today is the
story of the raising of Lazarus. It is a story of people who think
they have been let down by Jesus trying to have enough faith to get
It is a story where
most of the characters have no real idea what is going on. Their
faith wavers, they misunderstand, they get angry. They experience all
the emotions of any human going through a time of upheaval and grief.
It is a story that
raises questions. Why did the sisters of Lazarus have to suffer their
grief? Why did Jesus wait so long to return? Why was only Lazarus
raised from the dead?
It is a story that
reminds us of Jesus’ essential humanity. Which of us hasn’t wept
at the death of a friend or relative? We know that overwhelming
feeling of grief and in this
story we know that Jesus
knows it too.
Yet it is a story that shows us that
Jesus is also divine. As the Son of God he has the power over life
and death and uses the situation to give everyone there an insight
into the greater work of resurrection he will do in the coming season
What message do I take away from this
passage? That we have something to hope for. That whatever the
darkness and uncertainty that we are living through now, Jesus is
with us and there is still the resurrection in which to hope.
God is not locked away and
inaccessible. He is right with us in our isolation, in our
uncertainty, in our fear. He surrounds us with his steadfast love and
he calls us to remember that Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
Those who believe in him, even though they die, will live, and
everyone who lives and believes in him will never die.
As we continue in this time of
lock-down and social distancing, I pray that you may know the
presence of God, and be surrounded by his peace whether you are at
home or at work. I pray that you will be inspired to live out your
faith in new ways and that you will find the strength to wait until
we can again gather together as the Church, the people of God here in
Affirmation of faith
us declare our faith in God.
believe in God the Father, from
whom every family in
heaven and on earth is named.
believe in God the Son, who
lives in our hearts through faith, and
fills us with his love.
believe in God the Holy Spirit, who
strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Contributed by Liz Crawshaw
Out of the depths we cry to you. O Lord hear our voice.
Help us we pray to
put aside our fears and concerns, to focus on your love, and on those
you have called us to love.
Breath into our
dryness Lord and bring us to life and to hope.
We acknowledge our
utter dependence on you, and that with you all things are possible.
Come Lord like the
wind, move us and direct us.
Come in your Spirit,
to fill us and refresh us.
Open our hearts to
your living word, to guide us and sustain us.
We pray for your
world, struggling to cope with the coronavirus, praying especially
for the impoverished places in the world, where there are so few
resources. Send your people we pray Lord to bring help to all who are
struggling, bring wisdom to all in positions of power, all who are
making decisions which will affect the lives of so many.
Father, we lift to
you our homes and our villages. We pray for those who live alone,
those who are fearful, those with financial concerns, those whose
lives have been turned upside down. And we bring to you our grateful
thanks for all those whose kindness is bringing light into our
Free us Lord from all that imprisons us, from the things that limit us and prevent us from truly living and growing. Deepen our trust in you Lord, and help us to grow. We ask for your protection for doctors, nurses, health care workers and volunteers, who are risking their own lives in the service of others. We pray for all who are sick and suffering, all those fearful of what the future may bring. Those fearful of isolation, and all those with mental health problems, all those who walk in darkness and the shadow of death. We name those in need of your healing Lord, and hand them with confidence into your arms of love.
Living Lord Jesus, you have experienced, and you understand the grief of those who mourn the death of a loved one. You, Lord, are the resurrection and the life; in you is life in all its fullness. We pray for all those who have died and now rest with you in life everlasting.
Heavenly Father, bring us your peace, your strength and your love we pray, in Jesus name, Amen.
A prayer from our Lent course: The Mystery of Everything by Hilary Brand
Lord, we ask for your help as we negotiate the difficulties and complexities of life: for times when we feel overwhelmed, for times when we face difficult decisions, for times when we are tempted to judge others in complex situations we don’t fully understand. Help us to accept our own frailties and to reach out for your strength. Help us to see the possibilities in seemingly impossibly situations. Help us to be people of compassion for the frailties of others, and to help them towards the power of your love. Amen
The Lord’s Prayer
us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
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 bread. And
forgive us our trespasses, as
we forgive those who trespass against us. And
lead us not into temptation; but
deliver us from evil. For
thine is the kingdom, the
power and the glory, for
ever and ever. Amen.
Blessing and Sending Out
Christ crucified draw you to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and for ever. Amen.
Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord In the name of Christ, Amen.