Sunday Worship for 29th March 2020

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.

Confession

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

The Collect

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.

Reading – Psalm 130

Read in your own bible or click below to hear it read.
https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/suchet/nivuk/Ps.130

Song – Lord of the dance

Gospel reading

John 11: 1-45
Play the video below to hear the Gospel reading, or read in your own bible.

Sermon – Revd Liz Hassall

Two options for the sermon this week: you can either read or listen.

Listen here.

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 the altar.

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 future.

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 through.

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 of Easter.

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 these villages.

Affirmation of faith

Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith,
and fills us with his love.

We 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.

Intercessions

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 darkness.

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

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.

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.

Copyright Notices

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Common Worship, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.