A Shorter Communion Service for Lent 3

 

HYMN - Lord thy word abideth NEH407 - Ravenshaw 

1 Lord, thy word abideth,
And our footsteps guideth;
Who its truth believeth,
Light and joy receiveth.

2 When our foes are near us,
Then thy word doth cheer us,
Word of consolation,
Message of salvation.

3 When the storms are o'er us,
And dark clouds before us,
Then its light directeth,
And our way protecteth.

4 Who can tell the pleasure,
Who recount the treasure
By thy word imparted
To the simple-hearted?

5 Word of mercy, giving
Succour to the living;
Word of life, supplying
Comfort to the dying.

6 O that we discerning
Its most holy learning,
Lord, may love and fear thee,
Evermore be near thee!

PRAYER OF PREPARATION
Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen

PRAYERS OF PENITENCE
Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Amen. Lord, have mercy.


Father eternal, giver of light and grace,
we have sinned against you and against our neighbour,
in what we have thought, in what we have said and done,
through ignorance, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We have wounded your love and marred your image in us.
We are sorry and ashamed and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us,
forgive us all that is past and lead us out from darkness
to walk as children of light. Amen

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen

THE COLLECT

Almighty God,

whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain,
and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross,
may find it none other than the way of life and peace;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.  Amen


FIRST READING - Exodus 20.1-17

Then God spoke all these words:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.


HYMN - O for a closer walk with God  NEH 414 - Caithness

1 O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame;
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

2 Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest;
I hate the sins that made thee mourn,
And drove thee from my breast.

3 The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from thy throne,
And worship only thee.

4 So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

GOSPEL - John 2.13-22

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

SERMON

The Ten Commandments are a sobering read - they become the terms of God's third covenant with Israel. The first to Noah, the second to Abraham and now this third to the freed Hebrew slaves in the wilderness. These Ten Commandments were given by the voice of God himself from the holy mountain of Sinai, in fear and trembling the people heard them. 

They begin with the declaration of God's own name, Yahweh, and that name it is to be for ever linked to the exodus, the redemption from slavery, the release to be a people, God's own people. Yahweh characterise himself as one who frees, liberates from exploitation and oppression, but also as one who will have no equal. 

Yahweh insists that he is the subject and not an object, a Thou and not an It, a personal agent who must be honoured, taken seriously, responded to. There is competition, that is accepted, there are rival conflicting interests, other gods who might be worshipped, other priorities and motivations, but Yahweh insists on being put first. 

Yahweh also resists being useful, his name cannot be subverted, he cannot be domesticated and manipulated to our ends. 

To keep this covenant requires the honouring of the Sabbath, with a weekly reminder that God is God and to honour him we must disrupt our lives, cease from production, cease from consumption. To rest on the Sabbath day is inconvenient, to rest oneself, one's employees, one's livestock, might be a huge financial sacrifice, but it is insisted upon, demanded and commanded. This is the most profound acknowledgement that God is God, a weekly reminder that we are not God. 

We now understand the need for rest, the need for re-creation, but for thousands of years the Sabbath day marked the Jews out as an extraordinary people with a God that made demands and made a difference to people's lives. 

The remaining Commandments address social relationships - for a healthy communal life people must be treated with dignity, respect, and justice, and not as subjects or commodities to be used and abused. 

The Ten Commandments are, in their way, a revolutionary document, they begin a set of commands which inaugurate a new vision, a community regulated not by fear of kings, but by fear of God, a community not oppressed by the wealthy and the powerful, but one with freedoms guaranteed by the word of its God. 

When Jesus strode through the temple turning over the tables of the money changers he too was making a political statement - one that would cost him his life. It was a symbolic act of disgust at the temple authorities; the Sanhedrin and the high priest knew what he meant. In the operation of the law and the whole panoply of temple worship, they had forgotten who was at its centre, who was supposed to be its purpose and its focus - Yahweh. 

In announcing its destruction Jesus declared that he would supplant it, in him worship would begin again, renewed, recreated, refreshed. Such opposition was not merely a theological dispute, an argument over ancient texts or priestly rituals, it was insurrection. Jesus charged the authorities with manipulating God and his worship for their own ends, with using God to exploit their own people. For Jesus there could be no more serious crime - and the Sanhedrin and the high priest knew exactly what he meant. 

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH 

Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried; he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles: this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.
1 Corinthians 15.3-7

INTERCESSIONS - Christine Hill

Everlasting God, be with us in this time of prayer, and help us to feel your presence. Help us to ensure that  we worship you above all else in our lives and that we have the strength to reject the temptations of our world.

We give thanks for the signs of new life in the countryside as we move into the spring, and for the  opening up of our lives again. Give us the patience to stick with Covid restrictions while we need to. We pray especially at this time for teachers and for the children who will be going back into the classrooms this week, and hope that their education may not be affected this way again.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our Prayer

Faithful God we pray for the church throughout the world and especially for all in our benefice who have worked so hard to bring us on-line services over the last year. Thank you for all those who have continued the work of your church in our parishes and communities, and reached out to those in need. We look forward to being able to worship together once more and pray that anyone who has found you during lockdown may find and join a church to continue their journey in faith.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our Prayer 

Almighty God, we pray for the governments of the world, that they may always seek for peaceful solutions in their dealings with other nations and rule  with compassion and justice.  We especially pray for our leaders as they seek to manage the challenges of the economic impact of the virus, in travel, manufacturing, hospitality or so many other industries. May they be generous in sharing vaccination and other resources to work towards a more equal world for everyone.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our Prayer 

Heavenly Father, we thank you for our families, friends and neighbours and for the people with whom we work or share our daily lives. Help us to look outward from our own concerns and offer help and support to those who are in need, and also to rejoice with those who have good news to share. We pray especially for people who have no one close to them, and to those who are separated from loved ones in hospitals and homes at this time. 

Lord in your mercy, Hear our Prayer 

Dear God, we pray for all who are in pain or are suffering at this time. We remember especially those who are facing long or incurable illnesses, and those who are finding it hard to get the treatment and care which they need. In a moment of quietness we pray for them, and any we know who are in any kind of need at this time.

We also remember before you those who are beyond our care – those we love but see no longer. Grant them your peace, and give comfort to those who mourn them. We remember especially before God any who have recently died.

Merciful Father, 

accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

THE PEACE

In the tender mercy of our God the dayspring from on high has broken upon us, to give light to those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you. And also with you

HYMN - Father of heaven whose love profound  NEH 358 - Rievaulx

1 Father of heaven, whose love profound
A ransom for our souls hath found,
Before thy throne we sinners bend:
To us thy pardoning love extend.

2 Almighty Son, incarnate Word,
Our Prophet, Priest, Redeemer, Lord,
Before thy throne we sinners bend:
To us thy saving grace extend.

3 Eternal Spirit, by whose breath
The soul is raised from sin and death,
Before thy throne we sinners bend:
To us thy quickening power extend.

4 Thrice Holy! Father, Spirit, Son,
Mysterious Godhead, Three in One,
Before thy throne we sinners bend:
Grace, pardon, life to us extend.

The Preparation of the Table

Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power,
the glory, the splendour, and the majesty;
for everything in heaven and on earth is yours.
All things come from you,
and of your own do we give you.

Eucharistic Prayer H 

The Lord is here.

His Spirit is with us.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is right to praise you, Father, Lord of all creation;
in your love you made us for yourself.
When we turned away
you did not reject us,
but came to meet us in your Son.

You embraced us as your children
and welcomed us to sit and eat with you.

In Christ you shared our life

that we might live in him and he in us.

He opened his arms of love upon the cross
and made for all the perfect sacrifice for sin.

On the night he was betrayed,
at supper with his friends
he took bread, and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to them, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his body is the bread of life.

At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine,
he gave you thanks, and said:
Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins;
do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his blood is shed for all.

As we proclaim his death and celebrate his rising in glory,
send your Holy Spirit that this bread and this wine
may be to us the body and blood of your dear Son.

As we eat and drink these holy gifts
make us one in Christ, our risen Lord.

With your whole Church throughout the world
we offer you this sacrifice of praise
and lift our voice to join the eternal song of heaven:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

We break this bread to share in the body of Christ.

Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.

Jesus, lamb of God: have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins: have mercy on us
Jesus, redeemer of the world: grant us your peace.

As Mary’s body was given for Jesus, so Jesus’ body is given for us.
Here the Word made flesh comes to us, 

cradled in bread and wine.

Post Communion PRAYER

Merciful Lord, grant your people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow you, the only God;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

BLESSING

Christ the Son of God perfect in you the image of his glory and gladden your hearts with the good news of his kingdom; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon us and remain with us always. Amen

HYMN - O Jesus I have promised  NEH 420 - Thornbury

1 O Jesus, I have promised
To serve thee to the end;
Be thou for ever near me,
My Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle
If thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway
If thou wilt be my guide.

2 O let me hear thee speaking
In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of self-will;
O speak to reassure me,
To hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen,
Thou guardian of my soul.

3 O Jesus, thou hast promised
To all who follow thee,
That where thou art in glory
There shall thy servant be;
And Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow,
My Master and my Friend.

4 O let me see thy footmarks,
And in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly
Is in thy strength alone;
O guide me, call me, draw me,
Uphold me to the end;
And then in heaven receive me,
My Saviour and my Friend.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ. Amen