A Shorter Communion Service for Lent 5

 

HYMN - It is a thing most wonderful NEH 84 - Herongate 

1 It is a thing most wonderful,

Almost too wonderful to be,

That God’s own Son should come from heaven,

And die to save a child like me.

2 And yet I know that it is true:

He chose a poor and humble lot,

And wept, and toiled, and mourned, and died

For love of those who loved him not.

3 But even could I see him die,

I could but see a little part

Of that great love, which, like a fire,

Is always burning in his heart.

4 It is most wonderful to know

His love for me so free and sure;

But ’tis more wonderful to see

My love for him so faint and poor.

5 And yet I want to love thee, Lord;

O light the flame within my heart,

And I will love thee more and more,

Until I see thee as thou art.

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

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.  Amen


FIRST READING - Jeremiah 31.31-34

The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.


HYMN - Drop, drop slow tears NEH 82 - Song 46

1 Drop, drop, slow tears,

And bathe those beauteous feet,

Which brought from heaven

The news and Prince of peace.

2 Cease not, wet eyes,

His mercies to entreat;

To cry for vengeance

Sin doth never cease.

3 In your deep floods

Drown all my faults and fears;

Nor let his eye

See sin, but through my tears.

GOSPEL - John 12.20-33

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

SERMON - Keith Atton

I don't know how many of you have had moments when you knew what was right and what was wrong and you saw someone or something that was going wrong, that was not right morally, in the organisation you were part of, but you did nothing about it. I had that experience when I was a Comprehensive School Headteacher; that others, who must have known, did the same does not make it right. Turning a blind eye is the phrase that springs to mind.

Jesus of Nazareth had been curing the sick. If he went to Jerusalem and caused further trouble to the powers-that-be there would be consequences. In a world that did not go for long term incarceration in prison, but rather crueller punishments, Jesus' opposition to the status quo would mean death, a fact that He was well aware of, as we see in our gospel reading (v. 27-8). It would also mean the end of his valuable work of healing. But then he could not cure all who needed it by travelling around Galilee and anyway, it may be essentially what was happening was that the cures were signs of who Jesus was and that they were intended to be so. Indeed some theologians have attempted to re-create a “signs” gospel which they claim was one source for John's gospel. If this is correct, seven signs had happened and no more were needed; enough miracles had already happened, enough to enable people to believe and the miracles had served their purpose.

Jesus of Nazareth had been teaching. Again, challenging those with power in Jerusalem  would end His teaching. In a world so different to ours, with no radio, no TV and no internet, Jesus had to go and say out loud His message. There were many people who could not read and hand copied written manuscripts would have been scarce. But even if Jesus had continued to travel around Galilee there would have been few who would have understood His preaching, remembered it and followed it in their daily lives; after all, in Mark's gospel, even the disciples are pictured as failing to understand the good news of the vision of a better world, which Jesus proclaimed, despite hearing this message many times in different towns and villages. The message had been given; now it had to be proclaimed everywhere.

From early times after Jesus' resurrection, there has been the belief that Jesus had to die for our salvation, so that our sins would be forgiven by God. This view was developed by St. Anselm, the great eleventh century theologian, who was Archbishop of Canterbury and by Reformation era Protestant ones. The idea was that God was angry with our sins and would punish us - “everyone will die for his own sin” - as it is put in Jeremiah in the verse before our reading ( 31v 30).  But now our sins would be washed away before God by Jesus' sacrificial death; God's anger against our sins would thereby be ended. (v. 34) With such a weight of theology behind it, I feel very arrogant saying that I am not convinced by this idea; surely, this idea conflicts with that of a loving God which was a fundamental one in Jesus' teaching.

The challenge Jesus set Himself - what He was on earth to do - was how to make a better world where people could have “life in all its fullness.” (John 10.10) This could only happen if He was prepared to challenge those with power in their own power base, Jerusalem; yes, it would bring about His death, but as our gospel reading makes clear, Jesus was well aware that His death was necessary; He would be lifted up on the cross from which He could attract all people to Himself and therefore to His project, as He explains in our gospel reading; (v. 32-3) As a result of His death, there would be “a rich harvest”.(v.24) Only in this way could He write what God wanted in peoples' hearts, to use the words from our Jeremiah reading. (v 33) This new relationship between God and humanity would imply no longer following a legalistic formula, with humanity often hoping to get away with the minimum, complying with the letter but not the spirit of the law, but a genuine total commitment to do what is right and to stand up and challenge what is not. 

Our Old Testament reading can clearly be seen as referring to the new relationship with God that Jesus would make possible, even if Jeremiah did not know what would happen centuries after his time. This new relationship would be then, and is now, open to all people from the greatest to the least, to use the words of Jeremiah. Jesus did not back down and return to Galilee in the face of the cost of saying what he knew was wrong with His world and what right would look like. By accepting the cost of discipleship, by not backing down, Jesus experienced death but because of His subsequent resurrection His message has travelled across the earth for 2000 years. And His death still can bring a better life for His followers here and now and in the world to come.

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 - Val Etteridge

Dear Lord we praise and thank you for this new day and ask you to guide our thoughts and hear our prayers.

We pray first for the world wide Christian Church, for those who minister, serve and council, those who are persecuted for being a Christian, for our diocese and benefice and for strength and guidance to be given to ministers in this unique time. Father give all Christians and to those who spread the word of your love and grace the help of your Holy Spirit.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Thank you Lord for our world and the coming of Spring time.

 People in every nation in our world though are suffering because of the pandemic and unrest and war. We ask that good may even come from the virus and because it has affected all of us we may as a result become closer to each other with a deeper sense of fellowship and that no one despises another and that no one out of anger wishes suffering on anyone. 

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We bring before you the queen and her government and the leaders of the nations. We ask that they may be just, wise, compassionate and honest in all their dealings. Lord also for all those striving for peace and justice in war torn areas such as Syria, Yemen and  Myanmar , may their voices be heeded and peace come. O Lord on each side of each conflict  open their hearts to tolerance and understanding. Give the statesmen, leaders and all people the courage to proclaim the dignity of all human life.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all those suffering in the world, the troubles and perils of people. We bring before you the helplessness of the weak and those struggling to survive in difficult conditions. We think of refugees, the homeless and those who have lost work and have no money or food. We pray for the sick and lonely, those in hospital, those dying and the bereaved.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Thank you Lord, that even in these stressful times though, you give us hope. Thank you for all medical staff, the scientists and the vaccinations and for all those who have gone beyond the call of duty and helped others. Lord you have given us so much in Jesus, help us to give to others as freely and generously as we have received from you.

Merciful Father, 

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

THE PEACE

Set your troubled hearts at rest, believe in him who has conquered death. Trust in God in whose will is perfect peace.

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

HYMN - Glory be to Jesus NEH 83 - Caswell (Wem in Leidenstagen)

1 Glory be to Jesus,

Who, in bitter pains,

Poured for me the life-blood

From his sacred veins.

2 Grace and life eternal

In that Blood I find;

Blest be his compassion,

Infinitely kind.

3 Blest through endless ages

Be the precious stream,

Which from endless torment

Doth the world redeem.

4 Abel’s blood for vengeance

Pleaded to the skies;

But the Blood of Jesus

For our pardon cries.

5 Oft as it is sprinkled

On our guilty hearts,

Satan in confusion

Terror-struck departs.

6 Oft as earth exulting

Wafts its praise on high,

Hell with terror trembles,

Heaven is filled with joy.

7 Lift ye then your voices;

Swell the mighty flood;

Louder still and louder

Praise the precious Blood.

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

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us

that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters

we do also for you: give us the will to be the servant of others

as you were the servant of all, and gave up your life and died for us,

but are alive and reign, now and for ever.Amen

BLESSING

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, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among and remain with you always. Amen

HYMN - There is a green hill far away NEH 92 - Horsley

1 There is a green hill far away,

Without a city wall,

Where the dear Lord was crucified

Who died to save us all.

2 We may not know, we cannot tell

What pains he had to bear,

But we believe it was for us

He hung and suffered there.

3 He died that we might be forgiven,

He died to make us good;

That we might go at last to heaven,

Saved by his precious blood.

4 There was no other good enough

To pay the price of sin;

He only could unlock the gate

Of heaven, and let us in.

5 O dearly, dearly has he loved,

And we must love him too,

And trust in his redeeming blood,

And try his works to do.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen