Online Worship: 29 March 2020, 5th Sunday of Lent

This Sunday is the 29th of March 2020
the 5th Sunday of Lent.

We are guessing that some of us forgot that we are still in the season of Lent. Have you managed to keep your Lenten disciplines? We wouldn’t blame anyone if they had forgotten. It’s been a very unusual time for us all.

Our final Sunday in Lent looks at the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. It’s a story loaded with things to talk about on all kinds of levels. But this week Rev David is focussing on how Lazarus’ family react to his illness and how Jesus is moved with compassion for a grieving family.

If you have children, this may be a tricky Sunday’s reading to consider but most families have some experience of suffering and loss, even if it’s just the death of a beloved hamster or rabbit. If you’re fortunate not to have experienced a bereavement, you could ask the children about how it feels when they lose a favourite toy or book. It may be a good time to think gently about how we feel in the midst of sadness or loss and how turning to God in prayer can provide comfort and hope. You might want to read the passage from John together and ask the children how Mary and Martha might have felt, how we feel when we lose someone, and how they think Jesus responds when we feel sad.

Notices

In a fast-moving and extraordinary situation, various things are happening that may help you at home. This page will tell you more.

Songs to sing today

O for a thousand tongues to sing

Come down, O Love Divine

Children’s song: This little light of mine

David’s video sermon for this Sunday

00:00 Notices, 03:35 the Reading, 07:23 onwards the Sermon

 

Prayers for today

A Litany Prayer for Lent

We pray to the Lord for courage to give up other things
and to give ourselves to him this Lent.

Give your Church the courage
to give up her preoccupation with herself
and to give more time to your mission in the world.

[You may like to name people or churches you’re thinking of today]

May the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus
bring forgiveness to your people
and help us to face the cost of proclaiming salvation.
Lord, meet us in the silence,
give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give your world the courage
to give up war, bitterness and hatred,
and to seek peace.

[You may want to name particular countries or places at war]

May the shoulders of the risen Jesus,
once scourged by soldiers,
bear the burden of political and military conflict in our world.
Lord, meet us in the silence,
give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up quarrels, strife and jealousy
in our families, neighbourhoods and communities.

[You may want to name members of your family, your neighbours, your street]

May the presence of the risen Jesus,
his body once broken and now made whole,
bring peace and direction as we live with one another.
Lord, meet us in the silence,
give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage
to give up our selfishness as we live for others,
and to give time, care and comfort to the sick.

[You may want to name particular people you know are unwell]

May the wounded hands of Jesus bring his healing touch,
and the light of his presence fill their rooms.
Lord, meet us in the silence,
give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up our fear of death
and to rejoice with those who have died in faith.

[You may want to name the families of those who have died recently in West Malling and Offham]

May the feet of the risen Lord Jesus, once nailed to the cross,
walk alongside the dying and bereaved in their agony,
and walk with us and all your Church
through death to the gate of glory.
Lord, meet us in the silence,
give us strength and hear our prayer,
here and in eternity. Amen.

A prayer to love others

Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.
Amen.

A prayer about the COVID-19 pandemic

God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

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.

Blessing

May Christ give us grace to grow in holiness,
to deny ourselves, 
take up our cross,
and follow him;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.
Amen.

Stay at home in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

Resources for the week ahead

Prayer pointers

  • Those who have asked for our prayers: Stewart Betts, Hilda Bodley, Valerie Crittenden, Lucy Clifford, Pam Hoskins, Robin & Rosemary Law, Ron Marchant, Cynthia & John Noble, Barbara & Graham Norton, Malcolm Scott, Eileen Vickers, Irina Walker, Janet & John Wincott, and Heather, William and Stephanie.
  • For the families of Dorothea James, Terry Dunn, Darren Webb, Betty Day and Richard Dunn, all of whom have died recently.
  • For those in our congregation who work in education. For wisdom, patience and creativity and for their witness at work.
  • Giving thanks for our Directors of Music in our parishes, the Choir at St Mary’s, Junior Choir and Music Group, for all they usually do to prepare the church for worship and serve the congregation week by week.
  • Prayers in our Cluster this week for St Lawrence’s Church and the people of Mereworth.
  • For the UK and world authorities political, medical, scientific, civil and religious as we respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • For HM Queen and our nation, for the Prime Minister and Government, for loving and respectful discourse, truth and integrity in political life.
  • For unity and reconciliation in our nation following our departure from the European Union.
  • For authorities and emergency services working in areas of war, humanitarian or ecological tragedy including Australia, Indonesia, the US and Iran, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, for the Kurdish people, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and the Yemen.
  • For Daniel & Sarah Brito Medeiros, our CMS mission link partners in Brazil.

Lectionary readings for Daily Prayer

Passiontide begins on Monday
Monday Morning – Psalm 121, Exodus 8.1-19, Hebrews 11.17-31
Monday Evening – Psalm 26, Jeremiah 21.1-10, John 11.28-44
Tuesday Morning – Psalm 35, Exodus 8.20-end, Hebrews 11.32-12.2
Tuesday Evening – Psalm 61, Jeremiah 22.1-5, 13-19, John 11.45-end
Wednesday Morning – Psalm 55, Exodus 9.1-12, Hebrews 12.3-13
Wednesday Evening – Psalm 56, Jeremiah 22.20-23.8, John 12.1-11
Thursday Morning – Psalm 40, Exodus 9.13-end, Hebrews 12.14-end
Thursday Evening – Psalm 42, Jeremiah 23.9-32, John 12.12-19
Friday Morning – Psalm 22, Exodus 10, Hebrews 13.1-16
Friday Evening – Psalm 31, Jeremiah 24, John 12.20-36a
Saturday Morning – Psalm 23, Exodus 11, Hebrews 13.17-end
Saturday Evening – Psalms 128, 129, 130, Jeremiah 25.1-14, John 12.36b-end

Online Worship: 22 March 2020, Mothering Sunday

This Sunday is the 22nd of March 2020
Mothering Sunday.

While there is a strong sense in which today is a day to celebrate mothers, and mothering in all its forms, it’s worth also remembering that today is a difficult day for many people (either because mum isn’t around anymore, mum wasn’t a particularly good example of motherhood, or because someone desperately wanted to be a mum but it hasn’t happened for them).

However the roots of Mothering Sunday actually lie elsewhere. Mothering Sunday started as a tradition of being able to return to one’s “Mother Church”; by which was meant the church in which you were baptised.

Do you know where you were baptised? While you’re online today, why not have a search for your “Mother Church’s” website and see if they have any photos to look through. Is it a church you remember well? Say a prayer for that church today, their Vicar and those who worship there now.

If you have children, talk about your “Mother Church” with them and if they were baptised at St Mary’s or St Michael’s, perhaps talk about how that church is their “Mother Church”.

Notices

There are various things that are worth knowing about at present. This page will tell you more.

David’s video sermon for this Sunday

Also with news of today being a National Day of Prayer.

Prayers for today

A prayer for those who mother

On this Mothering Sunday, We thank you God for good mothers and carers everywhere,
all those who mother in a variety of ways,
and for all they do for us.
We thank you that they can love us and show us the right way to live.
We thank you that they can help us when we find life hard.
We pray that mums would feel really special today;
that they would know how much we love them,
and how much God loves them too.
We pray also today for families separated by the Coronavirus and self-isolation
watch between us, Lord, while we are apart from one another
keep us safe and healthy,
and fill us with hope for the day we will be together again. Amen

A thanksgiving for families

We thank God for giving us other people to be part of our lives:

For parents, and the love which brought us to birth:
we praise you, O Lord:
and bring you thanks today.

For mothers who have cherished and nurtured us:
we praise you, O Lord:
and bring you thanks today.

For fathers who have loved and supported us:
we praise you, O Lord:
and bring you thanks today.

For brothers and sisters with whom we have shared our home:
we praise you, O Lord:
and bring you thanks today.

For children, entrusted to our care as parents:
we praise you, O Lord:
and bring you thanks today.

For other relatives and friends who have been with us 
in our hopes and joys.
we praise you, O Lord:
and bring you thanks today.

For all who first spoke to us of Jesus,
and have drawn us into the family of our Father in heaven:
we praise you, O Lord:
and bring you thanks today.

Help us to live as those who belong to one another 
and to you,
now and always. Amen

A prayer for those who are hurting

We pray for all mothers who are struggling to be the parent they want to be.
We pray for the barriers that face them and the chains that ensnare,
whether that be past experiences, circumstance, or difficult choices.
We pray for mothers who are grieving today, or who face the daily battle of illness.
We pray for those who are grieving for their mother,
and those who wanted to be mothers, but it hasn’t happened or that time is long past.
Lord, where there is darkness, may you bring light,
where there is despair, may you bring hope,
where there is turmoil, may you bring peace.
And where your love is needed most,
call forth people who will bring your love to those who need it today.
Amen.

A prayer about the churches special to us

Almighty God,
to whose glory we celebrate in St Mary’s and St Michael’s as houses of prayer:
and giving thanks for our own ‘Mother Church’ in which we were baptised,
we praise you for the many blessings
you have given to those who have worshipped you in the churches special to us.
Lord, while we cannot worship together in these dark days,
keep us in your love as the Body of Christ in this community.
Help us to understand our calling as the Church in these unusual times,
to love neighbours, serve humbly, pray privately,
and fill us with hope for that day when we will come together in praise once again.
Amen.

A prayer about the COVID-19 pandemic

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

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.

Blessing

May God, who gave life to all creation, bless us:
may God, who became incarnate by an earthly mother, bless us:
may God, whose Spirit broods 
like a mother over her children, bless us.
May almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with us now and for ever more.
Amen.

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

Resources for the week ahead

Prayer pointers

  • Those who have asked for our prayers: Stewart Betts, Hilda Bodley, Valerie Crittenden, Lucy Clifford, Pam Hoskins, Robin & Rosemary Law, Ron Marchant, Cynthia & John Noble, Barbara & Graham Norton, Malcolm Scott, Eileen Vickers, Irina Walker, Janet & John Wincott, and Heather, William and Stephanie.
  • For the families of Fiona Parrott, Dorothea James, Terry Dunn, Darren Webb and Betty Day, all of whom have died recently.
  • For those in our congregation who work in the healthcare professions. For healing, care, strength and comfort and for their witness at work.
  • Praying for our mums in the congregation, those who mother in other ways, for those mums we miss, and for those for whom it’s a tough day.
  • Giving thanks for those who serve in our churches, and for all they usually do to prepare the church for worship and serve the congregation week by week.
  • Prayers this week for St John’s Church and the people of Wateringbury.
  • For the UK and world authorities political, medical, scientific, civil and religious as we respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • For HM Queen and our nation, for the Prime Minister and Government, for loving and respectful discourse, truth and integrity in political life.
  • For unity and reconciliation in our nation following our departure from the European Union.
  • For authorities and emergency services working in areas of war, humanitarian or ecological tragedy including Australia, Indonesia, the US and Iran, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, the Kurdish people, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and the Yemen.
  • For Rev Peeter Kaldur, and our partner churches of St Michael’s, Jõhvi and Pühajõe church in Estonia.

Lectionary readings for Daily Prayer

Monday Morning – Psalm 70, Exodus 2.11-22, Hebrews 9.1-14
Monday Evening – Psalm 25, Jeremiah 17.5-18, John 9.18-end
Tuesday Morning – Psalm 54, Exodus 2.23-3.20, Hebrews 9.15-end
Tuesday Evening – Psalm 85, Genesis 3.8-15, Galatians 4.1-5
Wednesday Morning – Psalm 111, 1 Samuel 2.1-10, Romans 5.12-21 (the Annunciation)
Wednesday Evening – Psalm 131, Isaiah 52.1-12, Hebrews 2.5-18
Thursday Morning – Psalm 53, Exodus 4.27-6.1, Hebrews 10.19-25
Thursday Evening – Psalm 94, Jeremiah 19.1-13, John 10.22-end
Friday Morning – Psalm 102, Exodus 6.2-13, Hebrews 10.26-end
Friday Evening – Psalm 13, Jeremiah 19.14-20.6, John 11.1-16
Saturday Morning – Psalm 32, Exodus 7.8-end, Hebrews 11.1-16
Saturday Evening – Psalms 140, 141, 142, Jeremiah 20.7-end, John 11.17-27

Lent, repentance, fasting and the difference

Lent worldIt always seems to come around a little quicker than I would hope and with my preparation lacking, but we are once again in the season of Lent and I notice various people are giving up various things once again.

If you are still pondering what to do this Lent, I try not to tell people what they should or should not give up for Lent, but I think there are a couple of principles to bear in mind.

Firstly, Lent is about temporarily abstaining from something in order to create time and space to increase our focus on God and ultimately increase our well-being. But it’s not just about having more time for prayer (by doing less). It’s also about a sense of sacrifice. Sacrificing something for the duration of Lent is an opportunity to consider what I am allowing in my life to have mastery. 

In his first letter to the Corinthian Church, St Paul wrote (in chapters 6 and 10) about how all things are permissible, but not all are beneficial. He said “everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor 6.12).

Lent is a good opportunity each year for that spiritual healthcheck that asks “what am I at risk of being mastered by?” “What do I need to ensure means less to me than God does?”

You won’t find many people venerating wooden idols these days, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t in danger of idolatry. Work, food, sex, relationships, a sport or a hobby, alcohol, gambling, anything really, even church or a particular way of worshipping can become an idol if it becomes more to us than our relationship with God. Lent gives us a chance to reset.

Second, abstaining or fasting from something in Lent is about giving up something neutral or good, as a sacrifice. You can’t really “fast” from anything that’s actually a sin. Giving up gossip or complaint or lying is good, but that is not fasting. That is repentance, and is something we should be doing all-year round anyway.

Think about it from the other end. You get to Easter and can stop fasting, so you celebrate our Lord’s passion and resurrection by resuming the gluttony, or lust, or pride? No. Doesn’t sound very appropriate does it? Those are not the things to ‘fast’ from. We just need to repent of those regularly and ask God’s help to live differently all year round.

It is true that we can start to drift, and sometimes our sins and our idols come together as one and Lent becomes a good reminder to repent and live life as God would ask of us. But repenting of sin in Lent is additional to any fast you undertake.

So! If you’re still wondering what to do, think about time you can set aside, think about something you’d be comfortable joyfully resuming at Easter, but which it might be useful to you to temporarily step back from and reevaluate your relationship with, and don’t confuse your Lenten sacrifice with our daily need to repent of our sins and live for Christ.

Rev David Green