A service for Passion Sunday - Peter Hemmings

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29 March 2020 Lent 5

Steward's Welcome

Lent Liturgy "Jesus' Suffering"

Call to Worship
In these next days, we remember the final events of Jesus' life,
help us to understand the meaning of these events;
help us to know that through them the awful news of sin and judgement will become the good news of salvation, for us and for all who seek him.

Reading : Matthew 27:15-26 Lenten Cross

Whip and crown of thorns are brought forward

Why didn't they want me freed? Why Barabbas?
The crowds are so easily swayed and led.
It's all a farce, it's all about politics. It's all about power and who controls it, and of course, the fear of losing it.
No wonder Pilate washed his hands — it's a dirty business alright!
Everyone dreads the whip — you hear so many stories about it.
They say the worst part is when you hear the noise of it being swung through the air backwards and then towards you, while you just wait for the impact!
They say that the waiting is the worst.

We pray together:
Jesus, we thank you for your journey through life
Your journey led to the cross.
Jesus, we thank you for being willing to share the life of people on earth
Your journey led to the cross.
Jesus, we thank you that you went to the water to be baptised
Your journey led to the cross.
Jesus, we thank you that you showed the Father's love for you
Your journey led to the cross.
Jesus, we thank you for your time wandering in the wilderness
Your journey led to the cross.
Jesus, we thank you for the strength you showed
Your journey led to the cross.
Jesus, we thank you that you continued your journey
Your journey led to the cross.
Jesus, we know that you knew where it would end
Your journey led to the cross.
Yet you still continued on your journey
Your journey led to the cross.

STF 277 My song is love unknown

Prayer and Lord's Prayer

STF 164 Your words to me are life and health

Ezekiel 37: 1-14 The Valley of Dry Bones


STF 387 Into a world of dark waste

John 11: 27-45 The raising of Lazarus


STF 531 What a friend we have in Jesus
Prayers of intercession


STF 370 i Breathe on me breath of God




The peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be always with you.

St Paul's letter always start with greetings to fellow Christians he longed to meet but for various reasons he could not. In some cases he was in prison so perhaps those of us who count as The Elderly understand that.

Today (March 29th) I was due to be leading worship at Grove Methodist Church and I had got as far as preparing an order of service and looked at the lessons for today. So here are a few thoughts: not quite developed into a full blown sermon.

Eleanor Rigby is the Beatles song about All The Lonely People. It mentions Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear. I know how he feels!

We are well into in the period of Lent and on Passion Sunday our thoughts turn to the cross. Lent is of course associated with the time Jesus spent in the desert/wilderness. I must admit that I had never considered that Jesus was self-isolating but I guess he was. The word quarantine is derived from the Latin word quadrageni meaning forty. Jesus used this period of isolation for some spiritual stocktaking.

Some of you may have seen this Secretary's Prayer before.

Lord, it is quiet now and I need to tidy the desk of my mind and also my spirit.
There are so many things all happening at once and I am surrounded by notes and reminders.
You once said that no man can serve two masters and I know what it means to be torn in two by competing claims.
Sometimes the answers to questions are easy but often I cannot even understand the question let alone know where to find a solution.
Help me to be patient and thorough and always to remember that the stranger who comes through the door for help might even be yourself.
Please let my words and my actions always be as for you.
Even your office, the world, seems a bit untidy sometimes.

Self-isolation can provide opportunities to tackle some of those things which always seem to be on the back burner: cupboards not sorted for years, other jobs around the house or garden. Have a look through an address book to remind yourself of people you have not heard of/from for a while: some of them may be lonely people.

The Old Testament lesson for today is Ezekiel's vision of the Valley of Dry Bones. I am not very sure about being called a dried bone. Having a dry sense of humour is not too bad but a lifeless bone? St Paul likens the parts of the body to the different gifts we all have. The head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you". Ezekiel is asked, "Can these bones live?" He does not know but then he is told to prophesy to the bones. So hear the word of the Lord!

Ezekiel was a man in exile, taken from his home in Jerusalem. He was in a place where he would rather not be. Jesus told Simon Peter that when he was old someone else will dress you and he would led into a place where he did not want to go. Lots of people are wishing they were somewhere else. Cancelled holidays, no family gatherings or locked down in some faraway place.
Ezekiel has this vision of the bones coming together and receiving the breath of God. It is a story of hope. At this moment all of us bones are scattered around Grove and Wantage feeling stranded. Let us take on this vision and look forward to the day when we can come together in our church and hear the word of the Lord.


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