I've put together a short order of service for Passion Sunday, 29th March, in case you would like to follow it, so that we might know that we have something to do together. The prayers are taken from the order of service suggested on the Methodist website. There are also broadcast services, also on the Methodist and United Reformed websites and of course there are various other services and hymns that you can find on the internet.
Dear Friends, as we are unable to be together today, I’m sending you an order of service that you might like to use. As we worship and pray, read scripture and think of God’s presence with us, may we also remember that we gather in fellowship with friends known and unknown, we are not alone, we are church together.
Call to Worship:Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
Hymn: Praise to the holiest in the height
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, all life comes from you, and in you all things hold together. As we remember this, we pause to give you thanks and Praise. As we remember this, we are reminded that you hold the end from the beginning, and that nothing is too large or too small for you. As we remember this, remind us that as all things are held, so we are held by you, in love. Help us in our anxious thoughts. Help us in our day to day lives. Help us in this time of deep uncertainty. We acknowledge that at times we are selfish, at times we do not seek you first. But we know that you are always faithful, merciful, gracious, and forgiving. (Silence) We receive your mercy and forgiveness faithfulness and grace. In the name of Christ. Amen
Hymn: O sacred head sore wounded
Our suggested Bible readings are from Ezekiel 36: 1‐14 and John 11: 1‐45 for this Sunday. If you have time to have a read you will realise that both of these start with seemingly hopeless situations. Ezekiel is watching a dry valley full of bones, suggesting much death and devastation. In John's Gospel Jesus is talking to his disciples about his friend Lazarus who is ill, but instead of rushing off to see him, Jesus delays and then travels to Bethany, only to find when he gets there that his friend has been dead and in a tomb for 3 days. Two situations where, as far as most people are concerned, there is nothing to be done.
That is what HAS happened. But in neither case is it the end of the story. We know if we read to the end of both stories that God chooses to intervene, to create life, to bring hope and in the case of Jesus' conversation with Martha, bringing us that most famous and hopeful phrase which we use at the beginning of every funeral "I am the resurrection and the life" says the Lord. What great readings for us to study during this time of anxiety and sadness, that in the midst of illness and death, God is present offering God's hope and reassurance through faith. We as Christians cling on to this, even as we continue to look forward to Easter despite being unable to worship corporately, that through Jesus Christ we have that wonderful gift of God's presence amongst us.
We don't really know what will happen to us in the next few weeks of lockdown and social isolation, but we are blessed with the gift of communication unknown to previous generations and a positive outpouring of worship and prayer resources. Let's take advantage of that and realise that whilst we do that, we are joining with many people around the world, some who will be hearing the word of God for the first time. And let us pray for one another, that we will not lose faith, hope or love but that we will be able to be generous and joyous with all three. Take a time to sit quietly
A time of prayer Let’s pray: Holy and Loving God we pray for your world, for the leaders who are making difficult decisions as every day brings new changes and challenges. Lord of all, Lord for all Hear our prayer We pray for our nation, that decisions might be made with wisdom and care for the benefit of all. Lord of all, Lord for all Hear our prayer We pray for our town/ city/ village. For all who live here that your peace might reign and that your perfect love might settle our fears. Lord of all, Lord for all Hear our prayer We pray for frontline workers, Drs, nurses, carers, shop workers, refuse collectors, postal workers. Lord of all, Lord for all Hear our prayer We pray for our loved ones, those we know who may be ill, those who are struggling, those who are confused and conflicted… ( you might like to name names here) Lord of all, Lord for all Hear our prayer And finally we pray for ourselves, you know what is on our hearts and minds, and so we offer that to you (again you might like to name your own prayers and concerns) Lord of all, Lord for all Hear our prayer AMEN The Lord’s Prayer Our Father ……
Hymn: My song is love unknown
A prayer of blessing: May you know the deep peace of the God who knows and perfectly loves you. May take the yoke of Jesus upon you, knowing that he bears your load with you. May you know the indwelling Spirit bringing you wisdom and peace. Amen
Let us pray for each other, for our communities and the world at this time of great worry and trial.
With every blessing to you all
Rev Helen Penfold