LENT V: Preparation

May God’s grace and peace be with us.
Thanks be to God. 

Come to us today, O God. Come to us with light.
Dwell with us today, O God Dwell with us in love.

Being Sorry Being Forgiven
The grace of God has dawned upon the world with healing for all.
Come let us return to the Lord…
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy

Praise the Lord, O my soul.
And all that is within me, praise his holy name.
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Slow to anger and of great goodness.
As far as the east is from the west:
So far has he set our sin from us.

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 our Lord.

The Ministry of the Word

Psalm 130
Out of the depths have I cried to you, O Lord;
      Lord, hear my voice; 
   let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
 If you, Lord, were to mark what is done amiss, 
   O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you, 
   so that you shall be feared.
 I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; 
   in his word is my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord,
      more than the night watch for the morning, 
   more than the night watch for the morning.
O Israel, wait for the Lord, 
   for with the Lord there is mercy;
 With him is plenteous redemption 
   and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

Glory to you Lord Jesus Christ
John 11: 14-45
(Jesus) told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin,* said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus* had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles* away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.* Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,* the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus Wept. (A Reflection)

Well known for being the subject of the question – what is the shortest verse in the Bible? Yet it is so much more than an interesting aside. In all its brevity we touch in 9 letters the heart of God who is with us.

A friend at school from a close knit family used to say “when one of us gets kicked we all limp.” There is something of that in the biblical teachings to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to weep with those who weep.

These things can’t be done from our point of view however, but rather our angle or point of view transfers to another and their life. One writer said we begin to understand a person when we climb inside their skin and walk around in it.

Rowan Williams said that it is like a little incarnation.
The monk Thomas Merton put it this way:
Love takes one’s neighbour as one’s other self, and loves him/her with all the immense humility and discretion and reserve and reverence without which no-one can presume to enter into the sanctity of another’s subjectivity…
love demands a complete inner transformation –  
for without this we cannot possibly come 
to identify ourselves with our sister/brother.”

This is in essence conversion,
salvation from the skewed kingdom of self.

The life we are being discipled into is one of empathy and solidarity with others. Jesus lived that life in all its fullness.
His birth reveals him to be Emmanuel (God with us). He is flesh as our flesh and he dwells among us. Eugene Petersen translates the prologue to John’s Gospel as “The Word became flesh, and moved into the neighbourhood.” This is the divine thrust of God into the actuality of our lives.
There he is present and there he redeems and sustains.
And that alone is the arena of Christian faith.
Other people’s lives in which we are truly present to them as brothers and sisters, seeking redemption and transformation, kindness and love, and to share together our lives, our needs and resources.

We see that these days in big and small kindnesses and acts of solidarity, and we share the tears of the world for those who have died, are bereaved, are alone, frightened and those who keep turning up to the front line of care.
In Jesus God says to us “I am with you” in all of this. 
By his grace we say to each other, 
“I am with you” in all of this.

The Response

Affirmation of Faith 
We  believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life,
the one for whom we exist
We believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature,
died for us and rose again
We believe and trust in the Holy Spirit, who gives life
to the people of God and makes Christ known in the world
This is the faith of the church. We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Prayers
Lord you journeyed to Emmaus with the broken disciples,
and sharing in their hurt restored their lives.
Journey with us on all our journeys;
when we are breaking down or breaking through;
when we are alone or holding someone,
when we sit in the dark or carry the light for another.
Lord Jesus, in your brokenness is our wholeness;
journey with us today. Amen.

Gathering all our prayers and praises into one. We pray the Lord’s Prayer

The Dismissal

Lord Jesus Christ, you emptied yourself, taking the form of a servant. Through your love, make us servants of one another.
Jesus, friend of sinners Heal the brokenness of our world.
Jesus, Lord of tomorrow Draw us into your future. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord   Thanks be to God
We will go in peace to love and serve the Lord. In Jesus’ name.



Mothering Sunday

Note… if you can light a candle at the beginning it will be helpful.
At the Peace you might pause and think of someone you know, or saw on tv or heard about and hold them to God.
A reflection on the Gospel is included in the text.
Remember that church is people and we are learning to be together apart. May God bless you.
Dean Paul


We light this candle to remind us that the love of God
is like a light in our darkness. Blessed be God for ever.

We praise you, our God, for all mothers who have loved
and laughed and laboured as they cared for their children.
Blessed be God for ever.

We praise you, our God, for all mothers who have wept in sorrow
and joy for their children. Blessed be God for ever.

We praise you, our God, for Jesus, born of a woman and nurtured
in her love, and for Mary his mother, a reminder of your patient,
waiting love. Blessed be God for ever.


The Beatitudes  

Let us hear our Lord’s blessing on those who follow him:
Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Blessed are those who weep, for they shall be consoled.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall be satisfied.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Blessed are the peacemakers,  for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are those who suffer persecution for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom



Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

The Collects 

Lord God
whose blessed Son our Saviour gave his back to the smiters
 and did not hide his face from shame:
Give us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time
with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
 through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reading  Ephesians 5: 8-14

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light.
Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.
Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
For everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
‘Sleeper, awake!
Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’

A Song of St Anselm

Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to you; 
you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.
In your love and tenderness, remake us.

Often you weep over our sins and our pride, 
tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgement
In your love and tenderness, remake us.

You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds, 
in sickness you nurse us, and with pure milk you feed us.
In your love and tenderness, remake us.

Jesus, by your dying we are born to new life; 
by your anguish and labour we come forth in joy.
In your love and tenderness, remake us

Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness; 
through your gentleness we find comfort in fear.
In your love and tenderness, remake us.

Your warmth gives life to the dead, 
your touch makes sinners righteous.
In your love and tenderness, remake us.

Lord Jesus in your mercy heal us.
In your love and tenderness, remake us.

In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness, 
for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us
In your love and tenderness, remake us.


Gospel  John 19.25-27

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Reflection on the Gospel “…the community that Jesus’ lifting up brings into existence is not an institution. It is not an organisation. John does not even use the word “church”. It is a communion grounded in the common experience of intimacy with Christ. The new community is not an inward-looking mutual admiration society, but a force field of costly self-giving. In a mysterious sign the evangelist points to the new home of the beloved disciple (where John took Mary as his mother, and she took John as her son) as the place where this has happened, the household from which the church’s authentic identity has its origin.”
Martin L Smith SSJE

On Mothering Sunday the Gospel of John takes us to a reading we might not expect. Surely a reading about flowers and lilies of the field, or kindness and hospitality would be more in keeping…but this passage shows us the depth, the cost, the nature and outworking of motherly love.

The depth is seen in the cross from which Jesus speaks. This is the full extent of the love of God who is mother and father to us all, which sees no cost which cannot be borne for the blessing and redeeming of us his children. As his arms are fully extended upon the cross so is his heart.

The nature of that love is that we are given to each other in reciprocal love, care and service. Indeed Jesus is showing John and Mary and the church, including us, that our relationships are where we work out the Gospel. As Mary and John are given to each other, so we see what church is. People who are there for each other as gift, and in givenness. This we practice and remember in these times of physical isolation.

Today we give thanks particularly for mothers, who have shown us in that special relationship, unconditional love and profound care, selflessness and service, prayer and faith…faith in God and faith in us.

Mothering Sunday reminds us of our mother church. We miss our church buildings and each other but Jesus reveals us to a deeper truth of who we are. The church therefore must return to its true identity in the house of John, where unrelated people become family, brothers and sisters, unified by life giving love, and seeing each other as a gift. Indeed in these days we return with humility and thankfulness to our being one in our common humanity, sharing the human condition however painful, and rejoicing in the humane acts of kindness and service we are witnessing.

(take time to give thanks for those who are helping you, and frontline healthcare workers and service providers)


The Response  – Affirmation of Faith (1 Corinthians 15)

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high.
We believe in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

For the care of mothers Thanks be to God
For their patience when tested Thanks be to God
For their love when tired Thanks be to God
For their hope when despairing Thanks be to God
For their service without limit Thanks be to God

Thank you God for the love of our mothers:
thank you God for their care and concern;
thank you God for the joys they have shared with us;
thank you God for the pains they have borne for us;
thank you God for all that they give us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Peace

May the peace of God that passes all understanding be with us,
those we miss sharing worship with,
those suffering and those on the frontline of care,
and on the whole world.



May God, who gave birth to all creation, bless us:
May God, who became incarnate by an earthly mother, bless us:
May God, who broods as a mother over her children, bless us.
May almighty God bless us, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever.


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