"To create places of belonging where people discover Jesus and are equipped to follow him"

Sunday 21st March 2021

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God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.

Almighty God, who did not spare his own son, but delivered him up for us all, in humility and penitence we draw near to the throne of grace to offer up our worship and praise. As today we remember the passion and sufferings of Jesus, we pray that we may be granted the gift of true faith that we may rejoice in the great salvation Christ has won for us. Accept the worship and praise we offer this day, for his sake.

O God, most holy and merciful, hear our humble confession. We have wandered far from the paths of righteousness for we have been unfaithful. Failing you in faith, in hope and in love, we are unworthy to come near to you. By our blindness to the truth, our lack of love for others and our failure to trust in your gracious promises we have given hurt to you. We recognise that our only hope is in your mercy. Thankfully, you are a God who hates nothing he has made and are ever ready to forgive the truly penitent take from us all our sins and grant us the forgiveness we seek.

O Lord our God, whose blessed Son did suffer for all mankind, help us to observe this holy season in faith that we might come to know thee better, to love thee more and to serve thee with more perfect wills, through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever. Amen

The readings

Isaiah 53:1-12

St Matthew 12:14-21

A thought for today

 This is Passion Sunday. Today we remember that Jesus had to struggle to accept his God given destiny. The events we recall show that though he was the Son of God he was also fully human, and it is human to fear an ordeal confronting us.

The Gospels make it clear that Jesus knew that as long as he remained in Galilee he was safe. There he had complete support from the following crowds. Any move against him by the Jewish authorities would spark a riot, something that would bring the Romans out in force. That the Pharisees had to avoid at all costs. Yet Jesus also knew that he had to go to Jerusalem, even though he was effectively going into the lion’s den. He had to go for two reasons. It was Passover Season and everyone was expected to celebrate the festival in Jerusalem. Then as he had been telling the disciples he had to suffer and die so that he could rise again on the third day.

At the beginning of Lent we looked at the Temptations and saw that at the end the devil left Jesus and the angels ministered to him. That episode was over but temptation still lay in the way for Jesus. We see this now as he comes to Jerusalem. The crowds are out in force to welcome him with their hosannas and palm branches. It seems that even here in Jerusalem the power of the crowd renders the Pharisees impotent.

Unfortunately, things change during the week that followed. As the crowds begin to realise that Jesus is not the kind of Messiah they sought, gradually they turn against him. By the Thursday things are looking bleak. After the Last Supper Jesus takes some of the disciples with him to the Garden of Gethsemane. While he prays, they fall asleep. Jesus is all alone. What does he do? It would be perfectly possible to slip away in the dark and return to Galilee where he would be safe for a time at least. Yet was that what God intended? Once more he prays, “your will, not mine be done”.

That is a truly great prayer and one that we should perhaps be taking seriously. There are many times of uncertainty in life when we find ourselves at a crossroad uncertain which way to go. To seek God’s guidance at such times is surely the best thing to do. It took great courage for Jesus to accept his Father’s will. With his example and our faith in him it is much easier for us now.

A closing prayer

Almighty and merciful God, we lift up our hearts to you with thanksgiving, acknowledging your love toward us, in that for us Jesus went to the cross to destroy the power of death and open the kingdom of Heaven to all who believe. For our creation, preservation and redemption; for the peace and joy of forgiveness we give thanks. We bless you that Christ came to do your will here on earth, to finish the work given to him to do, even though that meant suffering and affliction, even to the pain of dying on the cross, that we might be saved from our sins and know the joy of your redeeming love.

 Remember for good dear Father the church here on earth and establish her in the ways of righteousness, truth and obedience to your holy will. Bless your people everywhere and accept the devotion of their hearts and the labour of their hands.

O Lord Jesus Christ who is the great physician, the healer of nations and people, the restorer of things and lives that have been damaged, even destroyed, graciously complete the work of your healing hand. Draw all your children together in love to bring true peace and fellowship to the earth. Restore to fullness of health the sick and the suffering. Bring peace of mind to the troubled and anxious. End all conflict and teach the nations to resolve their differences by peaceful diplomacy.

God bless our country and people. Guide us through the difficult times in which we live. Let the decisions that are to be made for the way ahead be carefully considered.

We pray for our children and young folk who have missed so much of their education in recent weeks. Give strength and wisdom to all who have care of them and to all called to teach that they may come to know God and to learn his ways of love and care and concern for others.

These our prayers we offer in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for evermore.

The Blessing

 Grace, mercy and peace from God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with us now and always.

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