WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
These are strange times for us all. During this time of enforced self isolation we need to care for ourselves, physically, mentally and spiritually. With all churches closed and public worship suspended we need especially to care for our faith at this time and I will be sending you a Sunday worship paper each week as well as for the Great Three Days of Easter to help you. Feel free to contact me at any time by mobile text, e mail or letter if you want spiritual guidance at this time.
WHAT TO DO NOW
Set aside a sacred space at home, a small table, shelf or bench, place candles and cross and a religious picture or icon. This then becomes the focus of your worship -an oratory. Decide on a regular time each Sunday for your worship so it becomes a regular feature. For your worship light the candles -they are the “Light Of Christ”, play CD of religious music or play an instrument and sing your favourite hymns, sit comfortably more so than the church pews ! There is in the anti- chapel of New College Chapel, Oxford, the Jacob Epstein statue of Lazarus. It is such a powerful figure of Lazarus bursting out of the bonds of death, seek it out on the internet.
THE WORSHIP SERVICE
The Lord be with you
The Prayer of the Day – The Collect
We thank you heavenly Father, that you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son: we pray that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his presence abiding in us he may raise us to joys eternal; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
The Psalm: Psalm 130
The Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 37 vs 1-14
The New Testament Reading: Romans 8 vs 6-11
The Gospel Reading: John 11 vs 1-45
This must be the ultimate miracle of Jesus, the raising from the dead of Lazarus. Martha, Mary and Lazarus the family at Bethany were special friends of Jesus, and he stayed with them when in Jerusalem so the death of his friend Lazarus was felt deeply by Jesus, St John tells us that Jesus wept at the news of his death. When Jesus arrived at Bethany the sisters in their grief pleaded with Jesus that if he had been there then Lazarus would not have died. At this Jesus questions them as to their own belief in the resurrection and proclaims that ‘he is the resurrection and the life’. Martha and Mary pledge their belief in the resurrection and so Jesus asks to see Lazarus in the tomb. In a loud voice Jesus calls out ‘Lazarus come out !’ and Lazarus appears and is restored to life.
We will soon begin Holy Week, next Sunday is Palm Sunday when we celebrate Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but the celebrations soon turn to pain and sorrow. The raising of Lazarus from the dead is a prelude to the events of holy week, death of Jesus on Good Friday and the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Day. The question posed to the Bethany sisters Martha and Mary ‘Do you believe this?’ is the same question posed to us all. We proclaim with Martha ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world. Amen
A TIME OF REFLECTION ON THE READINGS AND HOMILY
The Prayers followed by the Lord’s Prayer
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen