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Maundy Thursday Devotion.

The Watch:

Heavenly Father as we prepare to watch with your disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, may our hearts and minds be opened to the sharing of your love made manifest to us in Jesus. We pray that as we watch this night that we may be fully prepared to face the day of desolation and as our Lord dies that we may give thanks that through his death we are given life.

The Anointing:

(Please place a little Olive Oil in a basin to anoint your hands.)

We give you thanks, Creator of the universe,
That you loved us enough to come in human flesh and live among us.
Thank you for the lives you touched and healed throughout the ages,
For the teachings you gave to your followers.
Come to us now, in this time of remembrance and of hope,
That we might learn from you and be touched by you.
Bless us as we seek to carry your love into the world.
May this oil mark us as your children and strengthen us to do your will,
Following the example of Christ.
We ask this in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

(Please anoint your hands with a little oil then follow with a period of silence)

Reading from Matthew 26:17-25

(Followed by a period of silence)

The Litany for Maundy Thursday:

Were you there when the lure of silver turned the heart of Judas from the love of his Saviour? 

No, but our own loyalty to Christ has often fallen victim to our love of money.

Were you there when Peter rebuked Jesus for stooping to wash the disciples’ feet?

No, but our own understanding of Christ has often suffered from our concern for position.

Were you there when Jesus told Peter that the apostle would deny him three times in one day?

No, but our own commitment to Christ has often been second to our commitment to ourselves.

Were you there when Jesus told his disciples that all people would know them by their love for one another?

No, but our own love for one another has often been compromised by our lack of humility.

O merciful Lord grant that as we who have been fed by the Sacrament of your love that we may walk in newness of life and grow into the likeness of Christ.

Meditation: The Lamb slain in sacrifice rescued us from death to life:

The lamb that was slain has delivered us from death and given us life.

There was much proclaimed by the prophets about the mystery of the Passover: that mystery is Christ, and to him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

For the sake of suffering humanity he came down from heaven to earth, clothed himself in that humanity in the virgin’s womb, and was born a man. Having then a body capable of suffering, he took the pain of fallen man upon himself; he triumphed over the diseases of soul and body that were its cause, and by his Spirit, which was incapable of dying, he dealt man’s destroyer, death, a fatal blow.

He was led forth like a lamb, he was slaughtered like a sheep. He ransomed us from our servitude to the world, as he had ransomed Israel from the land of Egypt; he freed us from our slavery to the devil, as he had freed Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. He sealed our souls with his own Spirit, and the members of our body with his own blood.

He is the one who covered death with shame and cast the devil into mourning, as Moses cast Pharaoh into mourning. He is the one who smote sin and robbed iniquity of offspring. He is the one who brought us out of slavery into freedom, out of darkness into light, out of death into life, out of tyranny into an eternal kingdom; who made us a new priesthood, a people chosen to be his own forever. He is the Passover that is our salvation.

It is he who endured every kind of suffering in all those who foreshadowed him. In Abel he was slain, in Isaac bound, in Jacob exiled, in Joseph sold, in Moses exposed to die. He was sacrificed in the Passover lamb, persecuted in David, dishonored in the prophets.

It is he who was made man of the Virgin, he who was hung on the tree; it is he who was buried in the earth, raised from the dead, and taken up to the heights of heaven. He is the mute lamb, the slain lamb, the lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe. He was seized from the flock, dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night. On the tree no bone of his was broken; in the earth his body knew no decay. He is the one who rose from the dead, and who raised man from the depths of the tomb.

(From an Easter homily by Saint Melito of Sardis, bishop.) 

(Followed by a period of silence)

Reading from Matthew 26: 31-36

(Followed by a period of silence)

Psalm 43:

Give judgement for me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people
Deliver me from the deceitful and the wicked.
For you are the God of my refuge; why have you cast me from you
And why go I so heavily, while the enemy oppresses me?
O send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me,
And bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling,
That I may go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy and gladness;
And on the lyre I will give thanks to you, O God my God.  

Reading from Matthew 26: 36-46

Prayer of Confession and Pardon.

In light of your commandment to love one another as you have loved us,
We see our failures to love, Holy Jesus. We have not remembered or even grasped how much you love us. We have not given that love away, that you might fill us anew. We have neglected each other and argued so much that the world does not see that we are your disciples. Holy God, forgive us, we pray. Free us to know that we are loved, and to love one another. Grant us your Spirit of forgiveness.
By the power and work of the Holy Trinity, we are loved and forgiven.
Thanks be to God.
Amen.

Celtic Evening Prayer in Holy Week

A Celtic Evening Prayer for use daily throughout Holy Week

In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. 
Amen. 
My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning
more than those who watch for the morning.
Out of the depths I have cried to you
O Lord hear my voice.
With my whole heart, I want to praise you.
O Lord, hear my voice.
If you, Lord, should mark iniquities:
Who could stand? Who could stand?

I will wait for the Lord.
My soul waits, and in his word do I hope.   

Hymn:

You are the King of Glory
You are the Prince of Peace
You are the Lord of heav’n and earth
You’re the Son of righteousness
Angels bow down before you
Worship and adore for
You have the words of eternal life
You are Jesus Christ the Lord.
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Hosanna to the King of kings!
Glory in the highest heaven
For Jesus the Messiah reigns.

 Copyright 1978 Springtide/WordMusic (UK) Ltd./CoyCare Ltd.  

Affirmation of faith:

Lord, you have always given bread for the coming day; 
and though I am poor today I believe.

Lord, you have always given strength for the coming day:
And though I am weak, today I believe

Lord, you have always given peace for the coming day;
And though of anxious heart, today I believe.

Lord, you have always kept me safe in trials;
And now, tried as I am, today I believe.

Lord, you have always marked the road for the coming day; 
And though it may be hidden, today I believe.

Lord, you have always lightened this darkness of mine;
And though the night is here, today I believe.

Lord, you have always spoken when time was ripe;
And though you be silent now, today I believe.

Psalm 25

Reading from the Old Testament Lamentations 2: 8-19

Canticle:

In the shadow of your wings I will sing your praises, O Lord
The Lord is my light, my salvation whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the refuge of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
In the shadow of your wings I will sing your praises, O Lord.
One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek; 
to dwell in the presence of my God, to gaze on your holy place.
In the shadow of your wings I will sing your praises, O Lord.
I believe I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
O wait for the Lord! Have courage and wait, wait for the Lord.
In the shadow of your wings I will sing your praises, O Lord. 

Reading from the New Testament Colossians1: 18-23

Intercessions:

We pray to Jesus who is present with us to eternity.

Jesus, light of the world,
Bring the light and peace of your gospel to the nations.
Jesus, Lord of life,
In your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, bread of life,
Give food to the hungry,
And nourish us all with your word.
Jesus, Lord of life,
In your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, our way, our truth, our life,
Be with us and all who follow you in the way.
Deepen our appreciation of your truth
And fill us with your life.
Jesus, Lord of life,
In your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, Good Shepherd who gave your life for the sheep,
Recover the straggler,
Bind up the injured,
Strengthen the sick
And lead the healthy and strong to new pastures.
Jesus, Lord of life,
In your mercy, hear us.
 
Jesus, the resurrection and the life,
We give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you.
Raise us with them to eternal life. 
Jesus, Lord of life,
In your mercy, hear us,
Accept our prayers, and be with us always.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

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 trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us; 
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn:

Abba Father, let me be
Yours and yours alone.
May my will forever be
Evermore your own
Never let my heart grow cold
Never let me go,
Abba Father, let me be
Yours and yours alone.

Copyright 1977 Thankyou Music, P.O. Box 75, Eastbourne BN23 6NW, UK.

‘Gods Graceful Moment’ The Iona Community Worship Book. (Amended.)

Evening opens wide before us
Like a door into the night.
Just beyond, the day lies waiting
Ready to throw off the night,
And we stand upon its threshold
Poised to turn and take its flight.

When we awake, the earth in all its glory
Springs to meet the rising sun,
Warms to all who walk upon it,
Cradling all that will be done,
All our labour, all our loving
Mingle and become as one.

We receive God’s graceful moment,
While the day is fresh and still,
Ours to choose how we will greet it,
Ours to make it what we will.
Here is given perfect freedom,
Every hope in love to fulfil.

As we take the first step together,
From the night into the day,
May the love of Christ the Creator
Give us peace in all that we say,
Heart for all that lies before us,
Grace to guide us through this night
Into the glory of another New Day.

A time of quiet reflection followed by the Hymn: Such Love.

Hymn:

Such love, pure as the whitest snow,
Such love, weeps for the shame I know.
Such love, paying the debt I owe.
O Jesus, such love.

Such love, stilling my restlessness,
Such love, filling my emptiness
Such love, showing my holiness;
O Jesus, such love.

Such love, springs from eternity,
Such love, streaming through history;
Such love, fountain of life to me;
O Jesus, such love.

Copyright 1988 Make Way Music P.O. Box683, Hailsham, East Sussex. BN27 4ZB, UK.

Blessing:

See that ye be at peace among yourselves, my children, and love one another.
Follow the example of good men of old and God will comfort you and help you,
both in this world and in the world to come. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.  

Morning Worship for 28th March 2021

As we begin this act of worship let us remember all those not able to be with us who are joining us in their own homes, we remember that there are many friends who are doing the same and are joining with us in worship. Although we will not be having hymns in church for those of you at home If you have Youtube then please find an appropriate version of the suggested hymns and join in the singing on-line. As you go through this time of worship try to remember this reality; you are in the presence of God who holds us all in His care and keeping.

The Greeting:

Hosanna to the Son of David, the King of Israel.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father 
And the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Collect of the day:

Almighty and everlasting God,
Who in your tender love towards the 
Human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
To take upon him our flesh
And to suffer death upon the cross.
Grant that we may follow the example
Of his patience and humility,
And also be made partakers of his resurrection;
Through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
Who is alive and reigns with you,
In the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Our Declaration of faith

The preaching of the cross is folly to those who are perishing,
but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.
To those who are called, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the folly of God is wiser than human wisdom,
And the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you; because by your holy cross,
You have redeemed the world.

Hymn: All glory laud and honour.

Readings: Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29, Philippians 2: 5-11.

Hymn: Ride on ride on in majesty.

Gospel Reading: Mark 11: 1-11.

Reflection:

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord

The cry which arises as Jesus makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a cry filled with expectation a cry filled with excitement. Jesus approaches fulfilling the words of prophecy, Zechariah when speaking of the coming of the ruler of God’s people proclaims “rejoice greatly o daughter Zion, shout aloud o daughter Jerusalem, lo your king comes to you triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Triumphant and victorious but with humility.

Here we see the complexity of Christ’s entry into the Holy City. The scene is carefully set and prepared, earlier arrangements made for the colt to be available were crucial, this symbolism could not be left to chance or mere convenience, a statement was being made which was so ingrained into the messianic awareness and expectation of the people that it would immediately be recognized by them with an immediate response.

Jesus arrives and the response is made how many were there how many provided the traditional offering of laying down their coats and the palm branches from the fields we do not know but enough clearly to create a disturbance sufficiently strong to attract attention.

This is a key element of the story the attracting of attention, who is this that is approaching, a teacher of the law clearly, a man who knows his scriptures and a man who recognizes the messianic expectation and hopes of the prophets of Israel through the centuries, is this the one of whom they have spoken, is this the one on whom our own hopes for restoration and hope rest, it could be,

He comes as expected, with an entourage, with followers yet he does so not with the pomp and majesty of a king, but in the simple and very moving expression of a peasant on a donkey’s foal.

Here we see greatness and humility expressed clearly together, at times this is very difficult to achieve many have tried but only a few have really managed to hold these two contradictory expressions of humanity together at the same time throughout their lives. Being great whilst being humble is a great gift, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was one Mahatma Ghandi another and there have been others throughout the centuries who have managed to hold together greatness and humility, but none like Jesus. His humility was deep and profound and we see the Son of God who emptied himself taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness and being found in human form humbling himself and becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

So Palm Sunday is a day of rejoicing, Jesus arrives and does so by taking the initiative himself, he sets the scene for all that is to come. He makes himself be noticed, so that as he engages in his Fathers work in driving out corruption, and greed and cleansing the people of God he does so with scriptural power and authority.

As Jesus entered into the city have you ever wondered why the people shouted Hosanna, Hosanna translated simply means Save now!

It is a word which speaks of acceptance, of recognition of spontaneous hope and excitement reaching a climax in which caution is thrown to the wind. Throughout the ministry of Jesus he has been faced over and over again with questions, who are you, on whose authority do you do these things, can you be he or are we to look for another. Always uncertainty always doubt no certainty expressed only caution and yet now the questions have gone, albeit just for a day.

On this holy day people were caught up in the sheer excitement and the unexpected nature of the arrival of Jesus.

This is where the message of Jesus’ triumphal entry really tests us today. Do we still ask questions are we still uncertain? Do we shout Hosanna out of tradition and in and through our set liturgy or do we shout hosanna because we mean it. Are we encouraged to rejoice today only to begin questioning again tomorrow, or are our hosanna’s greater than that.

In knowing Jesus and the power of his resurrection we live our lives in him and through him. As followers of Jesus we should be rejoicing today, we should wave our palms and lay down our personal possessions for others to walk on without any regret or care or concern, for in shouting hosanna we proclaim not save now but rather we use the word as a word of praise and thanksgiving knowing that Jesus has saved us and that we live and move within the power of his saving love for us.

Palm Sunday within the life of the resurrection is a golden opportunity for us to celebrate and give thanks, but we must shout our hosannas with confidence. We should wave our palms and lay down our coats willingly without regard. Today is an opportunity for us to follow the holy week which lies ahead of us not with questions but in the acknowledgement that Jesus was and is the Holy Son of God who willingly rides into our lives and changes them forever. So as we celebrate today let us shout our hosannas with confidence and pride, whilst seeking to be like Jesus, triumphant and victorious and yet with humility.

Amen.

Hymn: Make way, make way.

Prayers for others:

This morning let us pause for prayer for so many people and for so many situations.

Today as we pray with thanksgiving for the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem, we pray for that Holy City and for all Christian pilgrims who gather together to begin their celebration and remembrance of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We pray for all Christian people; that through the suffering of disunity, there may grow a rich union in Christ.

Let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy.

For those who make laws, interpret them, and administer them, that our common life may be ordered in justice and mercy,

Let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy.

For those who still make Jerusalem a battleground, and for those who have the courage and honesty to work openly for justice and peace.

Let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy.

For those in the darkness and agony of isolation, that they may find support and encouragement. For those, who weighed down with hardship, failure, or sorrow, feel that God is far from them.

Let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy.

For those who are tempted to give up the way of the cross, for those struggling through this current pandemic, for those who have died that they may find mercy in the day of Christ.

Let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy.

Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, have mercy upon us.

And so we pray

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn: You are the King of glory.

A Song of the Wilderness:

The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

The wilderness and the dry land shall rejoice, the desert shall blossom and burst into song. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weary hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to the anxious, ‘be strong, fear not, your God is coming with judgement to save you;’ Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; Then shall the lame leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the ransomed of the Lord shall return with singing, with everlasting joy upon their heads. Joy and gladness shall be theirs, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 

The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Blessing:

The Lord bless us, and preserve us from all evil, 
and keep us in eternal life.
May Christ, the Son of God, gladden our hearts 
with the good news of his kingdom.
May God, our Redeemer show us compassion and love. 
And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. 
Amen.

Creational awareness: Lent 2021

My final reflection for this Lent is centred on the glory of the Natural World in which we live. We are all very conscious of the damage that we as human beings are inflicting upon our planet. We have the benefit of living on a perfect planet where everything is inter connected and dependent on each other, however we have seen the natural world as something to be exploited for our own benefit and part of the problem with that general philosophy rests with our lack of Creational awareness.

When we pray there is often an emphasis on doing so either in the privacy of our own homes or publicly within the context of church worship. However these approaches are in themselves not always conducive to Creational awareness. There is something truly liberating in using the activities we indulge in when in the great outdoors which serves to create yet another avenue of grace with the Almighty. We are very fortunate to live here in the Fens completely surrounded by fertile fields here in Lincolnshire, and we are also richly blessed with wide open skies which produce beautiful sunrise and sunsets. Not far away we have the beautiful rolling hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds to enjoy as well as many water ways and dykes which are often filled with an abundance of wildlife.

As you know I enjoy physical activity and love to run and cycle and have had the privilege of doing so in so many different parts of the country. As such I have fully realised the intimacy one can have with God if we open up in prayerful activity whilst out in the great outdoors. On the Isle of Wight I created a cycle route which I did at least three times a week, which went through all of the parishes for which I had responsibility. 26 miles of cycling up and down hills (and there are some whoppers on the Island) was a bit of a challenge, but that 90 minutes of exercise at 6,30am in the morning was a great start to my day with God. Cycling through the villages I prayed for my parishioners and the countryside in between was just filled with God’s creative ability that it often simply took my breath away! Here was God revealing himself in the sheer splendour of his creative ability. Every glimpse of a cloud, a forest, wildlife and fauna opened up the possibility of divine engagement.

Having Creational awareness is a crucial element in our battle against environmental destruction. If we open up in prayer in thanksgiving for all that is around us, and we become more aware of the beauty of God so clearly expressed throughout the natural world, then we will so fall in love with our world that we will do everything we can to preserve it. Of course there are many different places to live on our planet and the environment for some may not be as beautiful as our own, but even in the concrete jungle of some of our inner cities the glory of God in nature can still so clearly be seen, if we are aware of its existence.

Creational awareness is something I have used on numerous occasions when organising retreats. I recall once encouraging a group of church leaders to go out into the meadows surrounding a retreat house in Northumberland and to frolic through them with gay abandon! Rather sceptical at first they soon entered into the spirit of the exercise and realised that through personal abandonment of their inhibitions they were able to connect with nature in a really powerful way. Encouraging young teenagers to be aware of creation whilst out on their activities in the Lake District did however result in a variety of challenges. The exercise each day was for the young people to bring something back with them from the activity they were engaged in and I would craft prayers which included all of the items in the Eucharist at the end of the week. Beautiful flowers, leaves, acorns and pine cones soon began to fill my prayer basket. (Along however with a few dead frogs and other delights collected no doubt to test my creativity in producing suitable prayers!)

But produce them I did and nothing was avoided because even in the darkest aspects of the natural world the glory of God can still be perceived.

So I ask you all to become more aware of what is around you this Lent, give thanks to God for it, and whilst you are in the midst of it always send up a few prayers, for the beauty which is around you needs our help to preserve it, so wrap it in prayer, value and give thanks for it, and through Creational awareness you will help to preserve the world.

Reverend Clive

Morning Worship for 21st March 2021

As we begin this act of worship let us remember all those not able to be with us who are joining us in their own homes, we remember that there are many friends who are doing the same and are joining with us in worship. Although we will not be having hymns in church for those of you at home If you have Youtube then please find an appropriate version of the suggested hymns and join in the singing on-line. As you go through this time of worship try to remember this reality; you are in the presence of God who holds us all in His care and keeping.

The Greeting:

God of vision, we long to see your face and are afraid to see it;

We long to break the grip of suffering and we cannot cast it out.

Uncover our faces and expose us to your glory,

That we may comprehend the poor in their suffering and insight,

And the world may be transfigured in you.

Amen.

Janet Morley, Christian Aid.

Collect of the day:

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 you Son our Lord,
Who is alive and reigns with you,
In the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for eve.
Amen.

Our Declaration of faith

The preaching of the cross is folly to those who are perishing,
but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.
To those who are called, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the folly of God is wiser than human wisdom,
And the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you; because by your holy cross,
You have redeemed the world.

Hymn: Lord for the years.

Readings: Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 5:5-10.

Hymn: Lead us heavenly father lead us.

Gospel Reading: John 12: 20-33.

Reflection:

Jeremiah 31:31

These few verses represent the climax of the entire 52 chapters of the book of the prophet, and for many these few verses represent the pinnacle point of the entire Old Testament,

So significant is this message that it is quoted in full in Hebrews Chapter 8:8-12 and the pinnacle words of the Old Testament are what lie behind the very words of Christ where in Luke 22 we find Jesus speaking of the offering of his own blood at the Lord’s Supper.

So what is so magnificent about these few words what is it that enlightens the soul and refreshes the heart?

Why are these few words the very centre piece of the prophetic knowledge of the Old Testament? Well the answer is rebirth, renewal, and regeneration.

So what has been reborn for Jeremiah? The covenant which speaks powerfully to him is the covenant given to his people at Sinai the moral law of the chosen people of God. Jeremiah does not reject this covenant he accepts it fully the law of God has been given to us there is no need to replace it with anything else, but what is needed is a new way of looking at it this is the new birth of the covenant the opportunity to begin again. Jeremiah offers us a new inward motivation for fulfilling the law; it is not a new law but rather an awakening of the power within us both as a holy people and as holy individuals to respond to the law in a new way a way of the heart.

What does Jeremiah say about the heart of his people?

Throughout his message he speaks of the stubbornness of the evil heart in chapter 3 we read

At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem and they shall no longer stubbornly follow their own evil will

And again in chapter 4 we hear O Jerusalem wash your heart clean of wickedness so that you may be saved

For Jeremiah has recognised the sinfulness of his people he has seen how for generations they have repeatedly sought to respond to God without truly recognising him at all. So many false prophets so much false teaching so many directions and a request for obedience all centred on an understanding of the law as something before them rather than something within them, this is where rebirth becomes renewal

A new way of being the people of God, no wonder he was ridiculed rejected and thrown into a cistern, what a message to deliver it truly is the pinnacle of religious thought, for it says no to the development of the Torah, no to the sacrificial system, no to the Temple and no to the priests and the prophets themselves, it is time to renew our thinking and to think about our response to God in a totally new way, and we are to place our trust not on that which has been, but rather return to the source of that which has been.

Now is the time for a renewal of our place before God the God who cares for his people, and the God who renews his covenant with us by offering us forgiveness. For it is through forgiveness that we begin to draw close to the knowledge of God. The renewal of the covenant is totally dependent on the love of God this is the promise which comes to us this is the covenant which gives us rebirth and renewal and for us the promise is made real in and through the person of Jesus Christ.

Restoration of fellowship with God is the key to this new covenant of the heart a restoration which is made possible through and in the self- giving love of God in Christ

In Luke 22 we read those immortal words this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Here the covenant of the heart of humanity is captured in the last supper the meal of restoration, that which unites us with God in a unique and eternal way. For all the promises of God find their joy in Jesus. It is he who fulfils the covenant he does not reject the old but from the old comes the new we are reborn, renewed and restored before God by Jesus.

What was previously stifled begins suddenly to breathe and we under the new covenant of eternal love take our place before the throne of God for behind every act of forgiveness is love.

Jeremiah recognised the reality of forgiveness, he spoke of the evil heart, he spoke of the stubbornness of our own evil will, and of the weakness and wickedness of our hearts; but he had been given the divine message of restoration. He knew we had within us the capacity to love the capacity to forgive and the capacity to once more draw near to the source of our very being, to draw near once more to the promise of God’s covenant of love.

The covenant of Jeremiah points us to Jesus, it points us to eternal forgiveness to personal acceptance in and through his self- offering for us, for it is through the blood of Christ that we are reborn renewed and restored this is the new covenant of the heart a covenant of love an eternal covenant which through our forgiveness brings into reality the knowledge of the experience of the God of the yearning heart. So as we approach the passion of Christ let us rejoice in it, remembering the promise of the covenant of Jeremiah:

I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another or say to each other ‘know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest says the Lord.

Hymn: Now the green blade riseth.

Prayers for others:

This morning let us pause for prayer for so many people and for so many situations.

As Christ revealed to his Disciples that he would be lifted up from the earth and therefore draw all people to himself. Let us as we draw near to him in prayer reflect on the needs of the world in which we live.

We pray for all who engage in prayerful activity that through the medium of devotion the divine will and purpose for creation will be channelled into those areas where there is the greatest need.

We pray in this season of reflection for all who go hungry in our world, for those with no access to clean drinking water, for those who live in isolated and desolate places where the fruits of their labour bring so little reward to them. 

We pray that the wider world may seek to eradicate poverty and deprivation wherever it raises its head, bringing hope and restoration to your suffering people.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the Church as it seeks to promote your wisdom in the world, and in the words of the prophet Jeremiah, we pray that you will write your law into the hearts of your people, so that every breathe which we take will be for the furtherance of justice, peace, love and the well-being of the nations.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We continue to pray for the world still struggling with the pandemic, we give thanks for the vaccination programme proving to be so effective amidst our own communities, and we pray that vaccine resources will continue to be available for the poorer nations of the world.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Hear us as we pray for all whom we know and love, especially those who are ill, in hospital, in residential care or being cared for within the community. We pray that closer contact may soon be possible for them, so that those who are ill, elderly, frail or confused may soon feel the reassuring touch of their loved ones.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Finally, hear us as we continue to pray for all those who have gone before us and entered in to your glory. We pray for those they have left behind who mourn their loss and we draw comfort from your holy word recalling those words “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

May the fruits of the departed be truly realised by their presence with you in eternity, through which they will rest in total joy and ever lasting peace.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

And so we pray

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn: Go forth and tell.

A Song of the Wilderness:

The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

The wilderness and the dry land shall rejoice, the desert shall blossom and burst into song. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weary hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to the anxious, ‘be strong, fear not, your God is coming with judgement to save you;’ Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; Then shall the lame leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the ransomed of the Lord shall return with singing, with everlasting joy upon their heads. Joy and gladness shall be theirs, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 

The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Blessing:

The Lord bless us, and preserve us from all evil, 
and keep us in eternal life.
May Christ, the Son of God, gladden our hearts 
with the good news of his kingdom.
May God, our Redeemer show us compassion and love. 
And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. 
Amen.