Fifth Sunday in Lent 2020 (290320)

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Welcome

 

Preparation

O Lord, open our lips

All   and our mouth shall proclaim your praise

 

The Benedicite – a Song of Creation

1    Bless the Lord all you works of the Lord:  ♦

sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

2    Bless the Lord you heavens:  

sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

3    Bless the Lord you angels of the Lord:  ♦

sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

4    Bless the Lord all people on earth:  

sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

The Song of the Three 35-37, 60-65

All   Bless the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:  ♦

sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

 

This opening prayer may be said

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;

let us pray with one heart and mind.

Silence is kept.

As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,

so may the light of your presence, O God,

set our hearts on fire with love for you;

now and for ever.

All   Amen.

 

The Word of God

The Old Testament reading may be followed by a time of silence.

 

Psalm 61

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to you,
    when my heart is faint.

Lead me to the rock
    that is higher than I;
for you are my refuge,
    a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me abide in your tent forever,
    find refuge under the shelter of your wings. 

For you, O God, have heard my vows;
    you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Prolong the life of the king;
    may his years endure to all generations!
May he be enthroned forever before God;
    appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!

So I will always sing praises to your name,
    as I pay my vows day after day.

Glory to the Father, 

and to the Son, 

and to the Holy Spirit, 

As it was in the beginning, is now, 

and ever shall be, world without end. 

Amen

 

Reflection

 

The coronavirus is rapidly changing the way we live.  On Monday evening at 8.30pm the Prime Minister announced strict new rules to keep the nation locked down and help NHS cope with the inevitable influx of people needing medical treatment.  Next day the Archbishop of Canterbury issued new instructions that all our church buildings must locked up and not even members of the clergy are allowed to enter the buildings until further notice.  The Church of England is trying to set a good example to our local communities about how we must behave.

 

Clearly, England’s green and pleasant land is becoming quite a scary place where an unseen and potentially deadly enemy is out to get us.  Well as you’ve heard from the Bible reading a few moments ago this is exactly the sort of situation that King David was writing about 900 years before the birth of Christ except his enemies were real people like Saul and Absalom.  Psalm 61 is David’s prayerful cry seeking the security and assurance that only God can provide.

 

Here again the first few verses:

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to you,
    when my heart is faint.

Lead me to the rock
    that is higher than I;
for you are my refuge,
    a strong tower against the enemy.

 

In today’s jargon David was feeling “out of his comfort zone”. Perhaps he was among unknown people and surroundings like those who are testing positive for the virus and are taken into hospital for treatment?  These feelings of vulnerability can even happen to those of us who are self-isolating.   One minute we can feel to be on holiday but the next we can feel like actors in some kind of Hollywood horror film!  In these circumstances David’s heart-felt plea offers encouragement. David knows God well enough to be honest about his fears and he freely admits that his “heart is faint.”  In the same way, we too can ask for God to lead us.  At first David was asking for the security of a mountaintop where he could see all around but then he realises that God himself is a “refuge and a strong tower against the enemy.”  

 

I’m reminded of a beautiful gorge in the Mendip Hills called Burrington Combe.  Here there’s a cleft in the rock where in 1763 the Revd Augustus Toplady found shelter during a dark storm.  Afterwards he was inspired to write a hymn which soon became very popular: “Rock of Ages Cleft for Me”.  In these days when we are becoming short of things to do you might like to read the words of this hymn which can be easily found on the internet. 

Amen

 

Prayers

 

A prayer for Lent

Holy God

Our lives are laid open before you:

Rescue us from the chaos of sin 

And through the death of your Son

Bring us healing and make us whole 

In Jesus Christ our Lord

Amen

 

For those who are worried

Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to care for the sick, 
and to assure the isolated 
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.

Amen

 

A prayer of confidence in God

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage. 

We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours. 

We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.

We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs 

For as long as it takes wherever you call us. 

Amen

 

The Lord’s Prayer 

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name,

Thy Kingdom come,

Thy will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven, 

Give us this day our daily bread,

And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us,

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil,

For thine is the kingdom,

And the power, and the glory,

For ever and ever,

Amen


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