Hope banner

Below is a short morning service that we can do together, but in our own homes.  The time would be to start at 10:30 am and follow this through together at the same time, for as long as it takes for you to do it.  
Know that God is with us all as we worship Him in our separate homes..

Obviously the service will look and feel slightly different from normal but in engaging in new things we grow, learn and see God at work in our lives.

Preparing our hearts for worship

Father God, it is time again to gather with your people to worship you.  We may be scattered in location, but we are united in our heart to worship you.  We are one body come together in one spirit. Help me to prepare to worship you authentically Lord, open my heart to you.

Wherever we have distanced ourselves from you through my thoughts, actions and words, forgive and cleanse us though the shed blood of Jesus, your Son.

Wherever we have distanced ourselves from you through spiritual sleepiness and prayerlessness, nudge us, even shake us, to wake us up to the splendour and majesty of who you are. Forbid that we would do anything less than worship you in spirit and in truth this Sunday morning.

Help us to remember that in coming before you, we are coming before the great King – the Creator of the universe; the one who appeared to the people of Israel at Sinai  – and the mountain shook; the one who revealed himself in visions to Isaiah and John, and they fell on their faces, trembling at your indescribable glory; the one of whom the glorious creatures around your throne never cease to cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

And as if all this wasn’t enough to inspire us to give you my praise, you are the one who sent his one and only Son to become one of us, die for us, overcome sin and the grave for us, and give us new hearts that we might be restored in your image. Now Lord… our hearts’ are more ready to worship now. Amen.

Song: Happy Day (The greatest day in history)

YouTube - https://youtu.be/vlWPGWfIvwU?t=5

Spotify - https://open.spotify.com/track/64Rh1ieV4gEoMMgsGvWUWH?si=CjR8OHAwTAKtDiV_0YUe_w

First Reading

Psalm 62:1-2 & 5-8: Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Song: Bless the Lord oh my soul (10,000 reasons)

YouTube - https://youtu.be/XtwIT8JjddM?t=38

Spotify - https://open.spotify.com/track/2MobJagQB0dGJoRqI8OT0m?si=vhOgT4UrSsST5QyUoBG4FA

Second Reading

John 12:1-3: Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Reflection

(listen or read this reflection and note down how it made you feel, if you want to share your thoughts email them to me, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,  and I can share them with the wider church if you wish)

So, today we are going to continue our thinking around ‘Sensing the Gospel’… how God Jesus encountered the everyday physical world in specific moments of his life and how those moments can sow us the gospel message in new ways.  Not all of Jesus life was recorded in the gospels so what is recorded sits there as a message to us now, in our lives today… so what does out passage for today tell us? what is it asking of us? What is it requiring of us? 

The first thing that struck me was that Jesus had returned to the place performed on of his biggest miracles, to a place called Bethany, to a household that was profoundly indebted to Jesus… it was the household where Lazarus lived, a man whom Jesus had raised from the dead…. And this made me think about how Jesus returns to a place filled with people he loves.  Jesus is not a one hit wonder, ‘here’s the miracle, your now on your own’.  No, He is a savour that revisits those He loves, He comes back to see how they were doing, He makes time for them.. because they are important to Him, it is about building and maintaining community as believers.   

This is part of the Gospel message, that we are to stay with those for whom the miracle of new life has come.  We may not literally see people raised from the dead, but we do see them spiritually raised from the dead.  Paul reminds us of these words in Colossians 2:3 when he says “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[a] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins”. Although we can’t be together physically we can and should stay connected to other means, what ever they may be.  We should value our friends and brothers in sisters in Christ as Jesus did.

Another part of the gospel message is found in the text when it says, “The meal was given in Jesus honour”.  To be a follower of Jesus is to place him first, above all things, and this family, knowing what Jesus did for him, honoured him with a meal.  You see, in those days, food was very precious, not nearly as readily available as it normally is for us, and it would have been more expensive too.  Yet this household puts on a meal in Jesus honour, He was the head guest, it was about and for Him.  Not only would Jesus have been there, but some of his disciples to, and some friends of the household too.  You didn’t invite a special guest and keep them to yourselves… this was a big deal indeed.

Given all the food shortages we are experiencing at the moment I wonder if we can now better appreciate how much sacrifice was involved in the meal?  How would we respond now if Jesus said “I’m popping over to your house with a few of the lads, and I’ve invited quite a few of your friends too, can you please feed us all.”  Now that certain foods (and toilet roll apparently) have become more scare we value them more, so to share them in this was is a big ask.  But this is what this household did, they shared, they gave away precious resources because they were honouring Jesus.  So how do we honour Jesus each day?  For part of the Gospel message is about honouring him with our whole lives, not just the bits we think we can afford to share.  Would we make that meal for Him?

But what, you may ask, has this got to do with the physicality of the seeing God move in our world?  Because what happens next is based on the honour that someone felt toward Jesus, and that honour made them do something extravagant, something very, very extravagant.   In the midst of all the people that were gathered, as the meal was being eaten, in full view of all the guests Mary, the sister of Martha, “took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.”

Firstly, this act is very physical in its nature, but it isn’t Jesus that does it.  However, it is because He is there that it happens… and I want us to think about this for a second.  Does having Jesus in our lives, in our presence, make us do extravagant things that other people see?  I know we are told to pray in secret but that’s not what I’m talking about here.  Does Jesus being near us make us react in the way Mary did?  What Mary did spoke of how she viewed Jesus and others saw this, it would have forced a reaction from them.  You see, Nard was so expensive the act of pouring a pint of it onto someone’s feet would have made everyone in the room stop.  You just didn’t do that.

We don’t know what the reaction was as we aren’t told, but this act would leave no-one in any doubt how Mary viewed Jesus… her devotion and love for Jesus is clear, this act makes a statement.  And should anyone ask why she did what Mary would respond “Because of Jesus and what he did for me” (bringing Lazarus back to life).  Are we living lives that, because of Jesus, make others ask questions of us?

Secondly, there would have been the smell.  Not only would the guests have seen the act, they would have smelled the act too.  The heady scent of perfume would have lingered in the air for days, it would have been on everyone’s clothes, it would have permeated every part of the house and moved into the street and garden outside.  Even those not present for the event would have been aware something had happened even if they didn’t know what it was.  And that made think about how the good news that Jesus brings is supposed to get into every part of our lives, and to also permeate into others lives even when they don’t know the source.  Are we like Mary, so devoted to Jesus that we just don’t care who knows, who sees?  Are we like Mary, so devoted to Jesus that it shapes our actions, and that they have consequences felt by others long after what we have done is finished?

Lastly, I was reminded by this passage that Mary’s devotion was an individual act.  A physical song of praise to the one who gave life.  It wasn’t a distant wave, it was a personal connection… to use her hair to mop up some of the perfume she poured on Jesus would also mean she would carry some of the scent on her too, for days and days.  And this is also part of the Gospel message, that to know Jesus is to take on some of his character, just as Mary carries the scent she poured on Him.  For those in the room that day, that smell will forever remind them of Jesus.

Song – Faithful one so unchanging

YouTube - https://youtu.be/Uxviwvjyg1w?t=20

Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/track/7wksFSEBT0fEnoUzClq1DT?si=M_xBwYDWRFW3l0Vov7Y-2g

The Lord’s Prayer

(both contemporary and traditional versions- use which ever you find the best

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

(contemporary version)

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.

(or)

(traditional version) 

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,

the power, and the glory

for ever and ever.

Amen.

Prayers of intercession (praying for others)

Heavenly Father, we come before you today and start with our hands and heads lifted high.  Although times are hard we know that you are God eternal, you are God on high, you are God the rock of our salvation and we praise and worthily magnify your Holy name.  We thank you Jesus who did for our sins, that we can be here on this Sunday giving again our hearts to you.  Thank you God for all that you are, all that you have done, all that you are going to do.

Lord God, at this time of unprecedented change we lift up to you all those who have lost loved ones to the COVID 19, we place their grief into your hands, their questions, anger, despair and hurt before your throne and we ask that you would hear their cries.  Holy Spirit being your compassion to their lives and our hearts.  The loss is compounded because they cannot visit the loved one who has passed, their can be no final goodbye, not even at the graveside.  Lord hear these prayers and answer in your mercy we pray.

Lord God we lift to you today those who are fearful of losing their jobs, or who have lost their jobs, because of this epidemic.  We lift them to you as they begin to worry about the financial implications, as the strains on families begin to form, and we ask for your intervention at this time.  May we be aware of those around us that might be in this situation and understand how we can help.  We are your church, your people, guide us in your ways to speak to a hurting community.  Lord hear these prayers and answer in your mercy we pray.

Lord God we place into your hands those are seeking to find a cure.  COVID 19 has been, and will continue to be, a borderless affliction having no respect country boundary, mountain range or ocean.  But just as this illness is not limited by geography neither is the effort to find a cure.  Scientists from across the globe are working together to bring relief and hope to millions.  We know it will take time, but Lord, guide and aid them in their work.  Lord hear these prayers and answer in your mercy we pray.

Lord God, we pray that we, as people , will heed the requests of government to be follow the advice of the health officials in our country.  Never has the phrase ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ been more thought provoking… to wash our hands, to use disposable tissues, to cough and sneeze into our elbows, to self-distance and self-isolate as required.  Lord we know these are tough asks, there are difficult to adhere to, to voluntarily give up our freedoms of movement.. but lord help us to do this.  Lord hear these prayers and answer in your mercy we pray.

Lord God we pray that our communities will come together in this crisis following the fracturing of the past few year political turmoil.  The last few years have seen communities pulled apart by political difference and indifference but now at this time of national crisis we seek your hand in healing of our nation, spiritually, emotionally, physically.  Lord hear these prayers and answer in your mercy we pray.

Lord God, again we lift the front-line workers to you.  Those that put themselves in harms way to keep our communities functioning.  You Lord know who these people are, and we give our thanks to you for them.  Selfless individuals serving others before themselves.  What a model they are, echoes of your way of life even if they don’t know you.  Lord keep them safe.  Lord hear these prayers and answer in your mercy we pray.

Lord God we lift our local leaders and councils to you as they work to keep our communities going.  This is such a pressured moment for them, limited resources, limited people, limited time.  And yet they are doing all they can to see us safe from harm.  Lord guide their thoughts and their plans.  Lord hear these prayers and answer in your mercy we pray.

Lord God we place the leaders in our churches before you as they minister to and look after the people you have placed under their care.  Be with them as they minister not only to the fellowships they help lead but also as they meet with those in the community. We also lift to you all the chaplains based in the health service at the moment.  Their ministry is more important than ever now in the hospitals, hospices, care homes helping those who lose loved ones through such difficult days.  Lord hear these prayers and answer in your mercy we pray.

Please also bring any items of prayer before God that are on your heart.

Please remember If you need prayer for anything at all please send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Song: Before the throne of God above -

YouTube - https://youtu.be/LULK2nZ6sCc?t=10

Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/track/0Dq5cqQY0EKfO88LpKXGjU?si=JIojjjV2TkSllZv4s87yZw

Grace

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.