Sunday Before Lent

Worshipping Together – Last Sunday before Lent

Dear All,

Welcome once more to our ‘kitchen table communion service’. It is a joy still to be able to share with you in this, even though we are still parted, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite the obvious need for lock down and our matching decision to keep each other safe by staying apart for now, so many of you have already received your vaccinations and the wonderful work of so many scientists and medics means that during the next few months more and more people will be safe.

Today is the last Sunday before Lent (hard to believe as that may be) and, as we prepare for that extended time of penitent pondering and preparation, today we remind ourselves of the transformative power of the God we worship

So until next time, be it in a church building or on the pages of this website

Keep separate, keep safe, keep hoping, keep smiling (even behind your mask) and keep faith for we are never separated from the love of God or from the prayers of each other.

Mary Tucker

A ‘Kitchen Table Communion’ to say at home (adapted from the worship of the Iona Community)

Gathering Prayer

Creator of the cosmos,
Of eternity and time:
Be with us in this time.
Saviour of the world,
Healer of the nations:
Be with us in this place.
Breath of all that lives,
Of people near and far:
Stir within our lives.
Creator, Son, Spirit
God of here and now:
Be present in our worship
That we may find new ways
Of being present in your world.

(Hymn/Song – Sing something you enjoy!!)

Bible Readings

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

This is the Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Mark 9:2-9

The Transfiguration

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.  His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.  And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

This is the Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Some Thoughts on the Readings

Veils and shining faces.

It sounds like a description of a wedding. And it’s true, at all the best marriage celebrations there is something shining, something that gets past the nerves and trembling, the tears and the emotion, in the eyes of those who are pledging themselves to one another. Something shines out

It’s said about smiles too. You can tell if a smile is real, genuine. It’s not about the grin, it’s something that shines, yes that really shines. It’s something in the eyes that tells you it is real. And that’s why it works even from behind a mask!

They say it also about women who are expecting a baby. Pregnancy, we are told, has a real glow, something of the joy that the mother to be is feeling shines out.

Both of the readings set for this morning are about shining faces, glowing countenances. Both also have something about veils, something that, for better or worse, shields us or others from the shining. Or perhaps something that gets in the way, blocks the glow.

In the Gospel reading the chosen disciples accompany Jesus who has taken them up the mountain to pray. Both the disciples and Jesus hear God’s words, hear confirmation, God’s words of affirmation that he is God’s Son, that his words are words to which all people should listen.

And Jesus is transformed by this encounter with the Living God. He actually glows. His glory shines out.

The disciples, huddled on the mountainside near Jerusalem are fearful, awestruck. The cloud rescues them, veils their sight that they may not be overwhelmed by the might and glory of close contact with God. But in some ways their sight was already veiled, veiled by their fear, their lack of faith and trust, their misunderstanding, as so often is ours.

So Paul, writing to the Christians of Corinth, and of course to us, draws the comparison with this encounter and our reactions to it. Of course we are awestruck and sometimes a little fearful of our Almighty God and Father, and so we should be if we come into his presence too easily, thoughtlessly and without due reverence, as a little prayer for use before Bible Reading puts it. And yet too often, I think, like the disciples, we veil our own sight from the ultimate power and overwhelming love that is God’s through inappropriate fear, lack of faith and trust or misunderstanding.

Awesome is an overused word but in this context it is absolutely the right one. So Paul tells us our minds are to be open to this glory not hardened like those separated from God through sin and fear. We are the unveiled ones who can and do (sometimes) reflect the light of Jesus, not through any might or merit of our own but because the veil, the need to be separated from God because of our sin, was destroyed, was torn from top to bottom like the curtain in the temple as Jesus fulfilled his destiny for us at Calvary.

Instead of a veil, Paul goes on later to compare us to the disciples who did not remain fearful and untrusting. We too can be transformed like them, he tells us, transfigured by the flames of Pentecost, by Jesus’ Spirit mirrored in us and changing us ‘from glory to glory’, as we are transformed by his love and power into the shining ones we were always intended to be.

And we have a responsibility, a responsibility to shine. We may not glow like a light bulb or fluoresce like a high viz. jacket, but it is expected of us, it is part of the ministry of those of us whose sight of God is no longer veiled, of those of us who call ourselves Christians to shine forth in the world.

Our behaviour, our talk, our faces and, yes, even our masked smiles should show forth the glory of the God we serve. And it is not too much to ask because in prayer and in partnership with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are being transformed from glory to glory in his power.

I am fond of saying that though I can see that God is making some progress in his slow transformation of me into the image of the one I will one day be, I have,as yet, only made it from glory to gl . . . ! But that is no excuse. We must not lose heart or think ourselves unworthy of the ministry each of us is given. In the power of God and of Jesus our Saviour we will go forth from here today and those we meet in the coming week, mask to mask, on the phone or via the wonders of technology, may not be dazzled but should at least be aware of the light of God’s love glowing through all we are and say and do.

So go forth in the peace of Christ, to love and serve and to shine for the Lord.

Prayers

We continue our prayers now as we pray to the Lord for courage as we walk, together but apart, along the road of life.

In this difficult time, give your Church the courage to give up her preoccupation with herself and to give time to your mission in the world.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus bring forgiveness to your people and help us to face the cost of proclaiming salvation as we work together and apart in your damaged world.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give your world the courage to give up war, bitterness and hatred, and to seek peace and healing for each other.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the shoulders of the risen Jesus, once scourged by soldiers, bear the burden of our times.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up quarrels, strife and jealousy in our families, neighbourhoods and communities.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the presence of the risen Jesus, his body once broken and now made whole, bring peace and direction as we live with one another. Give us the courage to give up our selfishness as we live for others, and to give time, care and comfort to the sick and those who care for them in ways that are safe for them and for us.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

May the wounded hands of Jesus bring his healing touch to all who suffer, and the light of his presence fill their hearts and homes.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up our fear of death and to rejoice with those who have died in faith. May the feet of the risen Lord Jesus, once nailed to the cross, walk alongside the dying and bereaved in their agony, and walk with us and all your Church through death to the gate of glory.

Lord, help us to recognise you in our lives, give us strength and hear our prayer, here and in eternity. Amen.

We pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

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

A Home Communion

(use some bread or a plain biscuit, some wine or juice)

What we do here in our own homes today, we do in imitation of what Christ first did.

To his followers in every age, Jesus gave an example and command rooted in the experience he shared with his disciples in an upstairs room in Jerusalem.

So now we do as Jesus did.

We take this food and drink, the produce of the earth and fruit of human labour.

In these, Jesus has promised to be present, through these, Christ can make us whole.

Eucharistic Prayer

The Lord is with us,

And with all those with whom we worship, together but apart.

We lift our hearts together.

We lift them to the Lord.

We give thanks together to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right, for you made us,

and before us, you made the world we inhabit,

and before the world, you made the eternal home

in which, through Christ, we have a place.

And so we gladly join our voices to the song of the Church,

to those from whom we are separated

on earth and in heaven:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

And now,

lest we believe that our praise alone fulfils your purpose,

we fall silent

and remember him who came because words were not enough.

Setting our wisdom, our will, our words aside,

emptying our hearts and bringing nothing in our hands,

we yearn for the healing, the holding, the accepting, the forgiving

which Christ alone can offer.

(we pause quietly for a moment)

Merciful God, send now, in your kindness

your Holy Spirit on this food and drink

and fill them with the fullness of Jesus.

And let that same Spirit rest on us,

converting us from the patterns of this passing world,

until we conform to the shape of him whose food we share.

Amen.

Sharing God’s Gifts

Among friends, gathered round a table,

Jesus took bread and broke it, and said,

‘This is my body, broken for you.’

Later he took a cup of wine and said,

‘This is the new relationship with God

made possible because of my death.

Take it, all of you, to remember me.’

He whom the universe could not contain is present to us in this food.

He who redeemed us and called us by name now meets us in this cup.

So we take this food and drink.

In them God comes to us so that we may come to God.

(Eat, drink, share the food and drink you have prepared and prayed over)

The Peace

(We bring to mind all those with whom we would usually share this moment,

holding them on our hearts.)

Christ who has nourished us is our peace,

strangers and friends, male and female, old and young, near and far away,

Jesus has broken down the barriers to bind us to him and to each other.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

(and also with you)

Concluding prayer

In gratitude, in deep gratitude for this moment, this meal, we give ourselves to you. Take us out to live as changed people because we have shared the living Bread and cannot remain the same.

Ask much of us, expect much of us, enable much by us, encourage many through us.

May God’s goodness be ours.
May each of us be an oasis in the desert.
May each of us be a star in the dark.
May each of us be a staff to the weak.
May the love Christ Jesus gave fill every heart for us.
May the love Christ Jesus gave fill us for every heart.
May God’s blessing be ours.

Amen