Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Paul Blackheath

A short service for Sunday 29th March 2020

May grace, mercy and peace be with us all.

Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent, the beginning of Passiontide.  We are two weeks away from Easter.

Our bible reading is John 11.1-45 

Jesus brings Lazarus back to life.

Lazarus lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. One day, Lazarus became ill. Although Jesus was their good friend, and he received a message to say that Lazarus was very ill, he delayed visiting, and stayed where he was. The last time he had been to Judea, people had tried to stone him!

After two days, Jesus said, ‘Lazarus has fallen asleep. I’m going to wake him.’ His disciples were confused. ‘Why go to such a dangerous place just to wake him up? He’ll wake up without you.’ So Jesus spelt it out. ‘Lazarus is dead. I didn’t go when he was ill, because through him, many will see God’s glory.’ Hearing this, Thomas said to the others, ‘Let’s follow him. If he’s going to be stoned, we should die with him.’

Lazarus’ sister Martha came out to meet Jesus. She said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ Jesus said, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ ‘I know,’ answered Martha, ‘at the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live and never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ said Martha, ‘I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’

Then Martha’s sister Mary ran out to meet Jesus. She knelt at his feet crying, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ Jesus wept with Mary. He asked, ‘Where is his tomb?’ A crowd of mourners followed Jesus to the cave where Lazarus’ body had been laid. Lazarus had been dead for four days, but Jesus asked for the stone to be rolled away.

Jesus prayed aloud, so the crowd would hear him and know that God had sent him. Then he shouted into the cave, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ Incredibly, Lazarus walked out of the tomb, wrapped in burial cloths.

Jesus said, ‘Unwrap him and let him go.’ And many people who saw this believed in Jesus.

Some questions to reflect upon.

What is your first impression upon reading this passage?

Read the passage a second time, and notice a word or phrase that stands out for you.

Read the passage a third time, and allow the word or phrase that you noticed to speak to you.

What is God saying to you through this word or phrase?

Talk to God and pray about the significance of these words.

Our prayers

We pray for all who weep today:
for those who grieve and mourn for the loss of loved ones – husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, friends…

Lord, weep with us and bring fresh hope.

We pray for those who care for people at the end of their earthly lives: chaplains, hospice workers, nurses, doctors, carers, pastors, undertakers…
Give them strength, courage, empathy and love as they walk with those who weep.

Lord, weep with us and bring fresh hope.

We pray for broken relationships where there seems to be no hope;
for families destroyed by death, poverty, war, violence, or abuse;
for those who feel let down by society;
and for those who feel let down by you –
may all know your presence in those dark times.
As they wait on you, comfort them, Lord, we pray.

Lord, weep with us and bring fresh hope.


A Poem prayer

Read this poem written by RS Thomas as a prayer that can help us to reflect and be still in God's presence.

But the silence in the mind

is when we live best, within

listening distance of the silence

we call God. This is the deep

calling to deep

of the psalm

writer, the bottomless ocean.

We launch the armada of

our thoughts on, never arriving.

It is a presence, then,

whose margins are our margins;

that calls us out over our

own fathoms. What to do

but draw a little nearer to

such ubiquity by remaining still

God of hope,
heal us and restore us,
that we may know the power of your love at work in our lives,
today and everyday.

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