Prayers and Readings for Passion Sunday (5th Sunday of Lent)

29 March 2020

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

Prayer for the day:

Gracious Father, you gave up your Son out of love for the world: lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion, that we may know eternal peace through the shedding of our Saviour's blood, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 37: 1-14

Psalm: Psalm 130

New Testament Reading: Romans 8: 6-11

Gospel Reading: John 11: 1-45

Reflection for Passion Sunday 2020 by The Revd Ian Monks, Curate

As we move forward on our Lenten Pilgrimage from Ash Wednesday towards Easter, we arrive this coming week at Passion Sunday, with the Gospel Reading telling the whole story of Lazarus. For me, this whole subject brings a flood of ideas.

The first, with the death of our handicapped son Robert a couple of weeks ago, is to reflect on the opening words of first prayer in the funeral service:- “God of all consolation, your Son Jesus Christ was moved to tears at the grave of Lazarus his friend.” Tears at the loss of a loved one, is one of those telling indications that Jesus is a very real human being, just like ourselves, someone who really does understand pain and loss. We live now in the most uncertain times I have ever known, so we can draw comfort from the knowledge that Jesus experienced the loss many of us may have to bare.

The second, the word Passion itself. Nowadays the word ‘passion’ or ‘passionate’ is normally used to refer to deep feelings of romantic love, which moves from the initial emotion to find a physical outlet. Loving someone so much, that it actually hurts! So when we think of the passion of Jesus, we remember that he loved us so much that he was willing to die an agonising death for us on the cross. We tend, alas, to remind ourselves of the physical pain, but perhaps find it difficult to grasp the mental anguish of a young man dying in his prime. What were his thoughts? Thinking about that in these difficult days may help us to make the best choices we can during the difficult days which lie ahead.

The third, in the tradition of the orthodox Churches of the East, the Saturday before Palm Sunday is the Saturday of Lazarus, because all the events of Holy Week from the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday, the Crucefixion and then the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, all these events take place against the background of the Raising of Lazarus ... which is also the spur to the Jewish Authorities to get rid of Jesus. The background, context, the times through which we are living will, or rather should have a bearing on how we behave and what our priorities really are. The raising of Lazarus was the last straw which pushed the Jewish authorities to get rid of Jesus. They thought they had succeeded but in fact they had made him indestructible. Why?

In times much harsher, much harder than those through which we are living today, Christians radiated the joy of the Risen Lord, they weren’t downcast but joyful because they knew that Jesus was alive, those about them saw the joy and wanted to know its source, because they wanted it too and the Christians weren’t shy about talking about their beliefs. Our Lord died upon the cross, not thinking of himself but of others. In these strange and difficult times, if we focussed our minds and energy on those in need, we would have far less time to spend worrying about ourselves.

A prayer for all those affected by COVID-19

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy. Sustain and support the anxious, be with those who care for the sick, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may find comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Blessing

Christ crucified draw you to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

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