Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Gospel Reading John 11.1-45

1A certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ 4But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ 5Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

7Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ 8The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ 9Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ 11After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ 12The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ 13Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. 15For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ 16Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

17When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ 23Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ 24Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ 25Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ 27She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

28When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ 29And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ 35Jesus began to weep. 36So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ 37But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

38Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.’ 40Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you

believed, you would see the glory of God?’ 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ 43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’

45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.


Reflection - Graham Kirk-Spriggs

We are living through what I believe to be a defining moment of our generation. The world will be changed after this, but change isn’t always something to fear, though sometimes it can be scary.

Although my life has been relatively short the amount of change I’ve seen just in my lifetime has been huge, and as a young child I wouldn’t have imagined the way the world is now.

The Gospel reading we have today is all about change, and about doing things at the right time.

There’s the scary change that the death of a relative brings to the life of Mary and Martha. Lazarus who they loved so much seemed to be gone. There’s also the change in Jesus’ ministry, that he now shows the full extent of who he is, that death is and will be defeated through the cross, through his sacrifice.

I love this piece of scripture for two reasons;

Firstly, it shows that sometimes even Jesus had to wait to bring about change. He had to wait until the time was right. For those of us like myself who are naturally impatient this is a good lesson.

It must’ve pained Jesus to wait. He must’ve wanted so much to instantly heal Lazarus right then and there. He must’ve wanted to end the separation between him and Lazarus, to save Martha and Mary the pain they were feeling, yet it wasn’t right for him to do so, it wasn’t the right time. Even Jesus had to wait.

I’m sure many of us feel like this now, we wish we could reach out to the vulnerable people we know and visit them. We feel this sense of separation, yet for now, just like Jesus, we must wait for the right time to see them. For their own safety we must do what is right and stay away until the right and safe time, to see them again.

Jesus knows how we feel, because he’s experienced that for himself with Lazarus.

Secondly, I love this scripture because it shows Jesus as one of us. “Jesus began to weep.” The shortest yet one of the most powerful verses in the entire Bible. Our God incarnate wept. The maker and sustainer of all things wept. In our context now it’s more usual to see a man cry, but back then it was an extraordinary thing to see. To see a Rabbi, a teacher crying would’ve been unheard of.

Yet cried he did. Jesus mourned the death of his friend Lazarus with tears.

We have a God who knows what pain is, who became truly one of us. There’s hope in that. Jesus knows how we feel in our isolation, he knows what pain and grief is.

People might ask, how can you believe in a God that is good in times like these? When people are dying of illness, church is disbanded and we are isolated from each other?

My answer is to point them to this story. We have a God who knows pain, who is in it with us. When we mourn, he mourns. When we weep, he weeps, just like he wept with the assembled people that day.

Waiting for the right time, in hope is hard. Don’t lose hope, because God is with us, in our joys and in our suffering too. This change will pass, and just like Lazarus, there will be new life, a new vitality, a new celebration the other side of it.


Intercessions - Carolyn Crosse

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.  He can transform death and despair in any form into life and hope.

On this Passion Sunday, let us join together, wherever we are, in our prayers for the church and for the world.

We are living in very uncertain times; every person is affected in some way by the Corvid-19 virus. We pray for all the thousands worldwide who are sick and dying, for those living in fear and those living alone, for the elderly, for so many in quarantine and "lock down" in these overwhelming circumstances.  It is almost too much to comprehend or to put into words. We look to you, most Holy God, and ask you to breathe your love and life into those who are suffering; bring comfort and healing, and, in the knowledge of your love, give us courage for the journey through this difficult time.

God of mercy, we pray for all church leaders, teachers and pastors here and all over the world. We pray for our Bishops Graham, Alan and Jonathan, also for our own Vicar, Edward, for Fiona, Lorna, Graham and Gill. We pray also for those whose authority and decisions are crucial at this time, and will affect the lives of so many people as well as the health of our planet. We ask for sensitivity and honesty, and the strength to retain integrity even in positions of power.

We pray for our homes and families  and for all whom we love and who love us.  Help us to recognize the opportunities for generous, loving service, and take away any destructive possessiveness or self interest.

We pray for those who are ill in mind, body or spirit. Help us to have a greater sense of a loving community and a willingness to stand alongside one another whenever we can.   Especially we pray for Pam, Simon, Janet, Brian, Martin and Val.

Wherever earthly lives are coming, or have come to an end, and people are grieving the loss of loved ones, fill these places with the eternal peace of your presence and prepare us all through our lives on earth for everlasting life with you in heaven. We remember specially Shirley Aldred and Cherry Winter. At their year's  mind we remember the Spencer Brothers, Roy Siddall, Sidney Bishop, Marian Lake, Wilfred Gregory, Betty Temple, Ethel Taylor, Harold Colby, Jack Stone, Ivy Earle and Eric Phillips.

Lord our God, in all the events and phases of our lives, we give you thanks for your steadfast and unchanging love, which sustains and directs us; for in you, Lord, we put our trust.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son Jesus  Christ. Amen