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               St Clement Church Community Fifth Sunday in Lent Service

                          

Good morning, Everyone                                                                                                                            As we move closer to Holy Week, let us think about how much we truly love our Lord. Does our love come anywhere close to Mary’s?                                                              May we, in the days ahead, move closer to our Lord and follow him more truly, never afraid to show our love in ways not always understood by others.

With love                                                                                                                                                          Liz                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Let us pray

Dear Lord, as we rise to meet each new day, please let us be filled with Your spirit. Wherever we go, let us spread love, joy, peace, goodness, and faithfulness. Let us desire to become more like You and to worship You in all we do. Help us to desire these things so much more than the sin that entices us.                                                                                                                                                                  Thank You for always going before us.                                                                                                              In Jesus’ Name.    Amen

Hymn:  338 At the name of Jesus

 A prayer of Penitence

Lord God, we have sinned against you; we have done evil in your sight.                                          We are sorry and repent.                                                                                                                               Have mercy on us according to your love.                                                                                                Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.                                                                   Renew a right spirit within us and restore us to the joy of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

Let us pray the Collect for Fifth Sunday of Lent

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

Readings

Isaiah 43. 16 – 21                                                                                                                                         Philippians 3. 4b – 14

Hymn:  353 Dear Lord and Father of mankind

Gospel of John 12. 1 - 8

(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.                                                                                                         

Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord)

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.                                                                                                           There they gave a dinner for him, Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.                                                                                                                               Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair.                                                                                                                  The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.                                                                   But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’                                                                                                                                       (He said this not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal was put into it.)                                                                Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’                                                                      

(This is the Gospel of our Lord      Response:    Praise to you, O Christ)

Reflection

I wonder if you have ever had a discussion / played the game with friends of talking about who you would invite to your perfect dinner party. It was a popular pastime years ago and it was fascinating to hear who and why people were chosen.

Today’s Gospel reading is about a dinner party and possibly the strangest dinner party in history. Lazarus is there reclining at the table with Jesus – Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus and brother to Mary and Martha. Not long before this, Lazarus was dead then Jesus raises him back to life, an event that no doubt stirs up the whole village of Bethany. It appears that this dinner party is being given in Jesus’ honour to thank Him for raising Lazarus.

What exactly do you say to a man who has been raised from the dead? Do you ask what it felt like? Let’s be honest, it’s not a normal topic for a dinner party!

But, there’s much more to this story. At some point, Mary does something startling that shocks Jesus’ disciples. They can’t believe what they are seeing. Every part of what she does bothers them. This is why this story appears in three Gospels: Matthew, Mark and John.

But, as we will see, Mary knows Jesus in a way His disciples don’t. She sees clearly what is about to happen when Jesus enters into Jerusalem. Even if she doesn’t know the exact details, she knows that trouble is coming – big trouble.

She knows that Jesus is going to die. So, she prepares a gift that shocks the disciples, but Jesus greatly appreciates what she does.

It is a Saturday night in Bethany, a small village near Jerusalem. In just a few hours Jesus will enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Soon He will cleanse the temple, curse the fig tree, teach in the temple courts and confront the rising tide of hatred from religious leaders.

Today is the last happy evening He will know.                                                                                          Tomorrow, He begins His final journey to the cross.                                                                                     Today, they celebrate.                                                                                                                                                            Tomorrow He will enter Jerusalem.                                                                                                              In six days, He will hang on a cross.                                                                                                             

As we think about this dinner party, our eyes rest on two people: Mary and Judas. Mary never says a word; Judas says too much. One reveals her heart by what she does, the other by what he says.

But what does Mary actually do?

Nard is an oil extracted from the root of the nard plant, grown in India. It is, as John notes, very expensive. A pound of nard is worth 300 denarii according to Judas, meaning it costs the equivalent of nine months salary for a working man in Jesus’ time.

It’s Jesus’ final happy evening.

It’s hard for us to take it all in. In today’s terms, it’s like spending £30,000 on a bottle of perfume. Who does that? You could buy a decent car for that sort of money.

Not only does she have a jar of expensive oil, Mary pours it on Jesus’ feet.                                    John says that the fragrance fills the house. I’m sure it smells wonderful – and so it should for that sum of money.

Surely, that’s an extraordinarily extravagant gift – the disciples certainly seem to think so. But is it?

You only have to look around the world - at the most expensive hotel room (which is in Geneva) which costs over £75,000 a night … way more than I could afford, a Travel Inn is more my line … but it’s usually fully booked by billionaires … doesn’t seem extravagant to them; the most expensive bottle of wine sold for £300,000 – rather more than Aldi’s £5/£6 a bottle – is that extravagant? In 2014 a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO (whatever that is) sold at auction for over £30 million – an extortionate amount to me, but whoever bought it presumably thought it was a good investment.

‘Extravagance is in the eye of the beholder.’ When we talk about something being extravagant, we’re always talking about someone else, usually someone a lot richer than we are.

How much is too much? No one really knows. The Taj Mahal in India is one of the wonders of the world. It was built in 1632 by Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife who died in child birth. What would it cost to replace it? How do you replace the irreplaceable? Its estimated value is between £10 billion and a £trillion. Is that too much?

Whatever we may think, Mary’s gift doesn’t seem extravagant to her. She isn’t trying to show off or make a statement about her wealth.

John points out that Judas objects to this ‘wasteful’ extravagance, but Matthew and Mark make it clear that the other disciples object too.                                      

Why does Mary do what she does? Jesus has recently raised Lazarus from the dead. Think about it – this is the only time in history that two men who would be raised from the dead would eat at the same table. Lazarus has been raised and Jesus will be raised. This is an utterly remarkable occasion. When Mary sees Jesus raise her brother, it reveals to her that Jesus is much more than a teacher or a prophet. She knows He has power and authority that can only come from God.

Mary’s gift doesn’t seem extravagant to her.

In the Old Testament four groups are anointed: kings, prophets, priests and the dead. Jesus fits the first three groups, and in a few days, He will join the fourth. It seems that Mary understands Jesus better than his own men do.

Interestingly, Mary appears three times at key points in the New Testament and each time she is sitting at the feet of Jesus.                                                                                    In Luke 10 she wants to hear the words of the Lord.                                                                                 In John 11 she wants to experience the works of the Lord.                                                                  In John 12 she wants to declare the worth of the Lord.

She doesn’t come to eat the meal.                                                                                                              She doesn’t come for fellowship with the others.                                                                                     She doesn’t come to ask a question.                                                                                                           She doesn’t come to listen.                                                                                                                         She comes to give her best to Jesus.

Her desire to honour Jesus moves her to violate the customs of the day. A woman wouldn’t normally sit at a man’s feet, much less let down her hair in public and certainly not wipe his feet with her hair. It is, in a sense, a very private act that others are permitted to see.

Mary’s gift to Jesus is so extravagant and so radical that his friends can’t understand it.

I wonder, does my faith cause me to do things that make no sense to others, including my Christian friends, and if it doesn’t, shouldn’t it?

Mary’s shows her love for Jesus in the only way she knows how.                               

Do we truly love Jesus? If so, we shouldn’t be afraid to let the world know and not worry if others don’t understand.

True love can’t be explained; it can only be observed.                                                                        If we become radical in our love for Christ, our close friends will likely not understand us.                                                                                                                                                  If our love for Jesus never leads us to take a risk, how much do we truly love him?                                                                                                                                                                   There are moments when we must act even if no one joins us.                                                          We ought not to criticize those who express their love for the Lord differently from the way we do.

Mary loves so extravagantly that she scandalises the apostles – that’s why we’re still talking about her 2000 years later.

The words from a hymn by Isaac Watts seems to say it all:

‘Were the whole realm of nature mine                                                                                                         That were a present far too small.                                                                                                                   Love so amazing, so divine                                                                                                                      Demands my soul, my life, my all.’

Too extravagant? If we love Jesus, let our love for him be extravagant and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks … be like Mary.

Amen                                                                                             

Affirmation of our Faith

We proclaim the Church’s faith in Jesus Christ

Do you believe and trust in God the Father                                                                   source of all being and life                                                                                                            the one for whom we exist?                                                                                                                                    We believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Son                                                                                who took our human nature                                                                                                     died for us and rose again?                                                                                                                      We believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit                                                                                           who gives life to the people of God                                                                                                          and makes Christ known in the world?                                                                                                    We believe and trust in him.             

This is the faith of the Church.                                                                                                                   This is our faith.                                                                                                                                              We believe and trust in one God                                                                                                              Father, Son and Holy Spirit.                                                                                                             

Amen

Hymn:  86 My song is love unknown

Intercessions

Dear Lord as we enter the fifth week in Lent, the beginning of Passiontide, we pray for the renewal of the Church in faith, love and service. We pray for all church leaders, teachers and pastors, and all who are being called into particular ministries, both lay and ordained. We pray for the Church throughout the world and also here in the diocese of Truro and our parish church here at St Clement.  We thank you for the courage and steadfastness of those who are persecuted for their faith, we also pray for Archbishop Justin and our Bishops Philip and Hugh and, for our own clergy and the life of the parish. We give thanks that we have our much-loved vicar Diane and her husband Ken and we appreciate all they do here at St Clement. It is our church AGM after the service this morning and we ask for God’s guidance for all on the PCC and those attending the meeting in helping us to work together to make the right decisions and to look to the future with love, hope and confidence.

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen and all the royal family, who this week attended the memorial service at Westminster Abbey for the Duke of Edinburgh.

 

Dear Lord, we pray for all the people of Ukraine, those who have been forced to leave their homes and for all who continue to live in fear and uncertainty. For all who are now refugees and the terrible uncertainty they face in a foreign land, not knowing when they will be able to return to their own familiar surroundings.

We ask you Lord, to give courage and strength to the leaders of all nations, that they may work tirelessly to find a peaceful end to this and other conflicts in the world.

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer

God of Compassion your love for humanity was revealed in Jesus whose earthly life began in the poverty of a stable and ended in the pain and isolation of the cross.

We hold before you those who are homeless and cold.  Draw near and comfort them in spirit and bless those who work to provide them with shelter, food and friendship.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

We pray for all who are sick, please God surround them with your love, and give wisdom and understanding to all who support and guide them.  We pray for those known to us, for Ken and Diane, Barrie and Sandra, Ollie, June, Maureen, Margaret, Brian, Gavin, Paul and Jan.

We pray for the recently departed; may they rest in peace.

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

Rejoicing in the fellowship of St Clement and St Andrew and all the saints.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Gathering our prayers and praises into one, let us pray with confidence as Jesus 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.

You took my place by Kim Merryman

Amazing love,                                                                                                                                       Amazing grace,                                                                                                                                 You gave your life,                                                                                                                               You took my place.                                                                                                                             I should have died                                                                                                                             On Calvary’s tree                                                                                                                              But, you stepped in                                                                                                                           And died for me.

What can I say?                                                                                                                                        What can I do?                                                                                                                                    To show my love,                                                                                                                               My gratitude                                                                                                                                        To you my Lord,                                                                                                                                    My Saviour King,                                                                                                                                        For becoming my                                                                                                                              Sin offering?

Here is my heart,                                                                                                                                        Here is my soul,                                                                                                                                 Come Lord Jesus,                                                                                                                               Take control.                                                                                                                                            The old is gone                                                                                                                                   You’ve made me new.                                                                                                                 You died for me                                                                                                                                    I’ll live for you.

The Peace

God will speak peace to his people, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.   Amen

Hymn:  443 Rejoice the Lord is King

Blessing

May the grass be soft beneath your feet                                                                                            and streams beside you flow.                                                                                             May sights of beauty fill your soul                                                                                                and warming sunlight fall.                                                                                                                        May you, dear friends be held secure                                                                                                  in God’s pure love and grace                                                                                                             and know the Father’s hand in yours                                                                                                       in every hour and place.

Amen

                                                                                                                                                                  

 


Page last updated: 1st April 2022 3:30 PM