Good Morning! This morning Christine Fox will be leading us, virtually, in an Agape feast. For this we ask you to prepare before you start the video a candle and something to light it with, a glass of water and a piece of bread or plain cake.
Click below on the red play button to start the video. You may need to be patient as the video is a very large file and may take a little while to load.
Below the video you will find a message from Martin Weir who was planned to speak at Grangewood today. He has also given us some questions to ponder. Please feel free to sign in and use the comment box to share your thoughts on these questions and the rest of the service.
God Bless x
Message – Martin Weir
‘Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord hear my voice.’ (Psalm 130 v1&2)
‘Hello’ to all of you at Grangewood on Passion Sunday. Sadly, we can’t meet together physically to worship God but I hope that you find this new experience of worship is helpful at this difficult time.
Today, like many others, I’m in a period of self-isolation which I’m finding to be a rather surreal experience. On the plus side my garden is tidy and there’s been time to read and be quiet, but I particularly miss being with family and friends. Yes, through modern technology I can see and talk to them, but it’s not the same experience as physical contact.
And as I watch the news I’m saddened by scenes of people suffering across the world, and yet I’m really uplifted by stories of people who selflessly support each other - NHS staff, carers, neighbours, strangers even. As someone on the BMC WhatsApp group said: ‘This crisis brings out the worst in some people and the absolute best in many others’. I think that we can all say ‘Amen’ to that.
For many, this is a time of worry and uncertainty, suffering and stress, and so the words of Psalm 130, which is set in the lectionary for today, seem highly appropriate: ‘Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord hear my voice’.
The first 6 verses of this psalm are a cry for help from someone who knows that they are in some unspecified difficulty. He or she recognises that they are sinful but, much more importantly, they also recognise that God is loving and forgiving. This recognition, that God is gracious, fills them with a confidence & eagerness to wait hopefully on God in their difficulties. Verse 5: ‘I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.’
Then, in verses 7 -8 the psalmist calls to those around them to put their hope in God’s unfailing and gracious love in such difficult times – some comfort for us to draw on today, perhaps?
During this week, I would invite you to take time to reflect on these verses, and in particular to consider how God is alongside us in our current worry and uncertainty, suffering and stress; through prayer, reflection or discussion, or in looking at & rejoicing in the loving actions of others.
For us, God’s unfailing & gracious love is best expressed in the Cross of Jesus, to which we journey over the next 2 weeks. Today’s gospel reading (John 11 v1-45) tells the detailed story of the raising of Lazarus. The events described pose some difficult questions e.g. why did Jesus delay going to Bethany and then change his mind? After all, Lazarus, Mary & Martha are his special friends, so it’s puzzling why he delays when he hears that Lazarus is ill.
I believe that there are thoughts that we can draw from this story, for our current times:
Firstly, the story reveals Jesus humanity. When he gets to Bethany the sisters cry out (like the psalmist), ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died’. Jesus is touched that the local villagers have come to support the family. In response, John tells us that ‘Jesus wept’ (v35) in deepest sympathy, and that sympathy will surely be evident today.
Secondly, this story of resurrection reveals Jesus divinity. Jesus declares to Martha that he is ‘the resurrection & the life’. Later he calls into the tomb for Lazarus to come out - a foretaste that, in the Passion of Jesus, God enters into our human darkness, accepts our pain and emerges victorious on Easter morning, as the source of light, love and grace.
‘Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord hear my voice.’ AMEN
Further Reflection on these passages:
If you would like to reflect further on these passages, I’ve added here some questions below to get you going (and indeed your personal reflections may lead you to ask further questions…….)
Feel free to use them for personal reflection, to discuss in your household or take them onto a social media platform:
· How can we trust God in the context of this global pandemic?
· How can we show solidarity with those who are suffering as a result of Covid-19?
· Why did Jesus delay his journey to visit Lazarus in Bethany?
· Why did Jesus begin to weep?
· What is the life that Jesus offers to those who believe?
Finally, if you are interested to read more - the Old Testament lesson set for today is Ezekiel 37 v1-14 and the Epistle is Romans 8, v6-11.
Please take care & stay safe.
... and For your enjoyment - here’s Micah joining in with last weeks ‘How great thou art!’