Online Service for Sunday 7th March 2021
Welcome to the Service for the 3rd Sunday of Lent: Also available via YouTube
Morning Service of the Word March 7th , 3rd Sunday of Lent 2021
Listen to Hymn: “Be Still for the Presence of the Lord”.
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you All and also with you.
This is the day that the Lord has made. All Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
We have come together in the name of Christ
to offer our praise and thanksgiving,
to hear and receive God’s holy word,
to pray for the needs of the world,
and to seek the forgiveness of our sins,
that by the power of the Holy Spirit
we may give ourselves to the service of God.
Prayers of Penitence
Jesus says, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ Let us turn away from our sin and turn to Christ, confessing our sins in penitence and faith.
All 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.
Forgive our sins as we forgive
1 'Forgive our sins as we forgive',
you taught us, Lord, to pray,
but you alone can grant us grace
to live the words we say.
2 How can your pardon reach and bless
the unforgiving heart
that broods on wrongs, and will not let
old bitterness depart?
3 In blazing light your cross reveals
the truth we dimly knew,
how small the debts men owe to us,
how great our debt to you!
4 Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls,
and bid resentment cease;
then, reconciled to God and man,
our lives will spread your peace.
May the Father of all mercies
cleanse us from our sins,
and restore us in his image
to the praise and glory of his name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Blessed is the Lord,
All for he has heard the voice of our prayer;
therefore, shall our hearts dance for joy
All and in our song will we praise our God.
The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.
Silence is kept.
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever.
The Word of God Psalm 19 verses 7 to end
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring for ever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent;*
do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Holy Gospel Reading
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John ch 2 verses 13-22
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
“O lord open my lips and my mouth shalt declare thy praise”
In these cold lockdown days, I have been watching more television and I recently watched Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber again. It is a rather “loud” musical that details in words, music and actions some aspects of the Life of Christ. In a recent interpretation there is an incredibly powerful scene where Jesus comes into a large open space something like a warehouse. It is atmospheric, it is dark and filled with people and animals. Money is being exchanged and animals being led away for sacrifice. We see Jesus behaving quite “outside our imagination of how “Gentle Jesus meek and mild” should behave. Jesus seems to be “angry” He shouts at the people:
“My temple should be a house of prayer,
But you have made it a den of thieves.
Get out! Get out!”. He then constructs a whip out of a halter and commences to attack and drive all in sight out of the temple precincts. He is so vehement traders and animals flee as Jesus turns over their tables. The very graphic and striking thing is these tables are arranged in a cross shape and as he scatters them, he is deconstructing the cross shape……tragically they are reconstructed later in the musical and Jesus is crucified on them. This is a summary of our reading from John chapter 2 today. This reading just as Andrew Lloyd Webber adapts it for his musical, is also adapted in the gospel of St. John. St. John places it at the beginning of his gospel, thereby telling us something of Jesus and his ministry. Jesus is the promised and long-awaited Messiah. We learn in Isaiah just one of the signs is that the messiah “with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth."
If this reading is looked at through the lens of its power and authority what would we see in this time of Lent that will cause us to turn around, and what would we learn that will transform our ways of Being? For that is what the Word of Jesus is charged to do, to transform us.
If we reflect on this reading in our minds and hearts maybe the “money changers and traders” that lie deep within our being shall be revealed. In the time of this reading the money changers and traders had a right to be in the outer precincts of the Temple. But they wrongly took every opportunity to extract more and more money from the pilgrims. This injustice was what triggered the response from Jesus.
So, what are our equivalents of money changers and traders that dwell deep within us? Our internal personal money changers and traders will be as cunning at self-justification and doing bad business as those in the temple precincts.
Is it right to call Jesus’s behaviour Angry? Can we dare to label Our Loving Lord’s behaviour as such? Divine Anger is demonstrated by Jesus. Anger comes from the old Norse word “angr”, which means anguish, distress, grief, sorrow, affliction.
Jesus’s “Anger” was pure grief and deep distress that the temple His “Father’s House” was not as it should be. We may surmise Christ was angry by his words, and actions and most importantly the reason for the anger. He was angry because of the injustice and he demonstrated his Divine Love for us through his Anger at the injustice. Should we too be Angry at our inner and personal temple traders and money changers? And should we show Anger at injustices in our society? And lead others to be Angry too? If we are to follow Christ then perhaps, we shall need to.
As Christians we have to be Angry at injustice but we have to develop that Divine form of Anger. Divine Anger is that which is channelled and used to transform and vitally it is born of Divine Love. It is not really within our comprehension but a clue to Divine Anger and Divine Love is that it is one and the same thing and it has the same effect Jesus never used one without the other, it is transformative…they Transform the recipient to the Good. It also has power and authority. It has “Divine Power” and that is power which “builds up” not power which “holds up”. We can discern from the Temple cleansing that Jesus’s anger and the power behind it were divine he was trying to rebuild/build up the right behaviours in the temple precincts and the good and holy attitudes to money and sacrifices. He was abolishing the old sacrifices indeed he would soon be the one and only sacrifice. His vision was that of the Divine in Love with creation.
We need through prayer and holy reading to discern the vision of how God intends us to live. When that way of living is not happening then we can be justly Angry and truly Love, by cooperating with others, in order to Transform society towards that Godly way of living. Sometimes it will mean living in a place of suffering, the cross, because of our stand. Anger correctly harnessed is used with Love and transforms towards “building up” the Kingdom of God. That is living free of the “temple traders and money changers” and what they represent in ourselves and society.
Finally, to reassure us even saints struggled with the concept of divine anger. St. Jerome perhaps gets the first prize for anger issues, he used to hit himself with a rock every time he became angry inappropriately.
But, to put Anger in context, we are certainly justified in feeling angry at events in our world, our Fathers House, that are not in accord with the justice and truth of Kingdom of God. But what Jesus shows us in today’s reading is to see with Divine Love and channel Divine Anger to work for justice and truth, transformation and “building up”. It is not an easy path for it can lead to the Cross.
This 3rd week of Lent let us seek out and throw out our personal and inner “temple traders and money changers” let us be transformed towards Divine Love through the power of Divine Anger let us “build up” in the ways of Divine Love. This promises to offer us a challenging but transforming week!
I leave you with the words of Kier Hardie social reformer who was moved to instigate social changes by agitating for change where there were social wrongs.
“my life is about stirring up divine discontent, with wrong”
Thank you for listening.”
Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
1 Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
o'er the world's tempestuous sea;
guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us
for we have no help but thee;
yet possessing every blessing,
if our God our Father be.
2 Saviour, breathe forgiveness o'er us;
all our weakness thou dost know;
thou didst tread this earth before us,
thou didst feel its keenest woe;
self-denying, death defying,
thou to Calvary didst go.
3 Spirit of our God, descending,
fill our hearts with heavenly joy,
love with every passion blending,
pleasure that can never cloy:
thus provided, pardoned, guided,
nothing can our peace destroy.
Prayers of Intercession
For the Church throughout the world: that the Lord may lead us into a deeper conversion of heart through the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
For those who govern: that the Spirit may guide them in their difficult decision making for the common good.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
For those affected by the present, health, financial, social and psychological challenges: that all may find relief and care through Christ living and present in each other,
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
For our parish family: that we may be one in the good will of Christ by supporting the works of the God. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
For those who are bereaved and those suffering in body, mind or spirit: that they may be brought to health and wholeness. Lord in your mercy, Hear our Prayer.
Collect for 3rd Sunday of Lent Eternal God, give us insight to discern your will for us, to give up what harms us, and to seek the perfection we are promised in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one, let us pray together with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
All 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.
The Lord bless us, and preserve us from all evil,
and keep us in life eternal.
Let us bless the Lord.
All Thanks be to God.