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5th Sunday of Lent – 29th March 2020

Notes for Lent 5 29th March 2020

A few notes for this weekend
To be aware that the clocks go forward by one hour this weekend

Many of you will have heard the sad news of the death of John Coulter. John passed away, peacefully at home, last weekend. He was a great servant to the Church, to which he devoted so much time, care and attention. Sadly, because of the health restrictions due to the Covid-19 virus, the funeral, held in St James on Wednesday 25th, had to be a small private service. When all of the restrictions are removed we will hold a memorial service to fully celebrate John’s life and to give thanks for his contribution to the Church & local community. In the meantime we remember
Margaret and Susan, and all his wider family, in-laws, nephews, nieces, and hold them very much in our prayers at this time. There is a book of condolence available at the Rip.ie website https://rip.ie/cb.php?dn=417177 . May he rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen

Reflection Lent 5 29th March 2020

The 3 readings, set for today, speak to us about: – God being close to us in friendship, creating hope through the resurrection and filling us with the spirit of this New Life

Ezekiel …… is shown a vision of bones

You may know the famous song …
“With the toe bone connected
to the foot bone,
and the foot bone connected
to the ankle bone,
and the ankle bone connected
to the leg bone.
Now hear the word of the Lord”

God needs Ezekiel to speak this prophesy to the people of Israel . ……. They have lost hope and are feeling disconnected from their relationship with God….. they are in exile, captured and taken to a foreign land … abandoned and bereft

In the Gospel reading …

Mary & Martha are devastated at the death of their brother Lazarus … bereft and sad

We need to take note, as of vital importance, that God in Jesus draws close to us in all situations. Jesus has a bond of friendship with Mary, Martha & Lazarus and he feels for their sadness and hurt (Jesus wept) …. Jesus offers this bond of friendship to each one of us, to remain with us ‘until the end of time’ in the hard and difficult times, as well as the good

But today’s readings are not only about death …. They are about the new life of the resurrection …… …. (Not merely a continuation of the old life – for that would be resuscitation) … but the New Life of the resurrection

The Valley was full of ‘dry bones’ …. There was no life there at all.

Lazarus had been in the grave four days (The spirit of a person was thought to have left the body in 3 days) …. What God was doing was not resuscitation but resurrection ….. New Life

St Paul

And St Paul notes in the second reading, in his letter to the Romans that if the spirit of Christ is within us … we have already become this new creation … we are living already now in the resurrection

Overall

In these difficult times, and as we come close to the end of Lent, these readings help us to ponder on the truth:

That God doesn’t abandon us or leave us bereft

That God draws close to each one of us, in friendship, and is with us for all time, and in all circumstances, – God knows and feels our joy, and our sadness

That in Christ God has created the new life of the resurrection

And that though God’s Holy Spirit, given to each of us, we already live in the resurrection.

Collect for the 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 our Lord. Amen

Ezekiel 37: 1-11
The Valley of Dry Bones
37The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ 4Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.’
7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ 10I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
11 Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” 12Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.’
This is the Word of the Lord…………Thanks be to God

Psalm 130
Out of the depths have I cried to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice; let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
If you, Lord, were to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you, so that you shall be feared.
I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; in his word is my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord, more than the night watch for the morning, more than the night watch for the morning.
O Israel, wait for the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy;
With him is plenteous redemption and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

Romans 8: 6-11
 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

John 11 :1-45 The Death of Lazarus
11Now a 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.
7 Then 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.’

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for 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.’
28 When 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’ 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?’
38 Then 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 for 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 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.’
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

Prayers

‘We have plenty of hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following Christ, but no more so than the good times of his healing and comfort – we get the full measure of that too.’ 2 Corinthians 1 v 4 & 5

Prayer for countries most effected by Covid 19.
Lord Jesus, who suffered for us on the cross, we thank you that you are not unfamiliar with human tragedy and loss. We thank you that are with us in our difficult times. We pray for the people of Italy, Spain and the other countries around the world where the Coronavirus has taken hold. Bring your comfort, peace and healing to their people, and help them to trust in your power to heal and save.
Loving Saviour,
Bring your comfort and peace.

Prayer for people self-isolating and awaiting testing and test results.
Heavenly Father, be with us when we are trouble and uncertain about what the future holds. We pray for those who are self-isolating in order to protect our society. We are thankful for the dedication of our Public Health System and help us to play our part by adhering to their guidelines for our interactions with each other at this time. We remember those who are awaiting the results of tests, help them not to be anxious and help them through what lies ahead.
Loving Saviour,
Bring your comfort and peace.

For children and young people who are studying at home.
Lord Jesus, you spent much of your time teaching your friends, the disciples, about God’s ways. Help us as we are learning in our homes without our teachers and friends. We thank you for our parents, who help and encourage us with our school work. We pray that you will bless our time together as families as we live, work, learn and play together.
Loving Saviour,
Bring your comfort and peace.

For health care workers, nurses, doctors, hospital staff, paramedics and carers in the community.
Almighty God, we thank you for the healthcare services in our country. For our GPs, Community Nurses and Home Help service. We pray for our Community hospitals, daycare centres and Nursing homes who care for the elderly. We especially remember our major hospitals, paramedics, Intensive care and high dependency units, for their nurses, doctors and all of the hospital staff. Guide and strengthen them in their work as they care for those who are critically ill. We pray that through their practical skills and your healing touch that those in their care may be returned to wholeness and health.
Loving Saviour,
Bring your comfort and peace.