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THE SHIRWELL MISSION COMMUNITY

A Mission Community in the Diocese of Exeter

Sunday Service at Home


Sunday 29 March 2020

This video was filmed at the various churches in the Shirwell Mission Community on Sunday 22 March.

Shirwell Mission Community Sunday Service at home

 

Hello and welcome to our gathering together. We are church wherever we worship, on our own or in community. We are a church which can no longer worship within a building, but now in many, connecting in different ways to our community in service to our neighbour. 

 

You may like to have to hand a Bible, a candle to light, some music for reflection or praise. If you are worshipping with someone else in your household, you might like to take it in turns to read and join together for the bold type. Otherwise read silently or aloud depending on what you feel comfortable with. 

 

The Gathering

Though physically apart, we meet in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 


Lord, you are in this place, fill us with your power, cover us with your peace and show us your presence. 

 

A time to praise God and give thanks 

The Bible reminds us that creation itself teaches us about God and helps us to praise him. Look out of the window or go outside and reflect on this verse, or focus for a time on the Psalm of the day. 


The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1)


Go and find (or think about) an object which reminds you of something amazing. It might be a simple leaf. It might be a photograph. Spend time giving thanks to God. Even in the most difficult times, there are things we can give thanks for. 

 

A time to confess

Reflect on the day and on your relationships. - What good things have come from God today? - Where have I fallen short? - What might I do tomorrow? 

 

Christ came in humility to share our lives: forgive our pride. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. 

Christ came with good news for all people: forgive our silence. Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. 

Christ came in love to a world of suffering: forgive our self-centredness. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

 

Readings and reflections

Spend some time with the readings and reflection for the day (see separate sheet which changes each Sunday) These will also be on the Mission Community website www.shirwellmissioncommunity.org.uk to read or listen to if you wish. 

 

Hymns for each day can be found on www.rscm.org.uk/our-resources/hftd/

 

Putting it into practice:

Write a letter or card of support, encouragement and thanks to someone. This could include people home alone, residents or staff at a residential home, or a hospital ward.

 

Statement of faith

We believe in God our Father from whom every family in heaven and earth is named. 

We believe in God the Son who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love. 

We believe in God the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe and trust in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Prayers

Prayers are said, followed by our Lord’s prayer:

Let us pray to God, who alone makes us dwell in safety:

For all who are affected by coronavirus, through illness or isolation or anxiety,
that they may find relief and recovery:

Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us.

 

For those who are guiding our nation at this time, and shaping national policies,
that they may make wise decisions: Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us.

 

For doctors, nurses and medical researchers, that through their skill and insights many will be restored to health: Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us.


For the vulnerable and the fearful, for the gravely ill and the dying, that they may know your comfort and peace: Lord, hear us, Lord, graciously hear us.

 

We commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray, to the mercy and protection of God.

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

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. 

Give us today our daily bread. 

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. 

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

 

Spiritual Communion

If you would like to say prayers to join in with a spiritual communion, then this is the time. The prayers below offer Christians an opportunity to give thanks for their communion with him, particularly at times when they would ordinarily be present at the Eucharist.

If you would prefer – move straight to the final dismissal and blessing. 

 

Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits you have given me, for all the pains and insults you have borne for me. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I ask you to come spiritually into my heart. 

 

O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen

(after the Prayer of St Richard of Chichester)

 

Lord, in these days of mercy, make us quiet and prayerful; 

in these days of challenge, make us stronger in you; 

in these days of emptiness, take possession of us; 

in these days of waiting, open our hearts to the mystery of your cross. (Angela Ashwin)

 

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you most humble and hearty thanks for all your goodness and loving kindness. 

 

We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. 

 

And give us, we pray, such a sense of all your mercies that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, and that we show forth your praise, not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, for ever and ever. Amen. 

 

Dismissal and blessing

 

Though many, we form one body in Christ. We belong to one another. 


By God’s grace we have different gifts. We will use them in faith. 


Rejoice in hope, stand firm in trouble, be constant in prayer. Filled with his Spirit we will serve the Lord. 

 

The almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless us and keep us. Amen. 

 

 

 

 

Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is included in this service, is copyright The Archbishops’ Council 2000. This service includes prayers from the Iona Community, WGRG Iona Morning Liturgy from the Wild Goose Worship Group, ‘A Wee Worship Book’ 4th incarnation, 1999

 

Readings and reflections – Sunday 29th March 2020

 

Spend some time with these readings:

 

Psalm 34:11-20. You might here like to try ‘Lectio Divina’ which is a traditional way of carefully reading a Bible passage. Firstly get to know the text, READ it through and see where God nudges. Then, REFLECT on the text and especially focus on those nudges. Third, RESPOND in prayer or with writing, eg a journal. Finally, REST – spend time quietly with God. 

 

Ezekiel 37:1-14 

The context here is a divided nation in captivity, and here they find words of hope. How does this passage echo feelings of despair? What words of hope can we find here?

 

John 11:1-45

After reading this passage, think about where you are in this passage. Are you angry, trusting, hopeful, despairing, cynical? Tell Jesus – as Martha and Mary did. 

 

My sermon (shown below) is available at the bottom of this page.

 

Hymns to sing along to can be found on www.rscm.org.uk

 

Hope for new life

 

The passage from Ezekiel might invoke images of a zombie apocalypse. But if we can avoid the zombie imagery and look beyond the gruesome idea of graves being opened, perhaps we can find words of hope for us today.


The people of Israel were divided and in captivity. They were threatened, cut off. Hope was lost, they were despairing. All of these words sound like some of the emotions we might feel today watching the news of death tolls rising, sickness spreading, economies crashing, people alone. Watching the news feels emotionally like reading the first part of the passage. A valley of dry bones – hope lost. 


We fear for our families and friends, for our communities and for society. How will we get though this? What will the future look like?


Some of us fear too for our churches, locked and inaccessible. I recognise that this was difficult news to hear this week as we closed our buildings, knowing that for many they are sanctuaries of calm to come and pray, and to deny people even that felt cruel. But the church could not be putting anyone at risk – so this decision had to be made and we must respect it for the sake of others.


But if we get out of the habit of coming to church, if we hide away in our houses, if we cannot pray together, then what hope for our church?


Ezekiel is led by God in his vision into the middle of this despair. He is led around the valley to see the depth of the despair. ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’.


And then Ezekiel is told to prophesy and to speak the words of life to them. God’s hope and breath causing life to begin again. 


I wonder if we – as God’s church in this place – can speak words of hope and life to a people in despair? By our actions, our telephone calls, our emails, our prayers – whispers and faint stirrings of God’s life and love will find their way into people’s hearts.


Here is the life of the church. Not on a Sunday morning in a building, but in the middle of a community at a time of need, prophesying hope. Into this valley of death God breathes his words of life and hope. 

The lectionary sometimes puts passages together which we would not normally read together. When we talk about context we read ahead of the passage and beyond it, or we consider the historical or social context. But I wonder if there such a thing as a ‘lectionary’ context? By laying the passage in Ezekiel alongside the passage from John’s gospel, what else do we see?


There are similarities. Both are about coming back to life. Both show God’s healing power. 

But the passage in John talks not of an army or a nation but of one man, Lazarus, and his family and friends. In this passage too we find despair, and even anger – as both Martha and Mary seem to accuse Jesus of unnecessarily delaying (verses 21 and 32). We see confusion, we see grief, but we also see compassion. 


This is not an army raised by Jesus, but one man. When Jesus heals, it is usually one person at a time. Even the feeding of the 5000 starts with one boy and a passing on of the food one person at a time until all were fed. 

We might feel hopeless in the face of such a huge challenge to our world and so many millions of people affected. But Jesus shows the way one person at a time. He shows compassion and love to one person at a time. His group of disciples were small, but they reached the whole world. 


At this time of difficulty and doubt – can we make a difference to one person today? Can we show compassion and love at the end of a telephone line? Can we pray with someone or for someone and really focus on them? Can we speak God’s words of life to our world?


A prayer: Thank you Jesus for your words of life. Speak them now to us. Amen. 

 

Collect for this Sunday:


Gracious Father, you gave up your Son out of love for the world: lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion, that we may know eternal peace through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.