Sunday, 18 March 2018

How we can accept ‘the staggering
readiness of God to forgive’

The Prophets Jeremiah (right) and Isaiah (left) in a window in Saint Michael’s Church, Pery Square, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 18 March 2018,

The Fifth Sunday in Lent,


11.30 a.m., The Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert, Co Kerry.

Readings: Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Psalm 51: 1-13; Hebrews 5: 5-10; John 12: 20-33.

May I speak to you in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Throughout these Sundays in Lent, our Old Testament readings this year (Year B) are focusing on covenantal relationships with God:

● On the First Sunday in Lent (18 February), we heard was the story of God’s covenant with Noah, with his descendants and ‘every living creature of all flesh’ (Genesis 9: 8-17).

● On the Second Sunday in Lent (25 February), the reading looked at God’s covenant with Abraham and his offspring after you throughout the generations … an everlasting covenant’ (Genesis 17: 1-7, 15-16).

● On the Third Sunday (4 March), we recalled the Ten Commandments, the symbol of that Covenant given in the wilderness in Sinai (Exodus 20: 1-17).

● On the Fourth Sunday (11 March), last Sunday, we heard the story of the rebellion against that covenant and the serpent of bronze that we interpret as a symbol of the promise of Christ’s coming (Numbers 21: 4-9).

● This Sunday, the Fifth Sunday in Lent (18 March), we hear of the promise to Jeremiah of a new covenant that will be like the covenant between a husband and wife and that will be written in the hearts of the people (Jeremiah 31: 31-34).

● Next Sunday, on the Sixth Sunday in Lent (Palm Sunday, 25 March), the theme of rebellion against God is addressed once again, with the promise of a new covenant ushered in by the suffering servant (Isaiah 50: 4-9a).

So, today’s Old Testament reading follows those readings about Covenant, and rebellion against Covenant, with the promise of a true Covenant.

This prophecy was written after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC. The American theologian Walter Brueggemann says this passage ‘is pivotal for both Judaism and Christianity.’

Jeremiah has spent much time and energy pointing out to Israel how down through the generations the people have systematically violated the covenant that was agreed between God and the people on Mount Sinai. They have violated the Ten Commandments through an economic policy that abused the poor, through a foreign policy that depended on military might, by theological practice that offended God, and by illusions of privilege before God.

Such violation brings with it, so say these poets, severe sanctions, leading to the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of its leading residents.

In the wake of brokenness and the inevitable shame, defeat and anxiety that come with that, Jeremiah in this reading asserts God’s resolve to renew the covenant that has been broken by ancient Israel (Jeremiah 31: 31-34).

Collective sin, in which descendants were punished for the wrong-doing of their ancestors and their families (verse 30), will be replaced by personal sin or sin that counts in only one generation. Punishment will no longer extend beyond a lifetime. Instead, God now promises to ‘make a new covenant’ (verse 31) with all the people.

The law, once written on stone tablets, will be written ‘on their hearts’ (verse 33) –each individual will recognise God in all actions, in every situation: each person will approach God in a godly way. God will forgive them for turning against him (their ‘iniquity’) and forget all the ways they have deviated from his way.

The psalm this morning (Psalm 51: 1-13) speaks of rebuilding Jerusalem (verse 18), and places its emphasis on individual sin, while it prays for personal pardon and restoration. The psalmist even asks God to turn a blind eye to this sin.

In the verses that follow our Old Testament reading (verses 36-40), Jeremiah says this new agreement will last for ever, and that ‘the days are surely coming’ when God’s people will be so numerous that Jerusalem will need to be enlarged.

This will be a renewed covenant, but one that stands in continuity with the covenant made on Mount Sinai. What guarantees continuity from that old broken covenant to this new covenant is that both depend on the mutual fidelity of God and the people.

The difference this time, though, is that the people will be ready to obey, which was not so in the past. The covenant now will be a glad practice of mutual fidelity. For all people, this is a genuine new beginning.

The ground for this new beginning is found in God’s willingness to begin anew. God, says Jeremiah, is ready to forgive and to forget, so that the renewed relationship is one of generosity and grace on God’s part.

The promise of new beginnings … sunrise at the Rectory, Askeaton, last Monday morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Walter Brueggemann says this new hope is grounded in divine generosity in four ways:

1, The divine promise of a new covenant means God resolves to restore his relationship with the Jews deportees in Babylon. This involves returning home to Jerusalem and a new beginning in faith for these people.

2, The early Christians experienced in Christ this promise of a new covenant and a new relationship with God. But they wanted to do so in the categories of Old Testament expressions of faith and relationship. Which helps to explain how our Epistle reading shows how they were trying to work out these ideas (Hebrews 5: 5-10), and the idea in this epistle that in Christ God has made a new beginning.

3, God’s gracious generosity permits forgiveness and reconciliation, even for those who do not merit such grace. Brueggemann calls this claim, grounded in the oracle of Jeremiah, ‘the staggering readiness of God to forgive.’

4, He goes on to ask what a renewed covenant in our society would look like and how it would be undertaken. He identifies the two ingredients for such renewal as a capacity for ‘forgiving and forgetting,’ and a new readiness to obey God.

Are there modern, contemporary parallels of the predicament that Jeremiah finds?

In a sermon some years ago [October 2011], Walter Brueggemann said: ‘There is no doubt that ‘Occupy Wall Street’ is a vivid and unmistakable instance of a broken social covenant whereby too many are shut out of the economic covenant that makes society possible and workable.’

When we think about ‘forgive and forget’ in our society, it contradicts the prevailing patterns in our society, where nothing is ever forgiven and nothing is ever forgotten: the Ulster Covenant, the Men of the Somme and whether they were stabbed in the back by the men of 1916, the War of Independence, the Civil War, the ‘Troubles.’ When and where can we ever think about ‘beginning again’? But God’s generosity reaches beyond our need to be satisfied by retaliation.

And in a renewed, covenantal society, would our values revolve around the command to love our neighbour?

What are the political, social and economic implications of that?

No-one is to be excluded from this new relationship with God. In our Gospel reading (John 12: 20-33), some gentiles, some Greeks, travel to Jerusalem, probably because they believe in God. But they were probably excluded, made to feel outsiders, because of their background in language, culture and ethnicity.

Having been turned first time round, they get their request to see Jesus (verse 21) to understand his message, to Andrew and Philip (verse 22), the two disciples with Greek names.

Christ takes this opportunity to talk about a new relationship with God that is going to bears fruit with new opportunities for us to take part in God’s glory, in his presence. There will be new beginnings.

God invites us to a fresh generosity, to move beyond petty and deep resentment, to embrace each other. Brueggemann says: ‘Where there is no forgiveness and no forgetting, society is fated to replay forever the same old hostilities, resentments, and alienations. What forgiveness accomplishes, human as well as divine, is to break the vicious cycles of such deathly repetition.’

We can forgive because God forgives us. I can love God and love others, because God loves me and loves others. And covenant means I must love because God loves me, and because God loves all the others.

In our Gospel reading, the Disciples are still not sure about what is going to happen, and they are anxious and afraid.

So often we fall back on old anxieties and old fears as a way of defending ourselves, but instead we end up isolating ourselves.

What if Christ is right this morning?

If he is right, then we have no need to fear. We need to follow. When Christ is lifted up, he draws all people to him: the Greeks who are telling Philip and Andrew that they want to see Christ, but are put on hold; the Pharisees who fear Christ is stirring up the people; the prophets of doom; and the peasants just trying to get by.

Jeremiah continues to challenge us about what we need to do, and to remind us of what does not need to be. And he reminds us that God invites us to move beyond what we think is our ‘fate’ to what is truly our possibility.

The God who Christ proclaimed, the God who created the universe, is still drawing the universe toward the justice for which it aches. That God is calling. Lent reminds us that the days are surely coming. God wants to inscribe God’s just and liberating word on our hearts, and for all, from the least to the greatest, to know it, to experience it, and to celebrate it.

And so may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

This sermon was prepared for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, 18 March 2018.

‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus” … a carving of Saint Philip on the pulpit in Saint Philip’s Church, Leicester (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical colour: Violet.

Penitential Kyries:

Lord God,
you sent your Son to reconcile us to yourself and to one another.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
you heal the wounds of sin and division.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Holy Spirit,
through you we put to death the sins of the body – and live.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Collect of the Day (the Fifth Sunday in 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.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Introduction to the Peace:

Now in union with Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of Christ's blood; for he is our peace. (Ephesians 2: 17)

Preface:

Through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
who, for the redemption of the world,
humbled himself to death on the cross;
that, being lifted up from the earth,
he might draw all people to himself:

Post Communion Prayer:

God of hope,
in this Eucharist we have tasted
the promise of your heavenly banquet
and the richness of eternal life.
May we who bear witness to the death of your Son,
also proclaim the glory of his resurrection,
for he is Lord for ever and ever.

Blessing:

Christ draw you to himself
and grant that you find in his cross a sure ground for faith,
a firm support for hope,
and the assurance of sins forgiven:

Hymns:

553, Jesu, lover of my soul
652, Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
226, It is a thing most wonderful

New ends and the promise of new beginnings … sunset at Balcarrick Beach in Donabate (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

When God’s generosity reaches beyond
our need to be satisfied by retaliation

The promise of new beginnings … sunrise at the Rectory, Askeaton, last Monday morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 18 March 2018,

The Fifth Sunday in Lent,


9.30 a.m., Morning Prayer, Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick.

Readings: Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Psalm 51: 1-13; Hebrews 5: 5-10; John 12: 20-33.

May I speak to you in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Throughout these Sundays in Lent, our Old Testament readings this year (Year B) are focusing on covenantal relationships with God:

● On the First Sunday in Lent (18 February), we heard was the story of God’s covenant with Noah, with his descendants and ‘every living creature of all flesh’ (Genesis 9: 8-17).

● On the Second Sunday in Lent (25 February), the reading looked at God’s covenant with Abraham and his offspring after you throughout the generations … an everlasting covenant’ (Genesis 17: 1-7, 15-16).

● On the Third Sunday (4 March), we recalled the Ten Commandments, the symbol of that Covenant given in the wilderness in Sinai (Exodus 20: 1-17).

● On the Fourth Sunday (11 March), last Sunday, we heard the story of the rebellion against that covenant and the serpent of bronze that we interpret as a symbol of the promise of Christ’s coming (Numbers 21: 4-9).

● This Sunday, the Fifth Sunday in Lent (18 March), we hear of the promise to Jeremiah of a new covenant that will be like the covenant between a husband and wife and that will be written in the hearts of the people (Jeremiah 31: 31-34).

● Next Sunday, on the Sixth Sunday in Lent (Palm Sunday, 25 March), the theme of rebellion against God is addressed once again, with the promise of a new covenant ushered in by the suffering servant (Isaiah 50: 4-9a).

So, today’s Old Testament reading follows those readings about Covenant, and rebellion against Covenant, with the promise of a true Covenant.

This prophecy was written after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC. The American theologian Walter Brueggemann says this passage ‘is pivotal for both Judaism and Christianity.’

Jeremiah has spent much time and energy pointing out to Israel how down through the generations the people have systematically violated the covenant that was agreed between God and the people on Mount Sinai. They have violated the Ten Commandments through an economic policy that abused the poor, through a foreign policy that depended on military might, by theological practice that offended God, and by illusions of privilege before God.

Such violation brings with it, so say these poets, severe sanctions, leading to the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of its leading residents.

In the wake of brokenness and the inevitable shame, defeat and anxiety that come with that, Jeremiah in this reading asserts God’s resolve to renew the covenant that has been broken by ancient Israel (Jeremiah 31: 31-34).

Collective sin, in which descendants were punished for the wrong-doing of their ancestors and their families (verse 30), will be replaced by personal sin or sin that counts in only one generation. Punishment will no longer extend beyond a lifetime. Instead, God now promises to ‘make a new covenant’ (verse 31) with all the people.

The law, once written on stone tablets, will be written ‘on their hearts’ (verse 33) –each individual will recognise God in all actions, in every situation: each person will approach God in a godly way. God will forgive them for turning against him (their ‘iniquity’) and forget all the ways they have deviated from his way.

The psalm this morning (Psalm 51: 1-13) speaks of rebuilding Jerusalem (verse 18), and places its emphasis on individual sin, while it prays for personal pardon and restoration. The psalmist even asks God to turn a blind eye to this sin.

In the verses that follow our Old Testament reading (verses 36-40), Jeremiah says this new agreement will last for ever, and that ‘the days are surely coming’ when God’s people will be so numerous that Jerusalem will need to be enlarged.

This will be a renewed covenant, but one that stands in continuity with the covenant made on Mount Sinai. What guarantees continuity from that old broken covenant to this new covenant is that both depend on the mutual fidelity of God and the people.

The difference this time, though, is that the people will be ready to obey, which was not so in the past. The covenant now will be a glad practice of mutual fidelity. For all people, this is a genuine new beginning.

The ground for this new beginning is found in God’s willingness to begin anew. God, says Jeremiah, is ready to forgive and to forget, so that the renewed relationship is one of generosity and grace on God’s part.

The Prophets Jeremiah (right) and Isaiah (left) in a window in Saint Michael’s Church, Pery Square, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Walter Brueggemann says this new hope is grounded in divine generosity in four ways:

1, The divine promise of a new covenant means God resolves to restore his relationship with the Jews deportees in Babylon. This involves returning home to Jerusalem and a new beginning in faith for these people.

2, The early Christians experienced in Christ this promise of a new covenant and a new relationship with God. But they wanted to do so in the categories of Old Testament expressions of faith and relationship. Which helps to explain how our Epistle reading shows how they were trying to work out these ideas (Hebrews 5: 5-10), and the idea in this epistle that in Christ God has made a new beginning.

3, God’s gracious generosity permits forgiveness and reconciliation, even for those who do not merit such grace. Brueggemann calls this claim, grounded in the oracle of Jeremiah, ‘the staggering readiness of God to forgive.’

4, He goes on to ask what a renewed covenant in our society would look like and how it would be undertaken. He identifies the two ingredients for such renewal as a capacity for ‘forgiving and forgetting,’ and a new readiness to obey God.

Are there modern, contemporary parallels of the predicament that Jeremiah finds?

In a sermon some years ago [October 2011], Walter Brueggemann said: ‘There is no doubt that ‘Occupy Wall Street’ is a vivid and unmistakable instance of a broken social covenant whereby too many are shut out of the economic covenant that makes society possible and workable.’

When we think about ‘forgive and forget’ in our society, it contradicts the prevailing patterns in our society, where nothing is ever forgiven and nothing is ever forgotten: the Ulster Covenant, the Men of the Somme and whether they were stabbed in the back by the men of 1916, the War of Independence, the Civil War, the ‘Troubles.’ When and where can we ever think about ‘beginning again’? But God’s generosity reaches beyond our need to be satisfied by retaliation.

And in a renewed, covenantal society, would our values revolve around the command to love our neighbour?

What are the political, social and economic implications of that?

No-one is to be excluded from this new relationship with God. In our Gospel reading (John 12: 20-33), some gentiles, some Greeks, travel to Jerusalem, probably because they believe in God. But they were probably excluded, made to feel outsiders, because of their background in language, culture and ethnicity.

Having been turned first time round, they get their request to see Jesus (verse 21) to understand his message, to Andrew and Philip (verse 22), the two disciples with Greek names.

Christ takes this opportunity to talk about a new relationship with God that is going to bears fruit with new opportunities for us to take part in God’s glory, in his presence. There will be new beginnings.

God invites us to a fresh generosity, to move beyond petty and deep resentment, to embrace each other. Brueggemann says: ‘Where there is no forgiveness and no forgetting, society is fated to replay forever the same old hostilities, resentments, and alienations. What forgiveness accomplishes, human as well as divine, is to break the vicious cycles of such deathly repetition.’

We can forgive because God forgives us. I can love God and love others, because God loves me and loves others. And covenant means I must love because God loves me, and because God loves all the others.

In our Gospel reading, the Disciples are still not sure about what is going to happen, and they are anxious and afraid.

So often we fall back on old anxieties and old fears as a way of defending ourselves, but instead we end up isolating ourselves.

What if Christ is right this morning?

If he is right, then we have no need to fear. We need to follow. When Christ is lifted up, he draws all people to him: the Greeks who are telling Philip and Andrew that they want to see Christ, but are put on hold; the Pharisees who fear Christ is stirring up the people; the prophets of doom; and the peasants just trying to get by.

Jeremiah continues to challenge us about what we need to do, and to remind us of what does not need to be. And he reminds us that God invites us to move beyond what we think is our ‘fate’ to what is truly our possibility.

The God who Christ proclaimed, the God who created the universe, is still drawing the universe toward the justice for which it aches. That God is calling. Lent reminds us that the days are surely coming. God wants to inscribe God’s just and liberating word on our hearts, and for all, from the least to the greatest, to know it, to experience it, and to celebrate it.

And so may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

This sermon was prepared for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, 18 March 2018.

‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus” … a carving of Saint Philip on the pulpit in Saint Philip’s Church, Leicester (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical colour: Violet.

Penitential Kyries:

Lord God,
you sent your Son to reconcile us to yourself and to one another.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
you heal the wounds of sin and division.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Holy Spirit,
through you we put to death the sins of the body – and live.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Collect of the Day (the Fifth Sunday in 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.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Introduction to the Peace:

Now in union with Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of Christ's blood; for he is our peace. (Ephesians 2: 17)

Blessing:

Christ draw you to himself
and grant that you find in his cross a sure ground for faith,
a firm support for hope,
and the assurance of sins forgiven:

Hymns:

553, Jesu, lover of my soul
652, Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
226, It is a thing most wonderful

New ends and the promise of new beginnings … sunset at Balcarrick Beach in Donabate (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Following the Stations
of the Cross in Lent 33:
Lichfield 1: Condemned

‘Condemned’ … Station 1 in the Chapel at Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, Pilate condemns Jesus to die (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

This morning is the Fifth Sunday in Lent and we are moving into the last two weeks in Lent. Until Vatican II, this Sunday was known in the Roman Catholic tradition as Passion Sunday, and this Sunday still marks the beginning of the two weeks of Passiontide. Later this morning, I am at Morning Prayer in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick, at 9.30 a.m., and presiding and preaching at the Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2) in Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert, Co Kerry, at 11.30 a.m.

In my meditations and reflections in Lent this year, I am being guided by the Stations of the Cross from three locations. The idea for this series of morning Lenten meditations came from reading about Peter Walker’s new exhibition, ‘Imagining the Crucifixion,’ inspired by the Stations of the Cross, which opened in Lichfield Cathedral last month and continues until the end of Lent.

Throughout Lent, my meditations each morning are inspired by three sets of Stations of the Cross that I have found either inspiring or unusual. They are the stations in Saint Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, at Saint John’s Well on a mountainside near Millstreet, Co Cork, and in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield.

In my meditations, I am drawing on portions of the Stabat Mater, the 12th century hymn of the Crucifixion (‘At the cross her station keeping’) attributed to the Franciscan poet Jacopone da Todi. Some prayers are traditional, some are from the Book of Common Prayer, and other meditations and prayers are by Canon Frank Logue and the Revd Victoria Logue of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

Lichfield 1: ‘Condemned’

For the last two weeks in Lent, I am looking at the 14 Stations of the Cross in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield. Since the age of 19, I have regarded this chapel as my spiritual home

Passiontide traditionally begins on this Sunday, the Fifth Sunday in Lent, and the Stations of the Cross begin with Christ’s condemnation before Pontius Pilate.

In the First Station in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, instead of the traditional full description, there is one word in plain capital letters: Condemned.

Behind Pilate’s throne are the initials SPQR, symbolising the Latin title, Senatus Populusque Romanus, ‘The Roman Senate and People,’ which appears on Roman currency, at the end of documents made public by inscription in stone or metal, in dedications of monuments and public works, and on the signs of the Roman legions.

This title is first recorded in inscriptions of the Late Republic, from ca 80 BC on. Previously, the official name of the Roman state was simply Roma. The abbreviation last appears on coins of Constantine the Great (312–337), the first Christian Roman emperor. It continues to be used in Rome today, although Italians have long used a humorous expansion of this acronym, Sono Pazzi Questi Romani (‘They’re crazy, these Romans’).

Pilate has his right hand raised, almost as in mockery of giving a blessing, or perhaps hinting at the fascist salute. His left hand is pointing down as if pointing towards the bowl in which he washes his hands of all responsibility for his actions.

The band over his right shoulder at first looks like a deacon’s stole, as if Pilate the Servant is mocking Christ the Suffering Servant. Yet is also seems to bind his hands, as if to say his hands are tied and he has no other option.

Christ stands before him with a glance of a rope on his right wrist indicating how he has been bound and punished. He wears a simple robe draped over his shoulders and holds in his hands a reed, placed there is mockery of the claims that he is a king.

From Stabat Mater:

Lord Jesus, crucified, have mercy on us!
At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Meditation:

Betrayed. Deserted. Alone. Jesus stands before an unjust judge. Dry palm branches crackle under the feet of the crowd. Soldiers rain down punches and crown him with thorns. Jesus is condemned to die.

Prayers:

Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world, you knew no sin and yet were sentenced to death. Assist me by your mercy to see the beam in my own eye and to remove it before I look to the speck in the eyes of others. This we pray in the name of Jesus, our crucified Lord, the King of Glory, the King of Peace. Amen.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because by your holy cross You have redeemed the world.

Jesus, you stand all alone before Pilate. Nobody speaks up for you. Nobody helps defend you. You devoted your entire life to helping others, listening to the smallest ones, caring for those who were ignored by others. They do not seem to remember that as they prepare to put you to death.

My Jesus, often have I signed the death warrant by my sins; save me by your death from that eternal death which I have so often deserved.

Jesus is condemned to death … an image on the façade of Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Collect of the Day (The Fifth Sunday in 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.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A prayer before walking to the next station:

Holy God,
Holy and mighty Holy immortal one,
Have mercy on us.

Tomorrow: ‘Receives Cross’ … Station 2 in the Chapel at Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, Jesus accepts his Cross.

Yesterday’s reflection

The Tudor façade of Saint John’s Hospital, facing onto Saint John Street, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)