Sunday, 12 April 2020

Sunday intercessions
on Easter Day

‘Do not be afraid’ (Matthew 28: 5) … words on a gable end on Richmond Street in Portobello, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

These intercessions were prepared for use last night at the Easter Eucharist in Saint Brendan’s Church Kilnaughtin (Tarbert), Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, and at the Easter Eucharist this morning in Castletown Church and Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale. However, the churches have been closed temporarily because of the Covid-19 or Corona Virus pandemic:

Let us pray on this Easter Day:

Lord God, our Heavenly Father:

Jesus says, ‘Do not be afraid’ (Matthew 28: 5), ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’ (John 20: 17):

We pray this morning for all who are afraid and live in fear …
in fear of the Corona virus …
in fear for their health and for their families…
in fear for the future …
in fear of hunger and hatred …

We pray for people who are not at home …
for those who cannot return home …
for all in hospitals or who are isolated …
for families finding it difficult to work at home, to stay at home …
to care for and to school children at home …
for the homeless, the migrants and the refugees …

We pray for the nations of the world in this time of crisis,
for our own country, Ireland north and south …
for those bearing the responsibility of government …
for those working in frontline services …
and for those who keep working on essential supply lines …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

Lord Jesus Christ:

You ask us: ‘Why are you weeping? (John 20: 12):

We pray for the Church,
that as the Church we may be messengers of hope and joy,
sharing the good news of the Resurrection.

We pray for churches that are closed this morning,
that the hearts of the people may remain open
to the love of God, and to the love of others.

In the Church of Ireland,
we pray this month for
the Diocese of Down and Dromore and Bishop David McClay.

We pray for our Bishop Kenneth,
we pray for our neighbouring parishes
in Limerick, Adare and Tralee,
their parishioners and people,
their priests: Jim, Phyllis, Liz, and Niall,
that we may grow closer together
in mission, ministry and hospitality.

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer,
we pray for the Peace of Jerusalem
and the People of the Land of the Holy One.

In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer,
we pray for Aughaval Union of Parishes in the Diocese of Tuam,
their priest, Canon Jennifer McWhirter,
and the congregations of
Holy Trinity, Westport, Christ Church, Castlebar.
Saint Thomas’s, Dugort (Achill Island), and Turlough Church.

Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

Holy Spirit:

‘This is the day that the Lord has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it’ (Psalm 118: 24):

We pray for ourselves and for our needs,
for healing, restoration and health,
in body, mind and spirit.

We pray for the needs of one another,
for those who are alone and lonely …
for those who travel …
for those who are sick, at home or in hospital …
Alan ... Ajay … Charles …
Lorraine … James …
Niall … Linda ... Basil …

We pray for those who grieve …
for those who remember loved ones …
May their memory be a blessing to us.

We pray for those who have broken hearts …
for those who live with disappointment …
for those who are alone and lonely …
We pray for all who are to be baptised,
We pray for all preparing to be married,
We pray for those who are about to die …

We pray for those who have asked for our prayers …
for those we have offered to pray for …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

A prayer on this Sunday, Easter Day,
in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG,
United Society Partners in the Gospel:

Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end,
Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to him, and all ages;
to him be glory and power, through every age and for ever.
Alleluia, Christ is risen: he is risen indeed. Alleluia! Amen.
(From the Easter Liturgy)

Merciful Father, …

Saint Thomas’s Church, Dugort, Achill Island … named in the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

On days when we cannot see
and cannot touch those we love

The Resurrection depicted in a fresco in Analipsi Church in Georgioupoli, Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Easter Day, Sunday 12 April 2020:

9.30 am: the Easter Eucharist (HC 2), Castletown;

11.30 am: the Easter Eucharist (HC 2), Rathkeale.

Readings: Acts 10: 34-43; Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3: 1-4; John 20: 1-18.

The Maurice Peel memorial window in Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth, depicts Life, Death and Resurrection (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!


‘Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb’ (John 20: 1).

This morning’s story of the Resurrection is filled with fear: the women who come to the tomb have witnessed Christ’s horrific death; now, as they steal away under the cover of early dawn to the tomb, their fears seem confirmed when they think that the body of Christ has been robbed from the grave.

In Saint Matthew’s account of the Resurrection, which we read last night, the guards at the tomb shake with fear and become like dead men; the women are so visibly filled with fear that they have to be calmed down and are told: ‘Do not be afraid.’

It was such a shocking time for the women and for the disciples that first Easter weekend. It is a weekend filled with experiences of fear, isolation, betrayal, abandonment and a lonely death.

In two Gospel accounts, Saint Matthew and Saint Mark, the last words of the dying Christ on the cross include a cry that expresses the bitter agony of dying alone: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

It is a literary device of the time to quote a psalm’s opening words to put its full thoughts into the mouth of a speaker. In this case, the dying Christ is quoting Psalm 22, which begins by asking why God seemingly cannot hear ‘the words of my distress’:

O my God, I cry in the daytime,
but you do not answer;
by night as well, but I find no rest.


In these restless days, as people feel fearful, isolated and betrayed, as they watch their loved ones die in bitter agony, feeling abandoned and alone in their final hours, the cry to God of the dying Christ on the Cross on Good Friday has become the everyday cry of many people of faith in the despair created by the Covid-19 pandemic and in their forced isolation.

It would be too easy, but meaningless, to respond or to reply with easy platitudes that speak about having hope and looking forward to the new life promised in the Resurrection and Easter.

And yet, there are so many resonances with today’s stories in the Easter story as it unfolds in the Gospels.

Christ too is buried hurriedly without the presence of his friends, with few members of his family present. Two men who are not part of his inner circle, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, attend to the hasty burial. After his death, his closest friends, the disciples, hide away in fear, locked behind closed doors, fretful for the future.

Yet Psalm 22 ends with hope not just for the future but for future generations:

The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live for ever!
(Psalm 22: 26)

For those of us who are worried about not opening our church doors this Easter, we should remind ourselves of how the apostles were locked away too in fear that first Easter. Fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of what the future may hold, are often at the heart of motivating communal religious experiences and responses.

For those who are worried about not being able to touch and hug those they love, the experience of Mary Magdalene in the garden that first Easter morning has new significance and meaning.

At first, the disciples fail to realise the possibility of a new future. The men stay behind closed doors while the women visit the tomb early that morning. It takes some time for them to accept the news the women bring back from the empty tomb. But for the next 40 days, two phrases are repeated constantly by the Risen Christ: ‘Peace be with you!’ and ‘Be not afraid!’

Christ repeats these words over and over again … for, even in the darkest days, there is always hope, and hope that offers new life.

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!


‘Noli me tangere’ … a Resurrection image in a stained glass window in Saint John’s Church in Wall, near Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 20: 1-18 (NRSVA):

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’.” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

‘Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark …’ (John 20: 1) … an early morning scene before dawn in a small Mediterranean town (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical Colour: White (or Gold).

The Greeting (from Easter Day until Pentecost):

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Penitential Kyries:

Lord God,
you raised your Son from the dead.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
through you we are more than conquerors.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Holy Spirit,
you help us in our weakness.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Collect:

Almighty God,
through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ
you have overcome death
and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
Grant that, as by your grace going before us
you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Introduction to the Peace:

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said,
Peace be with you.
Then were they glad when they saw the Lord.
(John 20: 19, 20)

Preface:

Above all we praise you
for the glorious resurrection of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord,
the true paschal lamb who was sacrificed for us;
by dying he destroyed our death;
by rising he restored our life:

The Post-Communion Prayer:

Living God,
for our redemption you gave your only-begotten Son
to the death of the cross,
and by his glorious resurrection
you have delivered us from the power of our enemy.
Grant us so to die daily unto sin,
that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his risen life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Blessing:

The God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus
that great shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight:

or:

God the Father,
by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead,
raise you up to walk with him in the newness of his risen life:

Dismissal: (from Easter Day to Pentecost):

Go in the peace of the Risen Christ. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Hymns:

286, The strife is o’er, the battle done (CD 12)
78, This is the day that the Lord has made (CD 5)
263, Crown him with many crowns (CD 14)

‘Noli me Tangere’ … a stained glass window in the Priory Church, Penmon, Anglesey (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.

Praying in Easter with USPG:
1, Easter Day, 12 April 2020

A sign of hope and new life … a rose on the fence at the concentration camp in Birkenau (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Lent is over and today is Easter Day [12 April 2020]. Later this morning, I should be celebrating and preaching at the Easter Eucharist in Castletown Church, Kilcornan (9.30 a.m.) and Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick (11.30 a.m.). Like all churches throughout the Diocese of Limerick, the lights in these churches stayed on all night as I sign of hope. For these are not normal times, and on the advice of the Bishop, all services have been cancelled for the past few weeks in these dioceses.

Throughout Lent this year, I was using the USPG Prayer Diary, Pray with the World Church, for my morning prayers and reflections. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of the Holocaust, so I was illustrating my reflections each morning with images that emphasise this theme.

USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is the Anglican mission agency that partners churches and communities worldwide in God’s mission to enliven faith, strengthen relationships, unlock potential, and champion justice. It was founded in 1701.

In this coming week (12 to 18 April 2020), the USPG Prayer Diary takes as its theme, ‘Living with a World of Difference: Alleluia.’ This theme is introduced this morning by the Revd Canon Richard Bartlett, USPG’s Director of Mission Engagement.

In his introduction, he writes:

‘Alleluia, Christ is risen: he is risen indeed, Alleluia!’ The ancient joyful response which Christians across much of the world cry out today, as we celebrate the joy of the resurrection and the hope that Christ brings to the world. This is the response from churches in many, though not all, parts of the world today: for the Orthodox Easter is not until next Sunday – a reminder that in the wider ecumenical church, we live ‘with a world of difference’: our Orthodox friends today are just embarking on Holy Week.

Many of us, across the world, have been using the USPG course ‘Living with a world of difference’ during Lent. We may have learned, shared and experienced more deeply not only the differences celebrated in the course, but also differences shared between our group members along the way. We are all uniquely created, difference is part of our DNA, we celebrate that God given difference. And we celebrate today that which holds all our differences together: the resurrection of Jesus. Whatever divides us, the resurrection of Christ unites us. Now there’s something to celebrate! Alleluia, Christ is risen: he is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Sunday 12 April 2020 (Easter Day):

Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end,
Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to him, and all ages;
to him be glory and power, through every age and for ever.
Alleluia, Christ is risen: he is risen indeed. Alleluia! Amen.
(From the Easter Liturgy)

The Readings: Acts 10: 34-43; Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3: 1-4; John 20: 1-18.

The Collect (Easter Day):

Almighty God,
through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ
you have overcome death
and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
Grant that, as by your grace going before us
you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post-Communion Prayer:

Living God,
for our redemption you gave your only-begotten Son
to the death of the cross,
and by his glorious resurrection
you have delivered us from the power of our enemy.
Grant us so to die daily unto sin,
that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his risen life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

‘Noli me tangere’ … a Resurrection image in a stained glass window in Saint John’s Church in Wall, near Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)