Sunday, 21 March 2021

Sunday intercessions on
21 March 2021,
Fifth Sunday in Lent,
Passion Sunday

‘Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow’ (Psalm 51: 8) … snow at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Let us pray:

‘Now is the judgement of this world’ (John 12:31):

Heavenly Father,
on Passion Sunday,
we give thanks for all who are driven by passion,
to love this earth, to seek justice and
to bring about change where it is needed.

We pray for all who defend democracy and human rights,
including those in our police, and in our courts,
all who stand against racism, prejudice and oppression,
for all nations torn and divided by war and strife,
and we pray for all peacemakers …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus’ (John 12: 21):

Lord Jesus Christ,
we pray for the Church,
that we may love one another and nurture one another,
and have passion for ministering the Sacraments and preaching the Gospel.

We pray for our neighbouring churches and parishes
in Co Limerick and Co Kerry,
that we may be blessed in their variety and diversity.

We pray for all taking part in the diocesan Lenten study course
on Anglican mission on Tuesday evenings.

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer this week,
we pray for the Church of England, and
and the Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the Church of Ireland this month,
we pray for the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe
and Bishop Andrew Forster.

In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer this week,
we pray for the Kilcolman Union of parishes,
the Revd Isabel Stuart, the Revd Ann-Marie Keegan,
and the congregations of Saint Michael’s Church, Killorglin,
and Saint Carthage’s Church, Castlemaine.

We pray too for local churches of other traditions,
their priests and ministers and their congregations.

We pray for our own parishes and people,
for our schools as they gradually reopen,
for our select vestries as they meet this week,
and we pray for ourselves …

Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

‘Make me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me’ (Psalm 51: 11):

Holy Spirit,
we pray for one another and for ourselves,
we pray those we love and those who love us,
we pray for family, friends and neighbours,
and we pray for those we promised to pray for.

We pray for Sarah and Brian …

We pray for those in need and those who seek healing …
for those working for healing …
for those waiting for healing …
for those seeking an end to this Covid crisis …

We pray for those who are sick or isolated,
at home or in hospital …

Una … Ann … Daphne … Sylvia … Ajay …
Ena … George … Louise …

We pray for those we have offered to pray for …
and we pray for those who pray for us …

We pray for all who grieve and mourn at this time …
for Joey, Kenneth, Victor, and their families …
for Pat and Daphne and their families …

We remember and give thanks for those who have died …
especially for Linda Smyth … Eileen …
and for those whose anniversaries are at this time …
May their memories be a blessing to us …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

A prayer from the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) on the Fifth Sunday in Lent:

God of justice and peace,
You have made us equal and we are precious in your sight.
Help us to pray and work without ceasing
for a world free of racism, prejudice, and oppression.

Merciful Father …

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

These intercessions were prepared for use in the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes on Sunday 21 March 2021, the Fifth Sunday in Lent



When we want to
pose for our own
‘selfies’ with Jesus

‘Some Greeks came to Philip … and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus’ (John 12: 20-21) … the Monument of Alexander the Great in Thessaloniki, looking out towards Mount Olympus (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday next 21 March 2021

The Fifth Sunday in Lent (Passion Sunday)

10 a.m.:
the Parish Eucharist

The Readings: Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Psalm 51: 1-13; John 12: 20-33

There is a link to these readings HERE.

‘But this is the covenant that I will make … and I will write it on their hearts’ (Jeremiah 31: 33) … hearts decorating a bar in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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

One Easter morning, when all the great Greek excitement of Easter was over – the processions, the parades, the late-night services, the bands and the street crowds – we enjoyed the calm and peace of the morning, and we walked the length of the seafront in Thessaloniki.

After all the solemnity and excitement is over, after the Lenten fasts have come to an end, no-one in Greece stirs outside their family home on Easter morning. It almost felt like we had the seafront to ourselves as we walked from the harbour to the landmark White Tower and on to the monumental sculpture of Alexander the Great.

The White Tower is a mixture of Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman work. It was a prison and a place of massacre, and it was once known as the Red Tower, because of the blood splattered on the walls of the countless victims of torture and execution. After Thessaloniki was incorporated into the modern Greek state, the tower was whitewashed in a symbolic gesture of cleansing.

As this morning’s psalm says, ‘Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow’ (Psalm 51: 10).

From there, we walked on to the Monument of Alexander the Great at Nea Paralia. This is a tall sculpture, six metres tall, by the artist Evangelos Moustakas, and shows Alexander the Great on his horse Voukefalas (Bucephalus).

Thessaloniki is proud that it is the city of both Aristotle and Alexander the Great. At one time, Alexander the Great was so powerful and his empire so expansive that to many Greeks he seemed to be the ruler of the world (see John 12: 31). And every Greek knows Alexander the Great was the son of Philip of Macedon.

In this morning’s Gospel reading, some Greeks are in Jerusalem for the Festival – the Festival of Passover, which begins next Saturday night (27 March) for this year, and which for Christians becomes Easter. These Greeks, we are told, wish to see Jesus; so, it is only natural that they should go to Philip and ask him to help them get through the crowds to see Jesus.

Every Greek would have expected that someone with the name Philip would speak Greek. Finding Philip in the crowd must have been like finding your local TD outside the Dáil and asking him to bring you into Leinster House to meet the Taoiseach.

Philip thinks about what to do. But instead of going to Jesus, he goes to Andrew, who is yet another disciple with a Greek name. Perhaps those Greek visitors, those Greek pilgrims or tourists, think they are in with the in-crowd. They have found not one, but two Greek-speakers among the disciples.

But the story is bewildering. We are not told whether they ever get to see Jesus.

Are they simply looking for the first century equivalent of a ‘selfie’ – wanting not so much to see Jesus but to be seen with Jesus, without listening to Jesus, still less without the commitment involved in following Jesus?

Do they hear his call, ‘follow me’ (John 12: 26)?

In this Gospel reading, we are in the days before Palm Sunday, and the days before Passover. The Sabbath immediately preceding Passover is known as Shabbat haGadol (שבת הגדול), the ‘Great Sabbath.’ This year, this Sabbath falls next Saturday (27 March 2021.) The haftarah or prophetic portion read on that Sabbath (Malachi 3: 4-24) speaks of the ‘great day’ of God on which the Messiah will appear.

Malachi is an anonymous prophet – the name Malachi simply means ‘my messenger.’ But in this passage, he also says:

You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What do we profit by keeping his command or by going about as mourners before the Lord of hosts? Now we count the arrogant happy; evildoers not only prosper, but when they put God to the test they escape’ (Malachi 3: 14-15).

Whether that portion had already become established as a reading by the time Saint John’s Gospel was written, the Sabbath before the Passover was already one that was imbued with expectations of the appearance of the Messiah, and the readers of this Gospel, at this stage, would expect to hear Jesus speaking about those who have turned away from serving God.

So Christ reminds those who are listening to him in this Gospel reading that those who love him must serve, and ‘whoever serves me must follow me’ (John 12: 26).

But then, on the other hand, are Philip and Andrew like power brokers? Do they take advantage of their positions to control access to Christ, instead of inviting others to follow Christ?

The mission of Israel was to be a light to the gentiles. But in questioning, doubting – perhaps even denying – that those Greeks should have access to Christ too, are Philip and Andrew denying the mission and purpose of their own people, the reason they are freed at Passover from slavery in Egypt?

Are they, perhaps, denying the mission and witness of Christ, the inclusivity of Christ?

Do they behave as if Christ is only for them, their culture, their people, and not for all, irrespective of cultural or ethnic origins, language, background or gender?

In the second part of this Gospel story, we are pointed not just to the Cross, but to the resurrection. This is not just a story for Lent, but a story filled with the Easter promise of the Resurrection.

In the long run, the conclusion to this story is found in the experience of Greeks visiting Jerusalem after the Resurrection, just 50 days later, at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit is poured out on devout people of every nation, and the disciples find they are heard by each one present in their own language.

It becomes a foundational experience for the Church.

Saint Paul finds it so transforming that he reminds his readers: ‘There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ’ (Galatians 3: 28).

Am I like Philip and Andrew, too comfortable with a Christ who fits my own cultural comforts, my own demands and expectations?

Do I all to easily lock Christ away in my own ‘churchiness,’ to the point that the stone might never have been rolled away from the tomb on Easter morning?

What prejudices from the past do I use to dress up my image of Christ today?

If Saint Paul is right …. then Christ reaches out too to those who are marginalised in our society because of their gender, sexuality, colour, language or religious background.

In Christ there is no Catholic nor Protestant, no male and female, no black and white, no gay and straight.

And every time I reduce Christ to my own comfortable categories I keep him behind that stone rolled across the tomb.

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

‘Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow’ (Psalm 51: 10) … the White Tower has become an emblem of Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 12: 20-33 (NRSVA):

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

27 ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say — “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ 30 Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus’ … Saint Philip (left) in a stained-glass window in the chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical colour: Violet.

The canticle Gloria is omitted in Lent.

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 (Lent V):

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:

‘Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow’ (Psalm 51: 8) … snow in Cloister Court, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Hymns:

125, Hail to the Lord’s anointed (CD 8)
656, Nearer, my God, to thee (CD 38)

Strolling on the seafront in Thessaloniki, leading to the White Tower (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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



Praying in Lent and Easter 2021:
33, Saint Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy

Saint Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy, Pugin’s ‘Irish Gem’ overlooking the River Slaney in Co Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During Lent and Easter this year, I am taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, a photograph of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

Today is the Fifth Sunday in Lent (21 March 2021), sometimes known as Passion Sunday.’ This week I am offering photographs from seven churches that were designed by Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-1852), the architect singularly responsible for shaping and influencing the Gothic revival in church architecture on these islands.

My photographs this morning (21 March 2021) are from Saint Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.

The cathedral is the largest building in Ireland designed by Pugin, who based his design on the ruins of Tintern Abbey in Wales. Saint Aidan’s is a three-quarter size replica of Tintern, as Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney, is a three-quarter size scale model of Salisbury Cathedral.

The cathedral was built in two phases: the eastern parts were built between June 1843 and June 1846, and the nave and aisles were built between 1846 and 1848. The interior was completed by James Joseph McCarthy (1817-1882).

The names of the Bishops of Ferns, from Saint Aidan in 632 to the present day, include Bishop Edmund Comerford, in Saint Aidan’s Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 12: 20-33 (NRSVA):

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

27 ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say — “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ 30 Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (21 March 2021), the Fifth Sunday in Lent and International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, prays:

God of justice and peace,
You have made us equal and we are precious in your sight.
Help us to pray and work without ceasing
for a world free of racism, prejudice, and oppression.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Inside Saint Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org