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Worship Sheet for Sunday 3 April                 Perfume, Poverty and Polarising     

Judas and Mary figure in today’s passage with the former being castigated for his betrayal and his embezzlement while Mary is commended for her ultra generous anointing of Jesus with precious perfume. I’m suggesting that especially in the current climate we take care not to point the finger at others as a way of excusing ourselves for our own shortcomings.
Call: On the fifth Sunday in Lent we gather. We come to remember and celebrate the good news of Jesus, who enjoyed time with friends, even with one who would betray him. We come as we are, full of faults and failings, yet loved by God. Let us come close to God, as God comes close to us.

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Listen to the 1st Prayer

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Pray : Almighty God, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, we come this day to worship you, and to ask for your guidance upon our lives. We come to be still, we come to listen, we come to be together, and we come to offer ourselves to you. For when we have spoken without thinking, when we have harmed rather than healed, when we have excluded instead of welcomed: Forgive us, and hear our prayers, said and unsaid, in this moment. (pause). We give thanks Lord for all that we are, all that we have, and for the wisdom to pause and reflect, in the hope that our words will bless the world around us. In a world where it is all too common for the finger to be pointed at others, where the sins of the world are laid on the shoulders of one or two evil men, remind us that without exception we are all in need of forgiveness – and that your Son went to the cross to accomplish just that. Without removing the need for people to be held to account, give us the grace to face up to our own failings and to seek your forgiveness. We pray in the name of Jesus who taught us to pray together saying: Our Father…

Todays Bible reading - Listen by clicking on the image or using the sound bar below
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John 12:1-8.   Jesus at Bethany – Judas and Mary contrasted.        
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Thought- Goodies and Baddies – perhaps you played games along those lines in the playground. Much of life is predicated on clear distinctions between good and evil without much room for blurred edges. It is a small step from there to imagining that we or “our side” can do no wrong and that “they” can do no right. I’m not pretending that there aren’t awful things happening in the world just now nor that certain individuals should not have to be held accountable for their heinous actions but it doesn’t do anyone any good to act as though we were totally without fault, blameless. ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We each need the forgiveness. Jesus died for you and me too. HE is the scapegoat who took the sin of the world upon himself – not Judas, Hitler or Putin. Jesus accepted Judas’ service as well as Mary’s. We can discuss the merits of spending that kind of money on perfume but Jesus was only going to his death once and without a doubt he cared for the poor and vulnerable and urges his followers to do the same, to love our neighbours (whoever and wherever they are) as we love ourselves. Polarising has the effect of distorting the truth and masking our own fallible nature – let’s not do it, let’s seek honesty and integrity – and let’s be ready to admit our faults and seek forgiveness too. Us and them will only get us so far. Deep love much further.

Praise: CH4 380         There is a green hill.        
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Listen to the 2nd Prayer

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Pray: Loving God, you spoke love into this world, you called each of us by name to know you and be with you always. We give thanks today for the truth and the wisdom shown to us through the life of your Son, our saviour Jesus. We pray for our troubled world, aching under the afflictions of disease, poverty, and war, facing challenges and rifts so deep that we had assumed such aggression was in the past; help us and all those with the power to do so, to speak and implement justice; help us, in your name to bring peace and understanding to all peoples, not least those who have had their world turn upside down in recent weeks. We pray too for our country and communities, in this time of change and upheaval, for generosity towards the vulnerable, for optimism and hope amongst the uncertainty; help us and all those in positions of power, elected and unelected, to seek to do what is right and good and true, to turn from error, to shine light into the darkness, hope into the hopelessness, and let us, who know your love, to bring it in word and deed, to everyone we meet. We pray for your church, as we seek to serve the communities and parishes around us, help us to understand your love, to use it and cherish it as we dedicate ourselves once more to your message and mission. And we pray or ourselves and all those we love, each with our own strengths and weaknesses, doubts and hopes, help us to hear your word, and use our words for the good of your kingdom, the joy of your people and the glory of your name. In in our prayer walk we remember this week those who live or work in Provost Mitchell Road and further afield once again all caught up in the invasion of Ukraine.

SILENCE. Hear and answer our prayers silent and spoken out for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Blessing - May the Lord bless you. Amen.