Worship for Passion Sunday

Hymn Lead us, Heavenly Father, lead us


Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you

All   and also with you.

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.


For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the LORD’s death until he comes.  1Corinthians 12:26

O Saviour of the world, who by thy cross and passion hast redeemed us, save us and help us we humbly beseech thee, O Lord.

Prayers of Penitence

Our Lord Jesus Christ said:
The first commandment is this
‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.’
The second is this:
‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
There is no other commandment greater than these.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
All   Amen. Lord, have mercy.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith,
firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments
and to live in love and peace with all.

All   Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for us, forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life to the glory of your name. Amen.

Almighty God,
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon us
pardon and deliver us from all our sins,
confirm and strengthen us in all goodness,
and keep us in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect for Passion Sunday
O God, who by the passion of your blessed Son has made the instrument of shameful death to be to us the means of life and peace:
Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ that we may gladly suffer shame and loss; for the sake of the same thy Son our Lord.

New Testament Reading:  Romans 8:6-11

6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law – indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.


Gospel Hymn Cross of Jesus

GOSPEL:  John 11.1–45

1 A certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ 4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ 5 Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6 after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ 8 The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ 9 Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ 11 After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ 12 The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ 13 Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. 15 For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ 16 Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’ 17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home.

21 Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ 23 Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ 24 Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ 25 Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ 27 She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’ 28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ 37 But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’ 38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb.

It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.’ 40 Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’ 45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary

and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.


Address by Reverend Elizabeth Bunker

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

These times in which we are living are definitely rather more than interesting aren’t they? They are difficult, challenging, bewildering but most of all they are uncertain. So we need to remember that however uncertain our times, God’s love is certain and God’s love is not temporal – it is eternal. And this love comes to us wherever we are.

Recently I was reading about a small group of Christians in Aleppo in Syria. During the worst days of the dreadful bombardment in 2016 this group tried to reach out to their community under fire. They opened a pharmacy in the church, offering some basic medical care. In the worst times they dug wells in the church grounds to provide access to desperately needed clean water. Some days they continued to work when they were almost past endurance because they believed Jesus was there, suffering and serving with them.
What is more when the war was over they began to rebuild their community. There was a lost generation of children who had received little education but had experienced appalling violence. So the churches re-opened the schools with as normal a timetable as possible. The suffering and the death were real; destruction was all around; their homes, their whole town had disappeared under rubble. No family was untouched by tragedy. But for the next few years this group has worked with others to put flesh on the bones of recovery and to learn to breathe again. And they continue to do so.

Two weeks ago I was present with many others at the Collation of our new Archdeacon, Jane Mainwaring, previously Team Vicar of St Mark’s Hitchin. She began her address by giving us an indication of how she was planning to minister in her new role.  She knew she didn’t have all the answers, she didn’t possess a magic wand, but she was sure that with all of us Christian people working together with her in this ministry we could share God’s love with our neighbours and lead more people to know Jesus for themselves. This could be achieved by our words and our deeds and the way we live our lives.

In a town of rubble, such as Aleppo, as in a valley of dry bones, the healing process of lives and of community is long and slow. Nobody has all the answers; there is no magic wand. Progress is made slowly, very slowly, step by small step.

Let’s look at this account of the raising of Lazarus which forms the middle chapter of John’s gospel. I have based much of this on the words of Sam Wells in his book: Speaking the Truth. The gospel tells the story of how Jesus crosses three thresholds to bring about resurrection.
1) At the start Jesus is outside Judaea and we may wonder why he waited so long before going to Lazarus and his sisters. What does this mean in the context of the whole gospel, the whole history of salvation? Jesus crossing into Judaea is like Jesus coming to earth and becoming incarnate. In both cases there is a strange delay. Why didn’t God come among us in Jesus the first time things went wrong? Listen to these words from verse 4 as we contemplate the many situations of suffering and sadness in our world today. This illness does not lead to death, rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.

Jesus crosses the threshold into Judaea, he comes into the life of the world and as his disciples point out in verse 8 the Judaeans – that’s the Jerusalem authorities – are out to get him.
2) The second threshold Jesus crosses in verse 17 is that he comes to Bethany. There is a close correspondence between the role of Bethany in this story and the role of Israel in the whole story of the gospel. Why doesn’t Jesus come to the whole world? Because he’s a real human being who can only be in one place at one time. Why does he come to Israel? Why does he come to Martha and Mary, rather than any other nation or family? Because God loves Israel just as we’re told in verse 5 that Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. And what does he do in Bethany- what does he do in Israel? He meets people’s needs and he speaks the truth. As we read in verse 30 Jesus spends most of his time on the outskirts of the village – and on the outskirts of Israel. He had disclosed his purpose before he came to earth and before he came to the centre of Israel by his proclamation in the Old Testament and his proclamation and ministry in Galilee.
3) The third threshold Jesus crosses in verse 38 is when he arrives at the tomb. And now we may spot the link between the tomb in this event and Jerusalem in the gospel story. It is the place of horror and the place of transformation. It is the place of impurity and yet the place where, as Jesus says in verse 4 and 40, we shall see the glory of God.

So far in John’s gospel Jesus has performed six miracles or signs as John calls them. We are now about to witness the last of the seven signs.  So this story tells us everything about the gospel of John and everything about how the gospel fits into the whole story of God. But it also tells us everything about Jesus. Firstly he is fully human: he loves Lazarus and Mary and Martha. He was disturbed and deeply moved; he was so moved by the situation that Jesus wept. Secondly Jesus is fully divine: no one has ever seen anything like this – a man in the tomb for four days walking out of the tomb alive. Only God can do this. And in verse 40 Jesus insists that this story in its beginning and its ending is always about God.

So I leave you with the question which Jesus asked of Martha: Do you believe this? And a supplementary question from me: if you do believe, what is your response?

(For the full text of this exchange please read verses 25-27)


So let us pray:

Lord God, during this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, may we find other ways to share your loving embrace with our neighbours. Amen.

Elizabeth Bunker


A hymn for reflection:


O Lord, all the world belongs to you

  1. O Lord, all the world belongs to you

and you are always making all things new.

What is wrong, you forgive,

and the new life you give

is what’s turning the world upside down.

  1. The world’s only loving to its friends,

but your way of loving never ends,

loving enemies too;

and this loving with you

is what’s turning the world upside down.

  1. The world lives divided and apart,

you draw men together, and we start

in our friendship to see

that in harmony we

can be turning the world upside down.

  1. The world wants the wealth to live in state,

but you show a new way to be great:

like a servant you came,

and if we do the same,

we’ll be turning the world upside down.

  1. O Lord, all the world belongs to you

and you are always making all things new.

What is wrong, you forgive,

and the new life you give

is what’s turning the world upside down.




Spring bursting into new life after the gloom of winter; Lazarus risen from the dead; the glory of Easter after Lenten sobriety. Thank you, Lord, for signs of hope after darkness and sorrow;

for reminding us that bad times don’t last for ever.

This present time is dark and miserable for so many: confined to their homes with little social contact, businesses fearful for their survival, NHS staff under great pressure. From the government down, we are all feeling the stress, anxiety and frustration.

Keep us mindful, Lord, of your presence with us in our troubles, and your ever-living hope to see us through. There will be an end to this difficult time, and what celebrations and reunions there will be then!

We cannot worship together at present or even socialise as we usually do, but

‘Where charity and love are, God is there. Christ’s love has gathered us into one.’


Pope Francis has written the piece below:

Tonight before falling asleep think about when we will return to the street. When we hug again, when all the shopping together will seem like a party. Let’s think about when the coffees will return to the bar, the small talk, the photos close to each other. We think about when it will be all a memory but normality will seem an unexpected and beautiful gift. We will love everything that has so far seemed futile to us. Every second will be precious. Swims at the sea, the sun until late, sunsets, toasts, laughter. We will go back to laughing together. Strength and courage.


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.

Offertory hymn My song is love unknown


Please keep up your planned giving because we need to maintain our cashflow. Offertory envelopes can be dropped in to Sylvia, Shena or Peter. The church and Wilbury Hall hires have ceased, so that income stream is gone! If you could spare a bit more, that would be great!

Final Hymn The Church’s One Foundation

Thought for the week ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” John 11.25-26


The God of all grace,
who called us to his eternal glory in Christ Jesus,
establish, strengthen and settle us in the faith;
and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us now and always




This Service

Please tell Peter what you did and didn’t like about how this service was presented


Don’t forget; Stay home; suppport the NHS; save lives!

Keep well and happy


All donations are very welcome. Everyone is in crisis but the foodbank is running out of food due to recent strong demand. The items listed are the most urgently needed.

UHT Milk [Longlife]

Dried Milk

Sponge Puddings

Tinned Rice/Custard

Tinned Meat

As the church is closed, it is best to leave donations in the supermarket where you bought it. Otherwise Peter is happy for donations to be left in his porch. Phone Peter on 01462 625064


Due to staff shortages the opening times from 23rd March will be 9.30 am to 3.30 pm Monday to Saturday. We will continue to be accessible by phone and email. Items can be posted or delivered locally. Tel: 01462 481285 christianbookshop@xln.co.uk


 Prayers for the week:

The Birches

Cowslip Hill

Hawthorn Hill

Wheat Hill

Redhoods Way east

Rowan Crescent

Bedford Road

Corner Close

Icknield Green

Special topics

Local schools, pupils and staff

Young people and youth organisation

Users of our facilities




2 thoughts on “Worship for Passion Sunday

  1. Excellent service, I didn’t know we had the equipment or the talent to produce what we have just seen. It would have been nice to have had the musical to accompany O Lord, all the world belongs to you.


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