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26th March 2023 : Lent 5

What follows is a worship service which, I pray, you can participate in at a time(s) that are convenient to you. This 'service' will take about forty five (45) minutes.

I pray that you will feel called to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this service.

The text that is in regular typeface (that is what you are reading at the moment) is to be read quietly, while the text that is in bold face (like you are reading right now) is meant to be read aloud.

Opening Hymn:


Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we commence our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

Use your mouse to scroll through the contents of each window.

Clicking on the buttons across the tops of the windows below will allow you to zoom in\out,

search, switch to full screen, print, and download the contents to your computer.

The Pewsheet:

Call to Worship:

We meet in the name of God,

Creator of the universe,

source of true humanity,

mother and father of all. Amen.


We meet in the name of Jesus,

Word made flesh,
saviour of fallen humanity, lover of all. Amen.


We meet in the name of the Holy Spirit,

Lord and giver of life,
midwife of new humanity,
inspirer of all. Amen.

An Assurance of Forgiveness

(click the "play" button, below:)

00:00 / 00:18

The Sentence for the Day


Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?  Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow.

The Prayer for the Day (Collect)


Let us pray together.

God in Trinity, Creator, Saviour, Giver of life and truth, reveal the possibilities within us, that we may attain to the fullness of our humanity.  Hear this prayer for your love’s sake.  Amen.

A reading from The Old Testament

(click the "play" button, below:)

Ezekiel 37:1-14
00:00 / 03:47

A reading from The New Testament

(click the "play" button, below:)

Rom 8:6-11
00:00 / 01:26

Pause for a moment of silent reflection.

The Gradual Hymn


Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to join in singing another wonderful hymn.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A reading from the Gospel according to Saint John

(click the "play" button, below:)

John 11:1-45
00:00 / 07:03

Listen to the sermon:
(click the "play" button below when you are ready to begin)

Sermon Lent 5_Free To Live
00:00 / 11:19

or, if you prefer, you can read to the sermon, below:

SERMON, 26th Mar 2023 : LENT 5


Take my lips O God and speak through them, take our minds O God and think through them, take our hearts O God and love through them this day.   <Amen>

The raising of Lazarus from the dead is a most powerful and well-known gospel and what I’m going to try to do today is to identify some of the ways in which the story of Jesus raising Lazarus might serve as signs for us.

Jesus had recently left Jerusalem, because people had gone so far as to pick up rocks with which to stone him to death.  He went beyond the Jordan, where John the Baptist had baptised people.

That is where he was when he got this message from his friends, Mary and Martha, that their brother was sick. Jesus MUST have been very close to Lazarus, because their message simply said, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  But John makes it clear that Jesus chooses not to go directly, but dawdles for a couple of days before going.

What is that about?  Did Jesus want to make sure Lazarus was good and dead before performing this mightiest of “signs” (using John’s word), so there would be no confusing this resurrection with resuscitation? Sign to us all - WE do NOT know the mind of God and how God wants to work His power and it is presumptuous, in the extreme, to think that we do!

Is the point that Jesus is not just some ‘genie in a bottle’ that we can summon up any time we want to fix our problems?  Sign to us all - God is NOT “on call” to fix our problems. Faith means patience. Faith means waiting. 

After two days, Jesus announces to the disciples, “Okay, let’s go back to Judea.” Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived in Bethany, which was only two miles from Jerusalem.  The disciples were incredulous.  “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you there, and now you are going there again?” Jesus gives them an odd answer about the number of hours of daylight in a day, walking at night and even though “Lazarus is dead”, Jesus is going to awaken him.

Thomas, later called “The Doubter”, said, whether in resignation or exasperation or bravery, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”  There was no question in their minds what another trip to Jerusalem would mean, and were they up for it! Sign to us all - this “following Jesus thing” can ask serious questions of us. Are WE up for them?

When they arrived, Mary and Martha both expressed resentment that Jesus was not there when they needed him, that he could have kept Lazarus from dying.  Losing a loved one brings numbing grief, anger, and despair.  Surely we all know the feeling of asking God why He was not willing to do whatever needed to be done to save the life of our loved one?In the midst of these events, Jesus has a conversation with Martha.  Jesus says, “Your brother will live again.”  Martha replies, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, shall live; and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.  Do you believe this?” 

Sign to us all - this NOT a promise that the faithful will never experience death or that all will be brought back to earthly life if they die.  It is a promise that Jesus is the source of life and resurrection and death is no barrier to the life He offers.  For Christians, even if we die we shall live and Jesus is the assurance of this.

Sign to us all - this truth is shown to us because on that day Jesus demonstrated that He had power over death, power to give new life. 

So the tomb was opened and Jesus called Lazarus forth from the tomb and had the people unwrap the burial cloths and let him go.  “Unbind him and let him go.”  He is no longer a prisoner of death.  He is free to live.

Our faith in Christ means we too, are no longer prisoners of death but we are free to live. <PAUSE>

Sign to us all - it’s not only Lazarus to whom Jesus gives life because today we are reminded that Jesus wants to give US an abundant life in this world as well as in the next.

What are the implications of this?

Well, maybe there is something that has a person “bound in a tomb”.  What is it that keeps people from being the person that they want to be and that God wants them to be?  Fear?  Grief? Addiction? Isolation? The people around them turning them into people they (and God) do not want them to be? 

I think Jesus wants to call those folks out of their tombs, unbind them and set them free to be FULLY alive.

It takes great courage to walk away from a personal “comfort zone” and answer the call of Jesus and say, “Unbind me, set me free, let me go and live a life fully, FULLY in You.”

Sign to us all - when someone lets Christ unbind them, helps them walk out of any personal tomb that may be holding them, makes them FULLY alive and FREE TO LIVE IN HIM … <PAUSE> well, to God will be the glory.

In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit <AMEN>

Pause and Reflect


Just take a moment now to pause. Bow your head, close your eyes.

Allow these words of Holy Scripture and this interpretation of them today to speak to you.


An Affirmation of Our Faith

Let us affirm our faith by listening as "The Apostles Creed" is read to us.
(click the "play" button below when you are ready to listen) 

apostles creed AD
00:00 / 01:03

 ... and now ... let us pray for the Church and for the World, giving thanks for God's goodness.

(click the "play" button below when you are ready to begin) 


The Lord's Prayer


Remembering that we are confident to pray this day, and every day, because Jesus Christ has continues to teach us:

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.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever.   Amen.


Let us conclude our prayers by praying together and aloud:


God of mercy,
you have given us grace to pray with one heart and one voice,
and have promised to hear the prayers
of two or three who agree in your name,
fulfil now, we pray,
the prayers and longings of your people
as may be best for us and for your kingdom.
Grant us in this world to know your truth,
and in the world to come to see your glory. Amen.

The Blessing


The blessing of Almighty God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you and all of those whom you love,

on this day and forever more.

A Closing Hymn


Let us continue with our closing hymn and please do feel free to sing along with another great hymn of wonder, hope and joy.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:



Go now to love and serve The Lord,

Go in peace.


Amen, we go in the name of Christ.

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