Passion Sunday 26th March

Hymn There is a  Green Hill Far Away

1, There is a green hill far away,

 outside a city wall,

 where our dear Lord was crucified

 who died to save us all. 

  1. We may not know, we cannot tell,

 what pains he had to bear,

 but we believe it was for us

 he hung and suffered there. 

  1. He died that we might be forgiven,

 he died to make us good,

 that we might go at last to heaven,

 saved by his precious blood. 

  1. There was no other good enough

 to pay the price of sin,

 he only could unlock the gate

 of heaven and let us in. 

  1. O dearly, dearly has he loved!

 And we must love him too,

 and trust in his redeeming blood,

and try his works to do.                               (by Cecil Frances Alexander, 1818 – 1895)


The night has passed, and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind.

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

All: And also with you.

This is the day that the Lord has made.

All:  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

We have come together in the name of Christ to offer our praise and thanksgiving  to hear and receive God’s holy word, to pray for the needs of the world, and to seek the forgiveness of our sins, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we may give ourselves to the service of God.

All: We say Sorry

Jesus says, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.’

So let us turn away from our sins and turn to Christ, confessing our sins in penitence and faith.

All: Lord God, we have sinned against you;

We have done evil in your sight.

We are sorry and repent.

Have mercy on us according to your love.

Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.

Renew a right spirit within us and restore to us the joy of your salvation;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.


May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins, and restore us in His image to the praise and glory of His name through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

All: Amen.

Blessed is the Lord,

All: For He has heard the voice of our prayer;

Therefore shall our hearts dance for joy

All: And in our song will we praise our God. 

Blessed are you, Lord our God, creator and redeemer of all;

to you be glory and praise for ever.

From the waters of chaos you drew forth the world, and in your great love fashioned us in your image. Now, through the deep waters of death, you have brought your people to new birth by raising your Son to life in triumph.

May Christ your light ever dawn in our hearts as we offer you our sacrifice of thanks and praise.

Blessed be God, Father Son and Holy Spirit.

All: Blessed be God for ever.

Hymn – When I survey the wondrous cross

1 When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

2 Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.

3 See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

4 Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
(by Isaac Watts – 1674 to 1748) 

Collect for Passion Sunday

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 your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. 

All: Amen 

.Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead.

All: And Christ shall give you light.

You have died and your life is hid with Christ in God.

All: Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead.

Set your minds on things that are above,

not on things that are on the earth.

All: And Christ shall give you light.

When Christ our life appears

you will appear with him in glory.

All: Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light. 

Hymn – O Sacred Head, Once Wounded

  1. O sacred head once wounded,
    with grief and shame weighed down,
    how scornfully surrounded
    with thorns, your only crown!
    How pale you are with anguish,
    with fierce abuse and scorn!
    How do those features languish
    which once were bright as morn!
  1. . What bliss was yours in glory,
    O Lord of life divine!
    I read the amazing story:
    I joy to call you mine.
    Your grief and your compassion
    were all for sinners’ gain;
    mine, mine was the transgression,
    but yours the deadly pain.

 . What language shall I borrow

  1. to praise you, dearest Friend,
    for this your dying sorrow,
    your pity without end?
    Lord, make me yours for ever!
    nor let me faithless prove;
    O let me never, never
    refuse such dying love!
  1. . Be near me when I’m dying;
    Lord, show your cross to me!
    Your death, my hope supplying,
    from death shall set me free.
    These eyes, new faith receiving,
    from Jesus shall not move;
    whoever dies believing
    dies safely in your love.
    (by Paulus (Pail) Gerhardt – 1607 to 1676) 

Our First Reading is taken from Romans Chap: 8

6 To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace.

7 And so people become enemies of God when they are controlled by their human nature; for they do not obey God’s law, and in fact they cannot obey it.

8 Those who obey their human nature cannot please God.

9 But you do not live as your human nature tells you to; instead, you live as the Spirit tells you to – if, in fact, God’s Spirit lives in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

10 But if Christ lives in you, the Spirit is life for you because you have been put right with God, even though your bodies are going to die because of sin.

11 If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then he who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of his Spirit in you. 

This is the Word of the Lord

All: Thanks be to God

Here the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to – John Chap: 11

1 A man named Lazarus, who lived in Bethany, became sick. Bethany was the town where Mary and her sister Martha lived.

2 (This Mary was the one who poured the perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was sick.)

3 The sisters sent Jesus a message: “Lord, your dear friend is sick.”

4 When Jesus heard it, he said, “The final result of this sickness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God, and it will be the means by which the Son of God will receive glory.”

5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

6 Yet when he received the news that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days.

7 Then he said to the disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “Teacher,” the disciples answered, “just a short time ago the people there wanted to stone you; and are you planning to go back?”

9 Jesus said, “A day has twelve hours, doesn’t it? So those who walk in broad daylight do not stumble, for they see the light of this world.

10 But if they walk during the night they stumble, because they have no light.”

11 Jesus said this and then added, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I will go and wake him up.”

12 The disciples answered, “If he is asleep, Lord, he will get well.”

13 Jesus meant that Lazarus had died, but they thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,

15 but for your sake I am glad that I was not with him, so that you will believe. Let us go to him.”

16 Thomas (called the Twin) said to his fellow disciples, “Let us all go along with the Teacher, so that we may die with him!”

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had been buried four days before.

18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem,

19 and many Judeans had come to see Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother’s death.

20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house.

21 Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, Lord, my brother would not have died!

22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask him for.”

23 “Your brother will rise to life,” Jesus told her.

24 “I know,” she replied, “that he will rise to life on the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die;

26 and those who live and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord!” she answered. “I do believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

28 After Martha said this, she went back and called her sister Mary privately. “The Teacher is here,” she told her, “and is asking for you.”

29 When Mary heard this, she got up and hurried out to meet him

30 (Jesus had not yet arrived in the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him.)

31 The people who were in the house with Mary comforting her followed her when they saw her get up and hurry out. They thought that she was going to the grave to weep there.

32 Mary arrived where Jesus was, and as soon as she saw him, she fell at his feet. “Lord,” she said, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died!”

33 Jesus saw her weeping, and he saw how the people with her were weeping also; his heart was touched, and he was deeply moved.

34 “Where have you buried him?” he asked them. “Come and see, Lord,” they answered.

35 Jesus wept.

36 “See how much he loved him!” the people said.

37 But some of them said, “He gave sight to the blind man, didn’t he? Could he not have kept Lazarus from dying?”

38 Deeply moved once more, Jesus went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone placed at the entrance.

39 “Take the stone away!” Jesus ordered. Martha, the dead man’s sister, answered, “There will be a bad smell, Lord. He has been buried four days!”

40 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believed?”

41 They took the stone away. Jesus looked up and said, “I thank you, Father, that you listen to me.

42 I know that you always listen to me, but I say this for the sake of the people here, so that they will believe that you sent me.”

43 After he had said this, he called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

44 He came out, his hands and feet wrapped in grave cloths, and with a cloth around his face. “Untie him,” Jesus told them, “and let him go.”

45 Many of the people who had come to visit Mary saw what Jesus did, and they believed in him

This is the Word of the Lord

All: Thanks be to God 


Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel,

All: who has come to his people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour,

All: born of the house of his servant David. 

Through his holy prophets God promised of old  

All: to save us from our enemies, from the hands of all that hate us, 

To show mercy to our ancestors,

All: and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath God swore to our father Abraham:

All: to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

Free to worship him without fear,

All: holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. 

And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,

All: for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

To give his people knowledge of salvation

All: by the forgiveness of all their sins. 

In the tender compassion of our God

All: the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,

All: and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

All: Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever.



May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts be ever acceptable to you O LORD, our Strength and Our Redeemer.


Jesus said to Martha, 

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” 

I have been pondering on this sentence from Jesus this week. For me, and many in church leadership, the lead up to Easter, including Easter Sunday is as busy, if not busier than Christmas. Certainly, for many of us who will follow with Jesus through the Highs and Lows of this next fortnight, our thoughts and feelings will feel as though they have gone from euphoria to despair and back again.

But, at this stage, all that is to follow is in the future, and for now, we are in one of Jesus’ favorite places, Bethany with his dear friends, Martha and Mary following the death of their brother Lazarus.

In this story, described by St John, Jesus truly shows his humanity and the depth of his love for his friends. It seems to me, especially in the Gospel of John, that as Jesus nears his own trial and death, the depth of his love and his passion really come to the fore.

Jesus is not afraid to show his feelings as he weeps at the tomb of Lazarus, there is none of the British stiff upper lip here in Palestine. Jesus’ love and feelings flood out in his tears as he stands near this grave, just outside the village of Bethany, where he has spent so many happy hours over the last few years. As with us, as we grieve, we can only imagine the flood of memories and emotions which overwhelm Jesus at that moment.

At my home church of St Mary’s in Walsgrave, we have been involved in a project with the local primary school, where the children created pictures, collages from mostly tiny pieces of material, to show visually the 14 Stations of the Cross.

For me, and for many others who visited, it wasn’t the power of the pictures, which brought us to tears, but the recordings of the children’s voices, reading a piece of scripture and giving a small reflection on what is happening in each picture. It was a truly moving piece of work, and when Jesus turns to the weeping women around him, as he trudges through the streets of Jerusalem with his cross strapped to his back, and he tells them not to weep for him, Jesus, but to weep for themselves (Luke Chap: 23: Vers: 27 to 29) I shed a few tears myself.

This Sunday is sometimes referred to as Passion Sunday, because it is at this stage of the churches year, that the focus turns to the death of our Lord, and to all of the events that occurred in the last few days of Jesus’ life.

But for now, we turn back to Bethany, to Mary and Martha and the arrival of Jesus and his companions into what I imagine, would normally be a quiet village.

The Bible tells us that, because Bethany was quite close to Jerusalem, maybe 2 miles away, many Jews, perhaps “official mourners” as well as friends and family had traveled the short distance to spend time with Martha and Mary in their grief and to console the sisters and they tried to make sense of what had happened.

So we come towards a village, which is already upset by the death of one of their own, and the influx of additional visitors, and then arrives Jesus, not, one man on his own, toad to the number, but a well-known Rabbi, with his own followers, the named twelve disciples as well as possibly others who would have followed Jesus around, it almost feels as though the place was becoming a bit of a circus, there was certainly no quiet place to reflect and to grieve quietly alone.

Word must have come to the village, that Jesus the Rabbi was on his way, because when Martha heard, she got up and went out away from the village, down the road in the direction that Jesus was coming from, and so the first conversation between Martha and Jesus, occurs on the road, outside the village.

When she meets Jesus, Martha scolds him.  Now we know from another story about Mary and Martha, that Martha knows Jesus well enough to tell him exactly what she thinks – although, of course, on the first occasion, Jesus memorably tells Martha to stop stressing and to focus on the important things in life.  This time, Martha reminds Jesus, that if he had been in the area, and not a few days walk away, when Lazarus had first been taken ill, Jesus would have been able to heal Lazarus, as he had healed so many before that, and would have taken away the pain and the loss which Mary and Martha are now going through.

“If you had been here, my brother would not have died,” Martha says, “but I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask,” 

Even now, Martha shows her own inner faith, acknowledging the relationship between Jesus and God, and that whatever he asked, he would have the ear of his Father listening to him, and his prayers would be granted. Jesus is not acting on his own, but in conjunction with his Father God.

Jesus says to Martha:-

“your brother will rise again” 

and Martha confirms her own faith in the resurrection saying:- 

“I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day”

Meaning that point, when the world comes to an end and all those who have died over the years, will be raised to life and eternal glory.

Jesus then replies with the statement I quoted right at the beginning of this sermon:-

“I AM the resurrection and IAM the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”

This is a complex sentence, which has been studied by much greater theological minds than my own, but for me, it reminds us that Jesus will (and has) overcome death, those who die will live again, an eternal life where there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21)

But also that it is our Lord who gives us life, and as long as we believe in Jesus, believe in God, we have that power running through us.

The knowledge and joy of knowing Jesus and of understanding a little of the meaning of life, from the great commission at the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel to:-

“Go and make disciples of all nations”

and, by our lives direct others to God.

Martha’s response of faith to Jesus, in the middle of her personal sadness and pain, reminds us that Jesus is with us, in all the times of life, both the joys and the sorrows and everything else in between.

So as we follow with Jesus from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, to the turning over the tables in the Temple, his betrayal by Judas, as we travel with Jesus from a supper with friends, to his arrest, trial, scourging and finally his horrifically painful, humiliating public death let us give thanks for all that Jesus did for us two millennia ago, and how much support and care we can still receive from God through the Holy Spirit and be able to say with Martha:

 “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world “

To carry that confidence in God’s love and mercy through his Son, Jesus in our hearts and into our interactions with those around us.


 Hymn – Meekness and Majesty

 Time of Silence ….. 

We Say Together:

The Creed.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. 

All: Amen.

Prayers and Intercessions

We pray for God to fill us with his Spirit.

Generous God,

we thank you for the power of your Holy Spirit.

We ask that we may be strengthened to serve you better.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the wisdom of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to make us wise to understand your will.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the peace of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to keep us confident of your love wherever you call us.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the healing of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to bring reconciliation and wholeness

where there is division, sickness and sorrow.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the gifts of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to equip us for the work which you have given us.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the fruit of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to reveal in our lives the love of Jesus.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the breath of your Holy Spirit,

given us by the risen Lord.

We ask you to keep the whole Church, living and departed,

in the joy of eternal life.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit. 

All: Generous God,

hear our prayer,

and make us one in heart and mind

to serve you with joy for ever.


We gather our thoughts and prayers in the words our Saviour gave us 

All: Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Hymn How Deep The Fathers Love For Us

Closing Blessings

May God give to you and to all those you love

his comfort and his peace,

his light and his joy,

in this world and the next;

and the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ

and the Love of God

and the fellowship  of the Holy Sprit

be with us all evermore.

 All: Amen.

Hymn – I cannot tell why He, whom angels worship

  1. I cannot tell why He, whom angels worship,
    Should set His love upon the sons of men,
    Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wand’rers,
    To bring them back, they know not how or when.
    But this I know, that He was born of Mary,
    When Bethl’hem’s manger was His only home,
    And that He lived at Nazareth and laboured,
    And so the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is come.
  1. I cannot tell how silently He suffered,
    As with His peace He graced this place of tears,
    Or how His heart upon the Cross was broken,
    The crown of pain to three and thirty years.
    But this I know, He heals the broken-hearted,
    And stays our sin, and calms our lurking fear,
    And lifts the burden from the heavy laden,
    For yet the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is here.
  1. I cannot tell how He will win the nations,
    How He will claim His earthly heritage,
    How satisfy the needs and aspirations
    Of east and west, of sinner and of sage.
    But this I know, all flesh shall see His glory,
    And He shall reap the harvest He has sown,
    And some glad day His sun shall shine in splendour
    When He the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is known.
  1. I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
    When, at His bidding, every storm is stilled,
    Or who can say how great the jubilation
    When all the hearts of men with love are filled.
    But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,
    And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
    And earth to heaven, and heaven to earth, will answer:
    At last the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is King.
    (by William Young Fullerton – 1857 – 1933)

The Grace 

All: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

And the love of God,

And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,

Be with us all evermore.


Go in joy and peace to love and serve the Lord

All: In the name of Christ Amen.

© 702211