Fifth Sunday in Lent 29th March Worship – Rev Sara Embleton

Fifth Sunday in Lent

29th March 2020

Good morning everyone, and welcome to worship for the fifth Sunday in Lent. For once it doesn’t matter whether or not you remembered to put your clocks forward last night. No one will know if you creep in to worship just as it’s ending!

Today we begin with some words from Psalm 137:

By the rivers of Babylon

there we sat down and there we wept

when we remembered Zion.

On the willows there

we hung up our harps.

For there our captors

asked us for songs,

and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,

“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How could we sing the Lord’s song

in a foreign land?

The Israelites had been taken captive by the Babylonians. Overnight their entire world had changed. Jerusalem had been destroyed. They were living in a new land where everything was different. They had lost their freedom. They were frightened and depressed. To make it even worse they were being taunted to sing songs about their God in this alien landscape.

Sound familiar?

Here’s a poem I wrote earlier in the week after a trip to the chemist to collect prescriptions. It was the first day of our new landscape which is called Lockdown.

The new normal

This is a strange and alien land.

We stand in queues – 2 metre apart – to buy food and medicines

Eyes cast downwards

it seems safer to avoid even eye contact

Shopping

It used to be a social event

Now a furtive, fearful, hurried affair

We’re anxious to get back to the homes we long to escape

Darkened store fronts

Empty streets

We scuttle about

The virus like a sniper

Unseen

Unavoidable

Its bullet strikes home days later.

How do we sing the Lord’s song in this strange land?

What does the Lord’s song even sound like in this world that looks the same but feels so different?

It’s a song of hope

This too shall pass

We pray this will lead to a better world

It’s a song of trust

Coorie into God

Allow yourself to be held and soothed.

It’s a song of courage

Do not be afraid

Peace be with you

So raise your eyes and smile

Lift the phone

Speak words of encouragement

Be as Christ to one another

The new normal

Still God’s world

Still God’s people

singing a new yet familiar song

It was always thus.

Now I hope you’re all in good voice as we sing Hymn 192: All my hope on God is founded:

v.1 All my hope on God is founded,

all my trust he will renew;

safe through change and chance he guides me,

only good and only true.

God unknown,

he alone

calls my heart to be his own.

Our hope is in the God whose love has surrounded us all our days. Just as we gave a round of applause to all our NHS workers on Thursday evening, so we continue to pray for everyone who is involved in our health care system, including carers in the community and pharmacy staff. We are also grateful for all those who continue to make accessible the services that we all need to stay well in our homes. And we pray for guidance and wisdom for world leaders.

In a moment of quietness let us each remember our own families and friends, our neighbours and communities.

And now let us say together the words of the Lord’s Prayer:

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 debts as we forgive our debtors

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen.

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you

The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace this day and forever more.  Amen.

Some useful links:

Daily worship can be found on Radio 4 each weekday at 9.45am and Sunday worship at 8.10am.

If you require any help during the coming week-some food delivered to your doorstep, or a prescription collected or a phone call to keep you in touch with others, then please phone Sara Embleton on 01721 602157 or Ruth Kerr on 07845 122356.

A view from Venlaw. Brian, Orla and I have been climbing hills. We have been blessed with such beautiful weather. I hope you have all enjoyed the sunshine, either in your garden, out for a walk or streaming in through your windows. Take care, Sara