All Saints’ Church Renhold Bedfordshire, England


Sunday 21st February 2021

First Sunday in Lent



In the name of the Father, and of the Son

And of the Holy Spirit

  Amen


The Greeting


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

  And also with you.


Prayer of Preparation


  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.

  Amen.


The Summary of the Law


  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.

   Amen.  Lord, have mercy.


Confession

The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart God will not despise. Let us come to the Lord, who is full of compassion,

and acknowledge our transgressions in penitence and faith. cf Psalm 51.17


          Father eternal, giver of life and grace,

                    We have sinned against you and against our neighbour,

                    In what we have thought, in what we have said and done,

                    Through ignorance, through weakness,

                    Through our own deliberate fault.

                    We have wounded your love, and marred your image in us

                    We are sorry and ashamed, 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 lead us out from darkness

                   To walk as children of light.  Amen.


Kyrie Eleison


                  Lord, have mercy.

                  Lord, have mercy.


                  Christ, have mercy.

                  Christ, have mercy.

 

                  Lord, have mercy.

                  Lord, have mercy.


Absolution


The Almighty and merciful Lord grant you pardon and forgiveness of all                         our sins, time for amendment of life, and the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Collect

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are, yet without sin: give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit; and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save; 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.     Amen



Readings

                                                                                                  Psalm 25

1                To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
                  O my God, in you I trust; •
                  let me not be put to shame;
                  let not my enemies triumph over me.
2                Let none who look to you be put to shame, •
                  but let the treacherous be shamed and frustrated.
3                Make me to know your ways, O Lord, •
                  and teach me your paths.
4                Lead me in your truth and teach me, •
                  for you are the God of my salvation;
                  for you have I hoped all the day long.
5                Remember, Lord, your compassion and love, •
                  for they are from everlasting.
6                Remember not the sins of my youth
                  or my transgressions, •
                  but think on me in your goodness, O Lord,
                  according to your steadfast love.
7                Gracious and upright is the Lord; •
                  therefore shall he teach sinners in the way.
8                He will guide the humble in doing right •
                  and teach his way to the lowly.
9                All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth •
                  to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.


             Glory to the father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit

               As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end                                       

               Amen


       

New Testament Reading                                              1 Peter 3.18-end


For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.


                     This is the word of the Lord  

                     Thanks be to God



Gospel Reading                                                Mark 1.9-15

     

Praise to you, O Christ, King of eternal glory.

The Lord is a great God, O that today you would listen to his voice.

Harden not your hearts.                                         cf Psalm 95.3,8



 Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark

 Glory to you, O Lord.


In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.  And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ 



This is the Gospel of the Lord.

  Praise to you O Christ.


                    

 Sermon                                                                                             Mark 1.9-15


Welcome to the first Sunday in Lent and to the journey through those forty days that lead us to the turmoil of the crucifixion and to the joys of Easter. 

I guess my first question this morning is, do you give things up for Lent?  I usually try to give something up, but most years it is just like a New Year’s resolution, I am not that good, and it doesn’t last long.  But this year, I am totally focussed, it is going to happen and none of you can tempt me out of it.  It may sound like an easy option, but I like Christine, have given up Chocolate for Lent. Ok it may be something to do with the fact that the Smith family are all watching their weight at the moment, but that may be the incentive that I need to remain firm... this time!

Every year in the lectionary cycle, the first Sunday in Lent includes a reading of the temptation story.  Today we heard Mark’s version and to me it is quite fitting for those of us who have given something up, because we can all relate to the strong feeling of temptation to give in. 

In Mark’s gospel account, we do not just get the temptation story, we also get Jesus’ baptism before it and his first sermon directly afterwards; it is as if these appear to be a package for us to consider.

I love reading the all the Gospel accounts but what I like about the Gospel of Mark is, it is so brief in its story telling.  If you have read it, you would have noticed that it gives so few details, but the details that are given are quite important.  For example, did you notice in this morning’s reading what happens to the heavens when Jesus is baptised? We heard that “Just as Jesus was coming up and out of the waters, he saw the heavens torn apart.”  To me this is important in its description, the heavens are torn open.  Thinking about this one sentence in isolation - What do you notice when something you own is torn?  It has ripped jagged edges which means you cannot easily put it back together. 

Now, if you read the story of Jesus’ baptism in Matthew or Luke, it simply says the heavens open.  They just open, like a door opens, the way it reads it is that easy and almost insignificant.  But anything that is simply opened is just as easily closed again.  But in Mark’s account the heavens are torn apart.  When I was researching this for this sermon, I read my trusted Commentary and found that the word in Greek that torn is translated from is schizo.   You can almost hear within the word the sharp, jagged, rough edges that tearing creates.   My commentary asks what this might mean?  Could mark be pre-empting the tearing from top to bottom of the temple curtain at the moment of Jesus death on the cross, could it mean that the veil between us and God has been torn open, never to be closed again?

But then, once the heavens are schizo’d (if there is such a word!), or torn open, Jesus sees the spirit descend.  Our text says that it descended on him, which to me is like it is resting on his shoulder.  But again, thanks to my commentary, the Greek word used here can also be translated as into.   This changes the picture completely as the spirit of God does not simply rest on Jesus; it goes into him. You could say that it possesses him. He becomes possessed by the spirit of God.  What we can take from this is; that throughout Jesus’ life and death, he is carrying within him the Spirit of God.

Then Jesus hears the words of God, “You are my son. My beloved.”  These are claiming words, these are words of affirmation, these are words of acceptance.  These are words that tell Jesus, and more importantly the world around him, who he is and to whom he belongs.  I have found an analysis of this passage that suggests it is like a parent wrapping their arms around their child and whispering in their ear, “I love you.  You will always be my child. No matter what.”  These are words that when heard, enter into your body and wrap themselves around your heart.  You could say that they claim you.  It has been suggested in some academic writings that is what it means to be baptised.  To be baptised is to hear the promise that God has already claimed you, in baptism you have been claimed, you belong, you are loved and you matter.

Jesus has been claimed by God and possessed by the spirit of God and in the second phase of this short reading Jesus is driven into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for 40 days.  We heard that for 40 days he was tempted.  The number forty is an important number in scripture especially in the Hebrew scriptures.  Rain fell for forty days and forty nights in the story of Noah and the ark.  Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai when receiving the Ten Commandments from God.  The Israelites were wandering in the wilderness for Forty years and now Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness for forty days.  The ancient Jews were a deeply symbolic people and numbers for them carried a deep spiritual value.  So, by Jesus being tempted in the wilderness for 40 days it must mean something, it must have been important.

There has been plenty of speculation in some of the commentaries I have been reading on this passage trying to tie the number forty in with the weeks of human pregnancy, from a seed being fertilised to the moment of birth. Another suggest that as the Earth was reborn after the forty days of flood in the story of Noah, and the Hebrew people wandered in the wilderness for 40 years after the exodus from Egypt before the nation was reborn in the promise land; the number forty is significant. The commentary suggests that, following the sowing of God’s seed within Jesus by the Spirit at his baptism, the 40 days in the wilderness could have been the incubation period, before Christ was reborn into the world at the beginning of his ministry.  – Personally, I have some issues with this as it is making the data fit the picture – but it makes you think, and you never know!!

As we enter the Lent season of forty days, perhaps you and I are invited to prepare ourselves to be rebirthed at Easter on the day of resurrection.  Perhaps we should use this Lent to let the old ways of life that have become destructive and disorienting fall away and to prepare ourselves for rebirth, to live life in a new way, to commit to a new way of being and a new way of relating to the world. 

Lent is a much deeper season than simply giving up sweets and chocolate, but I think I am still going to do it.  Lent is a season that leads us to new life through death, to New life through rebirth, this starts through hearing the claiming words that you belong to God and you are God’s beloved.  These are the words which lead to the death of those destructive voices that dwell within our lives and give us a new life through death.  So, what are the parts of your life God is wanting to be reborn I wonder?  Where and how is God wanting you to live differently? Where is God wanting to bring life into the world through you?  We will all have to answer those questions ourselves and answering them may feel like entering dark and deep waters for us, but we go well equipped, because the heavens have been torn open, never to be closed again and that descending Spirit of God, it has entered into us too.

Amen


We stand to affirm our faith saying together the words of the creed


The Creed

                     We believe in one God,

      the Father, the Almighty,

      maker of heaven and earth,

      of all that is, seen and unseen.       

     We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

 the only Son of God,

     eternally begotten of the Father,

     God from God, Light from Light,

 true God from true God,

     begotten, not made,

 of one being with the Father;

     through him all things were made.

      For us and for our salvation

  he came down from heaven,

     was incarnate from the Holy Spirit

 and the Virgin Mary

      and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

     he suffered death and was buried.

     On the third day he rose again

     in accordance with the Scriptures;

     he ascended into heaven

     and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

     He will come again in glory to judge

 the living and the dead,

     and his kingdom will have no end.

            We believe in the Holy Spirit,

     the Lord, the giver of life,

     who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

     who with the Father and the Son

is worshipped and glorified,

     who has spoken through the prophets.

     We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

     We acknowledge one baptism

 for the forgiveness of sins.

    We look for the resurrection of the dead,

    and the life of the world to come.

      Amen.


Prayers of Intercession

Most holy Lord, you were tempted as we are, be our strength in times of weakness. When we fall Lord, pick us up, when we are in error direct us. In all our wanderings be our guide, that we may be your faithful people until our lives end – Amen


Lord our God, as we are baptized in your name, protect us from all that is evil and deliver us from temptation and may we use this Lent as a time of reflection, dedication, renewal and preparation. We remember before God those who have lost their faith and those who no longer pray themselves. Lord may your church stand against evil and actively seek for good. Guide and inspire our Archbishops, Bishops, Archdeacons, our clergy, readers and all who proclaim your gospel, that there may be a deepening of love and commitment in all Christian people the world over.  We pray for your church here in this Parish as we journey through this season of Lent, that we may travel the road as caring companions in hope and joy with your love in our hearts.  Lord in your mercy


We pray for people who have become possessed by greed and selfishness, for all who have become insensitive to the needs of others. Lord we remember this morning the exploited people, not only far off in the developing countries, but also locally to us in our towns and cities. We pray for all those who have been subjected to oppression, for those who have fled their home in search of safety; we pray for all who have been affected by natural disasters across your world. We pray for the emergency services and all “First Responders” as they continue to strive to love our neighbours in their time of need.   Lord in your mercy


We give thanks for all who have set us an example of godly living, people of discipline, dedication, generosity and Love. We give thanks for those who have brought us to know you and pray for all the faithful within our communities.  May all the families on earth be blessed with mutual love and a caring consideration for one another, that arguments and misunderstandings be properly resolved and help us all to be more aware and more considerate of the needs of others. Lord; May our homes be centres of love, acceptance and welcome; bless our families and our friends, our homes and our communities, that they may be places of joy, peace, hope and Love     Lord in your mercy..


We pray for all who are in sorrow, pain or distress at this time, May those for whom days and nights creep past in pain or sorrow be given comfort and hope, may the frightened find reassurance and the anxious peace of mind. Lord may they have an awareness of your constant presence; and the courage to place their hand in yours. We bring before God those who we know who are ill, giving thanks for those who treat or nurse them; we pray for their loved ones who hold them in their hearts. we remember in our prayers today those who we know who are ill and need our prayers at this time especially for Kathy, Jeremy and Jill. Father surround all who are ill or suffering today with your healing Love. Lord in your mercy…


Lord God, welcome into your kingdom those whose days on Earth have ended, and as we miss their physical presence, we thank you for the gift of their lives and the love we shared. We bring before God those who we know and love who we see no longer remembering especially Judy, Greta, Joan and Alan – we also remember before God those whose anniversary of their passing falls at this time - May they find the fullness of your eternity, be flooded with the light of your love and experience the blessing of your peace. Lord in your mercy. ..


And finally we offer before God ourselves, bringing our cares, our worries, our angers and our joys at this time. – Lord may we feel your presence near us and be guided by your Holy Spirit within us as we live and work to your praise and glory


Merciful Father,

accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.



The Peace

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us access to his grace.  

                                                                                                                                           Romans 5.1,2

  

                     The peace of the Lord be always with you

  and also with you.



Prayer over the Gifts

  

  Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:

through your goodness we have this bread to set before you,

which earth has given and human hands have made.

It will become for us the bread of life.

                     Blessed be God for ever.


Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:

through your goodness we have this wine to set before you,

fruit of the vine and work of human hands.

It will become for us the cup of salvation.

                     Blessed be God for ever.



Eucharistic Prayer (C)


 The Lord is here.

  His spirit is with us.

      

     Lift up your hearts.

  We lift them to the Lord.

     

    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

   It is right to give thanks and praise.


It is indeed right, it is our duty and our joy,

at all times and in all places to give you thanks and praise,

holy Father, heavenly King, almighty and eternal God,

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.


And now we give you thanks

because you give us the spirit of discipline,

that we may triumph over evil and grow in grace,

as we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery

with mind and heart renewed.


                 Therefore with angels and archangels,

and with all the company of heaven,

we proclaim your great and glorious name,

for ever praising you and saying:



Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.


[Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.]


All glory be to you, our heavenly Father,

who, in your tender mercy,

gave your only Son our Saviour Jesus Christ

to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption;

who made there by his one oblation of himself once offered

a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world;

he instituted, and in his holy gospel commanded us to continue,

a perpetual memory of his precious death until he comes again.


Hear us, merciful Father, we humbly pray,

and grant that, by the power of your Holy Spirit,

we receiving these gifts of your creation, this bread and this wine,

according to your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution,

in remembrance of his death and passion,

may be partakers of his most blessed body and blood;


who, in the same night that he was betrayed,

took bread and gave you thanks;

he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;

do this in remembrance of me.


In the same way, after supper

he took the cup and gave you thanks;

he gave it to them, saying:

Drink this, all of you;

this is my blood of the new covenant,

which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Do this, as often as you drink it,

in remembrance of me.


[Jesus Christ is Lord:]

Lord, by your cross and resurrection

you have set us free.

You are the Saviour of the world.


Therefore, Lord and heavenly Father,

in remembrance of the precious death and passion,

the mighty resurrection and glorious ascension

of your dear Son Jesus Christ,

we offer you through him this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.


Grant that by his merits and death,

and through faith in his blood,

we and all your Church may receive forgiveness of our sins

and all other benefits of his passion.

Although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins,

to offer you any sacrifice,

yet we pray that you will accept this the duty

and service that we owe.


Do not weigh our merits, but pardon our offences,

and fill us all who share in this holy communion

with your grace and heavenly blessing;


through Jesus Christ our Lord,

by whom, and with whom, and in whom,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

all honour and glory be yours, almighty Father,

for ever and ever.

Amen.



The Lord’s Prayer


 As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

     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.    Amen.


Breaking of Bread


Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup.

  We proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.


  Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world

  have mercy on us.


        Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,

  have mercy on us.


        Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,

  grant us peace.



Giving of Communion


Jesus is the Lamb of God

Who takes away the sins of the world.

Blessed are those who are called to his supper

Lord I am not worthy to receive you,

But only say the word, and I shall be healed


                     Most merciful Lord,

                     your love compels us to come in.

                     Our hands were unclean,

                     our hearts were unprepared;

                     we were not fit

                     even to eat the crumbs from under your table.

                     But you, Lord, are the God of our salvation,

                     and share your bread with sinners.

                     So cleanse and feed us

                     with the precious body and blood of your Son,

                     that he may live in us and we in him;

                     and that we, with the whole company of Christ,

                     may sit and eat in your kingdom.

                     Amen.



                      The Body and Blood of Christ – Amen


Prayer after Communion

Lord God, you have renewed us with the living bread from heaven;

by it you nourish our faith, increase our hope, and strengthen our love:

teach us always to hunger for him who is the true and living bread,

and enable us to live by every word that proceeds from out of your mouth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.



  Father of all, we give you thanks and praise,

      that when we were still far off

      you met us in your Son and brought us home.

      Dying and living, he declared your love,

      gave us grace and opened the gate of glory.

      May we who share Christ's body live his risen life;

      we who drink his cup bring life to others;

      we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.

      Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us,

      so we and all your children shall be free,

      and the whole earth live to praise your name;

      through Christ our Lord.

      Amen.


Blessing

  Christ give you grace to grow in holiness,

                      to deny yourselves, take up your cross, and follow him;

                      and the blessing of God almighty,

  the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

  be among you and remain with you always. Amen.


Dismissal

  Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

  In the name of Christ.  Amen.


 Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is included in this service, is copyright  The Archbishops’ Council 2000; New Patterns of Worship, Church house Publishing,  The Archbishops’ Council 2006; Intercessions based on Traces of Glory, David Adam SCPK

CCLI number - 804157