Sunday, 28th February

Together in Prayer
2nd Sunday of Lent

O Lord, open our lips,
And our mouth shall declare your praise!
Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love.
According to your judgment, give us life.

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever.

Blessed are you, God of compassion and mercy,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In the darkness of our sin,
your light breaks forth like the dawn
and your healing springs up for deliverance.
As we rejoice in the gift of your saving help,
sustain us with your bountiful Spirit
and open our lips to sing your praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.

Preparing our hearts

Psalm 51
1Have mercy on me, O God, in your great goodness; according to the abundance of your compassion blot out my offences.
2Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness and cleanse me from my sin.
3For I acknowledge my faults and my sin is ever before me.
4Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
5So that you are justified in your sentence and righteous in your judgement.
6Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy spirit from me.
7Give me again the joy of your salvation and sustain me with your gracious spirit;
8Then shall I teach your ways to the wicked and sinners shall return to you.
9Deliver me from my guilt, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness.

Who is it that you seek?
We seek the Lord our God.
Do you seek Him with all your heart?
Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Do you seek Him with all your soul?
Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Do you seek Him with all your mind?
Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Do you seek Him with all your strength?
Amen. Christ, have mercy.

Prayers of Penitence
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.

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

Romans 4:18-25
Hoping against hope, Abraham believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

Mark 8:31-end
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Thought for the week: Rev Joe Knight
Lent is a season of pilgrimage. It’s a time when we journey with Jesus, inspired by his 40 days in the wilderness, which Brian helped us reflect on so wonderfully last week. The pilgrimage, the journey of lent takes us into the wilderness, but with our eyes on a bright horizon. Upon this horizon we see the silhouette of the cross of Christ, and beyond that, the hope of new life dawning in the glowing Easter sky.
Lent is also a symbol of our lives, especially now, having been through some difficult months but with some hope of change ahead. I came across this picture this week, in light of the possible lifting of restrictions after Easter, but wryly pointing to life in Jesus.
As you’ll see, the caption, says ‘life to return after Easter’, and the church sign says, ‘been there, done, that.’

We are ‘Easter’ people, as the saying goes. And yet, that doesn’t take away the fact that we do face difficult times in our journey of faith. There are times when we can be confused or have questions that feel unanswered. The lent course is designed to tackle some of these issues, and it’s been wonderful to speak to people and hear your very moving stories of God’s faithfulness, even through hard times, or as the course puts it, a ‘winter season’ of faith.
And yet, it was recognised that these times can allow for growth and a deepening faith. The enduring image from the first session, for me, was the symbol of trees – how, when in winter, when it seems like there is no life above ground, below ground, that’s when roots spread and strengthen, enabling the tree to live through the storms it will face the following year.
In the reading from Mark, we find Peter in such a moment of despair. I cannot think of a more heart-breaking rebuke than Jesus saying, ‘get behind me Satan!’ Poor Peter. He had just been commended on proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah, and in no time at all, he must have been thrown into the depths of confusion, and worse. I’m sure we can relate with him, though. If Jesus is the Messiah, then why is he starting to talk about his death? Peter, and the whole crowd with him, would have thought ‘that’s not what the messiah is meant to do.’
But sometimes, God works in ways that surprise us. And, if we’re honest, this can be discomforting, but it can also be disappointing. I wonder if you have stories from your own life, when you would have liked to have prayed, ‘No, no, Lord, surely this is a better way.’
Sometimes we cannot see beyond the wilderness, beyond the winter season. Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to follow God through life’s ups and downs. These past few months are no exception, but I find it quite comforting that we begin the road to recovery during this season of lent. One thing the image above doesn’t quite capture, is that life after Easter is not something that we have ‘been to and done’, it is something that is present, and something that we are doing, whatever we’re going through.
A life of following Jesus may not be easy – our reading is quite clear about that. Throughout the whole of Mark’s gospel the invitation that Christ offers is to ‘follow me’, and we do that knowing that he leads us to the cross. But, like Abraham, we can ‘hope against hope’, we can know a deepening, growing faith even when our circumstances seem beyond repair.
Peter could only see the defeat in what Jesus was saying, but he did not understand that the defeat would not be God’s defeat, but the defeat of evil, darkness and sin. God would transform the worst possible scenario into the greatest redemption and hope. That’s what God does with the mess of the world.
So, as we continue to journey through lent together, how can we begin to see things from God’s perspective? How might that change the way we see the world? How can you make the most of the wilderness times, and find that faith begins to grow? Can we dare to hope, dare to believe?

Collect for the 2nd Sunday of Lent
Almighty God,
by the prayer and discipline of Lent
may we enter into the mystery of Christ’s sufferings,
and by following in his Way
come to share in his glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Lord, we thank you for the joy that knowing you brings,
for we are the inheritors of your kingdom:
we share with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in your promises
and we rejoice in your love and your salvation.
We pray for all who may be wavering in their faith and for the weak in spirit.
We pray for all lapsed Christians, and for all who have never known you.
We pray for the joy and the mission of your church
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, you are the hope of all the world.
We pray for better relationships between nations,
for a greater sense of belonging to one great family.
We pray today for all who are striving for programmes
for peace amongst communities across our world,
and for a deepening of goodwill amongst those
communities once in conflict.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we thank you for our local communities and for all
who through good relationships have shown your love.
We pray for all those who we love and all who love us.
We pray for all who have struggled during these testing times,
And for those whose relationships may have suffered.
Lord, strengthen and enlighten them to see your light.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for all those who are ill and for all those
in hospital or awaiting treatment.
We pray for them and their loved ones in their anxiety.
We pray for all who are worried about their employment
and for all struggling to make ends meet.
We give thanks for all those agencies who are working
to support those in need.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Finally Lord, we give thanks for all who have been faithful to you.
We pray for those who now rejoice in your love and peace in its fullness.
We pray for loved ones departed, especially those known to us.
Lord, may they reign in your kingdom in your glory.
Merciful Father we ask that you accept these prayers for the sake
of your son our Saviour Jesus Christ

We join all our prayers into one, by saying the Lord’s Prayer
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.

The Blessing
Lord, set your blessing on us
as we begin this day together.
Confirm in us the truth
by which we rightly live;
confront us with the truth
from which we wrongly turn.
We ask not for what we want
but for what you know we need,
as we offer this day and ourselves
for you and to you
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour

The Grace
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
And the love of God
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Be with us all, evermore. Amen