Sunday, 7th March

Together in Prayer
3rd 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 19
God’s Glory in Creation and the Law
To the leader. A Psalm of David.

1 The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer.

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.

1 Corinthians 1: 18-25
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

John 2:13-22
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Thought for the week: Nigel Hughes
It is interesting that pretty much every year during the period of Lent we are presented with this story of Jesus taking a whip to the Money Changers in the Temple in Jerusalem. I am not sure about you, but I don’t find it easy to hold on to this image, as it is totally at odds with the meek and mild portrayal of Jesus that we are used to.

Though cleansing of the temple is the common title that has been given to this passage, I do not believe that is all that is going on here. Whenever we think of cleansing it implies that something has been cleaned up or changed in some way. But, in John’s depiction, Jesus doesn’t appear interested in cleaning up the market system in the Temple but more in highlighting a situation to the authorities who either no longer saw or, more likely, were protecting the powerful by simply choosing not to see.

We have to wonder how it was that Jesus saw what no one else wanted to. How could His perception have been so radically different to the Temple authorities whose role it was to serve God? They should have been setting the standards which others followed instead of turning a blind eye to it. This was one of the reasons why Jesus made the decision to act with such forthright certainty to make right that which He saw was so clearly wrong.

Of course we know that the Temple held precious memories for Jesus. It was the destination where every Jewish child knew that they would make at least one pilgrimage in their lifetimes. It was the place where He had become so involved in conversation with the teachers when He was a small child that his parents lost track of him and were frantic with worry until they found Him again.

For Jesus was unlike any who had come before – this was His spiritual home before any other home, for He understood it to be His Father’s house. So perhaps it should come as no surprise to us that Jesus would show His outrage at what was going on there. It had now become, for some at least, a place to sell animals and undertake business transactions.

The sellers sold the animals which were then sacrificed in accordance with tradition. Of course, the size of the animal would depend on how rich you were. The money changers were needed because neither the animal offerings nor the temple tax could be paid for with the Roman currency because it had the Roman Emperor’s image depicted on it. Because he claimed to be a God, it was considered to be a graven image, and so the money changers provided a currency exchange service.

There appears to be nothing wrong with that on the face of it, but of course commercial exploitation has been around for millennia. The money changers had been given a free rein and had increased the surcharge for exchanging money into currency to such an extent that the poor were not able to afford to encounter God in the Temple. This was entirely contrary to God’s intent, and Jesus saw all of this as standing in the way of it being the holy place it was meant to be. So, is it any wonder that when Jesus enters the Temple and comes face to face with this blatant corruption that He saw red and lost his temper, throwing the money changers and those selling sacrificial animals into chaos.

So, when I sat and reflected on this story, it prompted me to ask the question of what do we need to do to develop the eyes of Jesus? How can we gain sight or the insight which is not content with us turning away or ignoring that which could get in the way of others encountering Jesus? How do we gain the courage or the will to see what is needed to reach out and inspire those around us? Well perhaps one of the ways for us to achieve this is that when we start to return to normality over the weeks and months ahead, is for us to take a look around us with fresh eyes at what we see and experience in our churches. Whilst we may or may not actually have the ‘eyes of Jesus,’ it should not stop us looking at ways in which we can improve both our own experience and that of others in becoming closer to God. Because after all it is our call to make and maybe in doing so, we will be like Jesus and see ourselves, our church, and our relationship with God in new ways.

Collect for the 3rd Sunday of Lent
Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
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.


Lord, we give you thanks for the beauty and order of our world.
We give thanks for all holy places and for our own churches;
that through them may we learn awe and respect for your world.
We ask you to guide all leaders of worship, to inspire all preachers
of the word to direct your faithful people in the ways of holiness and peace.
Lord your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.

We pray for all legislators, and for those who set standards for us to live by.
We ask that you guide all those who influence the minds of others:
we pray for broadcasters, the press, for political leaders.
We pray for all struggling in commerce or industry.
Give to each the strength and will to overcome the obstacles they face.
Lord your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.

We give thanks for all those healthcare professionals
and front line personnel who have worked tirelessly to protect
and support us during the pandemic.
Lord, protect them and us, our homes and loved ones.
Be with those who have been made homeless or lost their jobs.
Lord, we ask that you give them the strength to stay strong.
Lord your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven

We pray for all who have become possessed by possessions,
and for all who are captive to greed and covetousness.
We remember all who have suffered through the selfishness of others.
Be strength, O Lord, to all who have been victims of robbery or harm.
We pray for all who are ill or struggling with their mental health at this time.
Lord your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.

Finally Lord, we give thanks for all who have faithfully served and obeyed your will,
for all who have worshipped you in the beauty of holiness.
We pray for all loved ones departed;
grant that we may share with them in your heavenly kingdom.
Lord your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.

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