St. Mary's Church

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Fifth Sunday of Lent

20 Mar 2021 • General news

Jeremiah 31. 31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt – a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Hebrews 5. 5-10

5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
‘You are my Son,
today I have begotten you’;6as he says also in another place,
‘You are a priest for ever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.’

7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus* offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

John 12. 20-33

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

27 ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ 30Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people* to myself.’ 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.


Thought for the fifth Sunday of Lent 2021 by Malcolm Tyler

Some people seem to like change whilst others don’t. I am firmly in the category of those who dislike change and will often use the adage ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’. The trouble is that too often I personally don’t see when something is broken and the change that is needed later on is so great that it is a very real upheaval. The saying a stitch in time comes to mind.

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus reminds us that unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, there can be no harvest. Whilst one could argue that the grain of wheat has not died, it has merely changed to fulfil its potential, the point is well made – sometimes change really is necessary. Jesus was teaching a new way of understanding God. The God to whom he was pointing was not one that was bound up in the keeping of rules and traditional customs. Jesus said that the God he was proclaiming wanted people to feel able to come to him as they were and not only if they could fulfil the standard rituals. It was not so much about what people did that made them valuable in God’s sight but who they were.

This is such a hard lesson for most of us to learn. Certainly, in my childhood my parents drummed into me that good behaviour was important because it would help me get on in the world. This may still be true but it does not translate into God will look favourably on me because I keep to the rules (whatever they may be).God will always look favourably on me because he created me and sees what I can be. There may well be traits in my character which are not so appealing but it is for me to change these to be the person that God sees that I can be rather than to squeeze myself into a character that I am not ready to be. I suppose I am saying that I have to want to change, which of course, I find difficult.

And it is this that I find so incredible about this stage of the Jesus story. I cannot believe that Jesus would have chosen to die upon the cross, given the choice. It was the most ghastly form of death that you could imagine, long, drawn out and extremely painful. Yet in obedience to his father’s will he submitted to it.

No wonder therefore that such obedience wins a great prize. The resurrection vindicates Jesus but wins for us the right to stand before God, sinful though we are, and to be accepted by him for eternity.

You might say then that I don’t need to change now because Jesus has done the work for me. My response has to be that such love makes me want to change not because I have to but because I want to show my own love for God by being the person he knows I can be.

So often on Good Friday I know this in my heart but by Easter Day, sadly the desire to change has already started to wane. Fortunately God is patient!

Intercessions for Fifth Sunday of Lent – 21st March 2021 (prepared by Stephen Baker)

Everlasting God, your Son chose twelve disciples to work together to spread the good news of the gospel to the whole world; help us as we work together in our Church community for the common good. May we delight in sharing in each other’s spiritual gifts and enabling everyone to make their own contribution however small. May we always be ready to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will.

Lord in your mercy,

hear our prayer

Creator God, we pray for peace in our world; may all lands that suffer violence and injustice find peace and reconciliation. We pray for people of all nations and creeds and for all who offer their services in the leadership of the affairs of the world that they may uphold what is right and good. We pray particularly at this time for your love and compassion to abound as we walk through this challenging time of the global Pandemic. We ask for wisdom for those who bear the load of making decisions for the people of the world, especially where those decisions may have widespread consequences.

Lord in your mercy,

hear our prayer

Father God, we thank you for all those who help our community to run smoothly through their jobs, their voluntary work or their neighbourliness. Help us to be supportive and encouraging and to step in to situations where we can serve. Bless our neighbours and strengthen those who are working in your name to bring healing and comfort to those in need.

Lord in your mercy,

hear our prayer

Merciful God, your Son Jesus Christ healed the sick with a touch and raised the dead with a word – hear our prayers today for those who are laid low by sorrow and illness, or by fear and weakness; breathe new life into them as we name them in the silence of our hearts and bring them before you now.

Lord in your mercy,

hear our prayer

Merciful God, we thank you that our movement towards death and decay is not the final sentence in our life story. We thank you that by your faithfulness we are born to a new and living hope in a future where love will never be terminated and life will never end. May we always trust in you as we pray for all those who have departed this earthly life, whether known to us or not.

Lord in your mercy,

hear our prayer

Loving God as we go forth from this time of worship, help us to remember that you do infinitely more for us than we can ask or imagine. Hear our prayers for all your creation and gather us in the embrace of your abundant and life-giving Spirit.

Merciful Father:

accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen