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Palm Sunday Sermon by Revd Paul Lanham

Palm Sunday 2020

Matt xxi.8. A great multitude spread their garments in the way.

            'All the world's a stage and all the men & women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances'. Shakespeare could almost have written that about the events of Holy Week which we commemorate at this time. We witness a huge drama spread over several days with many people taking part. There are the major figures: Jesus (above all), Pontius Pilate, Annas & Caiaphas dominate the scene. Then there are those merely with walk on parts. Simon of Cyrene who was pressed into carrying Christ's cross. He had come all the way from North Africa, now he was unclean, unable to take part in the Passover Festival - but he became a follower after the crucifixion. Joseph of Arimathea who gave Christ his tomb; he was someone of importance who privately cared about Christ & what He stood for. The penitent thief. I am sure that the two who were crucified with Jesus were terrorists, followers of that Barabbas who lived as Jesus died – how ironical that scenario is. Judas Iscariot, the enigma, surely the most fascinating figure of the entire Bible; there is infinitely more in his betrayal of Jesus than the Bible would imply. 

            Then there is the CROWD. They play a significant role in the Passion narrative and without them Christ could never have been crucified. Instead of taking the usual Biblical line, let's look at them more realistically. Jesus comes into Jerusalem on a donkey, mocking the generals who entered Rome triumphantly on a white charger surrounded by their troops and followed by the slaves they had captured. Jesus by contrast comes into the Holy City in peace on this symbol of humility, an ordinary looking man on a beast of burden. To us 2000 years ago it is full of meaning, but to others it is very different. Jerusalem is bursting with pilgrims. The threat of civil disobedience is at its highest, the Roman occupying forces are terrified of open rebellion. This could be the spark that sets off a riot that they are unable to control. But to make a move against this demonstration would be to risk greater trouble. They can only watch and hope.

As for the crowd, they are bored, looking for something to do, some form of entertainment. Then along comes this carpenter and His followers, mocking the Roman Triumph. It's always entertaining to mock authority and this is worth watching. Worth joining in, by tearing down branches, shouting what the disciples were shouting even if they don't mean what they are saying. To them the Triumphal Entry is no more than street theatre, a means of killing time. Jesus is relieving their boredom for a bit. They can have no idea that they are unwittingly taking part in the prelude to the greatest event, the greatest tragedy in human history – but whoever heard of a street entertainer being the centre of such an event.

Jesus enters Jerusalem – and He does two acts that make Calvary inevitable. First He cleanses the Temple, antagonizing the Jewish authorities and hitting them where it most hurts – in their pockets. Then He just teaches. This second act does three things; it's the most under-rated action in the tragedy. First, by teaching His own brand of religion where the Jews teach a completely different one, He antagonises them even further (if that were possible).  Second He shows Judas Iscariot (who was surely at heart a terrorist, a member of the Sicarii, the People of the Dagger) that He was not going to start the revolution that he joined the Twelve to be a part of; the betrayal of Jesus that follows is because Jesus has betrayed him. Third, He stops entertaining the crowd. He has become boring, they have no further use for Him.

It just needs one final element to set the tragedy into its final stages – someone who can whip up the crowd and turn them into the force that will ensure that Jesus is condemned to death. For the crowd have the power to blackmail Pilate into condemning Jesus to death; they can potentially cause a riot that will end the career of the ruthlessly ambitious governor. Pilate knows it and he will do anything to prevent it. Annas and Caiaphas also know this, and they know that they can also use the crowd to assert their power over Pilate once and for all. So Jesus also becomes a pawn in a power struggle over who really rules Israel. It's a fascinating scenario, a struggle also between two types of looking at life, between evil and good, materialism and spirituality, selfishness and self-giving. And the crowd, utterly disillusioned by Jesus bring everything to a head. Having proclaimed Him as Messiah they no longer need Him. They can bay for His blood, stirred up by an orator – because this too is street theatre, albeit of a much more sinister type. They can be swayed, they can be swept along by hysteria, they can get things done without realising the long term effects of them (I can't help rightly or wrongly seeing a parallel between this mass hysteria and the Nazi rallies at Nuremburg). The crowd hold the reins of power, not that they know it – and they are fickle.

It is the crowd that ultimately condemn Jesus to death. Without them Jesus could not have been condemned. Obviously they weren't the most guilty in Christ's condemnation but they played their part. In that passage that we read every Christmas, St John writes that 'the light shines in the dark & the darkness has never quenched it'. This lies near the heart of what Christ's Passion really means. It is a conflict between darkness and light, evil and good. On the one side there are Annas and Caiaphas, Pilate, the crowd and everything they represent. On the other side there is Christ the Son of God and everything that He stood for. Superficially it seems at Calvary that evil has conquered good, but in the Resurrection we see that good can never be conquered, that love will conquer hatred, light will conquer darkness. In order to have Easter there must first be Calvary, but on the cross Christ condemns everything that the world stands for. The ambition of Pilate, the hypocrisy and machinations of the priests, the fickleness and selfishness of the crowd, the materialism of the world as a whole. They are held to account as Jesus stumbles along the Via Dolorosa, and in dying He passes God's verdict on them. 

But it lies deeper even than this. I am fascinated by the trial of Jesus by Pilate. It is far too complicated to go into detail, but we see in Pilate's misunderstanding of Our Lord's Kingship the same misunderstanding that the crowd had at the Triumphal Entry, that the Jews had as they dreamed of the Messiah who would make Israel great again. 'My Kingdom is not of this world' Our Lord declares to the governor. Pilate can't understand because he thinks on a different level to Christ. Our Lord taught the priority of humility, of love, of unselfishness. Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek. These are the values of the Kingdom, these are what He represents. So the cross becomes Christ's throne, His robes the tattered garments in which He died. Here He passes judgement on the world, but in doing so He shows His love even for those who others would see as His enemies. His spirit must be in us, as once again in spirit we walk the lonely path to Golgotha. Paul writes to the Philippians, 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation, & took upon Him the form of a servant & was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man He humbled Himself and became obedient even unto death, death on the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow'. Christ reigns from the cross, the cross is the expression of everything for which He stands. The grief of Calvary leads as inevitably as anything could lead to the joy of the empty tomb and everything for which it stands. In pondering it we see His love for us and for the world; 

The Reverend Paul Lanham 

 we also see a challenge which as His followers we cannot avoid.    

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Night Prayer, 21:00 see Revd Ginni's video blog at this time

Night Prayer

You may wish to light a candle and have some reflective music playing in the background. 

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. 

Deuteronomy 33.27 

Opening Sentences 

The Lord almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end. Amen. 

Our help is in the name of the Lord 

who made heaven and earth. 

Pause and reflect on the day that is past. 

Save us, O Lord, while waking, and guard us while sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep may rest in peace. 

Bible Reading 

You may wish to say here the psalm given below, or Psalm 27, or another chosen psalm. 

Psalm 91 

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High 

and abides under the shadow of the Almighty, 

2 Shall say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my stronghold, ︎ 

my God, in whom I put my trust.’ 

3 For he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler ︎ 

and from the deadly pestilence. 

4 He shall cover you with his wings 

and you shall be safe under his feathers; 

his faithfulness shall be your shield and buckler. 

5 You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, 

nor of the arrow that flies by day; 

6 Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, 

nor of the sickness that destroys at noonday. 

7 Though a thousand fall at your side 

and ten thousand at your right hand, 

yet it shall not come near you. 

8 Your eyes have only to behold ︎ 

to see the reward of the wicked. 

9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge 

and the Most High your stronghold, 

10 There shall no evil happen to you, 

neither shall any plague come near your tent. 

11 For he shall give his angels charge over you, 

to keep you in all your ways. 

12 They shall bear you in their hands, 

lest you dash your foot against a stone. 

13 You shall tread upon the lion and adder; 

the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. 

14 Because they have set their love upon me, 

therefore will I deliver them; ︎ 

I will lift them up, because they know my name. 

15 They will call upon me and I will answer them; 

I am with them in trouble, 

I will deliver them and bring them to honour. 

16 With long life will I satisfy them 

and show them my salvation. 

Glory to the Father and to the Son 

and to the Holy Spirit; 

as it was in the beginning is now 

and shall be for ever. Amen. 

You may wish to use one of the following short readings or choose a passage of your own. 

Sunday Evening 

You, O Lord, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; leave us not, O Lord our God. 

Jeremiah 14.9 

Monday Evening 

Thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. 

Isaiah 30.15 

Tuesday Evening 

Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11.28-end 

Wednesday Evening 

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 

1 Peter 5.6,7 

Thursday Evening 

Jesus said, ‘I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’      John 16.33 

Friday Evening 

God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 

1 Thessalonians 5.9,10 

Saturday Evening 

Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’ 

John 8.12 


Merciful God, we entrust to your unfailing and tender care this night those who are ill or in pain, knowing that whenever danger threatens your everlasting arms are there to hold us safe. Comfort and heal them, and restore them to health and strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the silent hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world, may rest upon your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  

Visit this place, O Lord, we pray, and drive far from it the snares of the enemy; may your holy angels dwell with us in peace, and may your blessing be always upon us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

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 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. 

The Conclusion 

In peace we will lie down and sleep; 

for you alone, Lord, make us dwell in safety. 

The Lord bless us and watch over us; 

The Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious to us; 

The Lord look kindly upon us and give us peace. Amen. 

Materials in this booklet are drawn from Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of EnglandCommon Worship: Pastoral Services, and Common Worship: Daily Prayer, all of which are copyright © The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England.

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EASTER WEEK Morning Prayer at 09:00 See Revd Ginni's Video blog on Facebook

Morning Prayer

You may wish to light a candle and have some reflective music playing in the background. 

The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. God is close to those who trust in him. 

Nahum 1.7 

Opening Sentences 

O Lord, open our lips 

and our mouth shall proclaim your praise. 

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;

let us pray with one heart and mind. 

Pause for reflection as you offer the day to God. 

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. Amen. 


A Psalm will be read here

Bible Reading 

You may wish to use the weekly pattern of short readings given below, or choose a passage of your own. 

Sunday Morning 

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: 

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. 

Isaiah 43.1-3a 

Monday Morning

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 

John 14.1-6 

Tuesday Morning 

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. 

Philippians 4.8-9 

Wednesday Morning 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

Colossians 3.16,17 

Thursday Morning 

You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God. 

Ephesians 2.19-22 

Friday Morning 

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 

Romans 19.9-12 

Saturday Morning 

He said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 

Luke 12.22-31 


A period of silence may be kept where you are invited to offer the people and situations you are concerned about to God

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you that you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day. Keep us from falling into sin or running into danger; order us in all our doings and guide us to do always what is righteous in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. 

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. 

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 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. 

The Conclusion 

The Lord bless us, and preserve us from all evil, and keep us in eternal life. 


Let us bless the Lord. 

Thanks be to God.

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A Message from Revd Ginni

This is a message from Revd Ginni written before the Government lock down




Dear Friends, ‘God is our hope and strength, a very present help in trouble.’ (Psalm 46) The global outbreak of COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on our way of life, and the Church is no exception. Following advice from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, public services at St. Ippolyts Church and St. Mary’s Churches in Great and Little Wymondley on Sundays and on all other days of the week are suspended until further notice. This does not, however, mean that our churches are closed: far from it. No matter what happens, the church continues in each of us: our calling is always to worship our Lord Jesus Christ who is forever faithful, and to love and serve each other. This crisis calls us to model a different way of being the church and we are putting the following in place to enable us to do that: I will continue to celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday mornings, on behalf of the Benefice, at 9.15am. in St. Ippolyts church, joined by either Reverend Paul Lanham, our Reader Howell Davies or Lay Leader of Worship Doug Richardson, as they are able; to pray for our parish and for its people, for our world, and for the sick and the departed. The celebration of the Eucharist is the most powerful form of prayer and is at the heart of our life as a church; it will continue even though it is not open for others to attend. If you have any specific prayer requests please let me know. At 9.15am. each Sunday the bell of the church will be rung as it always is as a call to prayer. At some point between 9.15am. and 10.15am., if you can, please stop what you are doing and pray, perhaps by using the prayer booklet (mentioned below) and by offering your own prayers, so that as a church we continue to worship together. In addition to Sundays, I will also continue to say Morning and Evening Prayer on behalf of the parishes each day but again these services will not be open to others to attend. A short booklet with prayers for use at home, the weekly readings, and worship resources for use with children will be circulated in due course. I am also looking into ways to make some sermons/reflections available via the website, e-mail and social media. 2   Use of the church building Although we cannot congregate together, St. Ippolyts Church and St. Mary’s Church, Great Wymondley will be open for private prayer each day as usual. Practicalities in locking and unlocking prohibit this at St. Mary’s, Little Wymondley. Obviously people will be expected to observe proper hygiene and social distancing. If you are not self-isolating, please do make good use of our wonderful church buildings for prayer and reflection. Keeping in touch I will aim to make available readings, reflections, prayer resources and regular updates as we respond to this changing situation through e-mail and by posting on our website and social media. If you are not on our e-mail list or are unable to access a computer then please let me know. All three parishes in the Benefice have a remarkable church family and I know that we will show the love of God by caring for one another at this extremely challenging time, and that we will also find strength in God our Father who loves us more than we can imagine and who sustains us in all our difficulties. As your parish priest and your friend I am always available for a conversation or pastoral support - please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail or on the number below. I greatly look forward to the time when we can once more gather together for worship, but for now I end with a prayer that I hope will bring some comfort and hope at this time. Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. With my love and prayers, Ginni (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) (01462-237032)

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Weekly Pew Sheet - 29th March 2020

.200329 Red Sheet Redemptorist A4 RED j f m 2020 13

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