Darkness

Exodus 10:21-23
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.’  So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days.  No one could see anyone or leave his place for three days.  Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.”

Luke 23:44-45a
“It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining.”

Isaiah 60:1-3
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”

Glorious One, the light and the void submit to the power of your outstretched hands.

darknessIn the penultimate plague, you painted the sky the colour of the hearts of its people.  Darkness reigned before you required the firstborn sons of Egypt, and before your Firstborn surrendered his life to end death.

Dawn in our hearts, dispersing the black shadows of pride, anger and rebellion.  As we flee the canopy of sin lead us to the glow of salvation’s thick light.

We ask this in the name of our great Sacrifice, Jesus Christ, who entered our darkness with triumphant, conquering radiance.

Listen to ‘Alas’ by Red Mountain Music

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Gardener

Genesis 2:8-9a
“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.  And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.”

John 15:1
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”

John 20:14-16a
“At this, [Mary Magdelene] turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.  He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?  Who is it you are looking for?’  Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’  Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’”

Great Creator, your fingers draw life from the soil, and the earth receives your blessing through gifts of dew and sun.

On our perfect first day we were created to find you in a garden, and when we have lost all hope you call our name in the stillness of a green morning.

gardener2Though pruned by tears, keep us grafted into the true vine.  May new leaves of joy spring to life because you tend us with compassion.

Through Christ we pray—the Branch that died in a winter of sin and now rises with the promise of a glorious springtime.

Listen to ‘I Know that My Redeemer Lives’ by Kyle and Sara

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Servant Angels

Psalm 103:20-21
“Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.  Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.”

Luke 22:41-44
“[Jesus] withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’  An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.  And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

Matthew 28:2-3, 5-6a, 7a
“There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightening, and his clothes were as white as snow…The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said…go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him.’”

Lord of the heavenly hosts, your glory is reflected in the dazzling brightness of your messengers.

servant angels2In Gethsemane’s dark hour a servant restrained his powerful legions, though he saw his Lord stained with agony.  At the empty tomb an angel proclaimed your good news with radiant joy.

May we be obedient to your will and your word—to trust the supremacy of your work and to bear witness as it is accomplished.

In the name of Christ we ask this, heaven’s greatest servant and our glorious hope.

Listen to ‘Beneath the Cross of Jesus’ featuring Sandra McCracken and Derek Webb

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Heart of Stone

Ezekiel 36:26b-27a
“…I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you…”

Luke 24:2-3
“[The women] found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”

Romans 7:6a
“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit…”

Lord and Risen Christ, where there is transformation there is evidence of your touch.

heart of stoneOur hearts, like stony tombs, hold the dead and lifeless remains of old attachments.  It is only by the power of your Spirit that life emerges—flesh restored, breath begun anew.

Resurrect joy out of our cold darkness.  Roll away the barriers that imprison us and release us whole and radiant, pulsing with love.

This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, absorbed into the heart of stone to give us a new heart and a new Spirit.

Listen to ‘Up from the Grave’ by Redeemer INdy

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Myrrh

Matthew 2:11
“On coming to the house, [the Magi] saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him.  Then they opened their gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”

John 19:38a, 39-40a
“Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus…With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.  He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.  Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.  Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen.”

2 Corinthians 2:14-16a
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.  For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.”

Precious Lord, your Spirit lingers with invisible beauty over, around and through us.

myrrhAs a gift of honour, those who were wise brought a costly scent to your Son’s cradle and to his grave.  The aroma of myrrh adorned the unseen presence rejoicing at the incarnation, rising within the dead.

Accept our lives as a fragrant offering to your glory, though it costs us all we treasure  May we be the aroma of Christ in a dying world.

It is in His name that we pray, and because of the rich and beautiful power of his presence.

Listen to ‘Were You There’ by Sherry Muchira

 

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Palm Branches

John 12:12-13
“The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.  They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna!’  ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’  ‘Blessed is the King of Israel!’”

Revelation 7:9-10
“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”

Isaiah 55:12
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Blessed King, to worship you is to join in the song of creation.

palm branches With one accord we welcome your redeeming entrance into our world.  Until the trees celebrate in your new earth, we will wave their branches to honour you.

Open our eyes to see how all green things bend down under your breath to give you glory.  May we know the joy of unified praise as we anticipate the King’s restoration of all things under heaven.

All glory be to Jesus Christ; creator of the tree he died upon and saviour to those who nailed him there.

Listen to ‘All Glory, Laud and Honor‘ featuring Matt Grimsley

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Curtain

Matthew 27:50-51a
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

Hebrews 10:19-22a
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new a living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…”

Romans 8:38-39
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Most Holy God, you dwell in a sacred and pure place.

curtainWith feet that have waded through the filth of this world we cannot enter the sanctuary reserved only for you.  In order to become the way, Christ absorbed the barrier into his perfect body.

Unveil your face and bring us boldly into the realm of your holiness. Reach from the heights and pull to the depths the curtain that separates us from knowing your love.

We ask this in the name of Christ, who through the torn fibres of his hands, feet and side has given us union with God.

Listen to ‘Man of Sorrows’ by Eric Graef

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