Reflection for Passion Sunday from Karen

In these days where our homes have become our world, our Gospel reading takes us back to a home we know well – the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. We know them well because their little household pops up in the gospels again and again. We know that Mary sat at Jesus’ feet whilst Martha fretted about the housework. We know that Mary poured perfume on Jesus’ feet to worship him and mourn him in the days before his death. And we know the story that we have just heard too – the miraculous raising of the brother of Mary and Martha, who has, up until this point, been a bit on the side-lines of this family’s story.

As three adult siblings living together, they are an unusual group. Lazarus, we might have already guessed, has never been too well – otherwise why would he still be living with his sisters and be unmarried? And here we meet the three of them, together with Jesus, at their most vulnerable and broken. Their brother has finally lost his life, Jesus weeps at Lazarus’s tomb, Mary admonishes Jesus, saying, “He wouldn’t have died if you were here!”, and Martha, clinging to one last hope (one ridiculous hope, onlookers must have felt) insists that she believes that even now, Jesus can do anything. We read about Jesus calling Lazarus out of the tomb, like a precursor to his own resurrection, and we imagine the joy and disbelief that must have followed; the celebration – the awe – the wonder about what this could possibly mean. We imagine the effect on Lazarus, to be given a second chance at life. How do you think it would have changed him? We imagine the sisters too – how would this miracle have changed their lives? How would it have shifted their priorities? They say that a near-death experience changes forever our perceptions of what’s important. We refocus. We’re more aware of beauty, of love, of our responsibilities. We live every day as if it counts.
And this, of course, is where we are – it is where the whole world is. We are Mary, lost in grief. We are Martha, clinging to hope. We are Lazarus, waiting to be redeemed. We are Jesus – grieving and yet called to bring light, hope and life into the world.

And we are more than all of these, because unlike Mary, Martha, Lazarus and Jesus himself, we live in the knowledge and light of Christ’s own resurrection, and so we hold with confidence the truth in the most difficult times, that death is not the end and that love will always triumph in this world and the next.

So now, at this time of change and limitations, there are, strangely, new opportunities. As we refocus on what is important, we can learn from these changes rather than fighting them or resenting them, asking God to support and help us by his spirit, and choosing to pour our energies into loving our neighbours and our world. In the tending of a garden, or the painting of our house, or the knitting of another scarf, let us beautify the world, and celebrate what we have. In our reading and in our watching habits, let us focus and spend time on what is life giving and joy giving. For those of us who are able to leave our houses, let us do our shopping and our exercising and our giving with gratitude and generous hearts. In our prayers, let us not forget one another, but hold up to God the suffering of the world for his redemption.

This time will pass, just as Lazarus’ time in the tomb passed, and he was brought once more into the light. We will look back, and recognise God was with us all along. We will find surprising glimmers of his glory in the most unexpected places and situations. Christ is the pattern for our lives. We will, just as Jesus did, grieve. And we will, just like Jesus did, overcome.

May God bless you and keep you safe, comforted and blessed this Passiontide.

Asking for our Prayers

Dear St Raphael’s folk,

In our services, we normally mention by name people who have asked for our prayers – and it would be good to be able to continue to do this.

If you would like prayer for yourself, then please e-mail both Karen and me – that would seem the easiest. You don’t have to go into detail, but it does help to know a little about why you would like prayer at this time. If you would like prayer for someone else, then before you e-mail please ensure the person involved has given their permission. At times, it is also difficult to discern when we should stop mentioning someone by name in our prayers – so please do say as and when the need changes. Feel free to e-mail at any time, although the intention is to finalise and circulate any orders of service to the St Raphael’s congregation at least a day in advance.

Please note that this arrangement is for prayers which would normally be spoken aloud as part of our Sunday worship. Both Karen and I are both contactable for a confidential chat if required – and as both involve prayer it is important to distinguish between the two arrangements.

With love,


Prayers during the day at home

Click the link to view or download

Prayers during the day at home hospital or church


Here is a prayer which we use at the end of weekday Morning Prayer:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.