Holy Week and Easter prayers
A series of Holy Week and Easter prayers and reflections written by CTE staff for you to share...
Written by our General Secretary, Rev Dr Paul Goodliff...
On the first Palm Sunday Jesus rode triumphant into Jerusalem, to the acclaim of the crowds flooding into the city for Passover, and to his death 5 days later with the cries of the mob calling for his crucifixion.
We pray for all making decisions in the eye of the media storm, applauded at one moment, and denounced the next, pulled by different streams of opinions.
God of all grace and wisdom, to all who have to make decisions about public policy grant the courage to make that which is best for the common good, the humility to resist what is for mere partisan self-interest, and the wisdom to discern the difference. As we face uncertainty over the restoration of liberties after lockdown, give to us the patience to walk that narrow way between caution dominated by fear and recklessness. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.
The crowds on Palm Sunday travelled from far and wide, into a city full of pilgrims and rife with rumour.
We pray for all who use the internet for their knowledge and information, arriving in that virtual city rife, too, with rumour and myth. Whether it be vaccine efficacy, ethical concerns about vaccines or false claims about the causes of Covid-19, there is so much that peddles falsehood and anger, putting others at risk. We pray for those who counter lies with truth, fears with reassurance and apathy with urgency, that through the work of scientists and faiths leaders, community leaders and family members, the widest possible take-up of the vaccine programme might proceed throughout the world.
Creator God, who shaped the vast galaxies and the smallest sub-atomic particle, the myriad of creatures on planet earth, and the smallest virus that can humble the vanity of humankind in its pride and pretensions of mastery, we thank you for the skills, ingenuity and understanding of those who combat this disease of Covid-19. May their endeavours not be hampered by those who, through ignorance or malevolence, peddle false rumours and create unwonted fears. This we ask though Christ, the way, the truth and the life, Amen.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus was proclaimed as King by young and old alike, yet few understood what his kingship meant. Worldly power was replaced by a cross-shaped throne, and golden regalia by a crown of thorns.
We pray for all who serve others and offer their lives in service of others — remembering especially those who continue to work in health care, public service and care for the vulnerable. We ask God to keep them faithful, protected and fruitful in their work.
Lord Jesus Christ, as triumphant King riding on a colt, you went the way that led to the cross, and borrowed tomb. We pray for all who have responded to the call to serve you by finding their way of serving others. When that way is strewn with thorns rather than palm branches, give then perseverance; when the cries of the crowd turn from approval to rebuke, speak your comfort to their hearts; and when the noise of the crowded world falls silent, speak to them, through the living stone that is the Word of God, where we find all wisdom and strength; and by the presence of the empowering Holy Spirit, in whom we find all grace in times of need, through Christ our coming King, Amen.
Written by our Principal Officer for Intermediate Ecumenism, Governance Support and Resources, Jenny Bond...
On Maundy Thursday we celebrate the institution of the Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:17–29; Mark 14:12–25; Luke 22:7–38; and 1 Corinthians 11:23–25) and we remember how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples (John 13:1–17).
Today we suggest that you put aside at least ten minutes to pray quietly with one of the following focuses. Choose the one which attracts you and don't worry about all the questions. They are there to create a spark, so ignore those which don't work for you. You may find it helpful to find an image from the internet to help you focus.
The institution of the Lord's Supper
Spend some time with the first recorded account of this:
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11:23–25
Notice how you feel about this passage. Does something draw you? What is God saying to you through the passage?
'You are what you eat' proclaimed the TV programme some years ago. John 6:53 reports that Jesus tells us 'unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you'. Don't let yourself be distracted by what you think he means, but take some time to reflect on the central invitation here to be Christ for others. Notice what you are feeling. Do you want to be more like him? What grace or gift do you need from God to help you? Bring your feelings to the Lord and speak to God as one friend to another.
The washing of feet
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
As you read this very familiar passage, can you put the text aside and imagine yourself there? Are you at the table or doing something else in the room? Does Jesus wash your feet? Do you want him to? Notice how you feel as the action of the passage progresses and take time to talk to Jesus about what has happened during this prayer time.
If you don't want to try that method of prayer, simply read the passage a couple of times. Notice how you feel about it. Does something draw you? What is God saying to you through it? Is there a grace or gift you need from God to help you follow the example of Jesus? Bring your feelings to the Lord and speak to God as one friend to another.
Alternatively, if you would prefer to have someone lead you through prayer on Maundy Thursday, you could try the podcast Pray as you go.
Written by our Principal Officer for Pentecostal, Charismatic and Multi-cultural Relations, Shermara Fletcher...
Gracious Father, as we marvel at the extent of your love and live in the sublimity of your redemptive sacrifice for the salvation of our souls, help us to find strength and peace in the gift of Good Friday.
Gracious father, help us on this Good Friday and as we remember those many Fridays that have not felt so good during this unparalleled year of loss, as many people’s last moments with loved ones were snatched away and many were overwhelmed with the turbulences of a ruptured normality, that clothed in grace and humility you were led like a lamb to the slaughter, ripped from your family and friends and willingly gave your life so that we could experience the possibility of eternal life.
Help us to remember that you are a loving God who feels the infirmities and pain of your creation, that your arms are not too short to save, nor your ears too dull to hear and remind us of your promise as the ultimate embodiment of love that you are close to the broken hearted.
Gracious Father, as you endured one of the most shameful, despised, dishonoring and excruciating ritualized state executions, whilst publicly outstretched on the wooden planks of a cross outside of the city and left to die away from your people, we ask that you remember those who are considered the least of these in our communities, who are unjustly, unequally and inequitably mistreated by society, who have no family or shelter and are displaced on this Good Friday. As you cried out to your father asking him in the depth of your humanity why you were forsaken, we ask that you hear the cries and plight of your creation as they return their loved ones to the earth from which they came.
And finally, as we marvel at the extent of your love and live in the sublimity of your redemptive sacrifice for the salvation of our souls we thank you that in the pain of our Fridays, we have hope in the goodness of yours.
Written by our Principal Officer for Evangelism & Mission, Rev Dr Ben Aldous...
As the darkness of Holy Saturday envelops us,
Cast our minds back to the anxiety of those first disciples,
Who, huddled together in disbelief,
Mirror something of our own fears, insecurity and fragility.
As we think of the tomb not yet empty,
The Christ descending to depths on our behalf,
As we long for resurrection life and hope,
Help us to remain still, not to rush.
Today as the table lies empty in expectation,
Of tomorrow’s celebration,
Help us to keep vigil, to wait,
For your transformative resurrection life born in us.
On this day when all the world becomes silent,
When all human powers are challenged,
By the utter sincerity of the crucified Christ,
Remind us that unless a seed falls into the ground and dies:
it cannot bear fruit or bless others’ lives.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
Written by our General Secretary, Rev Dr Paul Goodliff...
Risen Lord, on your head, side, hands and feet you bore the marks of your passion to meet fearful disciples hiding in a locked room, bewildered travellers homeward bound and full of sorrow and Peter, fresh from catching nothing and rocked by regrets. Come to us, your people, and meet us too.
As we walk in your footsteps, remind us your feet are nail-pierced, and keep us in that narrow way of cross-bearing discipleship.
As we reach out to serve others, remind us your hands bear the marks of nails, and grant us grace to have compassion for others in ways that lift them up and set them on their feet.
As we seek to love one another, remind us that your side was pierced by the soldier’s spear and give us courage to love your people with humility and generosity.
When we demand our own way, shun those who are different, and use our worldly powers to seek to dominate, remind us that your brow carries the scars of cruel thorns woven into a mockery of a crown, and call us afresh to the way of repentance and cross-shaped love.
From the throne of calvary you rise to the throne of heaven, and say that in you, dear Saviour Christ, we too have been transformed from death to life, called from sin to holy living, and from deepest despair to abundant hope in your resurrection. Empower us to be signs of hope and new life for a world full of ruin and grief, as we offer ourselves afresh to be your feet, hands, heart and mind for our day and our world. Breath on us again your Spirit as you send us as the Father sent you and place your words in our hearts and on our lips as we proclaim again, The Lord is Risen, hallelujah! Amen.