Wednesday 8 April 2020, Holy Wednesday


  • Welcome
  • All age time
  • Prayer
  • Reading         Matthew 26: 6-16 (Good News Bible)
  • Reflection
  • Prayer for others
  • Blessing


Welcome and let us worship God

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‘God, hear my cry; listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you with fainting heart; lift me up and set me high on a rock” Psalm 61: 1-2

All age time (for 0-100 years)

Opening Prayer

Almighty God

We gather in worship thinking on the last days of Jesus

 before his death on the cross

 marvelling at the scale of your love

you invested your all in him

 through him you accepted pain suffering and death

 to redeem and restore your world

 to bring it healing and wholeness

 to make us forever your own

in the face of such love we marvel

 but are also ashamed

 because of the way we live

 the way we take things for granted

 the way we go against your express commands and guidance

we have behaved in ways that caused hurt

 we are sorry and ask your forgiveness

Fill us anew with your spirit

 that we may faithfully and truly respond to you in all that we do

Through Christ our Saviour we pray. Amen

Bible reading

Matthew 26: 6-16

Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a dreaded skin-disease. While Jesus was eating, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar filled with an expensive perfume, which she poured on his head. The disciples saw this and became angry. “Why all this waste?” they asked him. “This perfume could have been sold for a large amount and the money given to the poor!”

Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? It is a fine and beautiful thing that she has done for me. What she did was to pour this perfume on my body to get me ready for burial. Now, I assure you that wherever this gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Then one of the twelve disciples – the one named Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, “What will you give me if I betray Jesus to you?” They counted out thirty silver coins and gave them to him. From then on Judas was looking for a good chance to hand Jesus over to them.

Reflection (what Judas might have thought)

Personally I can’t sand the smell of nard. Most people rave about it, and because a bottle costs so much, they like to have one prominently displayed as a status symbol. The smell sticks in my throat, makes me sneeze, it lingers in my nostrils for ages. But it’s not just the smell that sticks in my throat: the way that whole incident in Bethany rolled out leaves me choked with rage.

Do you know what that woman did? She poured a whole bottle of the stuff over Jesus. She nearly drowned him in it. It ran down his hair, his face, his neck, onto and inside his tunic, and probably spilt onto the floor too. The house was absolutely reeking.

Some folk thought it was wonderful! Cooing away, “What devotion! To sacrifice her richest treasure like that!” Someone said it reminded him of Samuel anointing David as king (as though a great warrior like David would go round smelling like a beauty parlour). Someone else said it was like being in the Temple when they offer up incense on the altar to god. Another person said it was like preparing a body for burial – I know you might want to mask the smell of death, but thanks to her you’d be able to smell a tomb in Jerusalem from the far side of the Sea of Galilee. I found the whole thing embarrassing and disgusting.

I don’t know what possessed her to do it. Some say she’s ‘deep and spiritual’, I’d say she’s ‘fey’. I might even say that she has a head full of unspun sheep’s wool, with not an ounce of common sense in it. I’ve been chewing it over and have come up with a number of options for why she did it, though I’m not sure which is right:

  • a sudden spur-of-the-moment thing that had no thought behind it and no real meaning
  • a mixture of hero-worship and fancying him – though why would she fancy him?
  • maybe she shared the notion of some of the others that when he gets to Jerusalem he will start a revolution and be installed as king. I’d love a revolution, love to see the Romans sent packing, string up the High Priests, the House of Herod and all the rest who live comfortably in their palaces in Jerusalem, amid corruption and greed, and live off the taxes and rents they load on us. But could you really see him as a king? Leading an army against the Romans? Stirring up the masses, transforming the Temple, bringing those in charge to trial? He’s too soft! He’s more at ease with weans, women and wastrels!
  • He has talked about death a few times, but then everyone here does. It could be round the corner for any of us. Life here is uncertain and dangerous. I wonder if she thinks it is likely, and wants to make sure he gets the proper rituals? But she was way over the top. It’s not even as though he is a special or important person

Do you know what really gets at me? The sheer waste of money. That perfume was worth thousands. She could have used just a little. She could have sold it and raised money for the poor. What did he do? Tell her she’s a stupid fool? No, he expressed appreciation. When I challenged him about it he said, “The poor will be with you always.” If he is going to spark a revolution, he is supposed to be able to abolish poverty, and bring in peace and justice. It’s not my job to change things, and make it a better world. He should do it. The whole thing has left me feeling angry, confused, distant  – and rather disillusioned. I’m not sure where this week is going. I’m not sue how things will work out.

Prayers for others

Loving God

Heavenly Father

We want to be with Mary offering you our devotion and commitment

but all too often we are like the other disciples, and back off

or we’re like Thomas and sceptical about things

or like Judas, arguing with you in our hearts

Kindle anew in us the flame of commitment

that we might be wholeheartedly ready to do what you want of us

We pray for all who like Judas feel cut off from those around them

and particularly for those who feel so cut off that they wish to cause harm to others

We pray for those like Jesus who feel isolated and alone

those who feel let down or betrayed

Jesus spoke of the poor being always with us

We pray for those in need in our community, our country and our world

those who do not have enough to eat

those who do not have a home of their own

those worried about work or money

those who do not have access to education, healthcare, safe sanitation and the like

those who long to live in peace and safety

help us to remember that bringing in peace and justice

 is not just something to be left to you, or to others

 but involves us

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us

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 debts,

 as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation;

 but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

 the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen


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Secure in God’s love

 be steadfast in his service

 and the blessing of God Almighty,

 Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

 rest and remain with you,

 today, and every day, and for ever. Amen

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