Wow! That’s all I need to say really, this mornings service was one of the very best from Hilary as she led us through a service titled ‘Judas, good or bad?’
There were some great hymns both modern and traditional with an outstanding song that was brought to us by the screens during the offering, but let’s begin right at the opening of the service, we opened with the Lent Liturgy brought to us by Glen and Mandy Atkinson followed by the hymn ‘Hear the call of the kingdom’ with the band and the organ providing the music.
The opening prayers were said for us by Ben Latham and members of the Junior church and then we had Hilary talking to the young people about good choices and bad choices by asking them what they liked on their pancakes, toppings such as vinegar, toothpaste, syrup or chocolate, it was a hilarious way to present to the young people what goes with what leading them on to the question ‘Was Judas good or bad’. The Junior church then led us with the actions as we sang ‘My lighthouse’ and as usual it was brilliant!
The Gospel readings were brought to us by Astley Jones, Don Astley, Alison Critchley and Nathaniel read who brought the Gospels to us in a new way by each one of them reading the different version in each of the Gospels in a way that threaded each one into each other. The time was near for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover. The chief priests and the teachers of the Law were afraid of the people, and so they were trying to find a way of putting Jesus to death secretly.
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.
When it was evening, Jesus and the twelve disciples sat down to eat a last supper together. During the meal Jesus said, “I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples were very upset and began to ask him, one after the other, “Surely, Lord, you don't mean me?” Jesus answered, “One who dips his bread in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man will die as the Scriptures say he will, but how terrible for that man who will betray the Son of Man! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born!”
Judas, the traitor, spoke up. “Surely, Teacher, you don't mean me?” he asked. Jesus answered, “So you say.”
Jesus and the disciples go to the Garden of Gethsemane
Judas, the traitor, knew where it was, because many times Jesus had met there with his disciples. So Judas went to the garden, taking with him a group of Roman soldiers, and some Temple guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees; they were armed and carried lanterns and torches.
Jesus was speaking when they arrived. The traitor had given them a signal: “The man I kiss is the one you want. Arrest him and take him away under guard.” As soon as Judas arrived, he went up to Jesus and said, “Teacher!” and kissed him. So they arrested Jesus and held him tight. But one of those standing there drew his sword and struck at the High Priest's slave, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus spoke up and said to them, “Did you have to come with swords and clubs to capture me, as though I were an outlaw? Day after day I was with you teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must come true.”
Then all the disciples left him and ran away.
Jesus is arrested, tried and condemned to death.
When Judas, learned that Jesus had been condemned, he repented and took back the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned by betraying an innocent man to death!” he said. “What do we care about that?” they answered. “That is your business!” Judas threw the coins down in the Temple and left; then he went off and hanged himself.
The hymn ‘Make me a channel of your peace’ followed more of Hilary talking to the young people about whether Judas made the right or wrong decision in his part of the Easter story. The offering was collected to the video of ‘Sound of silence’ by ‘Disturbed, a haunting version of a well-known song but it made us all think of the words and their meaning in our lives.
We had our intercessions brought to us accompanied by the Peter Howson painting of Judas and again it brought home the person of Judas and helped us to think about the man not just the story, followed by ‘Love divine all loves excelling’ a favourite of many of us and so appropriate.
Ben Latham then read for us the poem ‘The Judas tree’ accompanied by the picture of a Judas tree on screen.
THE JUDAS TREE BY DR RUTH ETCHELLS
In Hell there grew a Judas Tree
Where Judas hanged and died
Because he could not bear to see
His master crucified.
Our Lord descended into Hell
And found his Judas there
For ever hanging on the tree
Grown from his own despair
So Jesus cut his Judas down
And took him in his arms
"It was for this I came" he said
"And not to do you harm
My Father gave me twelve good men
And all of them I kept
Though one betrayed and one denied
Some fled and others slept
In three days' time I must return
To make the others glad
But first I had to come to Hell
And share the death you had
My tree will grow in place of yours
Its roots lie here as well
There is no final victory
Without this soul from Hell
So when we all condemned him
As of every traitor worst
Remember that of all his men
Our Lord forgave him first
We ended the service with ‘You shall go out with joy’ accompanied by the band and go out with joy we certainly did after another service brought to us by Hilary in her usual brilliant way.
Kindly written by Denis Kirkham Worship Leader.