Minister Prayers

for Easter Weekend

Ansty Road & St. Columba’s 

Worship material for Easter Weekend

Maundy Thursday Read Matthew 26

Tune Intercessor (RS 486)

This is the night, dear friends, the night for weeping,

when powers of darkness overcome the day,

the night the faithful mourn the weight of evil

whereby our sins the Son of Man betray.


This night the traitor, wolf within the sheepfold,

betrays himself into his victim’s will;

the Lamb of God for sacrifice preparing,

sin brings about the cure for sin’s own ill.


This night Christ institutes his holy supper,

blest food and drink for heart and soul and mind;

this night injustice joins its hand to treason’s,

and buys the ransom-price of humankind.


This night the Lord by slaves shall be arrested,

he who destroys our slavery to sin;

accused of crime, to criminals be given,

that judgment on the righteous Judge begin.


O make us sharers, Saviour, of your passion,

that we may share your glory that shall be;

let us pass through these three dark nights of sorrow

to Easter’s laughter and its liberty.

Peter Abelard (1079-1142);Trans. Richard Sturch © 1990 Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188

This is the only day of the year where I tend to give this Hymn an airing, so if you haven’t joined us on a Maundy Thursday you may not know it. I always find it a very powerful way of taking us back through Matthew’s telling of the story, the good and bad within it, the despair and hope that comes in the same episode. We are living through a period where everything we assumed was normal has been changed. Our plans can only be tentative, perhaps …  maybe … if …. 

Jesus knew what was coming, but his followers thought this was just another episode in the adventure. It was, but not in the way they imagined. And for Judas it was too much, he was ready to change tack, to forswear whatever promise he had made to Jesus, to this new community and throw in his lot with the old power – to the powers-that-had-always-been. They will not be powers in God’s new reign. There was sorrow to come, but Easter’s laughter and liberty was on its way.

O God who is present at Gethsemane and with us now

In this time of many trials may we be awake to your call

and In the dark night of despair may your will be done


Good Friday

Read Matthew 27

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble:

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

I find this a really emotional hymn. But it has to be sung as simply as possible – without music, if there are enough good singers to carry the rest of us. And it is the simplicity that gives this hymn such resonance – it does not tell us what we are to make or believe about Jesus’ crucifixion – we are left to layer it with our own feelings and emotion – and as we do, we may sometimes find we tremble. 

Verse by verse, the song plays with images – “nailed him to the tree” – reminds us that the cross – so often seen as precious metal, was made from wood, such a natural product growing all around us, soaking up carbon dioxide, so that we can breathe oxygen. But now it is re-purposed as a means of torture and death. And that is where, on a Friday, I always leave this hymn – the last verse unsung, hanging in the air. We know it is coming but we need to carry the raw emotion of seeing Jesus’ dead body lying in the tomb before we can begin to hope again. 

I suspect it is Friday that I’m going to miss most over this weekend. I’ve always found it a strange day. I try to keep the Good Friday service as low key as possible. No flowers, No organ voluntary, Psalm 22 to start, the whole of Matthew 27 read, a simple sermon that focuses on whatever pain is foremost at the time, that hints at forgiveness, at the expectation that Sunday is coming – yet leaves people to lament, and know what they must leave at the cross in order to move on. The service will end with no blessing – for how can we be blessed when Jesus, the God-man lies dead.

And then as others plan a Friday out walking somewhere, or meeting up with friends, I will go home and write an Easter sermon – because I’ve found over the years that I just cant plan ahead – I really don’t know how I will approach Easter Day until I have experienced Good Friday. 

I really don’t know what I will do with myself this year – do you?

O God who is present at Calvary and with us now.

In this time of uncertain hopes may we find wisdom in your Word

and stand with those who can declare, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

Easter Sunday

Were you there when God raised him from the dead?

Were you there when God raised him from the dead?

Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble:

Were you there when God raised him from the dead?


Read Matthew 28

Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.

The cross stands empty to the sky.

Let streets and homes with praises ring.

Love, drowned in death, shall never die.


Christ is alive! No longer bound

To distant years in Palestine,

But saving, healing, here and now,

And touching every place and time.


Not throned afar, remotely high

untouched, unmoved by human pains

but daily, in the midst of life

Our saviour in the Godhead reigns.


In every insult, rift, and war,

Where colour, scorn, or wealth divide,

Christ suffers still, yet loves the more,

And lives, where even hope has died.


Christ is alive, and comes to bring

Good news to this and every age,

Till earth and sky and ocean ring

with joy, with justice, love, and praise.

Brian Wren  © 1975 Hope Publishing Company

So, what are we to do with this Easter? I’ve seen people mention that the first Easter was not a big celebration, it was the confused reactions of frightened, uncertain people who had been locked in their houses, suddenly being given hope. In Matthew’s account, the guards are fearful, the women who have gone to the tomb are fearful and they leave “fearful and full of joy” to tell the other disciples. And then Jesus appears to them all and says, “Do not be afraid, go and tell…” 

I’ve turned to this hymn because it invites the empty streets to ring with praise. We can not gather in our churches this year, but Christ was never to be bound by empty places, but always where life is happening. So if we are confined to our homes, looking out to the world via television, radio, internet, telephones, video conferences, letters, then that is where Christ will be found this Easter. And if we are suffering or fearful for those we know who suffer, then Christ “loves the more/And lives, where even hope has died.”

This Easter morning it will be very strange not to be with you sharing Communion. But the invitation is to share in the United Reformed Church Daily Devotions in a service led by John Bradbury our General Secretary Elect, during which there will be an opportunity to share bread and wine in our own homes, but connected to friends around the world. Or join with services on television and radio, and be reminded that none of us are alone for:-

Christ is alive, and comes to bring

Good news to this and every age,

Till earth and sky and ocean ring

with joy, with justice, love, and praise.

Minister News

Easter is Coming

I write at a time when the news is dominated by Covid-19 and our response to it. On 17th March, following advice from the URC that was matched by other denominations the Elders decided to close all church activities. It was a difficult very emotional decision to make, not least to suspend all public worship. That means that there will be no services on a Sunday. We will keep the website  and Facebook up to date, we will look to communicate by telephone, letter or e-mail where necessary. There are lots of online resources being produced and we will communicate those to you. And of course the Labyrinth is in the open air and always open for prayer. 
These are strange times and so it becomes even more important to temper the language of fear with a story of hope. For Easter is coming, when we tell a great story of new life emerging out of despair and we need to hear and live that story once again. 
Humanity has lived through such moments before; war, plague, disease, economic crisis have taken their turn and people have dusted themselves down and emerged ready to live again. Often that new life has taken a new turn, and that will be the same again for us, can we emerge from whatever isolation we each find ourselves in ready to shape communities that automatically include the isolated and reach out to the most vulnerable? If we do, then our Easter story has to be at the heart –  a small group of vulnerable, frightened people who discover that Jesus is alive and calling them into a living community of faith.
For the last three years we have been working towards redeveloping the church building, it has been a slow and sometimes frustrating process, but at last we are at a point where we have some plans that meet our budget even though we have lost some elements to make that so. We do not wish to delay a decision on that, so Church Members will receive a communication that will still enable us to look to the future and new ventures that can transform the way we continue to be a living community of faith serving our communities. We are moving into a new era, and the future can be as exciting as the past for Jesus stands amongst us, scarred hands open in blessing. 
Please look out for one another, and the needs of your more vulnerable neighbours. Please look after yourselves – it is not a time to battle on if we are feeling unwell. See you post-Easter.
be blessed


dangerous times 
for factions circling                   blades out  
hands holding nothing-new

dangerous times 
for fractions sectioning              gold offers
fingers grasping destruction

intriguing times
for power-brokers                     hate stokers
history-tellers shaping chaos

intriguing times 
for strivers, achievers             back-door dealers
strangers on uncharted seas

hungry times 
for blessing meekness open keen young
tongues searching saltiness 

hungry times
for grace-shakers                   peace thumpers
worth-sum of composition

waiting times
for the tribe including         open offers
faith guiding intersection

waiting times
for the tide turning               blades revoked
hope holding all-things-new 

Craig Muir,  Easter 2019


Easter Hope

I’ve just come home from an AGM that focused on hope, it told inspirational stories whilst knowing the harsh reality of human life, yet looked forward to the future; that spoke of hope as part of the human condition, as a partner that walks through life with us; that throws open its arms and welcomes; that transforms our lives and speaks our language.

This is the hope that we speak about at Easter with death overcome, love conquering hate, the opportunity to begin life afresh, to tell inspirational stories, to be overcome by God’s spirit bursting into tired, frightened lives – the language of transformation that creates a culture of hope even where we struggle to believe that such things can happen.

The inspirational AGM was hosted by Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, looking back at the work of the last year, listening to refugee stories that burst with emotion. That reminded us of human inhumanity, whether in the places they flee or within the bureaucracies to which they come. They spoke of communities torn apart and of people piecing life back together. They gave us hope and they looked to the future as a hope-filled journey. For CRMC that journey is going to take them into a new centre, this year they will move from Bishop Street to Norton House, renovating a tired building, creating modern office space and a community hub that will welcome those in need and encourage integration into this city which has such a long history of welcoming the stranger. To do that they will need financial help and have launched an appeal which can be found at The theme of the appeal and the years ahead is Hope.

In this Easter season it was good to remember that hope comes in many forms, to many people. That where we engender hope then we build new lives. As we tell this Easter story we do so in the love of Christ who transforms lives by opening our capacity to hope and calls us to speak the language of hope.

be blessed



Silent Garden

In the silent garden,

we stood with graves laid out

as if disbelief could turn back time.


Sometimes, silence is all we have to express ourselves;

awed, astonished, ashamed, ashen,

silent as the grave.


In the hushed corner plot,

woeful folk quietly plant raised beds

as if peace could descend with new blooms.


Sometimes, silence sings collusions victory dance;

soft, scented, scared, scarred,

hushed with inaction.


In the secret terrace,

weans play a raucous hide ’n seek

as if solemn tongues could break into laughter.


Sometimes silence is the comma, as life explodes –

caught, caressed, carried, carved,

gleeful Easter’s fête.


In festival garden,

world-weary ones feast on merriment,

as if lament will be heard no more.


Sometimes, silence proclaims extravagant garlands,

plaited, pretty, presented, pricey

fanfare of rebirth.


Craig Muir  March 2017

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

I wanted to write something that viewed Jesus’ burial site as a garden – as that would be the natural place for Mary to meet with “the Gardener”  But I found myself imagining a park where different activities go on alongside one another and yet still told a story that takes a community from despair to delight.

In one corner is a burial area, – so often there is little to be said  after the formal words – we say little but are reluctant to move away.

in another corner people are gardening – finding some healing in doing so – but it also contrasts the way silence can be companionable with the times when our failure to speak out colludes with injustice.

In another corner the children (heard but not seen) play (weans is not a natural world for me but it allows the part rhyme of we/wo/we/wo to begin each second line) children really allow life to remain quiet for long – they are the reminder to us that life goes on – that so many moments that seem like a full stop – are really just a comma, as the story unfolds. (And couldn’t resist the homophone of fête with fate) 

In another corner, it’s time to party, parade, feast, festival – Easter time!