We are currently in the season of Lent, which is the traditional 40 days of prayer, fasting, reflection and repentance that precedes the great Easter celebrations. Just as Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness learning to overcome the Enemy, so we set this time aside for spiritual warfare and renewal. It is common during this time to imitate the simplicity of Jesus in the wilderness by abstaining from rich foods and strong drink during this season, and to devote extra time to the practice of the spiritual disciplines. The daily intercessions throughout the entire Lenten season reflect this focus, and drill deeply into our selfish attitudes and sinful actions.
CALL TO WORSHIP
God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
Redemption Remembered in Present Dishonor
To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of the sons of Korah.
We have heard with our ears, O God,
Our fathers have told us,
The deeds You did in their days,
In days of old:
You drove out the nations with Your hand,
But them You planted;
You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out.
For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword,
Nor did their own arm save them;
But it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance,
Because You favored them.
You are my King, O God;
Command victories for Jacob.
Through You we will push down our enemies;
Through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us.
For I will not trust in my bow,
Nor shall my sword save me.
But You have saved us from our enemies,
And have put to shame those who hated us.
In God we boast all day long,
And praise Your name forever. Selah
But You have cast us off and put us to shame,
And You do not go out with our armies.
You make us turn back from the enemy,
And those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves.
You have given us up like sheep intended for food,
And have scattered us among the nations.
You sell Your people for next to nothing,
And are not enriched by selling them.
You make us a reproach to our neighbors,
A scorn and a derision to those all around us.
You make us a byword among the nations,
A shaking of the head among the peoples.
My dishonor is continually before me,
And the shame of my face has covered me,
Because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles,
Because of the enemy and the avenger.
All this has come upon us;
But we have not forgotten You,
Nor have we dealt falsely with Your covenant.
Our heart has not turned back,
Nor have our steps departed from Your way;
But You have severely broken us in the place of jackals,
And covered us with the shadow of death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God,
Or stretched out our hands to a foreign god,
Would not God search this out?
For He knows the secrets of the heart.
Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord?
Arise! Do not cast us off forever.
Why do You hide Your face,
And forget our affliction and our oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
Our body clings to the ground.
Arise for our help,
And redeem us for Your mercies’ sake.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
(A short time of worship and thanksgiving, led or spontaneous. Alternatively a devotional song may be played and listened to.)
OLD TESTAMENT READING
Punishment Coming for Israel and Judah
Hear this, O priests!
Pay attention, O house of Israel!
Give ear, O house of the king!
For the judgement is for you;
for you have been a snare at Mizpah
and a net spread upon Tabor.
And the revolters have gone deep into slaughter,
but I will discipline all of them.
I know Ephraim,
and Israel is not hidden from me;
for now, O Ephraim, you have played the whore;
Israel is defiled.
Their deeds do not permit them
to return to their God.
For the spirit of whoredom is within them,
and they know not the Lord.
The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
Israel and Ephraim shall stumble in his guilt;
Judah also shall stumble with them.
With their flocks and herds they shall go
to seek the Lord,
but they will not find him;
he has withdrawn from them.
They have dealt faithlessly with the Lord;
for they have borne alien children.
Now the new moon shall devour them with their fields.
Blow the horn in Gibeah,
the trumpet in Ramah.
Sound the alarm at Beth-aven;
we follow you, O Benjamin!
Ephraim shall become a desolation
in the day of punishment;
among the tribes of Israel
I make known what is sure.
The princes of Judah have become
like those who move the landmark;
upon them I will pour out
my wrath like water.
Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgement,
because he was determined to go after filth.
But I am like a moth to Ephraim,
and like dry rot to the house of Judah.
When Ephraim saw his sickness,
and Judah his wound,
then Ephraim went to Assyria,
and sent to the great king.
But he is not able to cure you
or heal your wound.
For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
and like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear and go away;
I will carry off, and no one shall rescue.
I will return again to my place,
until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face,
and in their distress earnestly seek me.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Pause for Reflection……
(Take a moment to bring to God any issues that have arisen during the morning. You may like to end with the following prayer…)
Mighty God, as we come to the end of our week,
Grant your blessings over all we love and your increase upon all we do,
We ask this in Jesus name. Amen
(If these prayers are taking place before food, you may like to say the Grace here instead.)
Lord God, we thank you for your gift to us of this food;
Produce of earth, sky, many living beings, and much hard work.
May we eat with prayerfulness, gratitude and moderation;
With renewed minds and spirit-controlled appetites.
May we eat with compassion for those who hunger today,
And in such a way that reduces the suffering of all creatures;
Healing and preserving our precious planet.
Use this food to strengthen our bodies, revive our spirits,
Nurture our family and nourish our resolve;
That we may continue to serve all that lives with all our life. Amen
Psalms taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Other Scripture taken from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.