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
Let Your mercies come also to me, O Lord—
Your salvation according to Your word.
So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
For I have hoped in Your ordinances.
So shall I keep Your law continually,
Forever and ever.
And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.
I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings,
And will not be ashamed.
And I will delight myself in Your commandments,
Which I love.
My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments,
Which I love,
And I will meditate on Your statutes.
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
The Lord Will Punish Israel
Rejoice not, O Israel!
Exult not like the peoples;
for you have played the whore, forsaking your God.
You have loved a prostitute’s wages
on all threshing floors.
Threshing floor and wine vat shall not feed them,
and the new wine shall fail them.
They shall not remain in the land of the Lord,
but Ephraim shall return to Egypt,
and they shall eat unclean food in Assyria.
They shall not pour drink offerings of wine to the Lord,
and their sacrifices shall not please him.
It shall be like mourners’ bread to them;
all who eat of it shall be defiled;
for their bread shall be for their hunger only;
it shall not come to the house of the Lord.
What will you do on the day of the appointed festival,
and on the day of the feast of the Lord?
For behold, they are going away from destruction;
but Egypt shall gather them;
Memphis shall bury them.
Nettles shall possess their precious things of silver;
thorns shall be in their tents.
The days of punishment have come;
the days of recompense have come;
Israel shall know it.
The prophet is a fool;
the man of the spirit is mad,
because of your great iniquity
and great hatred.
The prophet is the watchman of Ephraim with my God;
yet a fowler’s snare is on all his ways,
and hatred in the house of his God.
They have deeply corrupted themselves
as in the days of Gibeah:
he will remember their iniquity;
he will punish their sins.
Like grapes in the wilderness,
I found Israel.
Like the first fruit on the fig tree
in its first season,
I saw your fathers.
But they came to Baal-peor
and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
and became detestable like the thing they loved.
Ephraim’s glory shall fly away like a bird—
no birth, no pregnancy, no conception!
Even if they bring up children,
I will bereave them till none is left.
Woe to them
when I depart from them!
Ephraim, as I have seen, was like a young palm planted in a meadow;
but Ephraim must lead his children out to slaughter.
Give them, O Lord—
what will you give?
Give them a miscarrying womb
and dry breasts.
Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal;
there I began to hate them.
Because of the wickedness of their deeds
I will drive them out of my house.
I will love them no more;
all their princes are rebels.
Ephraim is stricken;
their root is dried up;
they shall bear no fruit.
Even though they give birth,
I will put their beloved children to death.
My God will reject them
because they have not listened to him;
they shall be wanderers among the nations.
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.