Year III: Week 3 of Easter

Wednesday: Afternoon Prayer

ABOUT TODAY

We are currently in the season of Eastertide.  Easter is the annual celebration of the resurrection of the Lord, and has been observed from the earliest days of the church.  In the Jewish calendar, Jesus died during the Passover Feast, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days later.  The church follows this sequence of events, with the season of Eastertide occupying the 50 days between the two great festivals.


CALL TO WORSHIP

Reader:
God, come to my assistance.
All: 
Lord, make haste to help me.

Reader:
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  
All:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen

AFTERNOON PSALM

Psalm 74

A Plea for Relief from Oppressors

A Contemplation of Asaph.

O God, why have You cast us off forever?
Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?
Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old,
The tribe of Your inheritance, which You have redeemed—
This Mount Zion where You have dwelt.
Lift up Your feet to the perpetual desolations.
The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary.
Your enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place;
They set up their banners for signs.
They seem like men who lift up
Axes among the thick trees.
And now they break down its carved work, all at once,
With axes and hammers.
They have set fire to Your sanctuary;
They have defiled the dwelling place of Your name to the ground.
They said in their hearts,
“Let us destroy them altogether.”
They have burned up all the meeting places of God in the land.

We do not see our signs;
There is no longer any prophet;
Nor is there any among us who knows how long.
O God, how long will the adversary reproach?
Will the enemy blaspheme Your name forever?
Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand?
Take it out of Your bosom and destroy them.
For God is my King from of old,
Working salvation in the midst of the earth.
You divided the sea by Your strength;
You broke the heads of the sea serpents in the waters.
You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces,
And gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
You broke open the fountain and the flood;
You dried up mighty rivers.
The day is Yours, the night also is Yours;
You have prepared the light and the sun.
You have set all the borders of the earth;
You have made summer and winter.

Remember this, that the enemy has reproached, O Lord,
And that a foolish people has blasphemed Your name.
Oh, do not deliver the life of Your turtledove to the wild beast!
Do not forget the life of Your poor forever.
Have respect to the covenant;
For the dark places of the earth are full of the haunts of cruelty.
Oh, do not let the oppressed return ashamed!
Let the poor and needy praise Your name.

Arise, O God, plead Your own cause;
Remember how the foolish man reproaches You daily.
Do not forget the voice of Your enemies;
The tumult of those who rise up against You increases continually.

All:  
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


WORSHIP (Optional)

All:  
(A short time of worship and thanksgiving, led or spontaneous.  Alternatively a devotional song may be played and listened to.)


OLD TESTAMENT READING

Isaiah 10:20-34

The Remnant of Israel Will Return

In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. For the Lord God of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in the midst of all the earth.

Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: “O my people, who dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrians when they strike with the rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did. For in a very little while my fury will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction. And the Lord of hosts will wield against them a whip, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb. And his staff will be over the sea, and he will lift it as he did in Egypt. And in that day his burden will depart from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck; and the yoke will be broken because of the fat.”

He has come to Aiath;
he has passed through Migron;
    at Michmash he stores his baggage;
they have crossed over the pass;
    at Geba they lodge for the night;
Ramah trembles;
    Gibeah of Saul has fled.
Cry aloud, O daughter of Gallim!
    Give attention, O Laishah!
    O poor Anathoth!
Madmenah is in flight;
    the inhabitants of Gebim flee for safety.
This very day he will halt at Nob;
    he will shake his fist
    at the mount of the daughter of Zion,
    the hill of Jerusalem.
Behold, the Lord God of hosts
    will lop the boughs with terrifying power;
the great in height will be hewn down,
    and the lofty will be brought low.
He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an axe,
    and Lebanon will fall by the Majestic One.

Reader:      
The Word of the Lord.
All:  
Thanks be to God.


Pause for Reflection……


PRAYER 

(Take a moment to bring to God any issues that have arisen during the morning.  You may like to end with the following prayer…)

Reader:
Holy Spirit, guide us through the rest of our day.
May we know your wisdom in our hearts,
Your strength in our bodies,
And your peace in our lives.  Amen

(If these prayers are taking place before food, you may like to say the Grace here also.)

GRACE (Optional)

(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.

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