Year V: Week 2 of Lent

Thursday in Lent: Afternoon Prayer

ABOUT TODAY

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.


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 80

For the choir director: A psalm of Asaph, to be sung to the tune “Lilies of the Covenant.”

Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph’s descendants like a flock.
O God, enthroned above the cherubim,
display your radiant glory
to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.
Show us your mighty power.
Come to rescue us!

Turn us again to yourself, O God.
Make your face shine down upon us.
Only then will we be saved.
O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies,
how long will you be angry with our prayers?
You have fed us with sorrow
and made us drink tears by the bucketful.
You have made us the scorn of neighboring nations.
Our enemies treat us as a joke.

Turn us again to yourself, O God of Heaven’s Armies.
Make your face shine down upon us.
Only then will we be saved.
You brought us from Egypt like a grapevine;
you drove away the pagan nations and transplanted us into your land.
You cleared the ground for us,
and we took root and filled the land.
Our shade covered the mountains;
our branches covered the mighty cedars.
We spread our branches west to the Mediterranean Sea;
our shoots spread east to the Euphrates River.
But now, why have you broken down our walls
so that all who pass by may steal our fruit?
The wild boar from the forest devours it,
and the wild animals feed on it.

Come back, we beg you, O God of Heaven’s Armies.
Look down from heaven and see our plight.
Take care of this grapevine
that you yourself have planted,
this son you have raised for yourself.
For we are chopped up and burned by our enemies.
May they perish at the sight of your frown.
Strengthen the man you love,
the son of your choice.
Then we will never abandon you again.
Revive us so we can call on your name once more.

Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
Make your face shine down upon us.
Only then will we be saved.

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

Ezekiel 31:1-18

A Cedar Tree

It was in the eleventh year of our captivity, in the third month, on the first day of the month. The Lord spoke his word to me, saying: “Human, say to the king of Egypt and his people:

‘No one is like you in your greatness.
Assyria was once like a cedar tree in Lebanon
    with beautiful branches that shaded the forest.
It was very tall;
    its top was among the clouds.
Much water made the tree grow;
    the deep springs made it tall.
Rivers flowed
    around the bottom of the tree
and sent their streams
    to all other trees in the countryside.
So the tree was taller
    than all the other trees in the countryside.
Its limbs became long and big
    because of so much water.
All the birds of the sky
    made their nests in the tree’s limbs.
And all the wild animals
    gave birth under its branches.
All great nations
    lived in the tree’s shade.
So the tree was great and beautiful,
    with its long branches,
    because its roots reached down to much water.
The cedar trees in the garden of God
    were not as great as it was.
The pine trees
    did not have such great limbs.
The plane trees
    did not have such branches.
No tree in the garden of God
    was as beautiful as this tree.
I made it beautiful
    with many branches,
and all the trees of Eden in the garden of God
    wanted to be like it.

“‘So this is what the Lord God says: The tree grew tall. Its top reached the clouds, and it became proud of its height. So I handed it over to a mighty ruler of the nations for him to punish it. Because it was evil, I got rid of it. The cruelest foreign nation cut it down and left it. The tree’s branches fell on the mountains and in all the valleys, and its broken limbs were in all the ravines of the land. All the nations of the earth left the shade of that tree. The birds of the sky live on the fallen tree. The wild animals live among the tree’s fallen branches. So the trees that grow by the water will not be proud to be tall; they will not put their tops among the clouds. None of the trees that are watered well will grow that tall, because they all are meant to die and go under the ground. They will be with people who have died and have gone down to the place of the dead.

“‘This is what the Lord God says: On the day when the tree went down to the place of the dead, I made the deep springs cry loudly. I covered them and held back their rivers, and the great waters stopped flowing. I dressed Lebanon in black to show her sadness about the great tree, and all the trees in the countryside were sad about it. I made the nations shake with fear at the sound of the tree falling when I brought it down to the place of the dead. It went to join those who have gone down to the grave. Then all the trees of Eden and the best trees of Lebanon, all the well-watered trees, were comforted in the place of the dead below the earth. These trees had also gone down with the great tree to the place of the dead. They joined those who were killed in war and those among the nations who had lived under the great tree’s shade.

“‘So no tree in Eden is equal to you, Egypt, in greatness and honor, but you will go down to join the trees of Eden in the place below the earth. You will lie among unclean people, with those who were killed in war.

“‘This is about the king of Egypt and all his people, says the Lord God.’”

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 Father, we commit to you the work already done today,
Bless the work of our hands and forgive our many errors,
That we may we be empowered to serve you ever more fully. Amen

 

GRACE (Optional)

Reader:

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 in Bold – Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved

All other Psalms – Scripture quotations are taken from The Living Bible copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

All other Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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