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
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
For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.
Lord, you poured out blessings on your land!
You restored the fortunes of Israel.
You forgave the guilt of your people—
yes, you covered all their sins. Interlude
You held back your fury.
You kept back your blazing anger.
Now restore us again, O God of our salvation.
Put aside your anger against us once more.
Will you be angry with us always?
Will you prolong your wrath to all generations?
Won’t you revive us again,
so your people can rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying,
for he speaks peace to his faithful people.
But let them not return to their foolish ways.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
so our land will be filled with his glory.
Unfailing love and truth have met together.
Righteousness and peace have kissed!
Truth springs up from the earth,
and righteousness smiles down from heaven.
Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings.
Our land will yield its bountiful harvest.
Righteousness goes as a herald before him,
preparing the way for his steps.
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
Jeremiah in Prison
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had appointed Zedekiah son of Josiah to be king of Judah. Zedekiah took the place of Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim. But Zedekiah, his servants, and the people of Judah did not listen to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet.
Now King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah with a message to Jeremiah the prophet. This was the message: “Jeremiah, please pray to the Lord our God for us.”
At that time Jeremiah had not yet been put into prison. So he was free to go anywhere he wanted. The army of the king of Egypt had marched from Egypt toward Judah. Now the Babylonian army had surrounded the city of Jerusalem. When they heard about the Egyptian army marching toward them, the Babylonian army left Jerusalem.
The Lord spoke his word to Jeremiah the prophet: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Jehucal and Zephaniah, I know Zedekiah king of Judah sent you to seek my help. Tell this to King Zedekiah: ‘The army of the king of Egypt came here to help you, but they will go back to Egypt. After that, the Babylonian army will return and attack Jerusalem and capture it and burn it down.’
“This is what the Lord says: People of Jerusalem, do not fool yourselves. Don’t say, ‘The Babylonian army will surely leave us alone.’ They will not! Even if you defeated all of the Babylonian army that is attacking you and there were only a few injured men left in their tents, they would come from their tents and burn down Jerusalem!”
So the Babylonian army left Jerusalem to fight the army of the king of Egypt. Now Jeremiah tried to travel from Jerusalem to the land of Benjamin to get his share of the property that belonged to his family. When Jeremiah got to the Benjamin Gate of Jerusalem, the captain in charge of the guards arrested him. The captain’s name was Irijah son of Shelemiah son of Hananiah. Irijah said, “You are leaving us to join the Babylonians!”
But Jeremiah said to Irijah, “That’s not true! I am not leaving to join the Babylonians.” Irijah refused to listen to Jeremiah, so he arrested Jeremiah and took him to the officers of Jerusalem. Those rulers were very angry with Jeremiah and beat him. Then they put him in jail in the house of Jonathan the royal secretary, which had been made into a prison. So those people put Jeremiah into a cell in a dungeon, and Jeremiah was there for a long time.
Then King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah and had him brought to the palace. Zedekiah asked him in private, “Is there any message from the Lord?”
Jeremiah answered, “Yes, there is. Zedekiah, you will be handed over to the king of Babylon.” Then Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “What crime have I done against you or your officers or the people of Jerusalem? Why have you thrown me into prison? Where are your prophets that prophesied this message to you: ‘The king of Babylon will not attack you or this land of Judah’? But now, my master, king of Judah, please listen to me, and please do what I ask of you. Do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the royal secretary, or I will die there!”
So King Zedekiah gave orders for Jeremiah to be put under guard in the courtyard of the guard and to be given bread each day from the street of the bakers until there was no more bread in the city. So he stayed under guard in the courtyard of the guard.
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
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.