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
A psalm of Asaph.
O God, why have you rejected us so long?
Why is your anger so intense against the sheep of your own pasture?
Remember that we are the people you chose long ago,
the tribe you redeemed as your own special possession!
And remember Jerusalem, your home here on earth.
Walk through the awful ruins of the city;
see how the enemy has destroyed your sanctuary.
There your enemies shouted their victorious battle cries;
there they set up their battle standards.
They swung their axes
like woodcutters in a forest.
With axes and picks,
they smashed the carved paneling.
They burned your sanctuary to the ground.
They defiled the place that bears your name.
Then they thought, “Let’s destroy everything!”
So they burned down all the places where God was worshiped.
We no longer see your miraculous signs.
All the prophets are gone,
and no one can tell us when it will end.
How long, O God, will you allow our enemies to insult you?
Will you let them dishonor your name forever?
Why do you hold back your strong right hand?
Unleash your powerful fist and destroy them.
You, O God, are my king from ages past,
bringing salvation to the earth.
You split the sea by your strength
and smashed the heads of the sea monsters.
You crushed the heads of Leviathan
and let the desert animals eat him.
You caused the springs and streams to gush forth,
and you dried up rivers that never run dry.
Both day and night belong to you;
you made the starlight and the sun.
You set the boundaries of the earth,
and you made both summer and winter.
See how these enemies insult you, Lord.
A foolish nation has dishonored your name.
Don’t let these wild beasts destroy your turtledoves.
Don’t forget your suffering people forever.
Remember your covenant promises,
for the land is full of darkness and violence!
Don’t let the downtrodden be humiliated again.
Instead, let the poor and needy praise your name.
Arise, O God, and defend your cause.
Remember how these fools insult you all day long.
Don’t overlook what your enemies have said
or their growing uproar.
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 Promise of the Lord
While Jeremiah was still locked up in the courtyard of the guards, the Lord spoke his word to him a second time: “These are the words of the Lord, who made the earth, shaped it, and gave it order, whose name is the Lord: ‘Judah, pray to me, and I will answer you. I will tell you important secrets you have never heard before.’ This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the houses in Jerusalem and the royal palaces of Judah that have been torn down to be used in defense of the attack by the Babylonian army: ‘Some people will come to fight against the Babylonians. They will fill these houses with the bodies of people I killed in my hot anger. I have turned away from this city because of all the evil its people have done.
“‘But then I will bring health and healing to the people there. I will heal them and let them enjoy great peace and safety. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and make them strong countries as in the past. They sinned against me, but I will wash away that sin. They did evil and turned away from me, but I will forgive them. Then “Jerusalem” will be to me a name that brings joy! And people from all nations of the earth will praise it when they hear about the good things I am doing there. They will be surprised and shocked at all the good things and the peace I will bring to Jerusalem.’
“You are saying, ‘Our country is an empty desert, without people or animals.’ But this is what the Lord says: It is now quiet in the streets of Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah, without people or animals, but it will be noisy there soon! There will be sounds of joy and gladness and the happy sounds of brides and bridegrooms. There will be the sounds of people bringing to the Temple of the Lord their offerings of thanks to the Lord. They will say,
‘Praise the Lord All-Powerful,
because the Lord is good!
His love continues forever!’
They will say this because I will again do good things for Judah, as I did in the beginning,” says the Lord.
This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: “This place is empty now, without people or animals. But there will be shepherds in all the towns of Judah and pastures where they let their flocks rest. Shepherds will again count their sheep as the sheep walk in front of them. They will count them in the mountains and in the western hills, in southern Judah and the land of Benjamin, and around Jerusalem and the other towns of Judah!” says the Lord.
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…)
Lord Jesus, you worked with your hands as a carpenter.
May we who labour upon the earth never cease to give you praise,
And know your loving presence with us.
We ask this for your glory. 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.