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, pagan nations have conquered your land,
your special possession.
They have defiled your holy Temple
and made Jerusalem a heap of ruins.
They have left the bodies of your servants
as food for the birds of heaven.
The flesh of your godly ones
has become food for the wild animals.
Blood has flowed like water all around Jerusalem;
no one is left to bury the dead.
We are mocked by our neighbors,
an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
O Lord, how long will you be angry with us? Forever?
How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you—
on kingdoms that do not call upon your name.
For they have devoured your people Israel,
making the land a desolate wilderness.
Do not hold us guilty for the sins of our ancestors!
Let your compassion quickly meet our needs,
for we are on the brink of despair.
Help us, O God of our salvation!
Help us for the glory of your name.
Save us and forgive our sins
for the honor of your name.
Why should pagan nations be allowed to scoff,
asking, “Where is their God?”
Show us your vengeance against the nations,
for they have spilled the blood of your servants.
Listen to the moaning of the prisoners.
Demonstrate your great power by saving those condemned to die.
O Lord, pay back our neighbors seven times
for the scorn they have hurled at you.
Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will thank you forever and ever,
praising your greatness from generation to generation.
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 Good Branch
The Lord says, “The time is coming when I will do the good thing I promised to the people of Israel and Judah.
In those days and at that time,
I will make a good branch sprout from David’s family.
He will do what is fair and right in the land.
At that time Judah will be saved,
and the people of Jerusalem will live in safety.
The branch will be named:
The Lord Does What Is Right.”
This is what the Lord says: “Someone from David’s family will always sit on the throne of the family of Israel. And there will always be priests from the family of Levi. They will always stand before me to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings and sacrifices to me.”
The Lord spoke his word to Jeremiah, saying: “This is what the Lord says: I have an agreement with day and night that they will always come at the right times. If you could change that agreement, only then could you change my agreement with David and Levi. Only then would my servant David not have a descendant ruling as king on David’s throne. And only then would the family of Levi not be priests serving me in the Temple. But I will give many descendants to my servant David and to the family group of Levi who serve me in the Temple. They will be as many as the stars in the sky that no one can count. They will be as many as the grains of sand on the seashore that no one can measure.”
The Lord spoke his word to Jeremiah, saying: “Jeremiah, have you heard what the people are saying? They say: ‘The Lord turned away from the two families of Israel and Judah that he chose.’ Now they don’t think of my people as a nation anymore!”
This is what the Lord says: “If I had not made my agreement with day and night, and if I had not made the laws for the sky and earth, only then would I turn away from Jacob’s descendants. And only then would I not let the descendants of David my servant rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But I will be kind to them and cause good things to happen to them again.”
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…)
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
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.