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 David useful for teaching, regarding the time David fought Aram-naharaim and Aram-zobah, and Joab returned and killed 12,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. To be sung to the tune “Lily of the Testimony.”
You have rejected us, O God, and broken our defenses.
You have been angry with us; now restore us to your favor.
You have shaken our land and split it open.
Seal the cracks, for the land trembles.
You have been very hard on us,
making us drink wine that sent us reeling.
But you have raised a banner for those who fear you—
a rallying point in the face of attack. Interlude
Now rescue your beloved people.
Answer and save us by your power.
God has promised this by his holiness:
“I will divide up Shechem with joy.
I will measure out the valley of Succoth.
Gilead is mine,
and Manasseh, too.
Ephraim, my helmet, will produce my warriors,
and Judah, my scepter, will produce my kings.
But Moab, my washbasin, will become my servant,
and I will wipe my feet on Edom
and shout in triumph over Philistia.”
Who will bring me into the fortified city?
Who will bring me victory over Edom?
Have you rejected us, O God?
Will you no longer march with our armies?
Oh, please help us against our enemies,
for all human help is useless.
With God’s help we will do mighty things,
for he will trample down our foes.
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
2 Kings 25:3-21
By the ninth day of the fourth month, the hunger was terrible in the city. There was no food for the people to eat. Then the city was broken into, and the whole army ran away at night through the gate between the two walls by the king’s garden. While the Babylonians were still surrounding the city, Zedekiah and his men ran away toward the Jordan Valley. But the Babylonian army chased King Zedekiah and caught up with him in the plains of Jericho. All of his army was scattered from him, so they captured Zedekiah and took him to the king of Babylon at Riblah. There he passed sentence on Zedekiah. They killed Zedekiah’s sons as he watched. Then they put out his eyes and put bronze chains on him and took him to Babylon.
Nebuzaradan was the commander of the king’s special guards. This officer of the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem on the seventh day of the fifth month, in Nebuchadnezzar’s nineteenth year as king of Babylon. Nebuzaradan set fire to the Temple of the Lord and the palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building was burned.
The whole Babylonian army, led by the commander of the king’s special guards, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan, the commander of the guards, captured the people left in Jerusalem, those who had surrendered to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the people. But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to take care of the vineyards and fields.
The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the bronze stands, and the large bronze bowl, which was called the Sea, in the Temple of the Lord. Then they carried the bronze to Babylon. They also took the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes, and all the bronze objects used to serve in the Temple. The commander of the king’s special guards took away the pans for carrying hot coals, the bowls, and everything made of pure gold or silver. There were two pillars and the large bronze bowl and the movable stands which Solomon had made for the Temple of the Lord. There was so much bronze that it could not be weighed. Each pillar was about twenty-seven feet high. The bronze capital on top of the pillar was about four and one-half feet high. It was decorated with a net design and bronze pomegranates all around it. The other pillar also had a net design and was like the first pillar.
Judah Is Taken Prisoner
The commander of the guards took some prisoners—Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank, and the three doorkeepers. Of the people who were still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, as well as five people who advised the king. He took the royal secretary who selected people for the army and sixty other men who were in the city. Nebuzaradan, the commander, took all these people and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them killed. So the people of Judah were led away from their country as captives.
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, we thank you for the work of the morning,
For the challenges faced and the obstacles overcome.
Grant that the rest of this day be used for your glory,
As we offer ourselves afresh to you. 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.