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
The Meaning of Suffering
I am a man who has seen the suffering
that comes from the rod of the Lord’s anger.
He led me
into darkness, not light.
He turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.
He wore out my flesh and skin
and broke my bones.
He surrounded me with sadness
and attacked me with grief.
He made me sit in the dark,
like those who have been dead a long time.
He shut me in so I could not get out;
he put heavy chains on me.
I cry out and beg for help,
but he ignores my prayer.
He blocked my way with a stone wall
and led me in the wrong direction.
He is like a bear ready to attack me,
like a lion in hiding.
He led me the wrong way and let me stray
and left me without help.
He prepared to shoot his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.
He shot me in the kidneys
with the arrows from his bag.
I was a joke to all my people,
who make fun of me with songs all day long.
The Lord filled me with misery;
he made me drunk with suffering.
He broke my teeth with gravel
and trampled me into the dirt.
I have no more peace.
I have forgotten what happiness is.
I said, “My strength is gone,
and I have no hope in 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, 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.