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
The Attack on Jerusalem
See how the gold has lost its shine,
how the pure gold has dulled!
The stones of the Temple are scattered
at every street corner.
The precious people of Jerusalem
were more valuable than gold,
but now they are thought of as clay jars
made by the hands of a potter.
Even wild dogs give their milk
to feed their young,
but my people are cruel
like ostriches in the desert.
The babies are so thirsty
their tongues stick to the roofs of their mouths.
Children beg for bread,
but no one gives them any.
Those who once ate fine foods
are now starving in the streets.
People who grew up wearing nice clothes
now pick through trash piles.
My people have been punished
more than Sodom was.
Sodom was destroyed suddenly,
and no hands reached out to help her.
Our princes were purer than snow,
and whiter than milk.
Their bodies were redder than rubies;
they looked like sapphires.
But now they are blacker than coal,
and no one recognizes them in the streets.
Their skin hangs on their bones;
it is as dry as wood.
Those who were killed in the war were better off
than those killed by hunger.
They starve in pain and die,
because there is no food from the field.
With their own hands kind women
cook their own children.
They became food
when my people were destroyed.
The Lord turned loose all of his anger;
he poured out his strong anger.
He set fire to Jerusalem,
burning it down to the foundations.
Kings of the earth and people of the world
could not believe
that enemies and foes
could enter the gates of Jerusalem.
It happened because her prophets sinned
and her priests did evil.
They killed in the city
those who did what was right.
They wandered in the streets
as if they were blind.
They were dirty with blood,
so no one would touch their clothes.
“Go away! You are unclean,” people shouted at them.
“Get away! Get away! Don’t touch us!”
So they ran away and wandered.
Even the other nations said, “Don’t stay here.”
The Lord himself scattered them
and did not look after them anymore.
No one respects the priests
or honors the elders.
Also, our eyes grew tired,
looking for help that never came.
We kept watch from our towers
for a nation to save us.
Our enemies hunted us,
so we could not even walk in the streets.
Our end is near. Our time is up.
Our end has come.
Those who chased us
were faster than eagles in the sky.
They ran us into the mountains
and ambushed us in the desert.
The Lord’s appointed king, who was our very breath,
was caught in their traps.
We had said about him, “We will be protected by him
among the nations.”
Be happy and glad, people of Edom,
you who live in the land of Uz.
The cup of God’s anger will come to you;
then you will get drunk and go naked.
Your punishment is complete, Jerusalem.
He will not send you into captivity again.
But the Lord will punish the sins of Edom;
he will uncover your evil.
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.