Wednesday of Holy Week: This week is what is commonly referred to as Holy Week; the final week of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday. During this time we focus on the last few days of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the events leading up to and including his death. This morning, we focus on the events surrounding Last Supper while our afternoon readings continue to tell the story of the liberation of the Children of Israel in their Exodus from Egypt.
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. A song to be sung to the tune “The Suffering of Affliction.” A psalm of Heman the Ezrahite.
O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out to you by day.
I come to you at night.
Now hear my prayer;
listen to my cry.
For my life is full of troubles,
and death draws near.
I am as good as dead,
like a strong man with no strength left.
They have left me among the dead,
and I lie like a corpse in a grave.
I am forgotten,
cut off from your care.
You have thrown me into the lowest pit,
into the darkest depths.
Your anger weighs me down;
with wave after wave you have engulfed me. Interlude
You have driven my friends away
by making me repulsive to them.
I am in a trap with no way of escape.
My eyes are blinded by my tears.
Each day I beg for your help, O Lord;
I lift my hands to you for mercy.
Are your wonderful deeds of any use to the dead?
Do the dead rise up and praise you? Interlude
Can those in the grave declare your unfailing love?
Can they proclaim your faithfulness in the place of destruction?
Can the darkness speak of your wonderful deeds?
Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about your righteousness?
O Lord, I cry out to you.
I will keep on pleading day by day.
O Lord, why do you reject me?
Why do you turn your face from me?
I have been sick and close to death since my youth.
I stand helpless and desperate before your terrors.
Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me.
Your terrors have paralyzed me.
They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long.
They have engulfed me completely.
You have taken away my companions and loved ones.
Darkness is my closest friend.
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
At midnight the Lord killed all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt—from the firstborn of the king who sat on the throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in jail. Also, all the firstborn farm animals died. The king, his officers, and all the Egyptians got up during the night because someone had died in every house. So there was a loud outcry everywhere in Egypt.
Israel Leaves Egypt
During the night the king called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Get up and leave my people. You and your people may do as you have asked; go and worship the Lord. Take all of your flocks and herds as you have asked, and go. And also bless me.” The Egyptians also asked the Israelites to hurry and leave, saying, “If you don’t leave, we will all die!”
So the people took their dough before the yeast was added. They wrapped the bowls for making dough in clothing and carried them on their shoulders. The Israelites did what Moses told them to do and asked their Egyptian neighbors for things made of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord caused the Egyptians to think well of them, and the Egyptians gave the people everything they asked for. So the Israelites took rich gifts from them.
The Israelites traveled from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men walking, not including the women and children. Many other people who were not Israelites went with them, as well as a large number of sheep, goats, and cattle. The Israelites used the dough they had brought out of Egypt to bake loaves of bread without yeast. The dough had no yeast in it, because they had been rushed out of Egypt and had no time to get food ready for their trip.
The people of Israel had lived in Egypt for four hundred thirty years; on the very day the four hundred thirty years ended, the Lord’s divisions of people left Egypt. That night the Lord kept watch to bring them out of Egypt, and so on this same night the Israelites are to keep watch to honor the Lord from now on.
The Lord told Moses and Aaron, “Here are the rules for Passover: No foreigner is to eat the Passover. If someone buys a slave and circumcises him, the slave may eat the Passover. But neither a person who lives for a short time in your country nor a hired worker may eat it.
“The meal must be eaten inside a house; take none of the meat outside the house. Don’t break any of the bones. The whole community of Israel must take part in this feast. A foreigner who lives with you may share in the Lord’s Passover if all the males in his house become circumcised. Then, since he will be like a citizen of Israel, he may share in the meal. But a man who is not circumcised may not eat the Passover meal. The same rules apply to an Israelite born in the country or to a foreigner living there.”
So all the Israelites did just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. On that same day the Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.
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.