We are currently in the season of Eastertide. Easter is the annual celebration of the resurrection of the Lord, and has been observed from the earliest days of the church. In the Jewish calendar, Jesus died during the Passover Feast, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days later. The church follows this sequence of events, with the season of Eastertide occupying the 50 days between the two great festivals.
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, why have you rejected us so long?
Why is your anger so intense against the sheep of your own pasture?
Remember that we are the people you chose long ago,
the tribe you redeemed as your own special possession!
And remember Jerusalem, your home here on earth.
Walk through the awful ruins of the city;
see how the enemy has destroyed your sanctuary.
There your enemies shouted their victorious battle cries;
there they set up their battle standards.
They swung their axes
like woodcutters in a forest.
With axes and picks,
they smashed the carved paneling.
They burned your sanctuary to the ground.
They defiled the place that bears your name.
Then they thought, “Let’s destroy everything!”
So they burned down all the places where God was worshiped.
We no longer see your miraculous signs.
All the prophets are gone,
and no one can tell us when it will end.
How long, O God, will you allow our enemies to insult you?
Will you let them dishonor your name forever?
Why do you hold back your strong right hand?
Unleash your powerful fist and destroy them.
You, O God, are my king from ages past,
bringing salvation to the earth.
You split the sea by your strength
and smashed the heads of the sea monsters.
You crushed the heads of Leviathan
and let the desert animals eat him.
You caused the springs and streams to gush forth,
and you dried up rivers that never run dry.
Both day and night belong to you;
you made the starlight and the sun.
You set the boundaries of the earth,
and you made both summer and winter.
See how these enemies insult you, Lord.
A foolish nation has dishonored your name.
Don’t let these wild beasts destroy your turtledoves.
Don’t forget your suffering people forever.
Remember your covenant promises,
for the land is full of darkness and violence!
Don’t let the downtrodden be humiliated again.
Instead, let the poor and needy praise your name.
Arise, O God, and defend your cause.
Remember how these fools insult you all day long.
Don’t overlook what your enemies have said
or their growing uproar.
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
Laws About Fairness
“You must not tell lies. If you are a witness in court, don’t help a wicked person by telling lies.
“You must not do wrong just because everyone else is doing it. If you are a witness in court, you must not ruin a fair trial. You must not tell lies just because everyone else is. If a poor person is in court, you must not take his side just because he is poor.
“If you see your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering away, you must return it to him. If you see that your enemy’s donkey has fallen because its load is too heavy, do not leave it there. You must help your enemy get the donkey back on its feet.
“You must not be unfair to a poor person when he is in court. You must not lie when you accuse someone in court. Never allow an innocent or honest person to be put to death as punishment, because I will not treat guilty people as if they were innocent.
“You must not accept money from a person who wants you to lie in court, because such money will not let you see what is right. Such money makes good people tell lies.
“You must not mistreat a foreigner. You know how it feels to be a foreigner, because you were foreigners in Egypt.
Laws for the Sabbath
“For six years you are to plant and harvest crops on your land. Then during the seventh year, do not plow or plant your land. If any food grows there, allow the poor people to have it, and let the wild animals eat what is left. You should do the same with your vineyards and your orchards of olive trees.
“You should work six days a week, but on the seventh day you must rest. This lets your ox and your donkey rest, and it also lets the slave born in your house and the foreigner be refreshed.
“Be sure to do all that I have said to you. You must not even say the names of other gods; those names must not come out of your mouth.
Three Yearly Feasts
“Three times each year you must hold a feast to honor me. You must celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the way I commanded you. For seven days you must eat bread that is made without yeast at the set time during the month of Abib, the month when you came out of Egypt. No one is to come to worship me without bringing an offering.
“You must celebrate the Feast of Weeks. Offer to God the first things you harvest from the crops you planted in your fields.
“You must celebrate the Feast of Shelters in the fall, when you gather all the crops from your fields.
“So three times during every year all your males must come to worship the Lord God.
“You must not offer animal blood along with anything that has yeast in it.
“You must not save any of the fat from the sacrifice for the next day.
“You must bring the best of the firstfruits of your land to the Holy Tent of the Lord your God.
“You must not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.
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.