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Scripture (from the Revised Common Lectionary, with links provided by TextWeek.com – a source for thoughtful worship and preaching throughout the year):
Click on Scripture Lessons below for resources:
Suggested Hymns from Chalice Hymnal
64-We sing your mighty power, O God
179-Forty days and forty nights
180-Lord, who throughout these forty days
211-Jesus walked this lonesome valley
565-If you will trust in God to guide you
391-These I lay down
427-Loving Lord, as now we gather
429 You Satisfy the Hungry Heart
More hymn suggestions, as well as helpful references for use of the arts in worship, are available from the United Church of Christ website.
Hymn of the Day from Rev. William Flewelling (© 2020, William Flewelling; All rights reserved)
On Matthew 4:1-11
Into the wilderness we tread,
led by the Spirit all along,
to find in desert clime the weight
of bitterness, temptation’s plight.
There, in the spare land, desert waits
to calibrate attractive lies.
After the forty days of fast,
and forty nights of emptiness,
as hunger wears his belly thin,
the Lord encounters clever wiles:
A stone to be a loaf of bread,
presumption honor on a wink.
Alone, alone as wilderness
exerts its strain upon the soul
and fantasies of folly rise
before the desert-taunted eyes
until, in faithfulness, we pause
and sip at angels’ ministry.
126.96.36.199.8.8. Suggested tune: St. Chrysostom
Dealing with the Psalm of the Day:
Since Chalice Hymnal does not provide a complete Psalter, there will be occasions when suggestions may be made for alternate Psalm use (or hymn equivalent). A metrical version of the Psalter, for those Psalms not provided in Chalice Hymnal, is being prepared by Rev. David Chafin. Where practical, these may be offered here as well. You may also want to visit http://lectionarypsalms.org/
This week: Psalm 32 is on p. 739
Concerning the Following Items: Except where otherwise noted, items are created or adapted by the editor. If you are aware of source notations which are missing, please bring them to his attention. No copyright infringement is intended, but is sure to happen.
(adapted by the editor from the Tradition)
L: As we gather as a community of faith to experience anew the love and grace of Christ, and to feast at his table, let us call to mind our frailties, faults, and sins, and offer them to God, trusting in the grace of God alone for forgiveness and freedom.
L: O Christ, you came to set the captives free; Lord, have mercy.
P: Lord have mercy.
L: You have given yourself fully to live among us; Christ, have mercy.
P: Christ have mercy.
L: When rejected, persecuted, and killed upon a cross, you were raised by God; Lord, have mercy.
P: Lord have mercy.
L: May almighty God have mercy upon us, forgive us our sins, and lead us toward the joy of life eternal.
Alternate Opening Rite
(in place of a Call to Worship and Prayer of Approach. Unison prayer below adapted by the editor from Prayers from the Book of Common Order, Church of Scotland, on oremus.org)
Invitation to God’s Forgiveness
Minister: As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to struggle against everything that leads us away from the love of God and neighbor. Repentance, fasting, prayer, study, and works of love help us return to that love. I invite you, therefore, to commit yourselves to love God and neighbor by confessing your sin and by asking God for strength to persevere in your Lenten discipline.
Silent Prayer (Following a time of silence, Minister: Let us pray together.)
Unison Prayer of Confession
Father in heaven, your love brings life to dead souls, light to darkened minds, strength to weak wills. Help us to believe and trust that no wrong we have done, no good we have failed to do, is too great for you to pardon through the merits of Jesus Christ your Son.
Words of Forgiveness
Minister: God has promised forgiveness of sins to those who repent and turn in faith. May God keep you in grace by the Holy Spirit, lead you to greater faith and trust, and bring you in peace to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(These words may be followed by an “Amen,” by a declaration of absolution – although this is often omitted during Lent in many traditions – and/or by the Peace)
Call to Worship
L: Once again, as the season of Lent begins, we are summoned by a gracious and merciful God.
P: We respond to God’s steadfast love, calling us together in praise.
L: Let us bow in awe before the One Who Creates.
P: We approach God in reverence and wonder, rejoicing in the invitation to holy places.
L: Walk humbly before God in secret disciplines, in prayer and fasting and giving.
P: We seek the One who grants us life, upholding us with a willing spirit.
OR from ministrymatters.com
L: Happy are the people whose sins are forgiven!
P: God’s forgiveness is poured on them as a healing balm.
L: Happy are the people who place their trust in God.
P: God’s presence is their guide and their strength.
L: Come, let us worship the God who forgives and heals us.
P: Let us celebrate God’s presence with us each day.
OR from ministrymatters.com
L: Today the journey begins. Are you ready?
P: There is so much I still have to do. I am not sure I’ll ever be ready.
L: Let go of those things that chain you to despair.
P: Lord, help me look and see the ways in which I have abandoned you.
L: Come, let us worship and feel the power of freedom in God.
P: Open our hearts today to receive your freeing love, O Lord. Amen.
OR adapted from ministrymatters.com
L: The path is unknown to us, O Lord. We fear the Lenten journey.
P: There may be hidden dangers, discoveries that we dread.
L: Help us, Lord. Be with us.
P: Let us take the first step safely, we pray. Amen.
OR adapted from ministrymatters.com
L: We are people of impatient hungers. We don’t want to wait.
P: We seek power and authority. We want to be in control, not to be controlled.
L: We are people whose personal safety is of highest concern.
P: We want to be protected and sheltered.
L: Stop our greed and selfishness, O Lord, and give us your words of comfort and hope.
P: Heal our hardened hearts, that we may live in loving service to others. Amen.
Invocation or Prayer of Approach
As we enter into this journey of Lent together, O God, we look to you to be our guide, our confidence, and our hope. Enable us to find in a season of searching and listening the cause for our hope, and the confirmation of our baptism; this we pray through Christ our Lord. (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)
Most holy God, whose son began a ministry with disciples and continues that ministry today with responsive followers, make us quick to give of ourselves to be in mission as your church today, that the good news of Christ may bring wholeness in all parts of our world. This we pray in his name (as he taught us to pray, saying, “Our Father…”)
God of mercy, as we enter the season of Lent and turn our eyes with Christ’s disciples toward the cross, we ask that we may see clearly the sacrifice you have made for us, and then may we see as clearly the sacrifice we must make for others. Awaken us, God, to turn, to follow, and to serve in Christ’s name (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)
OR from ministrymatters.com
Lord, we are so tempted by everything we see; the glitz and glitter of the world and the get-rich-quick schemes are placed before us. We believe that if we just have enough money, enough friends, enough power, enough safety we will be OK. Show us how foolish we are to place our hope and trust in these things. Give us hearts for loving service in which we will find our strength, our courage, our security, our home. (This we pray through Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray, saying, “Our Father…”)
Confession of Sin
L: As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to struggle against everything that leads us away from the love of God and neighbor. Repentance, fasting, prayer, study, and works of love help us return to that love. I invite you, therefore, to commit yourselves to love God and neighbor by confessing your sin [and by asking God for strength to persevere in your Lenten discipline].
P: We confess, Lord, that we have sometimes fallen prey to the temptations our Lord rejected. Unlike the Savior who refused to turn stones into bread, we have misused our powers and positions for personal advantage. Unlike the Savior who refused to leap from the pinnacle of the temple, we have gotten ourselves into precarious situations, then expected God to miraculously save us. Unlike the Savior who refused to bow to Satan, we have compromised our standards in order to make financial gains. May we, like the Christ, recognize temptation for what it is, and reject its subtle attempt to control us.
L: Take courage in this: that by using the authority of the Word, as Jesus did, we can subdue the suggestions of Satan and gain the advantage over evil.
Pastoral Prayer – Prayers of the People – Intercessions
Mighty and merciful God, giver of grace and goodness, we come as grateful children this day. We come confessing that we are not always grateful to you or as gracious to others we encounter in the twists and turns of our lives. We thank you that you have promised your forgiveness to us as we place our trust in you. Hear our prayers that we might be forgiven, renewed and restored to a fuller life—the life you have shown us in Jesus the Christ.
And hear our prayers for the people you have called to be your church throughout the world. May we together become what you would have us be in fulfillment of Christ’s mission. Help us to lead the way in justice and peace, to help the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, and those in prison and other kinds of trouble. Help us to serve those who surround us as we would serve Jesus.
We pray, O Lord, for those who seek you or who seek to draw closer to you, that they may find you and be found by you. We pray for those near to us in their needs, as we have named them this day, and for those we name in our hearts, and for our own needs.
We praise you, O God, for you give us grace to glorify you with our whole lives, through the power and strength of Jesus the Christ.
Lord of all that is silent and all that is spoken, because our lives are full of detail and deadlines, much to be done and little time in which to do it all, we find few moments in which to savor the beauty of the world, to contemplate the fierce endurance of everything that lives, to enter that timeless realm of divine mystery which surrounds us, entered only in silence. Yet we know that this place exists and is close to us. O God, grant us a glimpse of this inner sanctuary, and the desire and calm to dwell there in prayer.
As we begin this journey through Lent, help us to make more time for study, and more time for silence, that we may hear your voice in our lives. Open us to hear the words of Jesus in new ways, as they were new to those who first heard them. Challenge us and renew us in this holy season that we may be worthy to be called your children.
Hear our prayers for all who are ill and who suffer in these days, especially (___and) those we name to you in silence. (silence) Touch them with your peace and help us to be arms of compassion, strength and hope to them. We ask your peace with all who mourn. May we all have comfort in knowing that indeed you have prepared a place for all who live as your children.
Build a road in the deserts of our hearts, O God—a road of worship and thanksgiving—and guide us in our journey of faith in this and every season of our lives, that we might be ever closer to you and to your Son Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
OR: from Common Worship
In penitence and faith let us make our prayer to the Father and ask for his mercy and grace.
For your holy people, that they may triumph over evil and grow in grace, we pray to you, O Lord: R
For candidates for baptism and confirmation, that they may live by every word that proceeds from your mouth, we pray to you, O Lord: R
For the leaders of the nations, that you will guide them in the ways of mercy and truth, we pray to you, O Lord: R
For the needy, that they may not be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor be taken away, we pray to you, O Lord: R
For the sick in body, mind and spirit, that they may know your power to heal, we pray to you, O Lord: R
For the poor in spirit, that they may inherit the kingdom of heaven and see you face to face, we pray to you, O Lord: R
Let us commend the world, for which Christ suffered, to the mercy and protection of God.
Open prayer may be offered and silence is kept. The Collect and Lord’s Prayer follow.
(for use any time during Lent, adapted from several sources)
Let us remember Jesus: Who, though he was rich, for our sakes became poor and dwelt among us;
Who was content to be the child of a poor family;
Who lived the common life, earning his living with his own hands and declining no humble tasks;
Whom the common people heard gladly, for he understood their ways.
Let us remember Jesus: Who was mighty in deed, healing the sick and afflicted, using for others the powers he would not invoke for himself;
Who was master and Lord to his disciples, yet was among them as their Companion and as one who served.
Let us remember Jesus: Who loved people, yet retired from them to pray, rose a great while before day, watched through the night, stayed in the wilderness, went up into a mountain, sought out a garden;
Who prayed for his tempted disciple, and for the forgiveness of all who rejected him, and for the perfecting of those who received him;
Who observed good customs, but defied conventions that did not serve the purposes of God. Who hated sin because he knew the cost of pride and selfishness, of cruelty and impurity—the cost to humanity and to God.
May this mind be in us which was in Christ Jesus.
Let us remember Jesus: Who, when he was reviled, did not retaliate, and when he suffered did not threaten; who emptied himself and carried obedience to the point of death, even death on the cross.
May this mind be in us which was in Christ Jesus.
Let us pray for Christ to dwell within our hearts.
O Christ, our only Savior, so come to dwell in us that we may go forth with the light of your hope in our eyes, and with your faith and love in our hearts. Amen.
Prayers from Common Worship*
whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness,
and was tempted as we are, yet without sin:
give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit;
and, as you know our weakness,
so may we know your power to save;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
you have renewed us with the living bread from heaven;
by it you nourish our faith,
increase our hope,
and strengthen our love:
teach us always to hunger for him who is the true and living bread,
and enable us to live by every word
that proceeds from out of your mouth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
your Son battled with the powers of darkness,
and grew closer to you in the desert:
help us to use these days to grow in wisdom and prayer
that we may witness to your saving love
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Collect of the Day (from Book of Common Prayer, 1979**)
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be
tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted
by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of
each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through
Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect of the Day from Rev. William Flewelling (© 2020, William Flewelling; All rights reserved)
After austerity, the Tempter comes, O God,
and toys upon our fuller pride.
Into the freshness of your way, Lord God,
sustain us in your care
until the hour of standing clear
under the ministry
your angels bring upon our fears.
Service of Table
While all of our congregations navigate the Sacred Board in a different way, it seems, there are common elements in most, which are provided here. We would love to hear if your congregation has variations to these elements which we might address in the future.
Offertory / Invitation to Give
As people who are given great hope in the midst of life’s desert places, we are called to reaffirm our baptismal confession at the Table of the Lord. As we offer our lives anew, let us prepare this Table with offerings of our daily labors, that the world might join us in this hope and faith.
Each of us it to look not only to personal interests but also to the interests of others. We come together as the church of Jesus Christ to do this. We are devoted to a mission whose benefits are not for us alone. This is our opportunity to share in important work in this community and around the world.
In these gifts, O God, we acclaim you as our Lord. May they be useful to you in bringing your kingdom into full flower through the ministries of your church, we pray in Christ’s name.
These, your gifts, O God, are returned for glory. Bless us with wisdom to use them as you would have us to; and bless our lives with courage to do your bidding, through Christ our Lord.
Invitation to the Table
(adapted from Alexander Campbell)
The Holy One says: “Why spend money on that which does not satisfy? Why spend your wages and still be hungry? Listen to me, and do what I say, and you will enjoy the best food of all. Listen now my people, and come to me; come to me and you will live.” Christ invites to this table all who confess him as Lord and seek to follow in his way. Come to this sacred table, not because you must, but because you may. Come not because you are fulfilled, but because in your emptiness you stand in need of God’s mercy and assurance. Come not to express an opinion, but to seek a presence and to pray for a spirit. Come, then, sisters and brothers, as you are. Partake and share. It is spread for you and me that we might again know that God has come to us, shared our common lot, and invited us to join the people of God’s new age.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. You who come to me shall not hunger; you who believe in me shall never thirst.” In company with all who hunger for spiritual food, we come to this table to know the risen Christ in the sharing of this life-giving bread.
Prayer of Thanksgiving (Prayers for Bread and Cup)
(The following may be offered as one prayer, or broken between two Elders, if that is the tradition to be followed)
Loving God, your Son Jesus Christ endured the harsh desert and the temptation of an easy path to glory, that we who follow him from baptismal waters might be enabled face the struggles and temptations of life in the faith. Help us to find in his example a way toward deeper communion with you. May we experience your presence anew in the breaking of this bread and drinking of this cup. Pour out your Spirit upon them, and upon us, that we might be refreshed in our hope, and made ready to follow the voice of the Savior in our world.
O God of mercy, you showed your strength in the midst of trials through the patient endurance of your Son Jesus Christ in the wilderness days of his life. Hear us as we look to you, in the midst of our own wilderness, for strength, sustenance, our daily bread. Send forth your Spirit upon us, Lord, that as we break the bread that you have provided and drink the wine which you have poured out, we may have our spirits strengthened to face what each new day will present to us in this place. Give us the courage of faith to endure temptations and the hope of new life to enrich our joy, as we receive these gifts of Christ’s body and blood, which we offer up to you in his name for your blessing.
- Holy God, loving Creator, close to us as breath and distant as the farthest star, we thank you for your constant love for all you have made. We thank you for all that sustains life, for all people of faith in every generation who have given themselves to your will, and especially for Jesus Christ, whom you have sent from your own being to be our Savior. Bless this bread, and our lives as we receive it, that we may be the body of Christ, and be empowered to live faithfully in his name.
- O God, as we praise you for Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection, and for calling forth your church to continue his mission in the world, we pray that you would bless this fruit of the vine. Send down your Spirit to us in the drinking of this wine, that our eyes may be opened, and we may recognize the risen Christ in our midst, in each other, and in all for whom Christ died.
Conclusion: Through him, with him, and in him, in the power of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor be to you, O God, now and forever. Amen.
If not previously offered: “And now with the confidence of your children, we offer the prayer our Savior taught us, ‘Our Father…’”
Resources from the Jubilee Fund: This stewardship ministry serving the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offers weekly emails for each Sunday’s service. Visit http://www.thejubileefund.com/ to learn more.
Rev. Tim Graves offers Liturgy Bits with valuable, culturally sensitive and creatively contemplative works, well worth your time.
You may also want to visit Worship Connection at MinistryMatters.com, which offers numerous helps, including electronic versions of print resources for worship and preaching planning.
Intercessions and other helpful planning materials geared to the Lectionary (using Roman Catholic version, but normally quite useful for all traditions) for preaching and worship are supplied for several weeks in advance at The Sunday Website of St. Louis University.
Common Worship Almanac and Lectionary for the year beginning Advent Sunday 2019. Calendar for 2020
Sun 1 Dec 2019. CW* Almanac and Lectionary 2019-20. Common Worship Almanac and Lectionary. for the year beginning Advent Sunday 2019. Compiled by Simon Kershaw August 2019 from the Common Worship Calendar and Lectionaries
using Almanac Maker. compilation © Simon Kershaw 2019 Almanac Maker © Simon Kershaw 2010-2019.
Book of Common Prayer (1979), Public domain.
NOTE: We hope you return to this posting often (and are subscribed to the feed by email, on Facebook or your favorite reader), since the content of each week’s posting may change several times before Sunday. We’d also like to include your content, even after the fact, since everything will roll around again in 3 years, and your contributions may find new life in the great cycle of the lectionary. Send your comments or content here.