COCU19A.Lent 1A.1March2020

See also Lent 1B and Lent 1C

Christ in the desertIwan Nikolajewitsch Kramskoi.1872

See also Autumn (southern hemisphere)

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7: God warns the man and woman in Eden not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but they are tempted by the serpent, and eat some of the fruit, at which point they realise their nakedness and cover themselves with fig leaves.
Psalm 32: A Psalm of David celebrating God’s forgiveness which is given so freely to those who confess their sin and do not try to hide it, and also an acknowledgement of God’s invitation to guide God’s people and lead them to life.
Romans 5:12-19: Through one person sin entered the world, and all people have likewise sinned against God, but in Christ, God has given the free gift of forgiveness and right relationship with God.
Matthew 4:1-11: Jesus is tempted by the devil in the wilderness, but overcomes the temptation to satisfy his appetites by turning stone into bread, to gain power and influence by the miraculous act of throwing himself off the temple, and to gain the world’s wealth by worshiping the devil.
(Lectionary readings summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Call to Worship
Ashes have been smeared and sins have been confessed…
We follow our faithful Lord.
These times, they are troubling. This journey, it is hard…
We follow our faithful Lord.
It is God who sustains, not the temptations of this world…
We follow our faithful Lord.
In the Lord is our trust, our protection from harm…
We follow our faithful Lord.
Come, let us worship the One whom we serve…
We follow our faithful Lord.
(Stephen Fearing, Wild and Precious Life)

Call to Worship for Lent
Lent calls us to journey, this and every day,
following Jesus wherever he leads us.
Lent calls us to journey:
to the place where God covenants with us,
to receive the new names we are given.
Lent calls us to worship together,
to tell future generations the good news.
Lent calls us to practice justice,
to bring God’s hope to all people.
Lent calls us to faithful living,
to trust the One who gives us life.
Lent calls each of us to take up our cross,
to trust the One who bears it with us.
Lent calls us to journey with God.
Let us worship God, who walks with us,
this and every day.
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

Darkness and Light
(could be used to accompany candle lighting at start of service, and as a call to worship)
The darkness loves to parade itself, God,
to draw our attention and steal our energy,
with fearful threats
and dire prophecies of doom;
and we all too easily give it just what it seeks.

Community candle (or Christ candle) is lit

But, if we can just drag our gaze away
we discover that there is another reality;
that your light shines undimmed,
that your care is undiminished,
that your strength and protection
are unfailing.

And so, even in the midst of pain, suffering, evil
even when it seems your light is almost out,
we choose to remain under the shadow of your wings;
to trust in your salvation,
to speak your words,
and to dispel the darkness
by lighting the flame of faith again
in our hearts. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Prayers of who we are (prayer of confession): Overcoming temptation
When we are drawn to the easy satisfaction of our appetites,
to the simple addictions of pleasure:
We pray for the strength to say ‘no’
and to live by your soul-feeding word.

When we are caught up in the self-aggrandising song
of power and self-sufficiency:
We pray for the humility to serve,
and to worship the only One who is worthy.

When we are challenged to accumulate
and to find our security in wealth:
We pray for the grace to give,
and for the faith to trust in your care.

A silence is kept

And so, for us and for our world:
we embrace your wisdom and your word,
and we commit to living in your light
so that in some small way,
we may dispel the darkness. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

If you are the Son of God,
take away my crying
If you are the Son of God,
take away her dying
If you are the Son of God,
take him away in his lying
If you are the Son of God,
show us you are even trying?!
Jesus is the Son of God,
and he takes away our turning,
and the consequences of burning
our bridges back to God.
Jesus is the Son of God
and he gives us back our living,
restores the bridges so we can turn
back to the Way of God
Son of God
you take away
all our tyranny*;
have mercy on us,
and grant us peace. Amen
* Sarah translates ‘sinners’ as ‘participants in tyranny’  for her PhD performance of Romans
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)

God, soothing our wasteland,
you have spirited us
through life’s desert ways.
Drive us deeper yet,
our true way testing,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen
(Source: Bob Eldan. See also Bob’s preaching tip).

Communion – an introduction 
(‘Past Glory’ – justaposing the Transfiguration of Christ from last week with the forlorness of Lent 1)

Where is the glory now?

All that light from last week
all that wonder
and mystery
turns to dust and ashes
and a single set of footprints in the sand

Where is the glory now?

All that revelation on the mountain top
and sharp light
turns to bread and wine
and a table waiting for those willing to pick up the cross

Let us break bread together
and begin this new journey
finding in the crumbs and the dust
the deeper, broken glory
of love’s way

(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Mucky Paws)


The Temptation  Song (score, lyrics and backing track here)
1. Life is like one big temptation
Tempted ev-e-ry which way
When we’re faced with big temptations
Time to heed what Jesus say:
Bread alone – it just won’t feed us
We must feast on God’s own word
Take the word of God to heart each day
Finding life in God’s own word

ooh-wah, ooh-wah, ooh-wah, ooh-wah

2. For temptation keeps on tempting
Always subtle, in disguise
Who’s the one in life we live for?
Who’s the one with whom we’ll side?
Come and worship God completely
God alone be whom we serve
Take the word of God to heart each day
God alone be whom we serve

(remaining verses – click on link next to title of song)

Communion liturgy – Thom Shuman
Jesus of the temptations,
you enter the wilderness
of our hungers,
our lust for power,
our eagerness to test God:
be with us on our journey to Jerusalem, we pray.
Jesus of hopes,
you set aside your glory,
choosing to cradle us
in your scarred hands:
hold us in your tender embrace, we pray.
Jesus of the Feast,
you are broken
so we might be healed,
you pour our your self
so we might be drenched in your grace:
feed us from the simple gifts of creation, we pray.

Silence is kept

Lamb of God:
have mercy.
Servant to the poor:
have mercy on us.
Free gift of our righteousness:
have mercy on us, even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are easily seduced by the temptations all around us. But if we are willing to trust God and offer our confessions, God is quick to forgive us and fill us with hope. Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
Led by the crafter of lies, Lord God, we wander into the wasteland of wrong-doing. We hunger for more and more, and feel emptier and emptier. We seek power, especially over others, only to do harm. By our choices, we worship the false gods of success, wealth, and spectacle.
Have mercy on us, God of love, and forgive us for the power we give to temptation in our lives. Help us to become as vulnerable as Jesus, for in that vulnerability, we find the humility to trust you in all things; in that trust, we discover the grace which sets us free from the grasp of the shrewd one; in that freedom, we can leave our badlands behind, in order to follow Jesus in this life, and into the next. Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Be glad and rejoice! Give thanks with shouts of joy! Grace abounds for everyone.
With glad cries of deliverance, we offer our thanks to God who loves us and forgives us. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Too often, we give into the temptation to keep everything for ourselves. But you would have us notice those how hunger for hope, as well as bread; those who are caught in the injustices of the world; those who struggle to find themselves. And in noticing, we become generous and loving, even as we have been graced by our Brother and Savior, Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of discipleship be with you.
And also with you.
Let us begin our Lenten journey with open hearts.
We offer them to the One who walks with us.
Let our voices resound with thanksgiving to the One who shows us faithful care.
We rejoice in our God of hope and love.
You held nothing back,
Gardener of grace,
as the Spirit led creation
into the hinterlands of nothingness:
spreading rich soil in the valleys,
planting seedlings and flower bulbs,
making mountains from river clay,
sprinkling water over everything.
Mornings came in Eden’s beauty,
all that wonder and goodness
given for your children,
but we listened to evil’s whispers,
believing those lies so easily told.
Like a crew launching in boat
to rescue those who are adrift,
prophets came, counseling us
to let go of our stubbornness
and return to your side,
but with our eyes wide open,
we followed that path which
took us away from the middle of the garden.
So you sent Jesus to us,
that free gift of grace for all.

With the faithful who have gone before us,
with companions through this journey today,
we offer glad songs of deliverance:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of steadfast love.
Creation sings your praises as on that first morning.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who brings grace to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, Hope of our lives,
and Jesus Christ is your blessed righteousness.
When we got what we wanted
in knowing both good and evil,
he came, so we might receive
what we need most – your grace.
When we left the garden
to enter the deserts of temptation,
he came , to show us
the path back to your heart.
When we had given control
of our lives to sin and death,
he came, to break their hold on us
as he was resurrected from the grave.

As we begin to follow him to Jerusalem,
as we would choose to embrace his suffering,
we speak of that free gift called faith:

Christ died, going into the wilderness of the grave;
Christ was raised, shattering the grip of sin and death;
Christ will come, so we might follow him to the New Jerusalem.

You hold nothing back from us
as the Spirit comes to rest
on the gifts of the bread and the cup,
so that those gathered might be fed.
Like your heart, the bread is broken,
so we might be made whole and,
by our healing, go forth
to bring hope to those around us.
Like your Child, the cup is poured out,
so we might be filled with your grace, and
go out into the world
to empty ourselves for others.

And when our journeys in and out
of the wildernesses of the world are ended,
you will gather us around the
great Feast of the Lamb,
where we will sing glad songs of joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

May God lead us to all who are afraid.
We will follow God into the barren spots of our world.
May Jesus lead us to all who look for a friend, a companion in this life.
We will follow Jesus into all the places where the lonely live.
May the Spirit lead us to all who are tossed aside by the world.
We will follow the Spirit to the neighborhoods filled with injustice, to bring hope.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Thom M. Shuman
Transitional Pastor
Galloway Presbyterian Church, Columbus, Ohio
Associate Member, Iona Community

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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