Deuteronomy 26:1-11: Instructions to bring the first produce from each crop as a thanksgiving offering to God, and a recognition of God’s care, provision and liberation of God’s people in the past and the present.

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16: A psalm celebrating God’s care and protection of those who dwell in God, and make God’s presence their safe refuge.

Romans 10:8b-13: The message of faith in Christ that ensures that we will never be disgraced, because all who call on God’s name are saved.

Luke 4:1-13: Jesus is tempted by the devil in the wilderness. He is challenged to turn stones into food, to jump from the top of the temple, and to gain all the world’s wealth and glory by bowing to the tempter. But, he resists, using God’s word as his guide.
(Bible reading summary, John van de Laar, Sacredise)

“Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.” (Pope Francis)
Instead of giving up chocolate or alcohol or caffeine for Lent, the Pope invites us to give up our indifference to others. Some follow traditions that give things up, others never have. No matter what tradition you come from, as we begin this period of Lent a good question is how are you preparing yourself today for this season to hear from God, and how does that affect how we respond to others today? Amen 
(Source: Stephen J Barrington, Facebook post)

Reflections on Lent by Bob Holmes (Contemplative Monk) Lent reflections.BobHolmes

Christine Sine is exploring Breaking Down Walls as the Lenten theme on Godspace in 2019. “I am not just thinking of the controversy about the border wall on the U.S/Mexican border when I choose this topic. (Nor the wall in Bethlehem?). All of us have walls in our lives. Walls that separate us from the one true God, from each other and from God’s creation. Jesus is the one who is able to break down the walls and open the barriers that keep us closed off. Lent is a great season of preparation for destruction of the barriers that separate us.
What walls do you still need to break down:
* within yourself to find inner healing from past hurts and scars;
* in your attitude towards others to bring reconciliation and unity;
* in your concern for creation to become the best steward of God’s good earth that you could possibly be;
*in your relationship to God and your desire for new depths of intimacy with your creator.

Giving up chocolate and beer for Lent is not what Jesus had in mind by Landon Whitsitt

Links to resources for Ash Wednesday, Lent and Easter here.

Textweek worship suggestions
Helpful reflections on the lectionary texts: Sharron R. Blezzard

In the northern hemisphere, the traditional diet of soup, lentils and beans during Lent was once an identification with the poor and the vulnerable for whom this was the hunger season of sparseness before spring crops could be harvested. How might practices around what you eat be part of your Lenten journey this year?

Lent 1C prayer (based on Psalm 91)
Lord, You are our fortress, our place of safety;
you are our God, and we trust you.”
We seek to live in your presence,
and stay in the shadow of the Almighty
Lord spread your wings over us like a mothering hen,
Protecting her babies.
We have nothing to fear living in your faithfulness.
Though circumstances become tough, illness strike us,
Death comes our way, whatever befalls us we have nothing to fear.
We know this because you God, are our refuge.
and our sanctuary.
Though temptations come to lure us from small ones to big ones,
though evil one looks like he is winning the day;
We can trust in you.
No matter what happens in life we can hold on to you Lord,
Because we know you are with us, caring for us, loving us, and delivering us.
Lord, we can call on you anytime and anywhere
And we can believe and trust that you will answer.
You alone are our refuge, our place of safety;
you are our God, and we trust you. Source:RevGalPals

Jesus was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted. (Luke 4.1-2)
A place of harshness
and subtraction.
Shadows splinter and deceive.
How sweet, then,
in this unyielding place,
to possess, control,
never to hunger or hurt or fail,
perfect undepence.
He had to admire them first,
not some devil’s trick
but secret loves,
had to see them stark
against the heat’s pavement,
cherish them, so fetching
among stones, places of skulls,
hold them in his hands, so lovely,
pinned by the nails of the sun,
had to feel the clutching,
had to know how alluring the gems,
singular, untouched, untrue,
and want them badly,
to leave them to the dust
for something even better.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

A reflection by Jan Richardson
If we back up a bit in Luke – if we turn around, hang a left at the genealogy, and take a look at Luke 3.21-22 – we will be able to enter this week’s text with the same knowledge that Jesus had: that when he went into the desert, he went with the baptismal waters of the Jordan still clinging to him, and with the name Beloved ringing in his ears. How else to enter into the forty-day place that lay ahead of him? How else to cross into the wilderness where he would have no food, no community, nothing that was familiar to him—and, to top it off, would have to wrestle with the devil? How else, but to go into that landscape with the knowledge of his own name: Beloved.
In this first week of Lent, as we turn our faces toward whatever this forty-day place holds for us, we would do well to have that name echoing in our own ears—to enter into the terrain of this season with the knowledge that we, too, are the beloved of God. And so I want to offer you a blessing that tells us this. It’s a blessing I wrote last year for those who joined us on the Beloved Online Lenten Retreat—a beloved community indeed.
As we cross with Christ into the landscape of Lent and into the mystery that lies ahead of us, may we know at least this about ourselves: that our name, too, is Beloved.

A reflection by April Fiet, The Gift of Temptation

Beloved Is Where We Begin
If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.
Do not leave
without hearing
who you are:
named by the One
who has traveled this path
before you.
Do not go
without letting it echo
in your ears,
and if you find
it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what
this journey is for.
I cannot promise
this blessing will free you
from danger,
from fear,
from hunger
or thirst,
from the scorching
of sun
or the fall
of the night.
But I can tell you
that on this path
there will be help.
I can tell you
that on this way
there will be rest.
I can tell you
that you will know
the strange graces
that come to our aid
only on a road
such as this,
that fly to meet us
bearing comfort
and strength,
that come alongside us
for no other cause
than to lean themselves
toward our ear
and with their
curious insistence
whisper our name:
(Source: Jan Richardson, from Circle of Grace)

Introduction to Lent in the service:
Today is the first Sunday in the Season of Lent. Lent is a time in which we reflect upon our personal faith and walk with the Lord. Some people spend extra time in prayer and study of the Bible during Lent.  Some people fast.  Some people dispense with unnecessary luxuries and try to live more simply.  Some people set aside money for the poor and needy.  All of these are worthy pursuits. But the worthiest pursuit is our desire to be closer to God and to understand what it really means to be a disciple of Christ. Let us together enter into all the disciplines of Lent.  And in our journeying together may we become more of what Christ had intended us to be when he called us to be his own.

A table ready to receive a pile of sand, a cross, a purple cloth, a candle blown out, a bible and some pebbles. Place these on the table during these words.
The dust that shapes the journey,
the cross that guides it,
the colour that surrounds it,
the light that fades through it,
the word that foretells it,
the wilderness that invites it.
This is Lent,
and into its wilderness
God calls us.
brothers and sisters,
Christ is heading for Jerusalem.
(Source: ‘Starters For Sunday’, Church of Scotland, 2014)

“In the desert the most urgent thing is – to wait. The desert does not take kindly to those who tackle it at breakneck speed, subjecting it to their plans and deadlines. Instead, the desert welcomes those who shed their sandals of speed and walk slowly in their bare feet, letting them be caressed and burnt by the sand. If you have no ambition to conquer the desert, if you do not think you are in charge, if you can calmly wait for things to be done, then the desert will not consider you an intruder and will reveal its secrets to you.”
(Source: Allesandro Pronzato)

Prayers of who we are (prayers of confession)
On this first Sunday of Lent we get serious about our human predicament.  We face up to the fact that humanity is a sorely tempted and gravely corrupted species of life, and that evil which is not honestly confronted and dealt with, will do anything to exclude God from its sphere of influence.  We also acknowledge one young man from Nazareth, who fought temptation and the source of evil without compromise, and by his efforts opened up an avenue of liberation for humankind (Bruce D. Prewer, Feb 2002)
Let us spend time listening to the conflicted voices within ourselves, within our community, within our world. A silence is kept.

“He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.”
It’s a story probably not true on the outside, but true on the inside:about a journey of the heart, into the heart. Take it literally and we lose the story’s power. Our place, south of the equator, means that Lent is not a lengthening of the light but a lengthening of the dark, of light fading to darkness: a journey into our inmost being, an echo of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and death, of warm air giving way to cold, of waiting for the autumn rains while the earth cries, “I thirst!” It’s a story not just about Jesus wrestling with temptation and evil; it’s also our story, the struggle in our lives, taking responsibility for our words, our actions. “When the devil had finished every test he departed from him until an opportune time.”
(Source: Jeff Shrowder, The Billabong)

No one’s raised who did not fall
No one saves whom God did not send
No one stands whose knees won’t bend
No helper’s not been helped at all

While being raised we each shall die
The poison has an antidote
God may sleep in my storm-tossed boat
But when she rises, so shall I

Here where nothing grows which cannot bear the windy blast
And serpents live because they hug the ground
A person lives by eating what he’s found
And gazing at the victims of the missiles he’s cast

The one who knows heaven as well knows earth
The victim and convict of our crime
Will raise the veil of space and time
She plumbs the grave who fathoms birth

It finally made us face our spite
So lift God’s gift above the plain
With our blood its teeth and skin are stained
To remind us of our hope and plight
(Source: Jim Burklo – ‘This poem was written during Lent in 1981, and appears in his book, BIRDLIKE AND BARNLESS. It is based on Numbers 21: 4-9, John 3: 13-15)

Music suggestions – Singing from the lectionary (Natalie Sims)

“Love will be our Lenten calling” (Elizabeth Smith) TiS #684

  1. Love will be our Lenten calling,
    love to shake and shatter sin,
    waking every closed, cold spirit,
    stirring new life deep within,
    till the quickened heart remembers
    what our Easter birth can mean.
  2. Peace will be our Lenten living
    as we turn for home again,
    longing for the words of pardon,
    stripping off old grief and pain,
    till we stand, restored and joyful,
    with the Church on Easter day.
  3. Truth will be our Lenten learning:
    hear the Crucified One call!
    Shadowed by the Saviour’s passion,
    images and idols fall,
    and, in Easter’s holy splendour,
    God alone is all in all.


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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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