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Isaiah 55:1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9
Almighty God, You are the Father, the Creator of all people and places, the maker of Heaven and Earth. It is your wondrous creation that we see this morning in the glistening sunshine, sparkling through the trees around us. You are the Son, the Word become Flesh, the one who for a time left behind his rightful place in your kingdom to live on earth, fully human and suffering, even to the point of death on a cross. The one who through his resurrection became the bridge, forever connecting your glorious kingdom and this broken earth. And Lord you are the Holy Spirit, surrounding us with love and peace and assurance, and filling us here today with your hope.
Father the Psalmist sang “you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for Joy.” And like you to the Psalmist, Lord, you have been our help. We have turned away, covered our faces, been distracted, been unfocused, and self-absorbed. And still you claim us. You call us. You love us. We thank you, O Lord, for loving us so much that you sent your Son to show us the way, to save us, to forever connect us to you. Gracious and loving God, we give you thanks for this day, for our lives, and for one another. We give you thanks for this opportunity to gather together in friendship and fellowship and to find your love and your peace within the walls of your house.
Lord, we ask that you place your protecting hand over those in our community who are exposed and vulnerable, helpless and hopeless. Help those neighbors who are lost find their way to safety, to a warm bed, and a friendly hand. Help them find the comfort that we take for granted. Father, We pray that tension, prejudice, injustice, and violence in our own community and throughout the world give way to peace and respect. Father we ask a special prayer for friends who grieve the loss of a loved one, who are anxious about illness, or who face the uncertainty of a job loss. For this we humbly ask for your strength and peace. And Father we lift up especially those whose stories never reach our ears. We know, O God, that you hear them when we do not, and you hold them like we cannot.
Gracious God, you are the author of life. By your hand, you created the world: vast oceans, high mountains, rolling plains and deserts. You created all creatures great and small. You also created woman and man. As the Psalmist said, “what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” If only we cared as much for our fellow mortals as we do for ourselves…
We are here today to worship and to honor you, to come together as a family of believers in Christ. During this time of Lent, we look inward, we forgo activities and indulgences, and ask for repentance; and yet, in a few weeks time, we turn from this oasis of peace, contemplation and restraint, back to our consuming, prideful and power-seeking ways. Create in us a new heart O God; reshape us and instill in us a bold new spirit – seeking you first, serving others before self, bringing salt and light wherever you send us.
As we contemplate the Way of life and renewal, let us lift us in prayer those in need of your mercy:
*To the millions of refugees around the world, deliver them O God.
*To the millions trapped as modern day slaves, execute your justice and liberate them O God.
*To those suffering from physical or mental illness, alcohol or chemical dependency, purify and heal them O God.
*To the caregivers of the world, medical professionals and lay people alike, give them rest for their life giving work O God
* To those who mourn, heal their hurting hearts, and grant them comfort and peace O God.
*To our senior friends no longer physically able to attend worship services, let them feel your comfort and love at all times O God.
*To those suffering burdens known only to you, give them strength to endure, and rekindle in them a sense of hope for the future O God.
Mighty God, we thank you for this day, for the freedom to worship without persecution, for our families and friends, and for this church. More than anything, more than our own lives, we thank you for the gift of your son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Although he had all power at his disposal, he refused to be tempted and instead emptied himself in service, on a cross, for the entire world. As we contemplate his perfect sacrifice, death, and ultimate triumph, let us in gratitude and in worship of him now humbly speak those words he taught us to say…Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.