Lent -- Service Prayers -- 3rd Sunday

Thirsting for Grace:
Service Prayers for the Third Sunday in Lent


Call to Worship (based on Psalm 95)

O come, let us sing to our GOD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving,
singing joyful songs of praise!

Our God is great, Sovereign above all powers and principalities.
The sea, the depths of the earth, the heights of the mountains,
indeed all of creation were made by God and belong to God.

O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the HOLY ONE, our Maker!
Yes! God is our God, and we are God’s people:
O that today we would listen for the Lord’s voice!

Let us not harden our hearts, as they did in the wilderness,
When our ancestors tested our Liberator,
requiring proof of God’s faithfulness,
even though they had witnessed miracles!

For forty years God contended with that generation and said,
"They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they do not regard my ways."
Today, Holy One, we have learned from their struggles.
Today, we re-dedicate our hearts to you
and strain our ears to hear your voice.
Speak now, Still-Speaking God, for your people are listening!

Invocation

God of grace and truth,
we come to your house today to worship you.
We bring all of ourselves to you,
all of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
We entrust our hidden, fearful, and fragile selves
to your transforming power and gentle, loving care.
Blessing, glory, and honor are yours alone.
Thank you for the many ways your Spirit breaks into our lives
and into this troubled world.
We offer this prayer in the name of the One
whose name is above every name,
Jesus the Christ.    Amen.


Meditation on Thirst                
When Thirst Parches Your Soul (Exodus 17:1-7)
from the Africana Worship Book, Year A. 
Text and source credit found at end of this order of service.

Responsive Prayer of Confession

God of mercy, hear the prayers of your thirsting people.
For every time we have attributed your miracles in our lives
to our own hands alone,
Forgive us, we pray.

For every time we promised to trust you but turned to our own way
when your response did not come soon enough
or in the way we expected,
Grant us mercy, O God.

For the many opportunities to extend forgiveness
that we have refused,
Show us what it means to love, again, dear Lord.

For each way we put our own understandings above your wisdom,
For each time we resist your command to be reconciled with those
who believe differently from us,
Direct us in the way of peace, we pray.

For our silent sins, our quiet acts of violence,
and our indifference to the suffering round us,
Forgive us, Loving One, and quench our thirst with your grace;
Remake us into vessels of tenderness and compassion.
For Christ’s sake we pray.  Amen.

Words of Assurance (based on Romans 5 and John 4)

Because of God’s great love for us,
we have peace with God and access to God’s grace
all through Jesus Christ
who, while we were still sinners,
died to free us from the bondage of sin.
Therefore, we may ask of Christ
to give us the living water that quenches the dryness of our souls.
In this we know we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!

Invitation to the Offering (based on John 4:35-38)

Through Christ we are called
to be sowers of God’s truth and reapers of God’s blessings.
Therefore, let us joyfully share a portion of what we have received from God
so those in need may rejoice with us.

Prayer of Dedication

Great Provider, bless these offerings
and multiply them according to your will.
May they restore hope and wholeness
to those who benefit from them.
In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Benediction
Depart from this time of worship,
restored and refreshed by the living water
from Jesus, the Rock of our salvation.
Go forth, in the power of the Holy Spirit,
into the world as witnesses of God,
ambassadors of reconciliation, and praising God’s holy name.

Meditation on Thirst for the Third Sunday in Lent
The following meditation may be used incorporating blues-type music and interpretive dance.

When Thirst Parches Your Soul (Exodus 17:1-7)

When the thirst of life parches your soul, desperation sets in. It sets in hard,
And you don’t remember who God is or what God has done. That’s just the truth.
Desperation makes you believe you’re going to die; it makes you test the limits of
faith, and of ethics. It makes you blame the “Moses” in your life, the one who gave
you the word of your deliverance from bondage. It makes the past struggles seem
not so bad. Church becomes a wilderness. Relationships become wastelands. It all
gets big. It’s never just about you anymore when you’re desperate. It’s everything.
It’s everyone. It’s the equivalent of “your children and your livestock.” When your
throat, your life, is parched, you want to stone the messengers. You argue and you
test. You bargain and you beg. It’s hard to trust who God is or what God has
done. That’s just the truth. And still, God provides: even when you’re moaning
and complaining; even when you’re parched and pleading; even when your faith is
a faint whisper from the past. God still provides. Disappointed in our desperation,
maybe. Wishing we would remember the miraculous escapes we’ve had. But providing
nonetheless. That’s just the truth.

Look up; there’s a rock gushing with refreshment for you somewhere in your life.
Your past only sounds good because you can’t see the future. There is a rock gushing
somewhere in your life. That’s just the truth. Look for it.

Valerie Bridgeman Davis, Africana Worship Book: Year A, Third Sunday in Lent

Source: The Africana Worship Book: Year A. Copyright © 2006 Discipleship Resources.  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form whatsoever, print or electronic, without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews, and for use in worship settings.  In this case, use the following credit information:
The Africana Worship Book © 2006 by Discipleship Resources. Used by permission.
For information regarding rights and permissions, contact Discipleship Resources,
PO Box 340003, Nashville TN 37203-0003; fax 615-340-1789.


Thirsting for Grace: Service Prayers for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, was written by the Rev. Renee C. Jackson, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, presently serving as Pastor and Teacher of the First Congregational UCC in Ypsilanti, Michigan, an Open and Affirming congregation where God is still speaking.

Copyright 2011 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved. 




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CONTACT INFO

Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-3869
blains@ucc.org

Rev. Scott A. Ressman
Minister for Worship, Music and Liturgical Arts
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-3870
ressmans@ucc.org