Lent -- Service Prayers -- 1st Sunday

Dwelling in the Shelter of God’s Love:
Service Prayers for the First Sunday of Lent

Deuteronomy 26:1-11     Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16  
10:8b-13      Luke 4:1-13

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Julian of Norwich, 14th C

Call to Worship

Leader:     Our souls are created to be God’s dwelling place,

                 and the dwelling place of the soul is God.

All:           As we worship, we experience God, who dwells in us.

                 Through our worship, we dwell in God.

Leader:     As we make the Holy One our dwelling place, no evil shall overtake us.

                 Come, live and love in the shelter of the Most High and say,

                 “God is my refuge and fortress in whom I trust.”

All:           Through our worship,

                 we love God who dwells in us, and in whom we dwell.

                 God is our refuge and our home.      



            O Holy One

            We come to you in gladness and expectation

            to begin our Lenten exploration.         

            You offer steadfast love as our strong refuge;  

            Your boundless grace is our sheltering presence,

            and we rejoice!

            In the unity of worship,

            we trust that you will speak to us and through us

            as we begin this Lenten journey with each other and with Christ.

            Prepare our hearts

                        to seek you and embrace you,

                        to hear you and follow you,

                        to love you and to serve you.

            With gladness and expectation we pray in Jesus’ name.             Amen.


Prayer of Confession

God did not say,

“You shall not be tempted;

you shall not be troubled; you shall not be distressed.”

God did say, “You shall not be overcome.”

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led into the wilderness,

where he was tempted.

Sheltering God, Guiding God,

as you were present with Jesus in his wilderness experience,

so you are present with us:

you have urged us to trust you:

“Love me and call upon me, and I will answer you,

I will be with you in trouble, and will honor you.”


We have felt discouraged,

and at times even abandoned and betrayed by you, O God,

when all manner of things have not gone well with us.        

Lord, have mercy.



Instead of following where you lead, O God,

at times we follow a tempter who shows us a vision of the world

that is a mere counterfeit of what you desire for us.

At times, O God, we are deceived and enticed

by imitations of love, abundance, and joy.       

Christ, have mercy.



O God, when you have not answered in the ways or in the time we desire,

we have been tempted to lean on our own understanding

and not acknowledge you in all ways.

We so often have sought to control our lives and order our own steps,

often ignoring your wisdom and pushing your guidance aside.            

Lord, have mercy.



Help us to trust you to journey with us and to guide us.

Help us to rest in your promise to never leave us or forsake us. Amen.


Assurance of Pardon

Sisters and brothers, God is at work in us and with us!

God is our clothing in which love enwraps us, holds us, and all encloses us

because of God’s tender love, so that God may never leave us. 

We are protected safely in love—in woe as in well—by the goodness of God.

 God urges us, “Keep the word near you, even on your lips and in your heart…

This word is your salvation.”


As we worship today, with the word on our lips and in our hearts,

experience the salvation of God for all manner of things in our lives.

In the promise, presence, and power of God for all manner of things, Amen.      


Offering Invitation


Brothers and sisters, God wishes to be seen and wishes to be sought.

God wishes to be awaited and to be trusted.

There are multitudes of individuals who long for God,

who are seeking God, but do not know where or how to search.

May this church, this congregation be a lamp to light the pathway

for those who are seeking God.


Our offerings—financial and other—help us to shine our collective light brightly

so that fellow-seekers may find their way.

Give, that we might shine more brightly.



God carries us within God’s own self in love,

and labors until full term,

then suffers the sharpest throes and the hardest

pains that ever were or ever shall be.

Thank you, O God, for loving us and laboring with us

as we seek you and as we help others in their seeking.

Bless these offerings which we return to you,

that in our seeking and our serving,

our light might illumine someone’s path.

Guide us in your wisdom and love

that we may use these gifts

to manifest your presence in the world

in all that we do.        Amen.



Let us go forth following as the Holy Spirit leads us.

Know that “angels will guard your heart and your soul, and will bear you up”

so that even in harm’s way you will not be consumed.

Brothers and sisters,

Whether in falling or in rising we are ever protected in God’s love.

Even as we journey, we abide in the shelter of God’s love.

Go forth on your journey. Amen.


Julian of Norwich, Love’s Trinity: A Companion to Julian of Norwich. Long Text translated by John-Julian, OJN. © 2009, Order of St Benedict. Words in italics are taken from Julian’s writings.



Dwelling in the Shelter of God’s Love: Service Prayers for the First Sunday of Lent was written by the Rev. Dr. Cari Jackson, Senior Pastor of First Congregational Church, Stamford, CT.

Copyright 2010 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. 


Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115