United Church of Christ

Lent 5 - March 29

Come Out! On the Breath of God
Service Prayers for the Fifth Sunday in Lent
March 29, 2020

Ezekiel 37: 1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8: 6-11; John 11: 1-45

Call to Worship

Leader: The prophet asks: Can our soul-weary bones live again?
People: O God, you know!

Leader: We ask: Can we dance again after mourning, loss and grief?
People: O God, you know!

Leader: The gift is sure and unmistakable:
People: God’s breath poured out as new life for weary souls!

Leader: Let us celebrate the gift of God’s new life,
People: And come to worship God in laughter and dancing!

Invocation

Compassionate God, 
the wind of your Spirit is the very sign of life 
for all who long for you. 
One breath from you and we are rescued 
from the arid valley of dry bones, 
given muscles and sinews and joy with which to praise you, 
and filled with the holy hope you grant to all your faithful children. 
Let our whole lives be filled with the life-breath of the Spirit, 
that what has lain dormant may burst into bloom, 
and what looks to us to be death 
may be revealed as but sleep 
before the emergence of new life. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Revitalizing God, 
your power goes far beyond our own, 
and yet still we act as though the pains of this world 
have final claim upon us. 
We give in to the despair and hopelessness of death, 
not trusting in your ability 
to call forth new life from the tombs of our lives. 
Forgive us for doubting your power 
to raise up new life in the midst of all the deaths we experience. 
Forgive us for wanting to limit you 
to “the last day” or “the world beyond this one”, 
not trusting you to move and act 
among us, within us, through us. 
Forgive us, and open our eyes 
to the wonder of new life sprouting into being in our very midst.

Assurance of Pardon

Leader: “Come out,” Jesus calls, 
and his word unbinds us from the oppressive weight of our past
and pushes away the rocks that close us off from love.
We are made free in the spirit of God, and forgiven all our sins.

People: May God’s name always be praised from our lips!

Call to Offering

Like Lazarus we awake from sleep at the sound of Jesus’ voice.
Like Lazarus, we have a new life in front of us
a resurrection life not meant to be hoarded, but to be shared. 
Like Lazarus, we live in a state of thanksgiving for all that has been 
and hope for what is to be. 
Like Lazarus, we have been given a gift that is meant for all. 
So let us make our offerings at this altar, 
and pray that the wind of God may breathe upon all that lives upon the earth. 

Dedication

Spirit of Life, we breathe our lives upon these gifts 
that they may be become a fertile plain of green life 
and strengthened hope for all who live in the valley of dry bones. 
May the wind of your love carry these gifts far beyond us 
to the places most in need of your compassionate grace. 
We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Benediction
Come out! Jesus commands,
And calls us from the tombs of our existence
into the brightness of a new day.

Come out! Jesus cries,
And unbinds us from the chains of our past.

Come out! Jesus calls,
And entices us into a world filled with grace and possibility.

So:
Go out!
Into a world that needs our life, our breath, our spirit!

Go out!
Into a world that needs the Spirit of God,
carried on our lips and in our loving arms.

Go out!
Into the world to live as God’s resurrected people!

Go out: and go on the breath of God’s holy wind!

Come Out! On the Breath of God, Service Prayers for the fifth Sunday of Lent was written by the Rev. Elizabeth Dilley, Minister and Team Leader for MESA, Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization Team.  

Copyright 2020, Justice and  Local Church Ministries, Faith INFO 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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