Lent 3 – March 7

Amistad Sunday*
Service Prayers for Third Sunday in Lent
March 7, 2021

Exodus 20:1-17;         Psalm 19; 1     Corinthians 1:18-25;   John 2:13-22

Since Congregations are returning to “in-person” services at different paces, Worship Ways for will be edited for online use. “Rubrics” for virtual services will be noted in red; take and adapt as you need!

Leader should speak the lines of the people, along with the Leader’s lines
One: Our lips sing praise and our whole selves rejoice
in the God who makes us free.
All: Out loud but muted
We gather, recognizing that not all human beings
have known this freedom.

One: The divine will was made known in Eden and in Egypt;
in Gettysburg and in Cape Town.
All: Out loud but muted
Born in freedom, redeemed from slavery,
our destiny in Christ is liberty.

Thankful are we for all the blessings of this life;
love, freedom, bounty and beauty.
The joy we know is beyond our words to speak.
We can only image the suffering and pain of human slaves,
past and present, which yearn from the depths of their souls
to know the freedom we enjoy.
We celebrate this day the heritage we have in the cause of human freedom.
We celebrate this day our spiritual ancestors
who worked for the freedom of the Mendi people on the slave ship, Amistad.
May that ship, like the cross, remind us of the ever present possibility of human evil.
And may that ship, like the cross, remind us of the power of divine love.
May we, through divine love,
shed the false, un-neighborly, covetous and dishonorable desires
of the lives we sometimes live
and keep the commandments and walk in the way that brings life. Amen.

In this season of Lent we reflect on those things
that lead us away from the life we desire.
We focus on whatever we do that oppresses and enslaves others
who, like us, are created in the image of the divine.
And now we seek the grace that frees us to live in faithfulness to holy love. Amen

The God of who brought the Israelites out of Egypt,
is the power that frees us from our sin.
Live in the grace of God’s love
as you walk in the way of Jesus
and surely you shall find mercy at the end of that road. Amen.

Notes for the worship planners in 2021:
Consider a simple message or even an interactive Bible Study that engages people with the Scriptures for today, and for the theme chosen by the United Church of Christ for Lent 3: Amistad Sunday. The Commandments, a meditation on the Wisdom of God’s will in seeming foolishness, the story of Jesus cleansing the Temple are all powerful comments on justice, freedom and human dignity which much to offer us in these days.

For the Prayers of the People, you might use a bidding prayer (“God, we pray today for those who are sick, including ….”) and encourage folk to type in their prayers using Zoom chat or Facebook Live; allow for more time in silence for those prayers to be typed and read. Consider a collective response at the end of each bidding prayer.
o A caution regarding prayers of the People online: Folks gathered in-person often recount a lot of detail in their prayers concerning other members or family (“Elderly Name, living alone, experiencing isolation…” In a private, in-person gathering, this information may be safe, but online, it can expose vulnerable people to harm, since we can’t control who will join the gathering or access it later online. Invite people to be prudent in offering prayers: “For First name only, in need of healing”; “For First name only, comfort in grief” etc.
Encourage people to contact the pastor directly with news of those needed extra pastoral care.

Our tokens offered here
are but symbols of our lives of sacrifice lived every day.
May we give ourselves to the world as a holy offering acceptable to you,
O God, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

All: out loud but muted
Receive these gifts, Holy One,
sanctify them by your Spirit.
Drive away any ill motives
and accept, we pray, our humble offering. Amen.

Go into the world without fear,
knowing that the weakness of the Holy is stronger than every human power.
Live free!
And the God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt,
the God who freed the Mendi from slavery,
will be your strength and your power. Amen.

*The Amistad incident: Important moment in the history of the U.S. and the United Church of Christ. In 1839, 55 Africans who had been captured in the slave trade struck out for their freedom while being transported out of Havana, Cuba, on a schooner called La Amistad. The captives successfully took over the ship and ordered the crew to sail back to Africa, but weeks later the ship ended up far north, at the tip of Long Island, New York. U.S. officials boarded the ship, arrested the captives and jailed them in Connecticut. There they were befriended by Christian abolitionists, many belonging to churches that are now part of the United Church of Christ. The abolitionists hired lawyers, including former President John Quincy Adams, to appeal the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declared the captives free in 1841. This abolitionist victory helped create momentum for the formation in 1846 of the American Missionary Association. This interracial agency’s work in education, discipleship and justice eventually became part of the national mission structure of the UCC which continues to this day.

Amistad Sunday: Service Prayers for the Third Sunday in Lent, was written by the Rev. Madison Shockley, pastor of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, CA and a member of the board of directors of ProgressiveChristianity.org.

Copyright 2021 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.