Lent 5 – March 21

We Wish to See Jesus
Fifth Sunday of Lent
March 21, 2021

Jeremiah 31:31-34;  Psalms 51:1-12 or Psalm 119:9-16;  Hebrews 5:5-10;  John 12:20-33

The original service involved the creation of “stations” around the sanctuary, and an invitation for the congregation to move from place to place during the service.   A virtual service will require different preparation. The original instructions remain for those congregations who have returned to in person worship; red “rubrics” suggest adaptations for on line services.

In person:  This noisy service of prayer requires advanced, well-orchestrated preparation and execution.  The logistical goal is for congregants to advance through at least three stations in the sanctuary during what is ordinarily the scripture readings, the prayer of confession, and the prayers of the people.  If the congregation is large, duplicate stations or other stations may be added.  Be mindful of those with mobility concerns and perhaps work a station around that person or persons. 

Worship planners, look at the worship space to find at least three of the most logical prayer stations in the sanctuary. For each station a circle of chairs or a table with chairs.  Tablecloths, candles, stones, pictures enhance the spaces.  Order of worship bulletins can be color-coded according to the number of stations so that congregants will be equally divided.  After the groups finish at their first station, they will move to the next station in a clockwise direction until they have visited all three stations.

Enlist an intergenerational team to host each station. They will guide the same liturgy three times at their station.  Provide them with written instructions well in advance of the service.  Also, notify the ushers to assist in leading congregants to their stations.

Prior to the beginning of worship, say something reassuring like, “We will be doing something different.  At the time of scripture readings, prayers of confession, and prayers of the people, we will be dividing into (at least) three groups according to the color or number code on your bulletin.  Ushers will help you begin. You will go to the station matching the color on your bulletin.  From there you will rotate in a clockwise direction through all three stations in a small group and be met by host worship leaders to guide you through a liturgy at each station. Your spirit of cooperation and adventure is welcome.” 

For an online service: You may wish to use the “break-out room feature of Zoom, and divide your congregation into three groups. Identify three leaders from the congregation in advance, and have each of them prepare to lead one “station”.  The leaders will rotate; the groups will stay constant.

Session 1:       Breakout room 1 will spend 7 minutes with group leader 1 (Ps 51–Confession)
Breakout room 2 with group leader 2 (Global ministries);
Breakout room 3 with group leader 3 (prayer for congregation). 
At break, return to whole gathering; perhaps play quiet music

Session 2:       Breakout room 1 will spend 7 minutes with group leader 2 (Global Ministries)
Breakout room 2 with group leader 3 (Prayer for congregation)
Breakout room 3 with group leader 1 (Psalm 51—confession). 
At break, return to whole gathering; perhaps play quiet music

Session 3:       Breakout room 1 will spend 7 minutes with leader 3 (Prayers for Congregation)
Breakout room 2 with group leader 1 (Psalm 51 Confession)
Breakout room 3 with group leader 2 (Global Ministries). 
At break, return to whole gathering; perhaps play quiet music

Call to Worship:
One:    Let us gather to worship.
All:      O God, we wish to see Jesus!
We come to worship, to pray, and learn.
We come looking for Jesus in Scripture lessons,
in our own life experiences,
in helping our world,
in prayers for each other.
We seek to follow in the way of Jesus.
We lay bare before God and one another
our own wilderness journey
filled with some gladness and hope,
with reluctance and sorrow,
with fear and confusion.
O God, speak to us, show us, touch us with your presence!
Let our Lenten journey lead us to Jesus,
so that we may show Jesus forth
in our lives, our faith community, and our world.         Amen.

God of the journey,
you invite us, the church,
“to accept the cost and joy of discipleship”
and “to be your servants in the service of others.” 
In so doing, may your presence be our guide and Jesus our model. 
May we respond to you in loving faithfulness.  Amen

Stations for Scripture Reading, Confessions and Prayers
(Instructions:  “At this time, I ask you to note the color or number on the front of your bulletin. 
Locate the station that has that color or number. 
Ushers will help direct you to the first station. 
Thereafter, you will rotate in a clockwise direction until you have visited each station.”)

Station OnePrayers of Confession and RestorationPsalm 51:1-12
Preparation:   Print several copies of Psalm 51:1-12 alternating the verses with bold type. 
On line, leader reads Psalm 51 out loud.
After the group assembles have them read responsively. 
After the reading invite them to silent meditation. 
When it is time to move to the next station say something like,
“Go in peace, restored and renewed.”

Station TwoPrayers for our Global Ministries partners:   Jeremiah 31:31-34
Preparation:   Have available the 2021 Global Ministries calendar and open it to March. 
Or, go to the website www.globalministries.org for information
about current places in the world in need of prayer and service
On line:  same preparation
When a group of congregants come to your station,
read to them Jeremiah 31:31-34.
Remind them of the United Church of Christ covenant partnership
with the Disciples of Christ to be a global mission presence. 
Use as an example the Global Ministries presence around the world after devastating disasters.
In conclusion offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for being a covenant-keeping God
and for the Global Ministries partnership that shares ministries with all people.
Say in as many languages as the group knows “thank you.” 

Station Three:   Prayers and Supplications:   Hebrews 5:5-10
Preparation:   Have on hand a pictorial church directory,
photos of the ministries of the church
and the church’s mission statement. 
Online:          When Leader invites prayers, ask for caution about naming vulnerable congregants—careful not to put information out on the web.
When a group of congregants come to your station, read Hebrews 5:5-10
and ask them to remember the importance of prayer for one another. 
Lead them in prayer, asking them to name
persons and ministries of the church who need prayers. 
Conclude the prayer time.
Dismiss them saying, “May the peace of Christ be with you.”

Gospel Reading  John 12:20-33

Call to Offering
Jesus compels us to join him in service to others. 
Our church accepts the invitation and challenge
to show Jesus’ Way using the resources we share. 
Let us give as we are able to the ministries of our church.

God, there are many who “wish to see Jesus.”
In joy and celebration of the many gifts that we share,
we ask you to bless all of our offerings. 
May Jesus shine in all the world.  Amen.

Dear God.  We thank you for today,
for being with us, accepting our worship and prayers,
and for guiding us on our way.
Bless us as we go, and in turn, may we bless others. 
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We Wish to See Jesus: Service Prayers for the Fifth Sunday of Lent was written by the Rev. Rosemary McCombs Maxey, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and is retired clergy and a member of Fellowship Congregational United Church of Christ, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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.