Christian Education

Stewards of Creation: Week 2

Training Disciples
Spring 2022: Stewards of Creation

Week 1: May 4, 2022, 6pm

The “Faith5” practice from the Faith Inkubators ministry is designed for use at home, to build up families in faith through sharing joys and concerns, reading scripture together, and blessing and praying for one another.  Below are the five steps that we will practice this evening. If you’re gathered at home with family, you can practice this, or if you live alone, you might call a friend or family member.

Step 1: Share your highs and lows
Listen attentively, especially to the person to your right – you will be praying for them later. If you did the Creation Appreciation activity last week, you might share this now too!

Step 2: Read a bible verse, passage, or story
At home you might choose something from the lectionary or another meaningful portion of scripture; tonight we will read from the creation stories in Genesis 1-2 and also Psalm 8.

Step 3: Talk about the bible reading
Tonight we’ll do this with words and an activity!
• What words or phrases catch your attention?
• How does this scripture connect with your highs and lows?
• What do you think it means to be made in God’s image?  What does it mean to you?
• What is stewardship – what does it mean to be a steward?

Take home (or stay home!) activity: Homemade Play-Dough
We are created in the image of our loving Creator!
You can find the recipe we used for making play-dough here.

To keep your play-dough soft and moldable, put it in a ziploc baggie and store it in an airtight container at room temperature (no need to refrigerate).  
Or, if you want to make more long-lasting art, mold your play-dough into the shape(s) you want and let it dry – once completely dry, you can apply a protective coating/varnish to keep it even longer.  You could make a cross to hang on your wall, a small pot/dish, a pendant, beads – the possibilities are as limitless as your imagination!

Step 4: Pray for one another
Starting with Pastor, we will each pray for the person on our right. It doesn’t need to be long or elaborate; it can be as simple as giving thanks for what they lifted up as their highs and asking God to care for them in whatever they listed as their lows

Step 5: Bless one another
Turning to the person on our left, we will mark the sign of the cross on their forehead as we bless them. Tonight, we will use this blessing:
[name], beloved child of God, you are made in the image of our Creator, called to be a faithful steward.


READING: Genesis 1:26-31, 2:4b-9, 15
26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

27 So God created humankind in God’s image,
    in the image of God they were created;
    people of all genders God created them.

28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:4b In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the first human from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the human became a living being. 

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there God put the human who had been formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

15 The Lord God took the human and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.

READING: Psalm 8
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;

what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.

You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,

all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,

the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Christian Education

Stewards of Creation: Week 1

Training Disciples
Spring 2022: Stewards of Creation

Week 1: April 27, 2022, 6pm

The “Faith5” practice from the Faith Inkubators ministry is designed for use at home, to build up families in faith through sharing joys and concerns, reading scripture together, and blessing and praying for one another.  Below are the five steps that we will practice this evening. If you’re gathered at home with family, you can practice this, or if you live alone, you might call a friend or family member.

Step 1: Share your highs and lows
Listen attentively, especially to the person to your right – you will be praying for them later

Step 2: Read a bible verse, passage, or story
At home you might choose something from the lectionary or another meaningful portion of scripture; tonight we will read Psalm 104 (below)

Step 3: Talk about the bible reading
What words or phrases catch your attention?
How does this scripture connect with your highs and lows?
What do you notice about what God is doing in this reading?
Related to our theme, how does this reading make you feel about creation?

Step 4: Pray for one another
Starting with Pastor, we will each pray for the person on our right. It doesn’t need to be long or elaborate; it can be as simple as giving thanks for what they lifted up as their highs and asking God to care for them in whatever they listed as their lows

Step 5: Bless one another
Turning to the person on our left, we will mark the sign of the cross on their forehead as we bless them. tonight, we will use this blessing:
[name], child of God, you are a beloved part of God’s creation

Take home (or stay home!) activity: Creation appreciation!

Notice something in creation this week and creatively make note of it. You can use the creation appreciation handout or another sheet of paper. Some fun ideas you could try:

  • draw what you see or make a pencil/chalk rubbing of it
  • try to trace the outline of your pet’s paw or the hand of someone in your household
  • use ink or paint to make a stamp out of something in creation
  • tape or glue your creation find to this page (not recommended for pets or other household members 😉)

READING: Psalm 104

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul; O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with majesty and splendor.

2 You wrap yourself with light as with a cloak and stretch out the heavens like a tent.

3 You lay the beams of your chambers in the waters above; you make the clouds your chariot; you ride on the wings of the wind.

4 You make the winds your messengers and flames of fire your servants.

5 You set the earth upon its foundations, so that from now until forever it shall never be moved.

6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.

7 At your rebuke the waters fled, scattered by your voice of thunder.

8 They went up into the mountains and descended down to the valleys, to the place where you assigned them.

9 You set the limits that they should not pass; never shall they return to cover the earth again.

10 You made the springs into rivers that flow between the mountains.

11 All the animals drink their fill from them, and the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

12 Beside them the birds of the air make their nests; among the branches they lift their voice.

13 From your dwelling on high, you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your works.

14 You make grass grow for the cattle, and plants to serve humankind; that they may bring forth food from the earth,

15 wine to gladden human hearts, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.

16 The trees of the Lord are well supplied, the cedars of Lebanon that you planted,

17 in which the birds build their nests, while the stork makes the fir trees its dwelling

18 The high hills belong to the mountain goats, and the stony cliffs are a refuge for the badgers.

19 You made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows the time of its setting.

20 You bring on darkness that it may be night, in which all the beasts of the forest prowl.

21 The lions roar for their prey seeking their food from God.

22 The sun rises, and they withdraw and lay themselves down in their dens.

23 People go forth to their work and to their labor until the evening.

24 How manifold are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide, with its swarms too many to number, living things both small and great.

26 There go the ships to and fro, and Leviathan, which you made for the sport of it.

27 All of them look to you to give them their food in due season.

28 You give it to them; they gather it; you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.

29 When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

30 You send forth your Spirit, and they are created; and so you renew the face of the earth.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; O Lord, rejoice in all your works.

32 You look at the earth and it trembles; you touch the mountains and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will praise my God while I have my being.

34 May these words of mine please God. I will rejoice in the Lord.35 Let sinfulness be consumed from the earth and the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Hallelujah!

Christian Education

Let Us Pray: Week 5

Training Disciples
Lent 2022: Let Us Pray

Week 5: April 6, 2022, 6pm

Greeting
L: The love of God poured into our hearts, the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and the abundant life of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
C: And also with you.

Opening Prayer
L: Let us pray. O God, rich in mercy, full of kindness: out of your great love, you raise us up from sin and death and make us alive together with Christ. Be present with us in prayer and praise. Write your word upon our hearts and restore in us the image of your love that, by your Spirit, the way of Christ may become our way of life.  In Christ’s name we pray.
C: Amen.

A Lenten Litany
L: We come to you, gracious God, for healing, reconciliation, peace, purpose, and guidance. 
C: We come carrying the weariness of these past years. It feels like so much has changed. And yet, it feels like nothing has changed.

L: We come to you Saving One, for presence, hope, pardon, and assurance. 
C: We come, feeling at times like we are lost in the wilderness, uncertain of who we are now or where we are going. 

L: We come to you Author of all Life, for life, love, and salvation.
C: We come, burning with a million questions and no easy answers. We know things are not the way they were, yet we see the path forward only a step or two at a time, if at all.

L: People of God, no matter where you are – or how you come this evening – our loving God is with you and with me. God sees you, knows you, loves you, welcomes you, and is with you. Always.
C: God is with us now and always.

L: God, we give you thanks for being with us. Now in this time together, open us up to wonder, to discern your will, to receive your life-changing and life-giving love.
C: Fill us, guide us, and lead us. Open us to big questions without easy answers; guide us into the future you are breathing into being; help us to wonder, to wrestle, to imagine, and to follow you. Amen.

Questions for reflection as you hear the reading:

  • What words or phrases do you feel drawn to in this text?
  • How do you see God moving in this text?
  • What invitations do you hear in this text to pray?

Reading: Luke 23:26-56
26 As they led [Jesus] away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus 27 A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. 28 But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35 And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. 47 When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” 48 And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. 49 But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, 51 had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.


Prayer practice: Praying with God – Here I Am / Prayer of the Heart
(Adapted from prayers in 50 Ways to Pray by Teresa A. Blythe)

The process of this contemplative prayer practice is described below, but if you are watching the video, I encourage you to close your eyes and listen to the instructions.

Sit comfortably and say to yourself, “Here I am, seated, doing nothing. I will do nothing for the next several minutes.”

Begin noticing your own bodily presence – how your body feels sitting on the chair; how your feet feel against the floor. Let your body relax. Notice what you feel inside. Notice the rise and fall of your breath, in and out.

Now notice the presence of all that is around you. Say to yourself, “Here I am in the presence of this room.” Be aware of the furniture and the walls and the other people in the room. Be aware of the sounds and smells you experience. Just be present and silent in your environment. Relax even more.

Now say to yourself, “Here I am in the presence of God.” Repeat silently to God, “Here I am.” Let yourself simply bask in the presence of the Holy One.

(You may choose to simply stay in this space for a time, basking in the presence of God, and end your prayer time here)

Gradually let your mind grow quiet. Inhale the peace of God’s presence, and with every exhale, let the worries and tension of this day flow out.

Look within yourself and ask: What is your deepest, truest longing for life with God at this moment? If you find that your longing feels too “worldly” or superficial or silly, try suspending your judgment and looking instead at what is at the base of that desire. When you check in with your deepest and truest self, what is it that you seek from God? 

Give that longing a short phrase. For example, if your deep desire is inner freedom, then your phase might be “freedom” or “inner freedom.” Make sure your phrase is not too long.

What is your favorite name for God? How do you imagine the Creator? Choose whatever name seems to fit best for you. Some examples include: Jesus, Wisdom, Father, Mother, Mystery, Savior, Almighty, and so on. Be as creative as you want to be. Just keep the name relatively short.

Now combine your name for God with your longing. For example, if my phrase is “freedom” and the name I choose for God is Christ, my prayer of the heart might be “Freedom, in Christ.” Early Christians used to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” in this fashion – this was their deep longing, for Jesus to physically return and be among them. 

Begin to say your phrase, either quietly or silently. You may inhale on the name for God and exhale on the desire or vice versa. Keep breathing your prayer. Make it your own. Allow God to inhabit your prayer.

After you’ve repeated this prayer for several minutes, sink into contemplative silence. Allow the love of God to fill you and surround you. Rest in the loving presence of the great “I Am.”

(You may consider writing down your phrase and praying it throughout the day)


Communal prayer: We pray for one another & for the world
L: Let us pray. In Christ Jesus we meet the God who knows our weakness and bears the wounds of the world. Therefore, let us be bold as we pray, trusting that God draws near to those in any kind of need.

All are invited to add their own prayer petitions here. (You are welcome to add your own prayers in comments on this post or on the video)
Please end your petition with: 
L: God, in your mercy,
C: Receive our prayer.

L: God of all compassion, gather our prayers in your mercy and grant to us what you know we need, that we may walk in the life and peace of your Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our hope and our salvation
C: Amen.

L: Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.
C: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Dismissal
L: Go in peace. Christ is with you.
C: Thanks be to God.


Thanks so much for spending time with us this evening! We invite you to join us — online or in person — at our upcoming services for Holy Week and Easter:

  • Palm Sunday — April 10, 9:30am
  • Maundy Thursday — April 14, 6:30pm
  • Good Friday — April 15, 6:30pm
  • Easter Vigil — April 16, 6:30pm, with reception following
  • Easter Sunday — April 17, 9:30am
Christian Education

Let Us Pray: Week 4

Training Disciples
Lent 2022: Let Us Pray

Week 4: March 30, 2022, 6pm

Greeting
L: The love of God poured into our hearts, the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and the abundant life of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
C: And also with you.

Opening Prayer
L: Let us pray. O God, rich in mercy, full of kindness: out of your great love, you raise us up from sin and death and make us alive together with Christ. Be present with us in prayer and praise. Write your word upon our hearts and restore in us the image of your love that, by your Spirit, the way of Christ may become our way of life.  In Christ’s name we pray.
C: Amen.

A Lenten Litany
L: We come to you, gracious God, for healing, reconciliation, peace, purpose, and guidance. 
C: We come carrying the weariness of these past years. It feels like so much has changed. And yet, it feels like nothing has changed.

L: We come to you Saving One, for presence, hope, pardon, and assurance. 
C: We come, feeling at times like we are lost in the wilderness, uncertain of who we are now or where we are going. 

L: We come to you Author of all Life, for life, love, and salvation.
C: We come, burning with a million questions and no easy answers. We know things are not the way they were, yet we see the path forward only a step or two at a time, if at all.

L: People of God, no matter where you are – or how you come this evening – our loving God is with you and with me. God sees you, knows you, loves you, welcomes you, and is with you. Always.
C: God is with us now and always.

L: God, we give you thanks for being with us. Now in this time together, open us up to wonder, to discern your will, to receive your life-changing and life-giving love.
C: Fill us, guide us, and lead us. Open us to big questions without easy answers; guide us into the future you are breathing into being; help us to wonder, to wrestle, to imagine, and to follow you. Amen.

Questions for reflection as you hear the reading:

  • What words or phrases do you feel drawn to in this text?
  • How do you see God moving in this text?
  • What invitations do you hear in this text to pray?

Reading: Luke 22:14-23, 39-42, 45-53, 66-71
14 When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. 15 He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. 22 For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” 23 Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.

39 He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. 40 When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” 41 Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”

45 When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.”

47 While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” 49 When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” 50 Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!”

66 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. 67 They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us.” He replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe; 68 and if I question you, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 All of them asked, “Are you, then, the Son of God?” He said to them, “You say that I am.” 71 Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!”


Prayer practice: Praying with our Neighbors — the Braiding Prayer
(adapted from prayer by Lyle Griner, Peer Ministry Leadership)

“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” – Ecclesiastes 4:12

The interweaving and braiding of strands brings three parts into one stronger whole.  Similar to a braid, we are stronger when we work and walk alongside each other in community, bound together by the love of Christ.  This braiding prayer is a tangible, meditative way to lift up others in prayer.

To prepare:
Choose three different colors of yarn/cord/string and cut pieces of each that are twice as long as you’d like your braid to be.  

Fold the pieces of yarn/cord/string in half and tie a knot so that you end up with a loop at one end and six strands hanging down (you’ll hold the two strands of each color together as one).  

Use the loop to anchor your braid as you weave.

To pray:

  • Pick up two of your colors. Think of a relationship between two people/organizations/nations/etc. that you would like to pray for. This may be a relationship in conflict, a broken relationship, or even a relationship you admire.
  • Pick up the third color – this is your prayer strand. This strand represents peace, comfort, grace, strength, thanksgiving, forgiveness, hope, and/or whatever else you might pray for this particular relationship.
  • Pray as you weave all three together, envisioning your prayer surrounding those for whom you pray with the healing, life-giving, transformative love of Christ.  Tie a knot at the end as your “amen,” if desired.

Communal prayer: We pray for one another & for the world
L: Let us pray. In Christ Jesus we meet the God who knows our weakness and bears the wounds of the world. Therefore, let us be bold as we pray, trusting that God draws near to those in any kind of need.

All are invited to add their own prayer petitions here. (You are welcome to add your own prayers in comments on this post or on the video)
Please end your petition with: 
L: God, in your mercy,
C: Receive our prayer.

L: God of all compassion, gather our prayers in your mercy and grant to us what you know we need, that we may walk in the life and peace of your Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our hope and our salvation
C: Amen.

L: Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.
C: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Dismissal
L: Go in peace. Christ is with you.
C: Thanks be to God.


Thanks so much for spending time with us this evening! Please be sure to join us for our last Lenten Wednesday evening — in person or online — next Wednesday, April 6. Meal starts at 6pm, with prayer following.

We will also have several opportunities to worship during Holy Week and Easter, all of which will be live-streamed:

  • Palm Sunday — April 10, 9:30am
  • Maundy Thursday — April 14, 6:30pm
  • Good Friday — April 15, 6:30pm
  • Easter Vigil — April 16, 6:30pm
  • Easter Sunday — April 17, 9:30am
Christian Education

Let Us Pray: Week 3

Training Disciples
Lent 2022: Let Us Pray

Week 3: March 23, 2022, 6pm

Greeting
L: The love of God poured into our hearts, the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and the abundant life of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
C: And also with you.

Opening Prayer
L: Let us pray. O God, rich in mercy, full of kindness: out of your great love, you raise us up from sin and death and make us alive together with Christ. Be present with us in prayer and praise. Write your word upon our hearts and restore in us the image of your love that, by your Spirit, the way of Christ may become our way of life.  In Christ’s name we pray.
C: Amen.

A Lenten Litany
L: We come to you, gracious God, for healing, reconciliation, peace, purpose, and guidance. 
C: We come carrying the weariness of these past years. It feels like so much has changed. And yet, it feels like nothing has changed.

L: We come to you Saving One, for presence, hope, pardon, and assurance. 
C: We come, feeling at times like we are lost in the wilderness, uncertain of who we are now or where we are going. 

L: We come to you Author of all Life, for life, love, and salvation.
C: We come, burning with a million questions and no easy answers. We know things are not the way they were, yet we see the path forward only a step or two at a time, if at all.

L: People of God, no matter where you are – or how you come this evening – our loving God is with you and with me. God sees you, knows you, loves you, welcomes you, and is with you. Always.
C: God is with us now and always.

L: God, we give you thanks for being with us. Now in this time together, open us up to wonder, to discern your will, to receive your life-changing and life-giving love.
C: Fill us, guide us, and lead us. Open us to big questions without easy answers; guide us into the future you are breathing into being; help us to wonder, to wrestle, to imagine, and to follow you. Amen.

Questions for reflection as you hear the reading:

  • What words or phrases do you feel drawn to in this text?
  • How do you see God moving in this text?
  • What invitations do you hear in this text to pray?

Reading: Luke 21:1-19, 34-38
He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.

“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15 for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.

34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” 37 Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. 38 And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.


Prayer practice: Praying with (and for) One Another
Sometimes the simplest prayer practices are the most powerful.

This prayer practice is exactly what it says on the tin, so to speak!

  • Please find a partner to pray with and a place to sit where you can both hear each other clearly. (If you’re watching this from home and live by yourself, perhaps consider messaging or calling a friend, or writing an email asking them to pray for you and asking how you could pray for them.)
  • Take turns sharing with each other – each person will have around 6-8 minutes to talk.  
  • When it’s your turn to speak, as you are comfortable, share joys/highs for which you give thanks, as well as concerns/lows to be lifted in prayer.
  • When it’s your turn to listen, let your body posture show that you are focused on what your partner is saying.  Try not to interrupt too much, except to check your understanding or to ask furthering questions.  (If a great story about a similar situation pops into your head, mentally set it aside and make a note to tell your partner about it after you’ve prayed for them. 😉)
  • Once your partner has finished sharing, invite them to join you in an attitude of prayer – and pray for them, out loud.  Lift up to God the joys and concerns they mentioned.  If you like, you can try praying with “GRASE,” but there’s really no right or wrong way to pray. Trust that the Spirit will give you the words.
  • Finally, mark the sign of the cross on your partner’s forehead (or hands, whatever they are comfortable with) with the oil provided, saying:
    [name], remember that God loves you, and hears you, and is with you always.
    (We used olive oil, which is traditional for anointing, and mixed in a few drops of essential oils)

The church has a long history of anointing with oil for blessing and healing, and many instances of it can be found throughout scripture. It is a central part of our baptismal rite; and in fact the root of the name “Christ” means “anointed one.” As we anoint one another, we remember that the power of blessing isn’t in the oil itself; it’s in the listening, caring presence we are for one another – the love of God at work through us.


Communal prayer: We pray for one another & for the world
L: Let us pray. In Christ Jesus we meet the God who knows our weakness and bears the wounds of the world. Therefore, let us be bold as we pray, trusting that God draws near to those in any kind of need.

All are invited to add their own prayer petitions here. (You are welcome to add your own prayers in comments on this post or on the video)
Please end your petition with: 
L: God, in your mercy,
C: Receive our prayer.

L: God of all compassion, gather our prayers in your mercy and grant to us what you know we need, that we may walk in the life and peace of your Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our hope and our salvation
C: Amen.

L: Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.
C: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Dismissal
L: Go in peace. Christ is with you.
C: Thanks be to God.


Thanks so much for spending time with us this evening! Please be sure to join us for the remaining Lenten Wednesday evenings — in person or online — March 30, April 6. Meal starts at 6pm, with prayer following.

We will also have several opportunities to worship during Holy Week and Easter, all of which will be live-streamed:

  • Palm Sunday — April 10, 9:30am
  • Maundy Thursday — April 14, 6:30pm
  • Good Friday — April 15, 6:30pm
  • Easter Vigil — April 16, 6:30pm
  • Easter Sunday — April 17, 9:30am