Lent 2 Prayers

Sustenance for the Journey (More nourishment when we falter)

February 28

Lent 2

Lament over Jerusalem

Luke 13:1-9, 31-35

Psalm 122

Call to Worship:

Gather us together Jesus

That we might take shelter under your wings. 

For I was glad when they said unto me, let us god into the house of the Lord

Our feet are standing within your gates, O God. 

Peace be within you family and friends

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, let us seek good!

Invitation: For all those who feel empty, God invites us to lay to God in confession too. 

Prayer of Confession: God, we confess that sometimes we feel like we don’t produce enough and we deserve to be cut down. We admit that sometimes  we view ourselves, or others as a waste of space. Remind us that some years are barer than others. That sometimes, like the fig tree, we need more room and care to grow. Help us to give ourselves, and others what is needed to grow we pray.

Assurance of Pardon: God will always welcome us home and gather us under her wings, so we may be comforted by the truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God loves and cares for us, sending Jesus to nourish us and wrap us under the wings of the Holy Spirit Help us God when we are bare or barren, or sick or lament Help us not to chop each other down, but to build each other up we pray. Amen.

Communion Prayer: Dear Jesus, it is a blessing to be gathered here, like your brood under your wing, through the celebration of Communion. Before you left, you gathered one last time, and left it as an invitation for any or all who wish to join in the protection of the Lord. Send your Holy Spirit upon this communion so that we might experience a moment of peace, and bless us with the nourishment we need along the way we pray. Amen. 

Hymns: Be Thou My Vision, Jesus Thy Boundless Love to Me, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us

Taize: Bless the Lord, My Soul, that leads me into life

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy

Lent 2 Topical Prayer

Topical Prayer: God, this the time when Jerusalem needs more love and care. Jesus, you have been wandering for three years, and know that the moment you go to the prophet’s home of Jerusalem, you will be killed. How do you come to terms with that Jesus? And yet, I know that you are planting trees, and tending the sick ones with more space and more nourishment. I know that you respond to hate with love. It is for this reason you long to hug us under your wing. Please wrap us in your wings today. Give us nourishment and sanctuary so that we have enough love to produce fruit. Let us journey with Jesus towards Jerusalem we pray. 

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy

Lent 3 Topical Prayer

Topical Prayer: God sometimes we feel like the lost coin or the lost sheep or the lost son, wandering and lonely. We are on the journey, and then suddenly we get lost along the way. Other times we feel like the older brother doing all of the right things with little recognition and credit. However, you invite us to be the widow and the shepherd and the parent: ebullient with welcome! You celebrate with those who are celebrating, God for you are there for every step of the journey. Dancing in the streets and striving to include and find every single person who feels lost. You want us to be the living invitation of your love and belonging. Our job is not to judge—thank God—but instead to celebrate and welcome. Help us, grant us your Holy Spirit so we can  be your open door of welcome today and everyday we pray. Amen.

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy

Lent 3 Prayers

The Possibility of Journeying Home

March 7

Lent 3

Lost Sheep, Coin, Son

Luke 15:1-32

Psalm 119:167-176

Call to Worship: 

God you call us home

And whenever one of us is missing, you search for us without ceasing

Lord, you are welcoming

When one us is discluded or left out, you immediately welcome us to the table.

Lord, you are the father, running to embrace us and welcome us home!

Come let us celebrate as the children of God today. 

Invitation: God is always inviting us to return home. Come let us bring our full selves home to God.

Prayer of Confession: God I confess that when I feel lost, it is hard to return to you. All my imperfections scream at me, telling me that I am not deserving of your love. And sometimes those fears are confirmed by my experience of human judgement or prejudices. Remind me that you are never prejudiced God, you welcome me home and renew me every single time I ask for forgiveness. Forgive me for all that I did that was wrong and all the things I have not done that I ought to have done. Forgive me for forgetting that nothing can separate me from your love, and help me to return to your loving embrace I pray. Amen. 

Assurance of Pardon: Our God will always leave a light on for us, that light is Jesus Christ. Know the truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven

Prayer of the day/Dedication: Lord, every single time someone enters into your presence, you welcome them with a party. Help us to party people into your Kingdom we pray!

Communion Prayer: God, you never forget us or leave us behind. When we seemed lost and alone you sent your only son Jesus, love incarnate to find us, call us by name, love us and teach us. Send your Holy Spirit onto these elements, so that when we feel lost or alone, we might be nourished by Jesus Christ. We pray this in God’s most Holy Name. Amen. 

Hymns: Seek Ye First, Jesus Priceless Treasure, Lord I Want to Be a Christian, Love Divine All Love Excelling, O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go, O Jesus I Have Promised

Taize: Ubi Caritas: where there is goodness and love there is God

For the Complete List of Narrative Lectionary Lent Resources can be found here including a way to receive a doc copy

The Fig Tree

One day Jesus told a parable (Luke 13:1-9)…there was a fig tree and the master came out to inspect it.

“This tree has been here 3 years and never produced fruit, cut it down”

“Tell you what, I’ll dig out a new home for the tree and give it fresh fertilizer (and water), why don’t you wait a year and see if it produces fruit then” the gardener persuaded

“Fine but if it doesn’t grow, chop it down”

And that is the end of the story…no resolution, no happily ever after, why?

Because the point of the story is the need for nourishment, as the kids in church said today, chopping down a tree isn’t going to help it to produce fruit, but encouragement does…

But digging even deeper into the story, we have to wonder, what is the point of the fig tree producing fruit anyway? Here it goes to all the trouble of growing fruit for what…

to nourish itself?

to have it sit there forever?

to help itself to grow bigger and stronger?

No, it does it so that some other creature can eat its fruit! The usefulness of the tree is not in the tree structure itself; the tree was growing just fine without any fruit, but in how it nourishes others…

And that, my friend is the church, we exist not to nourish or help ourselves, but to share our fruits with others.

If we have no fruit, if we go on upholding our structure, then we are not, in fact, successful.

There is a theory (probably most famously put forth in the book “Bowling Alone”) that society embraced and loved institutions in the 1950s. There were many groups that flourished in this time: scouts, elks, bowling clubs, churches. Churches adapted the institutional structure and did as well as the rest.

Today the structure is to make your own kind of community. You do yoga alone, you make connections online and through relay rides and couchsurfers (for my thoughts on millennials read here). But, that doesn’t mean the hunger/the thirst for God isn’t still there (Psalm 63 was paired with the fig tree gospel reading for a reason). People long for a spirituality that feeds them, has  integrity (***please note, I do not mean they want a vending machine or religion that caters to their every whim, but something that is both relevant and still full of integrity), and one that practices what it preaches–supporting social justice & those in need. Millennials have just internalized the independent nature of our culture (I’ll do it alone, in fact I’ll make a community all on my own) hence: Spiritual but not religious. Church’s need to figure out how to nourish that independent nature so it too can produce fruit.

Its like a Farmer’s Market where people want to take responsibility for their food by connecting to the people who grow it…How can church be less like a supermarket and more like a Farmer’s Market?

After all, Jesus came and gave his ENTIRE LIFE as nourishment for all of us, that is why we (Presbyterians) practice open communion, because everyone gets to share in the spiritual fruits of Christ!

I’m not saying bowling is better than yoga or vice versa, I’m saying that when the church is able to make spiritual fruit to nourish others, that is called ministry! (again we are back to the Farmer’s Market at my church, how can we make it MORE nourishing)

 

How can we, as a church, make the fruit to nourish others.

 

PS do you know olive trees live thousands of years? In the Garden of Gethsemane I was able to see some fig trees which, in all likelihood, stood while Jesus prayed right before his crucifixion. So really, giving a church/person/tree of a couple of years when we can grow and be shaped by thousands is looking at things from a human perspective…How much more can God see, from where she sits? Here is a picture of some of those ACTUAL trees!

Shannon A Thompson

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