Lent 1C March 6, 2022

Take Every Test
Service Prayers for the First Sunday in Lent Year C
March 6, 2022

Call to Worship
One: We may be entering this season arid, dry from pain and injustices.
Many: And yet, God is still hydrating our spirits.
One: We may be wandering, feeling as if we have no direction.
Many: And yet, God is guiding us in the wilderness.
One: We may be fearful, wondering what comes next.
Many: And yet, God is surrounding us with peace.
One: We may begin our Lenten journey spiritually arid, aimless, and anxious.
Many: But the Spirit of Strength will never leave our side.

Divine Sojourner,
As we saunter far into the wilderness, may your light sustain us. May the questions that fill our minds with doubt drift away into the sands of the journey. May we dig within our souls to remove the prejudices deep within us. However we wander in this season, may your Holy Glow refocus our attention on our relationship with you and the ways we connect with our siblings. Amen.

Prayer of Reflection and Growth
God of the Road, we journey together into the wilderness again. In this time filled with new spiritual practices and studies, our minds will be “tested.” Doubts will creep in as we seek your presence. At times, we will slide away from our responsibilities to care for our neighbors.

“Keep awake,” you call to us.
And so we ask ourselves:
Will hurtful words from others taunt us, and inhibit our growth with you?
Will negative images in our minds draw us away from our practices?
Will we snooze to the needs of this world and ignore the pain in our communities?

Deliver us from the temptations of this world and the tests that we impose upon ourselves. Amen.

Assurance of God’s Grace
When we aimlessly wander throughout this Lenten journey, God follows us – even into the depths of the wilderness. May we see God’s presence, knowing we are never alone on arid days and in barren lands. Amen!

Time of Engaged Reflection
Ask the congregants to draw a photo of themselves in the wilderness? What does the wilderness look like for them? What do they look like in their time of exile? Are there any distractions that they’ve drawn? Now ask them to draw God in their wilderness? Is God near or far from them? What does God look like?

Reflection on Giving
Deuteronomy 26:2 (NRSV) declares this:
“…you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name.”

How do we spend our “first fruits”- the best in which we have? Have we kept it for ourselves? Have we dedicated these gifts to God and shared them with our neighbors who lack basic necessities? How is God calling us to share the best we possess?

We bless our gifts together:
All: Holy Stream of Gifts,
We share our gratitude for all of our fruits – from our possessions to knowledge and from our time to abilities. May our “best” be something that we do not hoard but that we freely give away. As we embrace this season of fasting and reflection, may we recognize the best of our talents, treasures, and time and share with God and neighbor. Amen.

As we wander on this journey,
May God the Divine Light open our souls to healing and wisdom.
May Christ the Sojourner lead us into oases of renewal in arid and barren times.
May the Spirit of Hope fill us with courage to carry on.
As Jesus embraced the struggles of the wilderness, may we find strength to abide in our wilderness of the soul. Amen.

Take Every Test: Service Prayers for the First Sunday of Lent C was written by the Rev. Michelle L. Torigian, Senior Pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Belleville, Illinois.

Lent 1C March 6, 2022