First Sunday in Lent
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1
L: Long ago, God rescued God’s people from slavery.
P: We are enslaved today, in many different ways.
L: God can and will rescue us. Place your trust in God’s love.
P: Our hope is in the Lord who is our refuge and our strength.
L: Even though temptations surround us, drawing us away from God,
P: We will continue to follow God and trust in God’s ways. AMEN.
Call to Worship #2
L: When Jesus was in the wilderness, he was tempted to save himself.
P: We often look for the good things for ourselves first, before the well-being of others.
L: Jesus was offered salvation if he turned stones to bread; if he accepted wealth and power; if he tested God’s commitment to him.
P: In all these things, Jesus remained strong in his commitment to God.
L: May our commitment be as strong.
P: May our lives be placed in God’s caring hands throughout our journey. AMEN.
Call to Worship #3
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2080, “All I Need Is You”, have the choir sing the song as directed]
L: When we are tempted to think of our immediate needs and turn our back on others, Jesus draws us back to reality.
P: All we truly need is you, O Christ.
Choir: singing “All I Need Is You”
L: When we think that wealth, power, status are the answers to life’s dilemmas, God draws us back to reality.
P: All we truly need is you, O Lord.
Choir: singing “All I Need Is You”
L: When we want to really find out if God means what God says, we are tempted to create little tests of faithfulness, and God brings us back to reality.
P: All we truly need is you, O God.
Choir singing “All I Need Is You”
Call to Worship #4
L: For some of us, it was tempting to “sleep in” this morning.
P: But God has called us to this place, to hear God’s word, to open our hearts in prayer and praise, and to seek direction for our lives.
L: There are many temptations placed in front of us. We are called to be strong and place our trust in God.
P: God is always faithful to us, comforting, guiding, lifting us. AMEN.
PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION
Lord, the temptations of the world loom large before us. We are enticed, cajoled, and “sweet-talked” into moving from lives of service to lives of self-centeredness. We need your healing love. As you resisted the temptations in the wilderness, help us to place our trust in you, that we may be strong in our faith and confident in our service to you through serving others.AMEN.
Prayer of Confession
In a world which values gambling, risking, taking dares, Lord, we come to this time of temptation. We confess that we are often enticed to take the risk for the rewards, often financial, offered if you win. Just “a dollar and a dream” and we hear the glory stories of people receiving great monetary wealth; later, we discover how many lives have been destroyed by this grand prize. Forgive us when we hunger for the wealth and power the world dangles before us. Move us from greed to gratitude for your blessings. Heal our wounded spirits and lives, so that we may fully serve you. Prepare us for this journey of discipleship and healing. In Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.
Words of Assurance
God will provide for your needs. Place your trust in God. You are not alone. God is with you always. The world cannot offer to you such abiding riches as the presence of God. AMEN.
Flooding our emails, screaming to us from television screens, crowding up our mailboxes, the offers for millions of dollars, the dream of great wealth, ravage our lives. Life isn’t easy. We do have struggles. We have come through the season devoted to commercialization of giving, to a time in which we are called to put aside the desire for wealth, status, power and enter into a journey of faith. This call is not an easy one to follow. It is much easier to succumb to the temptations of the culture of greed. Obsolescence is built into our systems - just as a new one is developed it becomes yesterday’s news. But God’s love and power are never obsolete. God’s presence is with us always, lifting, healing, restoring, encouraging us to move forward on the journey of service and compassion. We bring to our prayers today needs of others and situations which are difficult and sorrowful. We implore God to respond with compassion and care for these, our loved ones. Help us, O God, to remember that you are in the midst of these times, giving hope and love. Enable us to feel the power of this love in our own lives. Empower us to share this love with others, for we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
Reader : (singing….”If I were a rich man, die dill, dee dill, dee, dill, dee, dill, dee, dill…)
VOICE: You have been giving every blessing - people who love you, a place to be, a multitude of talents and abilities.
Reader: Lord who made the Lion and the Lamb, you decreed I should be what I am. Would it spoil some vast eternal play, if I were a wealthy man?
VOICE: Didn’t you listen? You are wealthy!
Reader: Ha! You think so? You don’t know what I have to go through, working, just to earn my “daily bread”, never enough time to rest, always worrying about the bills, the kids, the mortgage, the rent, all the other stuff that has to be taken care of. If I were rich, I could take care of all that stuff and have something left over beside - I could do whatever I wanted - I could even help others.
VOICE: You can do that now.
Reader: What, pay all the bills, meet all the obligations? I can’t do it all.
VOICE: You do it a little at a time. You could help others now.
Reader: Yeh, sure, when I have time…..which I don’t seem to have.
VOICE: What kind of time are you looking for? You have more time than you think; it’s how you are using the time that’s the problem.
Reader: Well, you try managing all this stuff and see where it gets you.
VOICE: World management is quite a task you know.
Reader: So, How about the rich part……can I have it?
VOICE: There’s a little journey I would like you to take. It begins now, well, actually it began last Wednesday, but you are not too late to start. I want you to walk inward and forward.
Reader: What? I don’t get it.
VOICE: I want you to follow my son - it’s a long journey and you are going to be tempted to stop and take it easy. But hang in there, follow him, and discover something incredible about the world and about yourself.
Reader: So you want me to go on a trip……and then I get the wealth?
VOICE: You will be amazed what you will get!
Reader: Could be OK. All right, I’ll try.
VOICE: Don’t just try……do it! I’ll be with you.
Reader: Well, that sounds fair, if I have to go, so do you….(laughs)
VOICE: And the journey begins - no guarantees, no promises, just the journey, inward and onward……you can come along too. It’s for you that this journey is created.
The journey has begun. God is with you. Go forth to learn, to teach, to serve. Go bringing peace and hope to all in the name of Jesus Christ.AMEN.
The traditional color for this Sunday is PURPLE.
Note: I recommend putting a brief paragraph describing or explaining the symbolism used in your visual display in the worship bulletin. This a good teaching tool for the congregation.
Risers: Any structure or support which will raise a portion of worship center above the main level. Some risers may be a stack of books; others may be made from wood or whatever will give the necessary support to the object which is going to be placed on the riser. I also refer to benches or tables which may be placed to the side or in front of the worship center as risers. I have used pieces of 2”x 4” wood, stacked on top of each other to achieve the height I desired. Most of the time, the risers will be covered with fabric.
Worship Center: Because so many churches have different worship spaces, I have chosen to call the main space for worship display: the worship center. In some instances it may be referred to as the altar, the communion table, a platform - whatever is the focal point of the worship area.
Flowers/plants: I am not a “purist”, if the definition means having only live flowers and plants in the chancel/worship area. I believe that there are some really beautiful silk flowers which will suffice in times when live plants are not available. However, go with the tradition of your local church. Generally speaking, I like to use foliage plants (non-flowering or minimally flowering) as accent pieces. “Spiky” plants, such as: mother-in-law’s tongue, snake plant, are good when you desire a harsh, hard, angular effect. Fern (especially asparagus orBoston) are wonderful along with some ivys, to soften the effect.
Puddling the fabric: Currently interior decorators use the technique with draperies of letting the fabric spill to the floor in a heap, sort of a puddle. It is a less formal design. Puddling the fabric means not creating even, smooth edges (creating a flat panel).
THE ARTISTIC ELEMENT FOR TODAY:
[Note: The theme for Lent is JOURNEY INWARD/JOURNEY FORWARD. The idea is that discipleship is a journey that is first lived inward, introspectively, reality-check, and then lived forward in service. The worship center will remain covered with the base cloth of burlap or other neutral rough material. Each week something will be added to the worship center and perhaps other things removed, until all are placed at the foot of the cross. I recommend that you have someone construct an “old, rugged Cross”, about 6-7 feet tall, on a free standing base. This cross will be used during Holy Week, but you want to plan far enough ahead to have it ready.]
SURFACE; Place several risers on the worship center. The tallest riser, approximately 1 foot above the main level of the worship center, should be placed to the upper left as you are facing the worship center. The other risers, about 4-6” high, may be placed, one at the center and the other slightly to the right of the middle one.
FABRIC: Cover the worship center in burlap or other neutral colored, rough fabric.
CANDLES: On the middle riser, place a white pillar candle, about 10” high, representing Christ. .Place a back pack and a walking stick against the worship center. You may place a canteen and walking shoes on the worship center, if you wish - there is no map, no compass, only what you bring with you (Note: you may want to make this part of the statement about this particular journey during Lent)
FLOWERS/PLANTS : No plants or flowers on the worship center
ROCKS/WOOD Some rocks and wood may be placed on the center and at the base of the worship center.
OTHER: No cross on the worship center at this time.