Worship Connection: February 18, 2024

January 7th, 2021

First Sunday in Lent

Color: Purple
Scripture Readings: Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15


[Note: The approach Rev. Townley is using for the Lenten-Easter worship liturgy focuses on the theme: "BARRIERS TO THE CROSS: A Journey of Difficult Decisions". Many of the liturgical elements are tied in with the Artistic Elements and the theme. Each week we will examine various barriers and barricades, blockades which we encounter on our journey to the Cross.]

Call to Worship #1:

L: There are some journeys for which we long.
P: But the journey to the cross looks as though it will be difficult.
L: The way of discipleship and faith is difficult.
P: We would prefer something easier. We are not ready for this trip.
L: Put your hearts at ease. You are not traveling alone.
P: Perhaps we can accomplish this trip. At least we will try the first step.

Call to Worship #2:

L: Welcome this day to the beginning of a journey.
P: Where will this journey take us?
L: It will take you to the Cross of Christ and beyond.
P: How much time do we have to get ready?
L: The time is now at hand for this journey.
P: Help us to be ready for this, O Lord. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2218, "You Are Mine", have a soloist sing the verses as directed below]

L: Come all who are lost and in pain. God calls to you.
P: Lord, lift us from our fears and sorrows; bring us close to you.

Soloist (singing verse 1): "I will come to you in the silence; I will lift you from all your fear. You will hear my voice, I claim you as my choice, be still and now I am here. Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow me, I will bring you home. I love you and you are m ine."

L: Come all who have lost hope, who feel that there is nothing worth living for.
P: Lord, clear away our blindness that we may see the light of your love.

Soloist (singing verse 2): "I am hope for al who are hopeless. I am eyes for all who long to see. In the shadows of the night, I will be yur light, come and rest in me. Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow me, I will bring you home. I love you and you are mine."

L: Come, do not despair. God is calling your name.
P: We want to be ready for this journey. Help us, Lord. Make us ready to trust you. AMEN.

Call to Worship #4:

L: The bags are packed and set for the journey. Are you ready?
P: Not really. We have so much still to do.
L: The Lord calls to us now. The Peace of God is at hand.
P: What will be required of us for this journey?
L: Open your hearts and spirits. Take the risk of discipleship.
P: Lord, help us to be ready. Calm our fears as we step forward in faith. AMEN.


Opening Prayer
The season of Lent is here again and, as with so many times before, we find that we are not really ready for this journey of discipleship. So many things claim our lives and prevent us from being ready to take the steps in faith. As we look at our barrier of readiness, help us to remember that Christ is with us, every step of the way. We are not alone. Christ will help lift our hearts and spirits and direct our paths. Enable us, loving Savior, to take this journey of faith to new life with you. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession
We have lists of things to do, for all the areas of our lives. Our lives are so time bound and duty bound that we feel imprisoned in them. Now we are challenged by Christ to take a journey of discipleship. We don't feel ready for this journey. We need more time. And we complain and cry about how much we have to do. Forgive us, Lord, when we place so many "duties" in the path to serving you. Reset our priorities so that we will be ready to commit our lives in your service. Lord, help us to be ready when you call us. Help us to courageously answer the summons you bring. Let us place our trust in you in all things. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer 
Loving, Creating God, you are in covenant with your people. You have pledged to be our God and ask us to be your people, trusting in you in all our ways. But we find many excuses to prevent us from really trusting you. We erect barriers before our faith journey even begins. Our time, obligations, energy, all become part of the bricks and mortar which fashion this barrier. We can give lip service to the journey; we can daydream about what it would be like to truly place our hands in yours and follow you. But when it comes to actually making the journey, our time constraints and weak commitments loom largely before us. Help us to tear down this barrier. Make us ready for the journey by replacing the fear in our hearts with a sense of joy and challenge of self-discovery and discipleship. Remind us that in service to you, helping others, we will also find our selves made more fully whole. As we have spoken the names of our friends, and family members, and others situations in which healing and comfort are needed, let us remember that we, too, stand in need of prayer and healing. Make us ready to receive your good news and then to be witnesses to your love to all your people. AMEN.


Shoes, sweaters, socks, slacks, warm gloves, a hat.....well, that's everything I need.
Reader 1: Is it?
L: What else would I need? I will be warm enough and ready for the trip.
Reader 1: Are you sure that you are ready?
L: Well, I have to admit, I don't really know where I'm going and I'm not sure what I will find.
Reader 1: How do you feel about that?
L: Not good. I would like to know what to expect so that I can truly be ready.People: Place your whole trust in the Lord who will be your comfort, your guardian, and your guide.
L: Easier said than done!
Reader 2: What else do you need?
L: I guess that I need to know that this journey will lead somewhere.
Reader 2: It will. It leads to the cross and beyond.
L: I'm scared. I'm not ready for the cross.
People: Do not be afraid. The barrier of fear which prevents you from being ready is being destroyed by the love and presence of God. Come on the journey. Come with hope and peace.

Benediction, Blessing, Commission

The first step on the journey, that of readiness, is one of the hardest. We keep thinking that we have forgotten something. God has called you by name, to this journey. You will have all that you need. Go in peace, and know that God is going with you. AMEN.


Note: It is a good idea to write a brief description of the visual presentation in the worship bulletin describing the symbols and their meaning.

[The Lenten Services will be progressive in nature, that is, we will create a visual display that will move people through the services of Lent to the Easter Resurrection Celebration. There are several ways in which this visual display can be accomplished. The first way uses multiple levels, both on the worship center and in front of the worship center. Each Sunday and worship service during Lent, the symbols of a barrier and its "key word" will be placed on a riser. All symbols will remain on the riser to which they are assigned. The list will build as the Sundays progress. The second way, more simple than the first, will be using only two or three levels. The barrier for the week or worship service will be put in place each week prior to worship and then following the service it will be removed in preparation for the next week's worship service. ]


SURFACE: The surface or structure of this display is created through the use of multiple risers. Create three levels with risers on the worship center. The center riser, placed near the back of the worship table, should be the highest, approximately 12" high. The two other risers should be about 4-6" high and should be to the left and right of the center riser. They should come toward the front of the worship center so that a gap of about 6-8" occurs. The other risers should be placed in front of the worship center. You will need a two risers that are 4" shorter than the level of the worship table. These should be placed in front of the worship table with a space of about 12" between them. The next two risers should be about 6" shorter than the previous risers and are placed in front of them, slightly off center so that they do not look like stair steps. The floor may suffice for the first level, although you may want to make risers about 2-3" high to create slight elevations from the main floor.

FABRIC: Purple is the traditional color for Lent. However it is very effective if you cover the entire worship area in burlap. Landscaper's burlap, once it is aired out, is a great cover. It comes in 50 foot rolls and can be purchased at any landscape or home improvement store. However, do air it out! Using purple cloth, weave the cloth from the center riser, across the worship table and then down onto some of the other risers. Do not cover all the risers with purple cloth, but rather create a draping effect with it. Puddle both the remainder of the burlap and purple cloth on the floor in front of the worship center. Have a piece of dark material, black or very dark navy blue, approximately 1 yard in length, cover the brass cross on the top riser.

CANDLES: Place a candle on each of the risers, with the exception of the top center riser and the riser on which the suitcase is placed. The pillar candle which was in place in front of the top riser is to remain there during most of the Lenten Services. These candles may be purple, the traditional color for Lent. They should be pillar candles about 4-6" in height.

FLOWERS/PLANTS: No plants are placed in this setting.

ROCKS/WOOD: Place some rocks in the setting, in the "valleys" of fabric. The larger rocks that were in place in the Ash Wednesday service may remain at the base of the worship center.

OTHER: Place a brass cross on the top riser and cover it with dark fabric. The cross remains hidden during the first portion of Lenten services. Place a small, open suitcase on the lowest riser in the front and to the left of the worship center, you may have some clothing hanging out of it, and also an unfolded map hanging out of it. Attach the sign "READINESS" to the open lid of the suitcase facing the congregation.

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