First Sunday in Lent A, March 5, 2017

Pensive Lent to you all.

CALL TO WORSHIP
One: Today we begin the journey into darkness.
All: Today we look with our Savior towards the end.
One: We recognize that we are broken and helpless.
All: Yet we have a Savior who carries the load for us and all.
One: In our sinfulness we are not unloved or abandoned.
All: Today we worship the Lord our God and serve the Lord only.

OPENING PRAYER
O Holy One, we are not comfortable with this descent into these difficult stories. We do not find joy in this march to the inevitable where we watch our Savior struggle and become more and more alone. But we are here, listening to the stories again. We are here walking with our Savior now, hoping that we still might be able to alleviate his pain. Help us be in this time. Help us delve deeply into the stories. Help us walk with our Savior and not abandon him on this difficult path. Amen.

CALL TO CONFESSION
The Psalmist says, “While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Let us join together again as people of God and confess.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Gracious God, we know that we are not alone in our sinfulness before you. But we still continue creating death and destruction in this sinfulness. We break relationships. We break the minds and hearts and bodies of others whom we know and have never met. We sin in our action and our inaction. We especially fall short of Christ, and give into the temptation of putting false idols of power and greed before our Lord. Forgive us, please. Help us live full lives in you, understanding that only in you can we be dead to sin and alive in Christ. Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON
The Psalmist continues: “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Dear ones, we are not people who end the story in sinfulness. Again and again we come to repent, turn around, and discover what new life Christ has for us. Because Christ our Savior suffered and died for our sins, I can declare to you that in his name you are forgiven. Now go out and live. Amen.

CALL FOR THE OFFERING
Even as times are dark and broken, we are still able to give. We are still called upon to participate in this life with Christ. Let us with joy, and relief at still being able to participate, collect our joys and our offerings.

PRAYER OF DEDICATION
O Holy God, you never stop wanting us to help make your creation a more vibrant and loving place. May all that we have brought forward today, and all that we are in our lives, go to strengthen your name and to love our neighbors and strangers alike. Amen.

INVITATION TO THE TABLE
This is the table that was the end. This supper was the last one. Here we gather for a joyful feast that originally contained deceit, abandonment and, ultimately, death. This is an odd table filled with so much. Yet as we begin this lenten journey knowing the end, let us concentrate more on the precious opportunity of being here at all. We are not alone in this group here today, but at this table we are joined by friends and loved ones across all time and space. We come here to reverse that original deceit, abandonment and death. Come to this table to live with our Christ. Come to this table to be nourished and receive the strength to go on. Come to this table making the legacy of that first table worth it. Come.

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