Fifth Sunday in Lent A, April 2, 2017

CALL TO WORSHIP
One: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.”
All: “My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.”
One: Our breath is shallow and our hearts heavy.
All: Death and despair seem all around us. We are lost in darkness.
One: But new life – life from above – comes from the Lord.
All: Today we worship the Savior who lives and breathes the Spirit into us all.

OPENING PRAYER
Holy God, we don’t understand how deeply we live this human life in shades of death.  We have a hard time comprehending how life in you is so very different.  We pray that today we may breathe more deeply.  We pray that your Spirit may come even more fully into us and bring us back to life.  We pray that these deeper lives may be ever more lived in you and into your will for us.  May we breathe more fully today.  Amen.

CALL TO CONFESSION
Our Psalmist says, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.” With the hope and trust of the Psalmist, let us confess our sins.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Gracious God, we walk in the night and stumble.  We do not see the light of the world and don’t even notice the difference.  All around and inside of us is death until we breathe in your Spirit.  We have dealt in the ways of death and sin, causing harm to others.  We have lost our way and end up in tombs of human making.  We want to please you but are dead because of sin.  Please help us.  Please call us yet again to life in you.  Forgive us, we pray.  Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON
“O Israel, hope in the LORD!  For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.”   The Psalmist knew.  There is new life in God, and release from the graves of sin and doubt.  Know that you are free because in the name of Jesus Christ, I declare to you that your sins are forgiven.  Now go and live worthy lives.  Amen.

CALL FOR THE OFFERING
In God there is always new life.  In God there are always new opportunities, and we are asked to participate in this new life.  Let us with joy bring forth from our pockets and our lives to further the spread of this new life.

PRAYER OF DEDICATION
O Holy God, as we find new life in you, help us spread your Spirit to breathe new life into others around us.  May all we bring forward before you today from our pockets and our beings go to renew the world around us in you.  Amen.

INVITATION TO THE TABLE
At this table we find bread and cup, and they are necessary for life.  We find nourishment here unlike anywhere else.  And through scripture we learn that God not only provides us with this food and drink, but also with the very air we breathe.  In both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek of the Gospels we have received, God’s Spirit is Breath.  God’s Breath is the blowing Wind.  Our Lord is the life force that enters into us and turns us from dead sinews and flesh into life.  May we understand more deeply the elemental nature of this table today.  May we feel the power of the simple bite and drink as they fill us.  May we breathe deeply the Spirit.  All of you who are parched, hungry and feeling dead inside, come.  Come to this table and re-enter life.

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