Prayer of the Church 4 Lent Yr A

Prayer of the Church, 4th Sunday in Lent, Year A

God our Shepherd: we praise and thank you that when you look at human beings; you do not look on the outward appearance and you do not see as a mortals see. Rather, you look on the heart. Forgive us when we are too quick to judge others solely on the basis of their outward appearance. God of mercy: C: Hear our prayer.
God our Shepherd: we are most grateful for your abundant provision of our needs–whether they be for our mind, body or spirit. Even in our darkest hour, you are with us to guide and lead us. Your presence protects us so that we need not fear evil. As Host and Guest of Honour, we are privileged to dine at your abundant banquet table–even in the presence of our enemies. In love you pursue us with your goodness and we long to live in your eternal home forever. God of mercy: C: Hear our prayer.
God our Shepherd: grant us grace to live as children of the light by desiring what is good, right and true; discerning what is God-pleasing. Banish all darkness that with your life-transforming light. God of mercy: C: Hear our prayer.
God our Shepherd: Long ago Jesus gave sight to a man born blind. We thank you Jesus that you are able to see that not all sickness is punishment for personal or ancestral sins. Help us to share your compassionate, healing presence with all who suffer in our midst, especially those whom we name before you now either out loud, or in the silence of our hearts (PAUSE). We ask your blessing upon all benevolent organisations that serve the blind, including: the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Christian Blind Mission and various Bible Society organisations that provide the blind with Braille Bibles. God of mercy: C: Hear our prayer.
(Other thanksgivings and intercessions may be added here, ending with: God of mercy: C: Hear our prayer.)
God our Shepherd: pour out your wisdom upon our Queen, Elizabeth, the Prime Minister and Members of Parliament, the Premier and Members of the Legislative Assembly, and the governments of the following nations: Indonesia, Philippines, Timor-Leste, and Japan–endow them with a spirit of servanthood, that justice and peace may prevail within their lands.
God our Shepherd: in your mercy hear all of our prayers, thanksgivings and intercessions; and grant whatever else may be in accord with your holy will; through Jesus our Cross-bearing Servant; who, with you and the Eternal Spirit; we worship and praise; one God, now and forever. ALL: Amen.

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Sermon 3 Lent Year A

You can read my sermon for March 27 here: 3 Lent Yr A

On observing Lent

Christians around the globe are now in the season of Lent. The word Lent may have Anglo-Saxon origins, meaning to lengthen, as in referring to the longer days in the season of spring. Over the centuries, Christians have developed several traditions to assist them in their 40 day (not counting Sundays) preparation for the celebration of Easter Sunday, and the resurrection of Jesus. Here are a few of them:

  • Preaching, reading, studying, praying, and focussing on the New Testament Passion Narratives, which highlight the last days of Jesus’ earthly ministry; along with his journey to Jerusalem, his arrest, trial, sentence, crucifixion, suffering and death.
  • Worship Services that communicate a more reflective, sombre mood by omitting (in some denominations liturgically burying) the singing or saying of hallelujah and alleluia; as well as singing hymns with tunes in the minor key, which are often inspired by and based on the Passion Narratives. In Lutheran tradition, it has been (perhaps more so in previous generations than today) common to listen to J.S. Bach’s Passion of St Matthew and Passion of St John during the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Palm-Passion Sunday, and Good Friday Worship Services are especially designed to engage worshippers in acts of sincere confession and repentance of sin—both personal and collective; remembering with humility our mortality and hence our utter dependence on God; and the desire to journey with Jesus in the way of the cross.
  • The practice of giving something up in a sacrificial way for Lent in order to be in solidarity with Christ and the world’s poor. In our part of the world, that might include no television, no movies, or no Internet during Lent. The operative principle for giving something up in a sacrificial way during Lent is that it needs to be sacrificial; i.e. something that you value and takes up much of your time, energy and resources. For example, it is pointless to give up chocolate for Lent if you do not eat chocolate.
  • The practice of taking something extra on for Lent. For example, you may wish to spend extra time in prayer, meditation or study. Many churches offer their parishioners special mid-week Lenten Worship Services or Study opportunities or social justice projects that connect us with the world’s poor through benevolent organisations like Canadian Lutheran World Relief<www.clwr.org>.

   The Lenten season has inspired poets, musicians and artists alike down through the ages. Here is the first of 21 stanzas, (divided up into 7 parts to coincide with the Good Friday Tenebrae Service on the 7 last words of Jesus on the cross) one of my favourites, by the nineteenth century hymn writer, Thomas B. Pollock: “Jesus in thy dying woes, even while thy life-blood flows, craving pardon for thy foes: Hear us holy Jesus.” One of my favourite works of art is Salvador Dali’s 1951 painting, “Christ of St John of the Cross.

Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali

  

   Whatever you do to observe Lent, may you find meaning and purpose in it to enrich, inspire and deepen you in your faith journey. I invite readers of this post to make a comment and share how you observe Lent.  A blessed Lent to you.

Sermon 1 Lent Yr A

You can read my sermon for March 13, 2011 here: 1 Lent Yr A

Gleanings from the Lutheran blogosphere

Periodically, I like to surf the world-wide-web and discover what is going on in the Lutheran blogosphere. Here ae a few blogs that you might wish to visit:

At the What If? Blog, a post on talking about Jesus in a domestic dispute:  http://abtrenewal.wordpress.com/ 

 At Glosses From An Old Manse blog, a reflection on whether or not ‘settled science’ is an oxymoron: http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com/

At Ben Unseth’s Red-Letter Ideas blog, Ben reflects on the impact of his recently-deceased, 92-year-old friend who was an insightful physicist and faithful follower of Jesus: http://benjaminunseth.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/jim-the-visioneer/

At Simul Iustus et Peccator, read the book review of The Resurrection of Jesus-Part 3:

http://simuliustusetpeccator.com/

At Faith in Community, read about a Lenten monologue series named after the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus: http://faithincommunity.blogspot.com/ 

At Pastor Dan’s Grace Notes, there are worship helps for Transfiguration Sunday:

http://www.coslcgrace.blogspot.com/

At Lutheran Confessions, ponder five creative suggestions for your Lenten prayer life:

http://lutheranconfessions.blogspot.com/2011/03/seeking-shape-for-your-lenten-prayer.html