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First Sunday In Lent

Worship
Lectionary Worship Workbook
Series IV, Cycle A
The Lenten Season
The lectionary passages for Lent in Cycle A are full of wonderful stories. A theme for the season might be "Stories of Struggle, Stories of Faith," and your services could revolve around the stories. Most of them can be dramatically interpreted, and this is a good way for children and youth to be included in worship. I have rewritten some of them for you. Read them over and think about who might be willing to participate in this retelling of the story. Each of you has a sanctuary which is unique, so I will ask you to use your own knowledge to ascertain where the people might stand. I will make suggestions, but you will have to alter them to fit your space. Some of these stories are powerful enough to stand alone, so do not "over--preach" after them. Enhance them - don't retell them.

Hymns
Today We Are All Called To Be (PH434)
God Marked A Line And Told The Sea (PH283, NCH568)
How Blest Are Those (PH132)
In The Stillness Of The Evening (CBH551)
Joys Are Flowing Like A River (CBH301, NCH284)
Spirit Of God, Descend Upon My Heart (CBH502, NCH290, UM500)
Lord Who Throughout These Forty Days (PH81, UM269, NCH211)
O Love, How Deep (PH83, NCH209, UM267)
I Am Leaning On The Lord (CBH532, UM416)
Our Father, Which Art In Heaven (PH589, UM271)

Anthems
Sing, Dance, Clap Your Hands, Ziegenhals
A Lenten Prayer, Powell
The Temptation Of Christ, Pfautsch, SLawson--Gould, SAT
The Lord's Prayer
Prayers, John Horman

The theme of the scripture passages for today is temptation and sinfulness - giving in to temptation.

Call to Worship
Leader:Be glad in God and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
People:We rejoice in God, and thank God in great humility.
Leader:God is mighty and gracious in forgiveness.
People:We rejoice in God, and thank God in great humility.
Leader:Let us worship God.
People:We come before our God with thanksgiving.

Call to Confession
Just as sin came into the world through one person, and death came through sin, so we continue to sin even as we struggle to follow Jesus. Let us come before God to confess and ask for forgiveness.

Prayer of Confession
Merciful God, on this first Sunday in Lent we are reminded of Jesus in the desert. He was tempted over and over again, and yet stayed steadfast in his goodness. We are tempted continually as we live our lives. We struggle with petty jealousies in the work world. We strive to be good parents and good children, but we are tempted by the world in which we live. We want material goods and a sense of power that no one needs. God, be with us in our struggle as you were with your son in the desert. Help us to be open to your leading and to your word as our example. Give us strength to stay on the upward path. And when we do stray, remind us that you will grant us forgiveness if we repent and turn to you. This we ask in the name of the Christ. Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness
Just as by one person's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Amen.

Scripture Readings
Genesis 2:15--17; 3:1--7; Matthew 4:1--11: Use the Genesis passage about Adam and Eve in the garden and the Matthew passage concerning the temptation of Jesus. Both are great stories and take us from the first sin to Jesus' strength in rebuking sin. This would be a great Sunday to have a storyteller simply tell the stories. These are also stories children can understand to a degree, and it might be good to have two Sunday school classes rewrite them and interpret them in the light of today. The Genesis story could become a reality television show where the participants are on a desert island and may eat anything or go anywhere, except for this one restaurant, which supposedly serves incredible food and has the clues to winning the game. And Jesus could go to Los Angeles to be tempted by fame, power, clothes, makeovers, and so on.

Or you could simply have a group of older children or youth act out the two scripture passages as written. All would get the point - we are all tempted, but God can help us to stay on the right path - and when we go astray Jesus is our guide to goodness and redemption.

Pastoral Prayer
Creative and loving God, we thank you for creating the incredible world in which we live. Each day as we go out into this world, we are caught up in its complexity. The sun's warmth, the dew on the grass, the power of a thunderstorm, and the playfulness of your creatures draw us in. How wonderful it would be if we could simply live in this world and enjoy it. But instead we barely take notice of it as we hurry to our cars or to the school bus to rush off to work or school. We say to ourselves, "This weekend we will spend with those we love and do something together outside." But far too often the weekend gets by us as well. If we're outside at all, it's to watch our children play soccer, and then rush off to another child's activity. We look at your great creation through a pane of safety glass. We are simply an anonymous person in our car, getting mad at another anonymous person who is in a bigger hurry than are we. We are often tempted to cut that person off or yell an obscenity, knowing we can get away with it. Our temptations are different than Jesus', but also the same. They have to do with the search for power, the desire to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and our desire to be safe in a scary world. We think about what we can do to make our world a better place, but we really don't have time to do anything. Besides, we're just one person - what can we do? Help us to remember that what we can do is to follow you. We can study what is written in the Bible. We can follow the model of Jesus as he says, "Get behind me, Satan!" For it is written, "Worship the Lord your God, and serve only God." We can remember to love our neighbor as ourselves. Don't give up on us, God. Help us during this Lenten season to remember that we are your people; give us courage to "walk the walk" with you. Amen.

Benediction
Leader:
Go out into the world as if you are going into the wilderness.
People:We go with Jesus as our guide.
Leader:Take strength in your faith, and stay steady.
People:We go with Jesus as our guide.
Leader:Open yourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to show you the way through all temptation.
People:Our hearts are open and we lift our eyes to God. Amen.

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