Author: Gary Reimer

Meditation for Monday September 21, 2020

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matt.9:36.

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8.

Scripture reveals God as both seeing and feeling the suffering of humankind and the injustice that is perpetrated against the weak and vulnerable. In Exodus 3:7 God assures Moses that he has seen the suffering of Israel at the hands of their Egyptian captors, and that he will act on their behalf. The Psalmist sees oppression and injustice and declares: “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted, you see their grief and take it in hand” (Ps. 10:14). And further:  “Lord you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you listen to their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so that people can no longer terrify them” (Ps. 10:17,18). Among the many beauties of the incarnation is the identification of God in Jesus with humanity in its neediness and suffering.  And God’s desire is that those who walk with him live lives of justice and compassion.

By sheer grace, all of us have been touched by God’s compassion and have known its outworking in our lives toward others. Recent events invite us to reflect more deeply about suffering and oppression, both in the world and close to home. Against the backdrop of the spike in racial tensions in the U.S. over the last many months, as well the extreme and ongoing inequities in our society, Richard Rohr speaks of the need for a conversion to solidarity in which Christians both see and feel the pain of injustice and oppression. According to Rohr, progress in this conversion involves recognizing that we don’t see, and that we’re often blind to suffering and injustice as well as to our own privilege.

Keeping company with Jesus in prayer will lead us to a conversion to solidarity that deepens our awareness of the hardships of those around us. For author Martin Laird, this is a central aspect of prayer. Compassion and solidarity will be the fruit of prayer. He writes:

  •  Fruit suggests something far more organic and nourishing than mere ‘results.’  Fruit bears within it the seeds of new life and provides nourishment for others. The fruit of practice (of contemplation) is compassion born of the fragrant wound of solidarity with all that is. We cannot behold what we are trying to assess (An Ocean of Light, page 128).

Thus the conversion to solidarity that we seek is not about acquiring a new point of view or a more informed assessment of injustice, but rather a growing solidarity with the heart of God in his love for all people. And God’s love is active.  John speaks of following Christ’s example of love in the giving of his life for us, and how real love compassionately supplies the needs of others when it is within one’s power to do so (1 John 3:16,17). And there’s much within our power to do. How encouraging that Jesus assigns eternal significance to a simple act of kindness like giving a child a cup of cold water! (Matthew 10: 42). May God have mercy on us by giving us eyes to see, hearts that are aligned with his love and the grace to act in compassion and on behalf of justice as he directs.

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of this world.”  Karl Barth

Paul Woodyard
Imago Dei Christian Communities

 For Reflection:

1. What injustices, or to use Barth’s word “disorder,” in our world and close to home do you find the most pressing?

2. What blind spots towards those who are oppressed, in need or who are simply ‘other’ have you come to recognize in your own life?

3. Reflect on Rohr’s phrase, conversion to solidarity. Have you noticed this as being a fruit of contemplation? What opportunities for active compassion do you feel invited to?

For Prayer:

O God, we thank you for Jesus who:
humbled himself and identified with us by taking on human form,
who wept with the friends of a dead man;
who bore real wounds in his body and died to bring us to God.
May we be agents of your compassion to the world which you love.

Meditation for Monday, June 15, 2020

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness”   (1 Timothy 6:12).

In the meditation by Rob Des Cotes a couple of weeks ago (May 28), we were reminded of the importance of persevering in prayer. Desert father Abba Moses is quoted as saying to a young monk seeking guidance: “Go to your cell, sit down, and your cell will teach you everything.” This quote is part of a larger body of sayings from the desert fathers and mothers that teach the wisdom of remaining or staying. As Rob noted, this wisdom applies to life beyond the practice of prayer. It encourages perseverance and patience which enable us to embrace the life God has given us.

Of course staying isn’t always what wisdom prescribes. The desert monasticism of the fourth and fifth centuries owed its existence to an act of collective fleeing. With Christianity being recognized by political powers and increasingly embraced by society, many men and women of faith fled to the desert to practice their vision of discipleship apart from what they perceived as the compromise and decline of the church. And yes, there’s a body of sayings from the desert monks on the wisdom of fleeing!

If we’re to stay with prayer and the life God has given us, what are we to flee from? In the text above Paul counsels Timothy to flee from the love of money which degrades and brings pain (1 Timothy 6:10-11).  We could add another corrupting love from which to flee: “Do not love the world or anything in the world, if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).  And we’re to flee from conformity to the world, being part of systems that cultivate and enslave us to disordered desires and godless agendas (Romans 12:2). For these early Christians, getting off the worldly grid and fleeing to the desert was an expression of their devotion to God.

As we too desire to live lives devoted to God, there are aspects of fleeing as taught by the desert saints that speak deeply to our interior life and our relationships with one another. They understood that to flee physically doesn’t automatically reform one’s heart. Sin and pride will follow us. They also believed that living in community (in addition to solitude) was essential for spiritual growth and the cultivation of mature love. The pursuit of the virtues of which Paul speaks is an ongoing work. With practice and by God’s grace we acquire an internal reflex to recognize and recoil from impulses that dissipate these virtues and dull our love for God and our neighbor.

This inner work is very much the same for us today as it was for these early saints. Their writings spoke of fleeing from obsessional thoughts (Evagrius and Cassian). They were especially concerned with strands of thought that assert one’s own status, dignity or importance. Such thoughts are forgetful of our common humble standing before God and may cause us to imagine ourselves to be superior to others. They also counseled fleeing from obsessional speech, especially speech that judges or prescribes courses of action for others. Speech was to issue from a practiced silence and attention to God, as well as a deep regard and gentleness toward those to whom we speak.

Now as then, the quieting of chaotic thoughts and the cultivation of graced speech happen through the practice of prayer and solitude. We receive grace and help in these areas of need by staying in the blessed place of prayer. And through prayer we take our place with our ancient predecessors in fleeing from the chains of conformity to our world.

For Reflection:

1. ‘Flee’ is not a word we commonly use today. It implies urgency. Reflect on how fleeing might apply to aspects or hazards of the journey of faith. What examples of this have you experienced?

2. How do our patterns of thinking reflect our conformity or nonconformity to the world?

3. How does the practice of silence and solitude affect our speech? What have you noticed lately as being challenges or graces in your interaction with loved ones or others in your circle?

For Prayer:

God we thank you that you are our refuge, and that we can flee to you in all of life’s complexities and trials. We ask for your grace to recognize and flee from things that keep us from abiding in your presence and living lovingly in community. Amen.

Paul Woodyard

Meditation for Monday June 1, 2020

Go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Mat. 6:6 (NASB)

According to Henri Nouwen, the chief task of the contemplative is to learn how to enter, and remain, in the solitude of his/her own heart.  Without such familiarity with ourselves we will automatically externalize our souls according to whatever other alternatives we seek for our heart’s expression.  Nouwen writes,

  • We have to fashion our own closet where we can withdraw every day and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord.  Without such a place we will lose our own soul, even while preaching the gospels to others.

For the desert monks of the fourth and fifth centuries, the equivalent of the closet was the kellion, or cell, in which they lived their lives in isolation, and where they encountered the deeper truth of their relationship with God.  The cell was seen as a school, sufficient to teach us all we need for the spiritual life.  There is a story of a young monk who came to Father Moses for spiritual advice.  Rather than give him counsel, Father Moses simply told the monk to “Go to your cell and sit down, and the cell will teach you everything.”

Anselm Gruen, a contemporary Benedictine monk and author of Heaven Begins Within You, speaks as well of the transformative and educative power of the cell of our own solitude.  He affirms Father Moses’ advice regarding the benefits of our “inner room” saying,

  • If we stay in our cells something in us will be transformed; we will find order within ourselves.  We will come face to face with all the inner chaos that surfaces in us.  And we will learn how to not run away from it

Prayer transforms us precisely because it opens the eyes of our heart to the actual truth of who we are, and therefore to the truth of God’s actual relationship with us.  For the early monks, encounter with oneself was the precondition for every authentic encounter with God.  And stabilitas—the constancy of holding on, and staying with oneself—was the prerequisite for every kind of human and spiritual progress.

A growing capacity to find peace with our selves, in spite of all the impulses to flee, is perhaps the main discipline we learn from solitude.  That is why the ancient fathers stressed the importance of holding out and not running away from our solitude.  Anselm Gruen writes,

  • Remaining in one’s cell, keeping to oneself, is the necessary condition for both spiritual progress and maturation as a human being.  The tree must send down roots to be able to grow.  Continual uprooting and transplanting only blocks its development. One cannot be a mature person without the courage to hold out and meet one’s own truth head on.

We are to resist the temptation to flee from prayer. If we stay in our cell, we will grow in our true sense of what reality is.  We will no longer be fooled by pretensions, either about ourselves or our relationship with God.  Gruen writes of his own experience, saying,

  • When everything is taken away from me and I really sit in all simplicity before God, at first everything is boring.  I start suspecting that everything I’ve been thinking or saying about God doesn’t add up.  But if I weather this feeling, if I don’t immediately worry about being able to find something meaningful, but simply stay put, then something moves within me, and I suddenly find myself touching the truth.  The truth is at first relentless, but it also sets us free.

The prayerful acceptance of “what is” heals us from our inordinate impatience with life—the very thing that keeps us in such a restless state.  There is a desert wisdom that states, “Cella est valetudinarium,” meaning the cell is an infirmary, a place where the sick can get better.  Gruen adds,

  • It is a place of wholeness, a place for healing, because we sense God’s loving and healing nearness there.  But I can have this positive experience of the cell only if I stay there even when everything in me rebels against it, when I am full of unrest.  Once I have overcome this first phase, then I can begin to experience the cell as heaven.

Jesus’ invitation in John 15 is for us to simply “remain in His love.”  When we consider the many trivial reasons for which we often stray from this love we can see the importance of learning how to remain with God in the secret place of our heart.  There, we will meet the truth head on.  And there we will find the way that leads beyond the illusions of impatience, to a growing acceptance of our real relationship with God.

Rob Des Cotes
Imago Dei Christian Communities
written for Oct. 7th, 2010

For Reflection:

1. Solitude is both inviting and repellant to us. Describe your experience of movement between extreme restlessness and repose in the practice of solitude.

2. What illusions about life and our relationship to God do we trend toward in the absence of the intentional practice of solitude? What realities might surface and stabilize us as we stay in solitude before God?

3. What healing might you seek from God through perseverance in prayer and solitude?

Prayer:
Jesus, we thank you for your precious invitation to remain in your love. May we seek you and find you by staying with our practice of solitude, and may we be continually reminded of the constancy of your love, both in solitude and in community.
Amen.

Meditation for Monday May 18, 2020

Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.          Matt. 8:24-26

One thing that should be obvious to anyone who reads this passage from Matthew is that the Lord would’ve preferred to be left sleeping rather than awakened by the disciples’ panicked response to bad weather.  How does Jesus’ preference also apply to our own fearful response to life?  When Jesus seems asleep in the midst of our storms how do our own anxious prayers reveal the “little faith” we have?

It’s certainly understandable that we want Jesus to “wake up” whenever we are afraid.  But perhaps the Lord, secure in the knowledge that there really isn’t a problem here, would prefer to have us rest in His peace rather than project our fears unto Him.  It honours Jesus more when we trust that He is guiding us rather than presume He is asleep at the wheel.

How we respond to a crisis reveals a lot about our faith. The way we pray at such times can communicate more to God about our distrust than about our faith. Is it really a prayer of faith we are offering or is it a prayer of fear. Too often we interpret the seeming absence or reticence of the Lord as abandonment.  But, in faith, we could just as easily interpret this as a reassuring sign of Jesus’ confidence that there really isn’t a problem here.

The next time we are in crisis, rather than immediately cry for help, perhaps it would be good to ask ourselves what an alternative prayer of faith might look like in this situation.  Such a prayer would probably sound less like that of the disciples in the boat and more like the prayers of the Psalmists who, in the midst of their own trials, found the confidence to assert that,

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. (Psalm 46:1-2)

We honour God most by trusting Him—in other words, by being so assured of His care that we are even willing to let Jesus sleep.  The story of the disciples in the storm highlights the fact that God hears not only our prayers but also the motivation behind them.  Even when we think we are disguising our anxieties in the form of a prayer, our lack of faith is nevertheless evident to God.

For Reflection:

1. We all have patterns of responding to crisis and adversity.  As you read the meditation, what comes to mind in regard to your own responses in such circumstances, including the pandemic which has brought sweeping and unforeseen changes to life?

2. “Therefore we will not fear…”(Psalm 461-2) How may we face and process the presence of fear within us? How may we do this with God rather than on our own?

3. In what ways does setting aside time for prayer, silence, and simply being with God help us to grow toward a more trusting and less reactive response to adversity?

For Prayer:
Trust and repose in crisis are gifts from God. Without condemning yourself for lack of faith, ask God for the grace to receive these gifts. The vocabulary of Psalm 46 describes extreme calamity as well as assertions of God’s power, presence and faithfulness. Read it through slowly and offer it as a prayer to God.

Meditation for Monday May 4, 2020

“O Lord, you have searched me and know me.”
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
“Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:1, 13, 16.

Last week we were reflecting on being known by God and the reality that he knows us better than we know ourselves. Our entire life story is being held by his single gaze of love. In Psalm 139 David celebrates in awe the wonder of God’s all-knowing gaze. “You have searched me and know me.” God’s gaze is penetrating. It’s also perpetual as David recognizes the graced watchfulness of God in all the mundane coming and going of life (139:2-4). David then lifts his own imaginative view to the infinite spatial dimensions that God inhabits (139:7-12). Not only is God present in these dimensions but he is intimately so. His presence includes the figurative element of touch, as well as guidance and security. “Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (139:10).

There are at least two other aspects of our being known by God present in Psalm 139. The first is that of the creator and the creation. “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.”(139:13-14). In our human experience of  creativity and art we recognize the intimacy of what’s created, whether in word, music or the visual, with the creator or artist. What is created issues from the very identity of the creator. David infers this same intimacy with God as the master creator, his creator, our creator.

What are the implications of this for prayer?  In his book “Merton’s Palace of Nowhere”James Finley beautifully captures something of the intimacy that we’re invited to in prayer as we ponder afresh these familiar truths.

“In prayer we journey forward to our origin. We close our eyes in prayer and open them in the pristine moment of creation. We open our eyes to find God, his hands still smeared with clay, hovering over us, breathing into us his own divine life, smiling to see in us a reflection of himself. We go into prayer confident that in prayer we transcend both time and place”(page 32).

Here Finley also touches on the second aspect of our being known by God in Psalm 139, that of God’s eternal knowledge of us. Or as Finley says elsewhere, we’re “beloved from all eternity.” God knew us before we existed, before he called us into being (139:16). Contemplative writers speak of being “grounded” in God, or God as “the ground of our being.” God’s foreknowledge of us is one aspect of this. By God’s grace we apprehend its mystery in increasing measure and it becomes for us an anchoring understanding of ourselves as being known and held by God. Finley comments further:

“In prayer, distinctions like outside and inside, past and future, no longer apply. In prayer, we experience this going back to our origins as a going into the center of our self, where God holds both our origin and end in one eternal moment”(page 33).

The birth of a child is a breathtakingly sacred moment. It’s sacred with intimacy. In the mysterious environment of prayer we come to realize we’re similarly known and held by our creator. We say with David, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty to attain!”(139:6). Let’s enter prayer with a receptive and quiet heart in order to be nourished and fortified by the unseen wonders of God that both touch us and transcend us.

For Reflection:

1.What aspects of God’s closeness and knowledge of you do you feel drawn to explore further and receive in prayer?

2. How do you understand God as being the “ground of your being?” What other images might  describe your sense of being known and held securely by God?

3. Reflect on experiences you may have had in which you’ve been able to abandon yourself to the presence and care of God.

For Prayer:

Take David’s words as your own in prayer, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty to attain.” Sit in stillness as much as you can with this sense of unknowing, allowing God in his own time to touch, enlighten and bless. Open your heart in praise to God.

Imago Dei Christian Communities
Paul Woodyard

Meditation for Monday April 20, 2020

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
  in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.   Isaiah 30:15

Morning prayer on a particular morning a few weeks ago was walking along the forest trail—two of us social distancing. It had rained and snowed during the night and early morning, but now the sun slanted through the branches and leaves, making a halo of light. I stop, still. I can hear the river burbling along, and birds are busy already, singing and chirping. It is peaceful. I feel myself relax. My attention flicks to the distant throb of traffic……’Return’.
My eyes come back to the view in front of me—-raindrops and melting snow from the trees are misting and sheeting down in the beams of sunshine. Something catches my eye—a drop of sapphire blue winks at me. I stare…such beauty! It holds me. ‘Return’.
A minute or two later, another drop glints—orangey-gold. I focus, holding my breath. I didn’t expect two colours! I wonder what others are possible in this gentle light show. And then I see it! A sparkle of ruby red. What a beautiful gift. I stand mesmerized. My heart settles within me. It is as if God is reminding me—in quietness and trust, in returning and rest is your strength and salvation. If I hadn’t stood still there, I wouldn’t have seen this.
This morning something on the radio about these not-normal ways of being with one another, in social distancing and isolation, in the realization that Easter would not be celebrated with my family, and the comment that this will likely be necessary till June sank into me like a stone. Until that moment, I’d felt strong, able to cope, but today I felt the heavy weight of apprehension. ‘Return’.
I recognize, as I stand looking at these jewels in the light of the forest, that I want to choose to return, to rest and trust in God. The rest of creation carries on in the fullness of springtime life—the white drooping sprays of Osoberry flowers, the dark-eyed juncos trilling their mating song, the glowing yellow lanterns of skunk cabbages all signal that life is still vibrant! I notice the effect of where I put my attention—-on the uncertainty, the fear– like the traffic sounds, they distract me from stillness, trust, rest.    The invitation is to ‘Return’, in Hebrew, and in Greek, to a ‘change of mind’. The outcome is the same. As I return with heart and attention to God, my mind is changed. I see the treasure in the midst of the difficulty and unknown.

I was reminded in this Easter season that Jesus made the choice to endure the suffering of the cross. His strength rested in quietness and deep trust, in oneness with God. We are invited into the sustaining peace we find only with God.

IN REPENTANCE AND REST IS MY SALVATION
AND THE QUIET OF TRUST WILL BE MY STRENGTH (rpt)
THE FRUIT OF SILENCE IS PRAYER
THE FRUIT OF PRAYER IS FAITH
THE FRUIT OF FAITH IS LOVE,
THE FRUIT OF LOVE IS PEACE

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.   Matthew 6:25-26

Ruth Des Cotes,
Imago Dei Christian Communities

For Group Discussion:

  1. What ways do you notice yourself being drawn into fear, anxiety, restlessness, doubt or any number of responses to these uncertain times?
  2. What helps you turn your gaze to God? How do you help yourself choose that focus?
  3. Where might you be aware of gifts in the midst of difficulty?

For Prayer: O God of strength, thank you that you welcome me into quietness with you. I turn back from the things which cause me fear and distress, desiring to know your care and peace over me, under me, around me and within me.

Imago Dei Lent Week 6

6th Monday Lent 2020

Living Lent
Imago Dei

Greeting: Grace to you and peace from God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present age, according to the will of our gracious God, to whom be glory forever and ever. 

All: Amen

Leader:

This is what the Sovereign Lord ,
the Holy One of Israel, says:

Only in returning to me and resting in me
will you be saved.

In quietness and confidence is your strength.
Isaiah 30:15

Prayer for entering silence

Leader: Spirit of stillness

All: be with us as we enter the silence
where you wait for us.

Leader: Spirit of holiness

All: be in us as we enter the silence
which is your gift to us.

Leader: Spirit of quiet, help us to listen.

Silence

Leader: The Lord be with you

All: And also with you. 

Leader: You are here, Lord.
You are here in the quiet evening of this Lent journey.
In the lengthening shadows
In the wakening stars
In the people gathered here.
You are here, Lord. 

All: We are here, Lord.
To remember your presence
To bring you our day
To give you ourselves
To share in your stillness
To make room in our hearts and lives
For your grace.
We are here, Lord. 

(Light the candle)

Leader: The light shines in the darkness

All: and the darkness can never put it out.

Readings

Isaiah 50:4-9a

4 The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

5 The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.

6 I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.

7 Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.

8 He who vindicates me is near.
Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
Let him confront me!

9 It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.
Who will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a garment;
the moths will eat them up.

Reader: The Word of the Lord
     People: Thanks be to God

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

2 Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”.

19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.

20 This is the gate of the Lord
through which the righteous may enter.

21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.

22 The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;

23 the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.

24 The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.

25 Lord, save us!
Lord, grant us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.

27 The Lord is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Reader: The Word of the Lord
     People: Thanks be to God

Philippians 2:5-11

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Reader: The Word of the Lord
     People: Thanks be to God.

Matthew 21:1-11

1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Reader: The Gospel of Christ
     People: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Reflections on Readings

Prayer of response

Leader: In the quietness of this place let us remember before God all that has been part of this day.
   Where did you see God?
   Where might you have missed God?

Silent Prayer

Leader: We thank you, Lord, for all the natural wonders of this earth – the Light of the moon, sun and stars and for the gift of life this day. 

All: With grateful hearts we give you thanks, Lord. 

Leader: We pray for family, friends and for
all those in need.
     (silence)
Send the light of your love to all those
we carry in our hearts. 

Communion

The Word of God

Leader: Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Those who come to me shall not hunger, and those who believe in me shall never thirst. Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Leader: Let us pray.

People: Lord, God, we praise you for providing us with nourishment for body and soul in our journey of faith. Accept now the praises of our hearts.

Leader: Lift up your hearts.

People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Leader: Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.

People: It is fitting for us at all times to give thanks to you, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.

Leader: We bless you for creating us in your image, for remaking us after the image of your Son. With humble and penitent hearts and minds, we acknowledge your greatness and the splendour of your presence. We join, therefore, with all your saints and angels in bringing you praise:

People: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Leader: We bring our thanks to you, for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord: the Bread of Life, who came to nourish his children; the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world; the Servant of the Most High; who remained obedient even to death by execution. For this love for us, for the good news of the gospel, for the privilege of walking in the way of our Lord, we bring our praise.

Amen.

SILENCE

Leader: The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup, after supper, saying,  “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The Invitation

Leader: Come to me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

People: Eternal God, we accept our Saviour’s invitation. We come to his table in search of rest and peace. Send your Holy Spirit to us, that these gifts may be for us the bread of life and that we may be for the world the body of Christ.

People: Carrying a vision of creation
 healed and restored, we welcome all in the name of Christ. Invited to the table where none shall go hungry, we gather as Christ’s guests and friends.

People: We come with gladness. Thanks be to God!

Leader: The gifts of God for the people of God.

The Communion

Leader: Take, eat, remember and believe that the body of the Lord Jesus Christ was given for the complete remission of all our sins.

Take, drink, remember and believe that the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was shed for the complete forgiveness of all our sins.

The Benediction

All: 

Righteous God,
Compassionate and generous one
Who forgives our sins and has mercy on us,
Fill our hidden places with your healing light,
Breathe on us afresh this night and grant us rest.
May your compassion bloom in us.
May your righteousness bear fruit.
May your generosity encourage us to share.
May your love grow strong and deep within us.
Breathe on us afresh this night and grant us rest.

Amen.

Imago Dei Lent Week 5

Living Lent
Imago Dei

Lent•Week 5•2020

Greeting: Grace to you and peace from God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present age, according to the will of our gracious God, to whom be glory forever and ever. 

All: Amen

Leader:

This is what the Sovereign Lord ,
the Holy One of Israel, says:

Only in returning to me and resting in me
will you be saved.

In quietness and confidence is your strength.
Isaiah 30:15

Prayer for entering silence

Leader: Spirit of stillness

All: be with us as we enter the silence
where you wait for us.

Leader: Spirit of holiness

All: be in us as we enter the silence
which is your gift to us.

Leader: Spirit of quiet, help us to listen.

Silence

Leader: The Lord be with you

All: And also with you. 

Leader: You are here, Lord.
You are here in the quiet evening of this Lent journey.
In the lengthening shadows
In the wakening stars
In the people gathered here.
You are here, Lord. 

All: We are here, Lord.
To remember your presence
To bring you our day
To give you ourselves
To share in your stillness
To make room in our hearts and lives
For your grace.
We are here, Lord. 

(Light the candle)

Leader: The light shines in the darkness

All: and the darkness can never put it out.

Readings

Ezekiel 37:1-14

1 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

Reader: The Word of the Lord
     People: Thanks be to God

Psalm 130

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;

2  Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?

4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.

6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.

8 He himself will redeem Israel

from all their sins.

Reader: The Word of the Lord
     People: Thanks be to God

Romans 8:6-11

6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

Reader: The Word of the Lord
     People: Thanks be to God.

John 11:1-45

1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Reader: The Gospel of Christ
     People: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Reflections on Readings

Prayer of response

Leader: In the quietness of this place let us remember before God all that has been part of this day.
   Where did you see God?
   Where might you have missed God?

Silent Prayer

Leader: We thank you, Lord, for all the natural wonders of this earth – the Light of the moon, sun and stars and for the gift of life this day. 

All: With grateful hearts we give you thanks, Lord. 

Leader: We pray for family, friends and for
all those in need.
     (silence)
Send the light of your love to all those
we carry in our hearts. 

Communion

The Word of God

Leader: Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Those who come to me shall not hunger, and those who believe in me shall never thirst. Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Leader: Let us pray.

People: Lord, God, we praise you for providing us with nourishment for body and soul in our journey of faith. Accept now the praises of our hearts.

Leader: Lift up your hearts.

People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Leader: Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.

People: It is fitting for us at all times to give thanks to you, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.

Leader: We bless you for creating us in your image, for remaking us after the image of your Son. With humble and penitent hearts and minds, we acknowledge your greatness and the splendour of your presence. We join, therefore, with all your saints and angels in bringing you praise:

People: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Leader: We bring our thanks to you, for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord: the Bread of Life, who came to nourish his children; the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world; the Servant of the Most High; who remained obedient even to death by execution. For this love for us, for the good news of the gospel, for the privilege of walking in the way of our Lord, we bring our praise.

Amen.

SILENCE

Leader: The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup, after supper, saying,  “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The Invitation

Leader: Come to me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

People: Eternal God, we accept our Saviour’s invitation. We come to his table in search of rest and peace. Send your Holy Spirit to us, that these gifts may be for us the bread of life and that we may be for the world the body of Christ.

People: Carrying a vision of creation
 healed and restored, we welcome all in the name of Christ. Invited to the table where none shall go hungry, we gather as Christ’s guests and friends.

People: We come with gladness. Thanks be to God!

Leader: The gifts of God for the people of God.

The Communion

Leader: Take, eat, remember and believe that the body of the Lord Jesus Christ was given for the complete remission of all our sins.

Take, drink, remember and believe that the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was shed for the complete forgiveness of all our sins.

The Benediction

All: 

Righteous God,
Compassionate and generous one
Who forgives our sins and has mercy on us,
Fill our hidden places with your healing light,
Breathe on us afresh this night and grant us rest.
May your compassion bloom in us.
May your righteousness bear fruit.
May your generosity encourage us to share.
May your love grow strong and deep within us.
Breathe on us afresh this night and grant us rest.

Amen.

Imago Dei Lent Week 4

Living Lent
Imago Dei

Lent • Week 4 • 2020

Greeting: Grace to you and peace from God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present age, according to the will of our gracious God, to whom be glory forever and ever. 

All: Amen

Leader:

This is what the Sovereign Lord ,
the Holy One of Israel, says:

Only in returning to me and resting in me
will you be saved.

In quietness and confidence is your strength.
Isaiah 30:15

Prayer for entering silence

Leader: Spirit of stillness

All: be with us as we enter the silence
where you wait for us.

Leader: Spirit of holiness

All: be in us as we enter the silence
which is your gift to us.

Leader: Spirit of quiet, help us to listen.

Silence

Song Bless the Lord
Bless the Lord my soul,
and bless God’s holy name.
Bless the Lord my soul,
who leads me into life.

Leader: The Lord be with you

All: And also with you. 

Leader: You are here, Lord.
You are here in the quiet evening of this Lent journey.
In the lengthening shadows
In the wakening stars
In the people gathered here.
You are here, Lord. 

All: We are here, Lord.
To remember your presence
To bring you our day
To give you ourselves
To share in your stillness
To make room in our hearts and lives
For your grace.
We are here, Lord. 

(Light the candle)

Leader: The light shines in the darkness

All: and the darkness can never put it out.Readings

1 Samuel 16:1-13

1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

4 Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”

5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

Reader: The Word of the Lord
     People: Thanks be to God

Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

2     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Reader: The Word of the Lord
     People: Thanks be to God

Ephesians 5:8-14

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Reader: The Word of the Lord
     People: Thanks be to God.

John 9:1-41

1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was.

Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”

But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.

11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.

“I don’t know,” he said.

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.

17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

Reader: The Gospel of Christ
     People: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Reflections on Readings

Prayer of response

Leader: In the quietness of this place let us remember before God all that has been part of this day.
   Where did you see God?
   Where might you have missed God?

Silent Prayer

Leader: We thank you, Lord, for all the natural wonders of this earth – the Light of the moon, sun and stars and for the gift of life this day. 

All: With grateful hearts we give you thanks, Lord. 

Leader: We pray for family, friends and for
all those in need.
     (silence)
Send the light of your love to all those
we carry in our hearts. 

Communion

The Word of God

Leader: Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Those who come to me shall not hunger, and those who believe in me shall never thirst. Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Leader: Let us pray.

People: Lord, God, we praise you for providing us with nourishment for body and soul in our journey of faith. Accept now the praises of our hearts.

Leader: Lift up your hearts.

People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Leader: Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.

People: It is fitting for us at all times to give thanks to you, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.

Leader: We bless you for creating us in your image, for remaking us after the image of your Son. With humble and penitent hearts and minds, we acknowledge your greatness and the splendour of your presence. We join, therefore, with all your saints and angels in bringing you praise:

People: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Leader: We bring our thanks to you, for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord: the Bread of Life, who came to nourish his children; the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world; the Servant of the Most High; who remained obedient even to death by execution. For this love for us, for the good news of the gospel, for the privilege of walking in the way of our Lord, we bring our praise.

Amen.

SILENCE

Leader: The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup, after supper, saying,  “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The Invitation

Leader: Come to me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

People: Eternal God, we accept our Saviour’s invitation. We come to his table in search of rest and peace. Send your Holy Spirit to us, that these gifts may be for us the bread of life and that we may be for the world the body of Christ.

People: Carrying a vision of creation
 healed and restored, we welcome all in the name of Christ. Invited to the table where none shall go hungry, we gather as Christ’s guests and friends.

People: We come with gladness. Thanks be to God!

Leader: The gifts of God for the people of God.

The Communion

Leader: Take, eat, remember and believe that the body of the Lord Jesus Christ was given for the complete remission of all our sins.

Take, drink, remember and believe that the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was shed for the complete forgiveness of all our sins. 

Song:    Eat the bread
Eat this bread, drink this cup,
come to him and never be hungry.
Eat this bread, drink this cup,
trust in him and you will not thirst.

Jesus Christ, bread of life,
those who come to you will not hunger.
Jesus Christ, Risen Lord,
those who trust in you will not thirst.

The Benediction

All: 

Righteous God,
Compassionate and generous one
Who forgives our sins and has mercy on us,
Fill our hidden places with your healing light,
Breathe on us afresh this night and grant us rest.
May your compassion bloom in us.
May your righteousness bear fruit.
May your generosity encourage us to share.
May your love grow strong and deep within us.
Breathe on us afresh this night and grant us rest.

Amen.

Imago Dei Lent Week 3

Living Lent
Imago Dei

Lent • Week 3 • 2020

Greeting: Grace to you and peace from God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present age, according to the will of our gracious God, to whom be glory forever and ever. 

All: Amen

Leader:

This is what the Sovereign Lord ,
the Holy One of Israel, says:

Only in returning to me and resting in me
will you be saved.

In quietness and confidence is your strength.
Isaiah 30:15

Prayer for entering silence

Leader: Spirit of stillness

All: be with us as we enter the silence
where you wait for us.

Leader: Spirit of holiness

All: be in us as we enter the silence
which is your gift to us.

Leader: Spirit of quiet, help us to listen.

Silence 

Song In God Alone
In God alone my soul can find rest and peace,
In God my peace and joy.
Only in God my soul can find its rest,
find its rest and peace.

Leader: The Lord be with you

All: And also with you. 

Leader: You are here, Lord.
You are here in the quiet evening of this Lent journey.
In the lengthening shadows
In the wakening stars
In the people gathered here.
You are here, Lord. 

All: We are here, Lord.
To remember your presence
To bring you our day
To give you ourselves
To share in your stillness
To make room in our hearts and lives
For your grace.
We are here, Lord. 

(Light the candle)

Leader: The light shines in the darkness

All: and the darkness can never put it out.Readings

Exodus 17:1-7 (NIV)

1 The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”

3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”

4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

5 The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Reader: The Word of the Lord
     People: Thanks be to God

Psalm 121

1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

3 For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.

4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.

5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;

7 for he is our God|    and we are the people of his pasture,

the flock under his care.|
Today, if only you would hear his voice,

8 “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,

9 where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.

10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’

11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

Reader: The Word of the Lord
     People: Thanks be to God

Romans 5:1-11

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Reader: The Word of the Lord
     People: Thanks be to God.

John 4:5-42

5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Reader: The Gospel of Christ
     People: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Reflections on Readings

Prayer of response

Leader: In the quietness of this place let us remember before God all that has been part of this day.
   Where did you see God?
   Where might you have missed God?

Silent Prayer

Leader: We thank you, Lord, for all the natural wonders of this earth – the Light of the moon, sun and stars and for the gift of life this day. 

All: With grateful hearts we give you thanks, Lord. 

Leader: We pray for family, friends and for
all those in need.
     (silence)
Send the light of your love to all those
we carry in our hearts. 

Communion

The Word of God

Leader: Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Those who come to me shall not hunger, and those who believe in me shall never thirst. Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Leader: Let us pray.

People: Lord, God, we praise you for providing us with nourishment for body and soul in our journey of faith. Accept now the praises of our hearts.

Leader: Lift up your hearts.

People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Leader: Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.

People: It is fitting for us at all times to give thanks to you, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.

Leader: We bless you for creating us in your image, for remaking us after the image of your Son. With humble and penitent hearts and minds, we acknowledge your greatness and the splendour of your presence. We join, therefore, with all your saints and angels in bringing you praise:

People: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Leader: We bring our thanks to you, for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord: the Bread of Life, who came to nourish his children; the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world; the Servant of the Most High; who remained obedient even to death by execution. For this love for us, for the good news of the gospel, for the privilege of walking in the way of our Lord, we bring our praise.

Amen.

SILENCE

Leader: The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup, after supper, saying,  “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The Invitation

Leader: Come to me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

People: Eternal God, we accept our Saviour’s invitation. We come to his table in search of rest and peace. Send your Holy Spirit to us, that these gifts may be for us the bread of life and that we may be for the world the body of Christ.

People: Carrying a vision of creation
 healed and restored, we welcome all in the name of Christ. Invited to the table where none shall go hungry, we gather as Christ’s guests and friends.

People: We come with gladness. Thanks be to God!

Leader: The gifts of God for the people of God.

The Communion

Leader: Take, eat, remember and believe that the body of the Lord Jesus Christ was given for the complete remission of all our sins.

Take, drink, remember and believe that the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was shed for the complete forgiveness of all our sins. 

Song: Wait for the Lord
Wait for the Lord whose day is near.
Wait for the Lord, keep watch, take heart.

The Benediction

All: 

Righteous God,
Compassionate and generous one
Who forgives our sins and has mercy on us,
Fill our hidden places with your healing light,
Breathe on us afresh this night and grant us rest.
May your compassion bloom in us.
May your righteousness bear fruit.
May your generosity encourage us to share.
May your love grow strong and deep within us.
Breathe on us afresh this night and grant us rest.

Amen.