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February 13, 2005 – 1st Sunday in Lent

        Revised Common Lectionary Readings

        Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7

        Psalm 32

        Romans 5:12-19

        Matthew 4:1-11

The Time of Trial

*Call to Worship

Enthroned in earthliness writ large,

held into our grappling for truth,

alone among the temptations of this world,

the Christ holds the faith in fragile arms.

Walker in the wilderness,

surrounded with our questions

and human in all life’s journeys,

The Christ creates the way before us.

Truly human, truly God,

trustworthy in life and death.

*Prayer of Invocation

Wonder of wonders!

God is to be found within our wildernesses,

deep in the center of our harshest places

and placing a caring hand under our questions.

Be known to us here, O God,

whether we are on firm ground

or treacherous sands of indecision.

Come, gracious Jesus, come. Amen.

*Prayer of Confession       

O Jesus,

as we listen to the story of your temptations,

we realize that we are hearing something like your confessions,

the struggles that lay within your earthly life.

Even though you unswervingly chose

for good and truth,

we know that you will believe us

when we share how hard it is to choose that way.

In the silence of our own wilderness,

we know how we are

and what challenges our life.

Silent reflection.

We confess that we are often most at risk

when we are feeling good about our lives,

satisfied that we are well-placed

to advise or help others.

Silent reflection.

Forgive us, O God,

if we are tempted to do good for our own profit.

We confess that we are tempted

to listen to voices,

that confirm us in ways

that lead us astray.

They often sound so convincing and attractive,

so Christian and virtuous,

so comfortable for us to follow.

Silent reflection.

Forgive us, O God.

Call us away from this temptation.

Help us to let go of grappling with our questions

because we do not want to hear the answers.

Silent reflection.

Forgive us, O God.

Sound your truth strongly into our hearts

in the voice of one who knows us well.


*Words of Assurance       

There is no pathway in life

that is out of bounds for God.

For, in Christ, we are forever joined

with grace that comes from earthly experience.

We are forgiven.

Thanks be to God.

*Prayer of Thanksgiving   

We thank you, O God,

from the bottom of our hearts,

that we are given the good news

of the vulnerability of Jesus.

We thank you that, in this,

Christ has made us a pathway

toward your understanding of all that we face.

We thank you for honest struggles

that arise out of the awe-inspiring freedom

that you give to us

and for your safe hands around us. Amen.

*Stewardship Thought      

It is interesting to note that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted. The Spirit does sometimes lead us into places apart to sit with our temptations, just as we are led up the mountain to stay with our God. To sit with our temptations and wrestle with them is to mature in the faith, face all sorts of difficult choices, and get our lives on track. It should be noted that in this wrestling for the truth, both Jesus and the devil quote the Bible – such is the complexity of the search for truth. It would have been easy for Jesus to give in to his temptations toward further popularity and power because they were couched in forms which made them seem as though he was actually doing good and bringing glory to God. Such is the subtlety of real temptation. It is often not about being tempted to do things that are clearly wrong but things that are ambiguous but hold within them God’s uneasiness.

*Offertory Sentence                           

Our offering will now be received.

Let us give to God with glad hearts.

*Offertory Prayer                                

It is a privilege to share your work, O God.

We bring these offerings as a sign

that we walk with you in faith. Amen.

*Prayer of Intercession      

Visit us now in the center of the wilderness

of our life, O Christ.

Hold firm among our frail holding to truth,

stand tall when we would lower

our life’s aspirations,

speak boldly into our false assumptions,

and look us in the eye when we fool ourselves

for reasons of power and privilege,

pretending to be doing your will.

Silent reflection.

Make transparent the wiles

of those who would tempt us,

calling the people

in voices of sweetness and reason

while attempting to capture their very souls.

Silent reflection.

Strip away the pious coverings

of the false prophets among us,

speaking your word

as though it belongs to them,

while playing with the future of our lives

and inviting us down dangerous paths.

Silent reflection.

Remind us, O Christ, of your true way.

Go with us along the path of humility,

in the spreading of good, justice,

and compassion into the world,

in offering love

that is not founded on our own gain

and in finding peace

that is beyond describing.

This we pray in trembling faith. Amen.


The world is often found

by passing through the wilderness,

but go in courage

because Christ has walked that way before us.


May truth shine as a star in the night sky,

righteousness shout its freedom

into the center of confusions,

and God be in our beginning,

our center, and our endings. Amen.


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