1st Sunday in Lent

March 9, 2025

Lectionary Texts

Deuteronomy 26.1-11 — The salvation story. “My ancestor (Abraham) wandered from Aram, we became a nation enslaved in Egypt, and God liberated us.” When we possess the promised land (that is, enjoy the fruits of what God gives us) we should offer tithes (one tenth of our goods) in thanksgiving, and remember this story, for all things come from God.

Psalm 91 — God cares for us in all distress and danger. (Satan quotes it to Jesus in tempting him to jump from the top of the temple om Lk 4.10-11.)

Romans 10.8-13 —All who call upon the name (that is, the power) of God shall be saved. Paul quotes Dt. 30.14.: “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart.” God’s word is not a strange demand you have to learn; it is there in your deepest yearnings.

Luke 4.1-13 — When Jesus is tempted by Satan, his responses are quotations from Deuteronomy 8.3, 6.13 and 6.16, material related to the Shema, the great commandment (Dt. 6.4-5): “Hear, O Israel: Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”

Guiding Thoughts

Temptations are not tricks Satan throws at us, but our own deep desire for meaningful life that get distorted.Our temptations are whatever draw us away from union with God. We are one with God, and in God; but when we seek life apart from God, life for our own individual “self,” we cut ourselves off from our divine nature, from God, and from life itself. Our temptations are our enslavement to our ego whose job it is to take care of our self above all else. Distrusting God’s grace, we go off on our own to create, sustain and protect our own lives. We seek power (I can turn stones to bread!), security (I can jump off buildings and not get hurt!) and esteem (the kingdoms of the world are mine!). Our temptations are fears and desires that control us. They are illusions. Satan’s promises are lies. If Jesus jumped off a cliff he would actually get hurt. Satan isn’t actually capable of giving Jesus all the glory and authority of the nations. All temptations are illusions. “If I take this drink it will make me happy.” “If I hurt or insult this person I will feel better.” “I need people to agree with me to be happy.” “Satan” is our addictions and attachments talking. “Stinkin’ thinkin’,” as they say in AA: things we think will make us happy but actually can’t. “Salvation” is not being rescued from being sent to hell; it’s being rescued from our slavery to our ego and the power our fears and desires have over us.

The desires beneath our temptations aren’t bad; they’re just misdirected. We want to experience power, security and belonging in our lives. These are life-affirming desires—if we seek them in God. But we seek them in the wrong places: power in having control and getting our way; security in being protected from pain; and belonging in the esteem and approval of the world. But Jesus knows that love is our only power, that God is our only security, and that God is the true place of our deepest belonging. He also knows that Satan is lying.

We are not evil, any more than Jesus was. The story of Jesus’ temptations invites us to become the good people we are created to be by confronting our illusions and denial, and exposing and renouncing our attachments, what we (incorrectly) think we can’t live without. In fact the one thing we can’t live without is giving and receiving love. So the journey of Lenten repentance is not about self-loathing, but love.

Call to Worship

Leader: In the desert, God, all is laid bare.
All: You are our life, our only hope.
With you, O Christ, we face our brokenness.
You are our life, our only hope.
Holy Spirit, lead us through the wilderness, to find springs of water in our hearts.
You are our life, and our only hope. We worship you

Leader: In this season of Lent we journey with Christ in the wilderness.
All: We journey from death to life.
We let go of our fears and desires and embrace God.
We worship Yahweh our God, and serve the Holy One alone.
We turn to you, O God, and surrender our lives to you.
By your grace, grant us life.

Leader: Holy Spirit, great desert wind, you drive us into the wilderness.
All: In lonely, barren places our brokenness is exposed.
We confront our shadows.
Christ, be with us in this testing time.
Walk with us, Jesus, in our wilderness.
Eternal God, whose love for us is vast and wide,
you are the desert; you are the Way.
We come to you and surrender ourselves to you.
We rest in your presence.
Receive our broken lives, and transform us by your grace.
Holy One, Destroying One, Birthing One, whom we worship,
create in us a new heart. Amen.

Leader: Creator God, you gathered up dust from the earth
and breathed into it, and it became a living being.
All: Breathe your Spirit into us now, and give us life.
Beloved Christ, you went into the desert for forty days
and wrestled with your temptations.
Lead us into the wilderness of our hearts,
and help us confront all that keeps us from you.
Holy Spirit, you are the Breath of Life;
you are our companion in the wilderness.
Come, Holy Spirit, breathe life into us,
lead us in truth, and transform us by your grace. Amen.

Leader: Lord, have Mercy.
All: Christ, have mercy.
Lord. have mercy.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world.
have mercy upon us, receive our prayers,
and grant us your peace.

We seek You, God, as in a dry and weary land.
We have gone astray, but we turn to you,
for you abundantly pardon.
As a hen gathers her little ones,
as a shepherd gathers his lambs in his arms,
receive us and bless us, O God,.
Receive us in the arms of Christ outspread.
Make us one with you and with each other in your Spirit.
Gather us in your open arms
and grant us your grace. Amen.

Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
You alone are holy, and we worship you.
Let us return to the Lord our God, who is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us, receive our prayer, and grant us peace.
Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.
With Jesus who confronted his temptations
these forty days in the wilderness, lead us in prayer and repentance.
We give ourselves to you in worship;
create us anew in the power of your Spirit. Amen.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

God of love, as Jesus went into the desert to pray and face his temptations, lead us with him, into solitude with you, into that place laid bare where we may see ourselves through your eyes and reclaim the love you give us. We pray in the love and the company of Jesus. Amen.

God of love, we live not by bread alone but by your living Word, for your Word is the bread of life. Speak life to us now in our hungry wilderness. Speak freedom to us in our secret deserts, and bring us home. We pray with Jesus, who journeys through this wilderness with us. Amen

Gracious God, we live not by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your mouth. We lay aside all that claims to be bread but is only words, and we open our hearts to you. Feed us the bread of life; speak your Word to us. Amen.

Gracious God, we tremble to enter the season of Lent, the desert of our temptation, the valley of our suffering. But you have given us your gentle Jesus to go with us, to face this darkness with grace and healing. Help us, then, to go with him, now and throughout this season: in prayer and simplicity to surrender ourselves to you and your grace. Gather us, God, in your open arms, and restore your image in us by the power of your Word. Amen.

God of wilderness and water,
your Son was baptized and tempted as we are. 
Guide us through this season of Lent,
that we may not avoid struggle,
but open ourselves to your blessing,
and give of ourselves to others in love. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Faithful One,
all our temptations
are rooted in our distrust of you;
fearful, we seek life elsewhere.
But it is you alone we are hungry for.
We do not live by bread alone,
but by every word from your heart.
Bring us back.
Help us trust.
Give us life.

God of love, we do not live by bread alone,
but by the Word of love you give to us as a gift.
Give us faith to receive your grace.
We cannot protect ourselves from suffering;
give us courage to risk hurt for the sake of love and justice.
We do not need the glory of the world:
we are your Beloved.
Help us to trust, and to live in harmony with your grace.

Prayer of Confession

Pastor: The grace of God is with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
God of love, help us to see ourselves with the eyes of love,
to see all that is in us that is loving, and all that is not loving.
Open our eyes to your love living in us,
and to all those things that hinder that love.
By the grace you show us in Christ,
forgive us, heal us, and perfect your love in us.
… Silent reflection… Words of grace

Pastor: The grace of God be with you.
All: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
Creator God, we are the dust of earth, breathed into life by your Spirit.
But we have clung to things of dust without Spirit.
Forgive our sin, and re-create us now.
Return us to the earth of our creation, to oneness with all living beings.
Breathe life into us by your Spirit,
that we may live each moment by your breath alone.
     … Silent prayer The Word of Grace

The grace of God be with you.
And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word and deed,
by that we have done, and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
Gather us in your loving arms;
have mercy on us and forgive us,
that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways,
by the grace of Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen    
Silent prayer … The Word of Grace

The grace of God be with you.
And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
Gracious God, we confess our sin: we have not loved you with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, nor have we loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. Have mercy upon us: forgive our sin, heal our hearts, and renew your Holy Spirit within us, that being born anew by your grace, we may live in the light of your love, in the name of Christ.
Silent prayers of Confession…
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The lord does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is God’s love for us.
As far as the east is from the west, so far does God remove our transgressions from us.
We thank you, O God!
Show us your ways and teach us your paths,
that we may live in the light of your grace. Amen.

Gracious God, we confess our sin: we have not loved you with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, nor have we loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. Have mercy upon us: forgive our sin, heal our hearts, and renew your Holy Spirit within us, that being born anew by your grace, we may live in the light of your love, in the name of Christ.

Eucharistic Prayer

[Go here for musical responses to the Eucharistic prayer—Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen—set to familiar tunes suitable for Lent.]

The body of the Eucharistic prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.

Beloved, the Holy One is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to our God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One our God.
It is good to give God thanks and praise.

We thank you, God, for you create us in love,
claim us as your own, and make covenant with us to be our God.
You set us free from all that oppresses us outside us and within;
you bring us back to one another,
and journey with us toward your shalom.
You who are thirsty, come and buy drink without money.
You who are hungry, come and eat, and be satisfied.
For your Word is the bread of life; nothing else do we desire.
Therefore we come to your table with all Creation, singing your praise.

Blessed are all who come in your name and bear your love,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
He loved and taught, healed and gathered a new community of grace.
Resisting the temptations of power, security and esteem,
he relied solely upon you and so,
in faithfulness he became our leader and model.
Resisting the temptations of worldly power,
he opened to us the Empire of your Grace,
and so, in love, he became our sovereign.

For the sake of love did not defend himself
from suffering, powerlessness or death,
and so, in forgiveness, he became our savior. [The Blessing and Covenant…] *
With gratitude we remember these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ.
Therefore we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’ offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery at the heart of our faith.
[Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us, that we may be the Body of Christ.
By your Spirit lead us in these forty days to turn to you.
May your Word be the bread of our life.
May your grace be our only security.
May the Realm of your Love be our only Empire,
to your glory, now and forever.


* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
e remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have fed us your Word, the Bread of Life, rescued us from death and offered us the Empire of your Grace. Having fed us the bread of heaven, lead us always to turn from worldly powers and desires to embrace your love; to journey from death to life: in the name and the company of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear audio clips, on the Music page)

                               Brief (repeatable) prayer songs

Kyrie, Six Versions     (All original tunes. Some are part of Eucharistic settings)
     Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.
          (Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.)

The Jesus Prayer         (Original song)
        Jesus, Beloved of God, have mercy on me, for I need you.

God, Be Merciful to Me         (Original song)
        God, be merciful to me.
        With empty hands and open
        I turn to you for mercy.

Eucharistic Responses (Eleven sets of Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen set to the tunes of familiar hymns appropriate for Lent.
Two of them also include “table songs” of invitation/preparation for communion.)

Table Song: Feed Us Your Grace (Tune: Finlandia)

You call us, Christ, to take our cross and follow,
but first you bring us here to feast with you.
Our gifts we bring, to celebrate your loving.
Our lives we give, to die and rise anew.
Feed us your grace, your spirit of compassion;
make us your body now, your will to do.

                                  Regular Songs

Becoming Whole     (Original song)
We are a broken people becoming whole again.
We are a wounded people being healed again.
We are a hungry people being fed again.
We are a wandering people coming home again.
We are a captive people walking free again.
We are dead and buried, being raised again.
We are a grateful people giving thanks again.

God, I Surrender      (Original song)

God, I surrender myself to you,
all that I have and all I do.
All my desires I give to you.
Take them from me and make me new.

God, I surrender myself to you,
all that I have and all I do.
Trusting you wholly I follow you
Take my life and make me new.

God of Mercy (Original Song)

Refrain: God of mercy, you forgive me,
may I myself forgive.
Now confessing, I ask your blessing.
By your grace I shall live.

God, heal my sin, brokenness deep within.
Too often I bear pain I make others share.
Set me free from what I have been. Refrain

You are gentle with me; gentle I learn to be.
You touch me and heal; deep in my soul I feel
burdens gone, and I am free. Refrain

Note: The last line of the refrain, “By your grace I shall live,” may be repeated ad lib. As a repeated chant it may also be used separately as a Response to confession, prayer, Eucharist, or other moments.

God, we are broken      (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

God, we are broken, for all flesh is weak.
Grant us the healing and peace that we seek.
For all that pains us, beyond our control,
grant us your healing, our bodies made whole.

God, we are broken; our hearts are not one.
Sometimes it seems that our souls come undone.
Bring us renewal and calm in our soul.
Grant us your healing and make our hearts whole.

God, we are broken: for families and friends
suffer when love fails and faithfulness ends.
May your forgiveness and grace play its role.
Grant us your healing; make covenants whole.

God, we are broken, for many are poor,
and we ignore those who lie by our door.
God, may your justice like great rivers roll.
Grant us your healing; make all people whole.

God, we are broken for hate and all war
wound us so we are not free anymore.
Make us one people from pole to pole.
Grant us your healing, and make the world whole.

Grant Me Your Vision    (Tune: Be Thou My Vision )

Grant me your vision, O God of pure light.
May your deep wisdom and love give me sight.
Help me to see who I am as you see:
lovely and wounded and worth setting free.

Take my illusions, my fear and my lies;
shedding my veil, Lord, I open my eyes,
seeing my beauty, my wounds and my sin,
past all pretending, in truth deep within.

Give me the eyes of your mercy and grace;
help me to see you in each time and place.
God, you who know me, please guide me, I pray,
following Jesus in his loving way.

Into the Darkness(Original song)

Only the seed that has died and is buried lives to bear fruit, Jesus said.
Lead me then into the darkness and dying, so you can raise me up from the dead.
Jesus, help me die and rise.

All of my living, my loves and desires, all of the things that I cling to,
now I surrender to die and be buried. Raise me in following, serving you.
Jesus, help me die and rise.

Lead me to truth, and have mercy, and wash me dep in the dark of my being.
A spirit like bread that is taken and broken: this is the death that is freeing.
Jesus, help me die and rise.

Give me a clean heart, a heart poor in spirit, willing and steadfast and made new.
My life I lose; let your cross lift me up now. One joy restore to me: life in you.
Jesus, help me die and rise.

O God, Creator of Each Thing
     (Tune: Tallis’ Canon,
    O Love, How Deep,
     or The Gift of Love/The Water Is Wide)

O God, Creator of each thing,
in thanks and praise to you we sing.
In hunger sore we come to you:
Creator God, make us anew.

Our wounds you heal, our sins forgive.
You serve this feast that we may live.
You set us free; you make us new.
In us shines love that comes from you.

How blessed is Christ, who loved and healed,
who by your grace, your love revealed.
For Christ has died. And Christ is risen.
And Christ will come in love again.

Out of the Deepest Depths
(Original song. Includes version for 4-part choir.)      [Psalm 130]

Out of the deepest depths I cry to you, O God.
O listen with your heart, and hear my pleading voice.
If you counted sins, then no one could stand with you;
but Love, you forgive.

I wait for you, my God, for in your word I hope.
I wait for you, Love, more than those who wait for dawn,
yes, more than those who watch for the morning light
I wait for you.

O Hope, O Israel, hope in the Holy One.
For with our God is love, God’s steadfast, faithful love,
and power to redeem; for God is the one
who will redeem us from sin.

Return, My Soul       (Tune: Finlandia)

Return, my soul, from all your hungry wandering,
your fearful search for comfort and control.
Let go my grasp of things apart from God,
for God alone can heal and hold my soul.
Return to God, for God alone will love me,
and give me life, and bless and make me whole.

Return, my soul, from all the things that dull me,
that soothe my sense, but leave my sin in place.
My broken heart, return from tricks and bargains;
turn to the One who meets me face to face.
Return to God. Each moment turn again;
receive unending love and life and grace.

Oasis       (Tune: Fill My Cup, Lord)
     [ A blessing song to sing to each other at the end of the service.
     Can be found in a collection of Blessing Songs
     to several familiar hymn tunes.]

Go in peace now, my dear beloved,
in the grace and presence of the Lord.
In the desert, go with love to all who thirst;
be a spring, an oasis of the Word.

Your Will Be Done (Original song)

Father, take my willfulness.
I surrender it to you grace alone.
Mother, be my willingness.
I can only ask: Your will be done.

Jesus, take my brokenness.
I surrender it to you grace alone.
Jesus, heal my brokenness.
I can only ask: Your will be done.

Spirit, take my empty hands.
I surrender them to you grace alone.
Spirit, with my empty hands
I can only ask: Your will be done.

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