Materials for Worship on the Second Sunday of Lent

Nerys writes,

More than once in the last couple of weeks, I have come across people I didn’t know sitting in the church with their heads in their hands. ‘I’ve come because I didn’t know what else to do’, they’ve said to me. What do we do when life or what’s going on in the world gets too much for us? How do we reach out to God? What words do we use?

Our psalm for today, Psalm 27, is a great example of how to pray in times of difficulty. As you read it, you’ll see that it is not a well-honed piece of writing. The author flits back and forth from confident assertions of faith and trust to expressions of fear and doubt and desperation as he pleads with God to respond to his calls. In his predicament, the psalmist is totally honest with God about how he feels and what he needs.

After you have read the psalm a couple of times, take some time to share honestly with God your own thoughts and feelings, your questions and what need from God this week.

‘Wait for the Lord’. The psalmist finishes not with confident assurances of his faith but with a plea for the ability and endurance to wait for God, even when there’s no sign that his prayer may be answered. It’s so easy to give up on God’s promises to us in times of difficulty and to do our own thing. Last Sunday we read of Jesus in the wilderness grappling with exactly this temptation to take matters into his own hands. In our Gospel reading today, Luke 13.31-35, we join him on the road to Jerusalem being tempted again to go his own way.

I wonder what struck you about that reading?
For me, it was the powerful image of the hen gathering her chicks under her wings to protect them, ready to give her life to save them from danger. This is what Jesus longed to do for the people of Jerusalem and for all Israel and this what he longs to do for our world today. But all he could see then as now, were chicks scurrying off in the opposite direction, doing their own thing, taking no notice of the signs of danger or of his urgent warnings.

And all Christ can do is lament. He will not force his love and help on us but he sets himself as an example. We see in his response to the Pharisees, his determination not to be diverted from what he knew he must do. He was aware of the fate that lay in store for him in Jerusalem but still he went, risking the threat of the fox, his clear sense of purpose enabling him to face his fear of what lay ahead.

Here in Jesus we see both a human trust in God and God’s commitment to what he has promised. We are called to develop a similar trust, a trust that roots us so deeply in Christ that we are able to live vulnerably and selflessly as he did.

You may wish to take some time now with this image of a sculpture called ‘And Jesus wept’, erected on the site of the Oklahoma City Bombing of 1995.

You are invited to use the prayers of longing which follow as a framework for your own thoughts.

We pray, confident that God knows and loves us and understands our situation.

Loving God, we long to live in a world where there is no violence and where everyone is treated fairly. We pray for all those involved in the war in Ukraine and those whose lives have been disrupted by the conflict. On the eleventh anniversary of conflict in Syria we pray for the millions who have been displaced and for the refugees in our midst. We also remember all those affected by the tragedy here in Dunblane twenty six years ago. We ask that you give all who govern wisdom to seek justice and peace, and show us how to play our part.

Loving God, we long for a thirsting after you in our society. We pray for those who find it difficult to accept your love and forgiveness and for all who feel that there is no hope. Help us to make our homes and neighbourhoods places which reflect your love in our caring, our welcome and our hospitality of friends and strangers.

Loving God, we long for the healing of all those who are sick in mind, body or spirit. We pray for those known to us who are finding life difficult and for those who care for them.

Loving God, we long to be part of a church which draws people to you. Help us to grow in our faith and in our confidence. We pray for our young people and for those leading services and events for families with children. We ask that you help us to deepen our trust so that we may stand firm in you. Amen.