Prayers for Lent 2012
March 4(Mark 8: 31-38)
God who walks with us, in familiar places
and when we are far from home,
walk with us in these weeks:
take us out of our comfort zone,
challenge us with new ideas.
Help us not to turn away from the problem of pain –
the suffering of our sisters and brothers,
the way that human beings exploit and hurt each other –
and help us to understand how you are hurt,
are abused, by our actions in this broken world,
and how you stay close to those who suffer, sharing their pain.
Give us the grace to share what we know is good,
the imagination not to hoard your gifts,
or the life you have given us,
but to risk all in doing your will, living in your way.
Give us the courage to take up our cross and follow you.
March 11(Psalm 19)
Creator God, the heavens tell out your glory,
by day and by night, in the power of the sun and the depths of space,
in wordless wonder.
Spirit of justice, you speak to our hearts,
showing us how to live in your way: what need for written rules
when humanity fulfils your promise?
Jesus, Redeemer, setting us free to share in your work:
may we find the words – and the integrity –
to tell your Good News to the world.
(1 Cor. 1: 18-25, John 2: 13-22)
The folly of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God stronger than human strength.
Angry God –
furious with human greed and exploitation,
briefly occupying the Temple,
turning the tables, scattering the takings,
rubbishing the whole bonus culture,
rushing with a whip in hand, to drive out wrongdoers,
shouting out your indignation!
Was this wise?
Is it ever wise to criticise the people in power?
Can such a demonstration change anything?
Isn’t it just a foolish, futile gesture?
It’s hard to pull down human structures –
and your human body is more vulnerable.
And yet change can happen:
through both anger and gentleness,
change takes us by surprise;
through the frailty of the thistledown that takes root,
through the scandal and mess of the cross,
the foolish message of a suffering God:
the good news beyond belief.
Your weakness, God, can overthrow
the power of wrong; it laughs at received wisdom:
your folly, God, is wiser than we can ever know. Amen
March 18(Psalm 34: 18, Ephesians 2: 1-10, John 3: 14-21)
Ever-present God, we believe
that you are close to those whose courage is broken;
that you save those whose spirit is crushed.
I believe this – I want to believe it – oh help my unbelief.
I don’t think I’m a bad person – I was well brought up,
I know right from wrong. But I’m not good either.
In this season of Lent, when I look at my life
I see how much is lacking, the places where I have fallen down,
the people whom I’ve failed.
The little lies – and the way I deceive myself –
the compromises. And, worst of all, the apathy.
I make the right noises – about injustices, human tragedies –
But I don’t really care. I don’t feel enough to do anything
about what’s wrong in the world or in myself.
I just feel dead to it all. My spirit is crushed.
I’ve tried, God, but if it’s down to me, we’ll get nowhere.
It’s not up to me?
It’s about grace?
Grace: your love embodied in Jesus – his life, his death.
It’s not about judging, but saving:
a God who is very close,
helping my broken courage heal, restoring my faith,
giving me back the gift of living fully, with integrity,
the vulnerability of caring,
and the will and the skill to make a difference in this hurting world.
It’s not all down to me.
All I need to do is accept it –
and to know myself accepted and forgiven.
Gracious God, thank you. Amen
(Psalm 51: 1-12, John 12: 20-33)
Sprinkle me with hyssop so that I may be cleansed.
God of growing things,
help us not to take for granted
your presence in the living world,
or to ignore it as we look inward.
Open our eyes, to see you at work,
In Lent , the time of lengthening days,
of planting, growth, tender shoots and the first flowers.
Clear our minds with their being, which speaks of you.
We remember that hyssop, a little wayside plant,
had many uses: sprinkling water for purification,
touching sour wine to the lips of a dying man.
But also, as za’atar, it still gives seasoning to life,
is a sign of hospitality, food at the heart of a people’s identity.
Each of us needs hyssop, in our messy, mortal lives;
together we need za’atar.
Knowing our need, help us to see where you meet it.
Help us to see Jesus,
and to learn the meaning of a grain of wheat
which cannot be hoarded, will wither and waste
if it is not allowed to die, buried like a body.
As Jesus’ friends had to lose the one they loved,
so we must let go to let your love grow.
God of growing things, sprinkle us with hyssop;
show us Jesus’ death and the hope of new life
in a grain of wheat. Amen
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