People of Faith, Look Up!

Written by Rev. Kerry Greenhill, © 2018, for First UMC of Lafayette, Colorado

Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year B

Based on John 3:13-21

statue of Jesus with arms outstretched

Photo by Zachary Olson on Unsplash.com

Call to Worship

One: People of faith, look up!

Many: We look up from our daily lives, from our routines and responsibilities,
from sorrow and anger, from fear and worry.

One: People of faith, look up to the Lord!

Many: We look up and see Jesus Christ, gift of God, love made flesh.

One: People of faith, look up and take heart!

Many: We look up to the light of God’s love,
the promise of salvation, the gift of grace.

All: God of love and light, wholeness and truth,
remind us that whatever we are going through,
your love is steadfast and your faithfulness never fails.
May our faith and hope be renewed through our worship today. Amen.

 

Pastoral Prayer

God of truth and illumination,
we pray today for all who live in the shadows:

For those who are victims of domestic violence,
survivors of sexual abuse, living with emotional abuse and manipulation,

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those who struggle with addiction, with mental illness,
with family members who are still in denial,

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those who feel they have to keep their sexual orientation or gender identity hidden,
from family, from co-workers, or from their church,

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those who believe their past actions or experiences make them unlovable or unforgivable,

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those whose immigration status makes them feel the need to be invisible,
not seeking medical care or police assistance,
hiding their true identities
to escape more dangerous circumstances in other lands,

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those who labor in unseen and unsung roles,
driving trucks, sweeping floors, preparing food, washing sheets,
caring for children and those whose advanced age has brought them back to childhood,
ensuring health and safety for the vulnerable,
making the world a little brighter and our lives a little easier
without ever being recognized,

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those who live on the margins,
whether homeless, victims of trafficking or other exploitation,
making a living in not-exactly-legal ways,
children who are neglected, incarcerated community members,
those who live in isolation of one form or another,

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of love and light and hope, we pray for your radiance to illuminate every place where truth is hidden and lives are only half-lived.
Let the glow of your grace bring hope to those living in fear,
and the brightness of your integrity reveal every sin and shame that must be exposed
for healing to take place.
May our own lives burn with the brilliance of hope,
that we may bring peace to the hurting
and inspire repentance from those who cause harm.
And in all we do, may we follow the example of Jesus,
who taught his followers to pray, saying…

(The Lord’s Prayer)

 

Prayer of Confession

One: God of grace, we confess we sometimes try to do it all on our own.

Many: We believe our success is the product solely of our hard work, and our failures are the fault of others. 

One: Forgive us, God, and help us to change.

Many: Help us to see a bigger picture, to receive your grace with gratitude, to ask for and accept help when we need it, to give credit where credit is due, and to take responsibility for what truly falls to us. 

One: And in those times when we are struggling, despairing, hopeless, or feeling lost and alone,

All: Fill us anew with assurance of your love, send us the nudges or blazing signs we need to prompt us to look up and see you, to remember Christ, to follow the leading of the Spirit. Amen.

 

Benediction

One: As you go from this place,
may the God who created you from dust in God’s own image,
and Jesus Christ who took on human flesh to walk amongst us as one of us,
and the Holy Spirit that breathes life into each of us each day,
go with you now and always.

All: Amen.

Permission is granted to reproduce this liturgy for use in worship. Please include “Liturgy by Rev. Kerry Greenhill, http://www.SacredStonesMinistries.org” in any printed or projected reference. If you would like to make a donation in appreciation of this resource, you can do so through PayPal here.

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