Season of Ash and Fire: Prayers and Liturgies for Lent and Easter

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Overview

Season of Ash and Fire will help pastors and worship planners prepare for Lent and Easter. The author provides corporate prayers for each Sunday and Holy Day in the Easter Cycle, including: Ash Wednesday, 1st through 5th Sundays in Lent, Passion/Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday Morning, Easter Evening, 2nd through 7th Sundays of Easter, Ascension Day, and Pentecost.

Additional prayers and liturgies for use during the season by small groups and...

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Season of Ash and Fire: Prayers and Liturgies for Lent and Easter

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Overview

Season of Ash and Fire will help pastors and worship planners prepare for Lent and Easter. The author provides corporate prayers for each Sunday and Holy Day in the Easter Cycle, including: Ash Wednesday, 1st through 5th Sundays in Lent, Passion/Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday Morning, Easter Evening, 2nd through 7th Sundays of Easter, Ascension Day, and Pentecost.

Additional prayers and liturgies for use during the season by small groups and families help extend and unify the congregation’s celebration.

"Blair Meeks, gifted with an evangelical heart, an emancipated imagination, and a life settled in liturgy, offers a first rate resource as the church learns again to pray. Meeks not only guides the prayer of the church through the depth of Lent and the wonder of Easter, she also interprets and instructs along the way. Out of her long reflection on the mystery of worship, this book will serve pastors and all those in the church who live by faith that is funded through prayer.” -- Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780687044542
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2004
  • Pages: 159
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Blair Gilmer Meeks is a frequent writer of worship-related resources and leads workshops on various aspects of worship. Her work with Abingdon Press includes contributing the worship services to the Abingdon Preaching Annual andStanding in the Circle of Grief. She is the author of four books.
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Read an Excerpt

Season of Ash and Fire

Prayers and Liturgies for Lent and Easter


By Blair Gilmer Meeks

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2003 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4267-3879-1



CHAPTER 1

PART ONE

The Sundays in Lent


Introduction


At the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)


Sundays are not counted in the total of the forty days of Lent. Even during Lent, Sunday is celebrated as a resurrection day and thus a day for praise and thanksgiving. Falling within the season of Lent, however, these Sundays do have a special focus and significance. The Sunday scripture readings during this season give us opportunity for serious reflection on our need to repent, that is, turn again toward God, and prepare for the coming crucifixion/resurrection observance. This reflection and self-examination is always guided by our trust in the resurrection of the Crucified One.

Beginning with Ash Wednesday we reflect on our fallibility and mortality, our need for forgiveness and the power of resurrection. But Lent is not centered on personal penitence and confrontation with the reality of death alone. Lent is especially significant for the formation of the community of faith that arises from Jesus' act of love in his death and resurrection. Through this act Jesus brings new life to us as individuals but also as Christ's body. Lenten worship is therefore a source of hope for our gathered reality as the church, as well as a time of earnest reflection for each of us.

Older members of the congregation may remember when churches engaged in mission study at this time of year, and the mission of the church is a Lenten theme not to be neglected. In particular, we are drawn to Jesus' call for justice: freedom for the oppressed, release of the captives, good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind (Luke 4:18). Taking up our cross includes taking on Jesus' mission and confronting the powers of death in all its forms: terror and tyranny, corruption and greed, disregard for creation, and all the forces that prevent God's people from living life in its fullest. Studying social issues affecting our society from the perspective of our faith and engaging in mission projects that confront social problems are integral parts of our Lenten discipline, remembering that God sent Jesus, not to save only a few good people, but to save the whole world. Our corporate prayers will reflect our concern for the world and our interconnectedness with all creation.

The earliest Lenten traditions we know about speak of a time of fasting and preparation that lasted only a few days before the solemn, night-long Paschal Vigil when early Christians remembered Christ as the Passover Lamb. But by the fourth century, Easter had become the principal celebration for baptisms, and the converts who were to be baptized needed more than a few days for instruction and preparation. The idea that there should be forty days probably comes from the many references to forty-day or forty-year periods in the Bible: Noah's forty days on the waters of the flood, and Moses', Elijah's, and Jesus' times in the wilderness.

We still associate Lent with preparation for participation in the communion of God and membership in Christ's body. Confirmation and new member classes often meet during Lent. Many congregations also have small group sessions for longtime, active members designed to deepen their understanding of Scripture and the church. A reaffirmation of baptismal vows is part of the Easter Vigil service found in newer denominational worship books. Thus, because we are preparing to take part at Easter in a renewal of the promises that were made for us when we were infants or that we made ourselves some time ago, the meaning of baptism is emphasized during Lent. According to the theology Paul articulates in Romans 6:1-12, baptism is our sacramental way of participating in Christ's death and resurrection: "For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his" (v. 5). Another baptismal text that figures strongly in our Lenten reflection is the hymn in Philippians 2:5-11, which encourages us to "Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus."

The resurgence of Lenten observance in recent years reflects an urgent need to introduce new members from a variety of backgrounds to Christian traditions and Scriptures and to deepen the appreciation of longtime members for the most significant of all the holy seasons. In our society it is especially crucial that we reflect on the way Jesus expects disciples to live. Lent offers an opportunity to practice that alternate lifestyle by spending more time in personal devotion, engaging more frequently in corporate worship, and working in mission projects; that is, it is a time for changing the way we do things. Lent, then, helps us show by our lives that we are not bound to the old ways but are willing to lose the old life and take up the new life Jesus offers. We observe the ancient Lenten disciplines of penitence, study, prayer, fasting, almsgiving; we keep our eyes on the cross where Christ was lifted up; and we grow as individuals and as a community of faith.

This section contains prayers for each of the Sundays in Lent that can be used or adapted for use in various settings. The prayers are based on themes suggested by the Revised Common Lectionary readings for each Sunday in Lent, but they are also appropriate for the season in congregations that do not follow the lectionary.

For each Sunday I have suggested a "theme symbol" and given a few sentences of comment on that theme. These comments are meant to serve as a guide for worship planners to the movement of the season as it progresses from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday and to help focus the parts of the worship service. All the themes occur and recur in the readings and prayers for all the Sundays during Lent, so no one theme should dominate in a particular worship service. Our need for repentance, God's gift of the covenant, living water that leads to eternal life, Jesus' lifting up on the cross of humiliation and glory: all are vital for our worship, and these themes are repeated and interact with each other throughout the season.

The symbols suggested below, which offer a concrete way to visualize the themes of the Lenten Scriptures, may be used in a variety of ways, but it is not appropriate to place these objects on the altar or communion table. No objects other than those used in the celebration of communion belong on the table. The theme symbols for each Sunday can be used, however, in ways that will not interfere with the central symbols of the worship space. One possibility is to place a small table near the door by which the congregation enters the sanctuary and arrange the suggested objects on this table, beginning on the first Sunday in Lent with the stones and adding an object each week. The objects may also be placed on tables that serve as worship centers in classrooms or homes, and they may be the subject of art on bulletin covers.


First Sunday in Lent


Theme Symbol: Wilderness

The wilderness can be represented by rocks. Place a few fist-sized rocks directly on a table or arrange them in a shallow pottery container of sand.

The Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Lent is traditionally an account of Jesus' encounter with the tempter; the epistle readings point us toward his ultimate act of self-giving. These scriptures direct our attention this Sunday to Jesus, who shares all our trials and leads us at last to victory in his cross and resurrection.


Call to Worship

To you, O Lord, we lift up our souls.

Teach us your ways, O Lord; show us your paths and lead us in your truth.

Trust in God, who will not put you to shame; be glad in the Lord and rejoice in God's justice.

Shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

(Based on Psalms 25 and 32)


Opening Prayer

God our help, you have given your angels charge over us
to guard us in all our ways:
Make known your presence with us
throughout these forty days
that we may find even in the wilderness
your springs of living water,
your touch that makes us whole.
In Jesus' name. Amen.


Call to Confession

Christ our Lord was tempted in the wilderness and knows all our trouble and weakness. We therefore have courage to confess our failings and our sins, knowing that the God of Jesus Christ will hear and forgive us.


Prayer of Confession

God of mercy,

we confess that we too often satisfy our own desires before
we think of others;
we take needless risks that endanger ourselves and those
around us;
we look for power in the wrong places and fail to let you rule
in our lives.
Help us to turn away from all that keeps us from worshiping
you alone.
In Jesus' name. Amen.


Words of Assurance

Jesus dismissed the tempter and walked from the wilderness toward the glory of the cross. Let us rejoice this day in Jesus' glorious victory through his death and resurrection. In Jesus' name we are forgiven.

Acts of Praise

Thanksgiving for God's Gifts A Time of Prayer and Meditation

Six strong readers, perhaps from a chancel drama group, present the following meditation and prayer of thanksgiving for the beginning of Lent.

Leader:

God's people were rescued from slavery in Egypt and wandered for forty years. They learned in the wilderness to depend on God alone for their most basic needs: They ate manna and drank water from the rock. As we begin our Lenten journey, let us give thanks and pray for God's gifts that bring us life. After each thanksgiving, we will keep a brief silence for reflection.

Voice One:

"[God] humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD."

(Deuteronomy 8:3)

We give thanks, O God, for your Bread from Heaven. Silence

Voice Two: "If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast."

(Psalm 139:9-10)

We give thanks, O God, for your Presence with us.

Silence

Voice Three:

"For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you."

(Isaiah 54:10)

We give thanks, O God, for your great Compassion.

Silence

Voice Four:

"The Lord does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is the Lord's steadfast love toward the faithful; as far as the east is from the west, so far does the Lord remove our transgressions from us."

(Psalm 103:10-12, The United Methodist Hymnal)

We give thanks, O God, for your Forgiveness.

Silence

Voice Five:

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city."

(Revelation 22:1-2a)

We give thanks, O God, for your grace that leads us to eternal Life through Jesus Christ.

Silence

Leader:

Let us pray.

God, our companion and guide, bless our journey of renewal and hope. Lead us together toward the celebration of Jesus' death and resurrection. Grant us grace to be a community of love, bringing your word of life to the world you sent your Son to save. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Hymn Suggestions:

I Want a Principle Within," "Lord, I Want to Be a Christian"


Prayer for Illumination

Year A

God of life, your Son brings an end
to the dominance of death:
Fill us now with words of hope
that we may serve life in your name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Year B

We appeal to you, God,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Create in us clean hearts
and renew in us the spirit of our baptism
that we may hear and do your word of life. Amen.

Year C

Remind us, O God,
that your word is near to us:
on our lips and in our heart.
Lead us by your Spirit
through the wilderness of doubt and fear
to call upon your name. Amen.


Prayer of Thanksgiving after the Offering

God of abundant grace, in thankfulness we celebrate the bounty that you have given to us. Grant us generous hearts that our gifts may do your work and our lives may reflect your love, freely given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Loving God, you sent your angels to wait on Jesus after his time of trial; send your comfort to those who wait in the wilderness for your healing waters.

Have mercy on us, O God, in whom we trust.

Free us from the hosts of evil, the fear and doubt that bind us.

Have mercy on us, O God, in whom we trust.

Calm the raging nations as you still the roaring sea.

Have mercy on us, O God, in whom we trust.

Bring your healing balm to cure our souls, sick of sin and bound to death.

Have mercy on us, O God, in whom we trust.

Lead us to follow our friend Jesus to the cross and to his victory over death.

Have mercy on us, O God, in whom we trust.

Bring us to your salvation through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Amen.


Commission and Blessing

After Noah and his family lived forty days with the waters of the flood, God made with him and with all the earth a covenant of peace, signified by a bow in the sky. Let us now go in peace, assured that God's love reigns over us.

The peace of Christ go with you.

And also with you.


Second Sunday in Lent


Theme Symbol: Water

Next to the rocks on the table, place a large, clear glass bowl of water.

We are led by today's scriptures from remembering God's covenant with the faithful, beginning with Abraham, to joining the disciples as they learn about Jesus' coming suffering, death, and resurrection, and to our response through the covenant we make at our baptism.

Call to Worship

One thing I ask of the Lord
that will I seek after:
I will dwell in the Lord's house
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord
and inquire in the Lord's temple.

Wait for the Lord,
be strong and let your heart take courage,

Wait for the Lord!

(Based on Psalms 22 and 27)


Opening Prayer

God of the covenant,
through your promise of life to Abraham and Sarah,
you bless countless generations and touch all creation:
Turn us again toward your abundant life,
made ours through Jesus Christ.
Prepare us in this holy season
to reaffirm with all your church our covenant of baptism.
In the name of Jesus, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit;
Amen.


Call to Confession

Because we are citizens of God's righteous reign, Jesus calls on us to repent, that is, to turn toward God, take up our cross, and leave behind all that keeps us from following Jesus. Let us acknowledge before God and this congregation our need for repentance.


Prayer of Confession

God of glory,
you sent your Son Jesus to die that we might have life:
Show us the ways we fail to answer your call.
Keep us from being bound to possessions,
from longing for outward approval,
from listening to voices that distract us from your word,
from hesitating to lose our old lives and take up your new life.
Our help comes from you, O Lord; keep us from all evil.
In Jesus' name. Amen.


Words of Assurance

Jesus our Lord was handed over to death for our trespasses. The God who raised this same Jesus from the dead welcomes those who truly repent in Jesus' name and will transform us to conform to his glory. Thanks be to God.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Season of Ash and Fire by Blair Gilmer Meeks. Copyright © 2003 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Dancing at Easter 9
Pt. 1 The Sundays in Lent 15
Pt. 2 The Sundays of Easter 55
Pt. 3 Feasts and Holy Days 103
Pt. 4 Extending the Celebration 147
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    I'll rp Firekit then. :)

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    &infin th lone ranger

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