Stay with us Lord . . . Mid-week Lenten Worship for Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Pastor:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

All:  Praised be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies, and God of all consolation.

Pastor:  Seek the Lord our God while he may be found.

All:  Call upon him while he is near.

Pastor:  Let the wicked abandon their ways,

All:  and the unrighteous their thoughts.

Pastor:  Let them turn to the Lord for mercy,

All:  to our God, who is generous in forgiving.

Pastor:  All you who are thirsty, come to the water.  You who have no money, come receive bread, and eat.  Come without paying and without cost.

All:  Praised be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies, and the God of all consolation.  Amen.

The Prayer of the Day

Pastor:  Let us pray.  O Lord, you led your ancient people through the wilderness, and brought them to the Promised Land.  Guide now the people of your Church, that, following our Savior, we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the peace and joy of the world to come; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.  Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed

Pastor:  God has made us his people through our baptism into Christ Jesus.  Living together in trust and in hope, we confess our faith in the words of the Apostles’ Creed:

All:  I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.  Amen.

“Tree of Life and Awesome Mystery”
(Evangelical Lutheran Worship #334)

Verse 1:
From the dawning of creation you have loved us as your own; stay with us through all temptation, make us turn to you alone.

Verse 2:
In our call to be a blessing, may we be a blessing true; may we live and die confessing Christ as Lord of all we do.

Verse 3:
Living Water of salvation, be the fountain of each soul; springing up in new creation, flow in us and make us whole.

Verse 4:
Give us eyes to see you clearly; make us children of your light. Give us hearts to live more nearly as your gospel shining bright.

Verse 5:
God of all our fear and sorrow, God who lives beyond our death, hold us close through each tomorrow, love us near as every breath.

Readings

Genesis 1:1-2 and 26-31

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
So God created humankind in his image,
   in the image of God he created them;
   male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 139:1-14

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
   you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
   and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
   O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
   and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
   it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your spirit?
   Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
   if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
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.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
   and the light around me become night’,
even the darkness is not dark to you;
   the night is as bright as the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
   Wonderful are your works. Amen.

Isaiah 49:13-16a

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
   break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people,
   and will have compassion on his suffering ones.
But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me,
   my Lord has forgotten me.’
Can a woman forget her nursing-child,
   or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
   yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint John 14:16-20

Jesus said – “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.   I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

The Gospel of our Lord.

Homily

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“Stay with us” . . .

Those words speak to our deepest longings don’t they? Truly – this is our prayer and our plea. This is the cry of our very human hearts.

Who among us has not known the longing for a hand to hold? Or for the comforting presence of someone who loves and cares for us?

From our very first moments on this earth we find ourselves longing for the comfort that only another’s presence can give. We all long for that hand to hold.

Human babies are even born with a reflex that makes them grasp and hold tightly onto things placed in their tiny newborn hands. It is primitive and primal and begins developing long before we are even born! The Palmar grasp reflex goes away when we are still infants – but our longing – our deep – deep need for companionship does not go away.

“Stay with us” . . .

Oh how we all need that hand to hold. That friend to lean on. That loved one to support us. That special someone who shares the perfect words of encouragement when life is tough – who laughs at our jokes – and cheers us on when life is amazing.

“Stay with us” . . .

Covid-19 is such a cruel disease. It makes some folks so very – very ill. Covid-19 has taken so many precious lives.

But the cruelty of Covid-19 isn’t just the illness itself which is wretched and horrible – but the separation. Over the last 12 months so many of us have experienced so many separations that make our hearts ache. That fill us with a deep longing.

Grandparents long for their beloved grandchildren.

Spouses have been separated from one another.

Parents from their children.

Friends and colleagues from each other

Teachers from their students.

Brothers and sisters in Christ from one another.

This hurts our hearts and fills us with such intense longing. The separations are so hard to bear. They make our lives so much harder.

“Stay with us . . .”

We have all known friends or loved ones or sisters and brothers in Christ who have faced frightening trips to the ER alone this year without that precious hand to hold. Or lonely hospital stays surrounded by strangers.

“Stay with us . . .”

We have heard story after story that bring tears to the eyes of even the most stoic among us of people dying alone. Or if not alone – without their beloved families.

“Stay with us . . .” Stay with us Lord – because we do not want to be alone in this life.   Because being alone is just too hard to bear. Because we need you so.

Draw near to us Lord and hold us close. Remind us of your promises to us from your Holy Word.

“Stay with us . . . Lord” – and remind us that “from the dawning of creation you have loved us as your own.”

Our lives have been turned upside down and inside out. We are exhausted and we are   afraid. We are all yearning for hope. It feels like our world is a great – big – scary place. We are lonely in ways most of us have never been before.

“Stay with us . . . Lord.”

Jesus tells us today in our Gospel reading from Saint John that there is Good News – comforting news – reassuring news. We are not alone in this world. We are never – ever alone in this world. Jesus’ words can fill us with hope. Because Jesus reassures us that he won’t leave us alone. That our Lord will never forget or forsake us.   That our Lord will “stay with us” always and for all eternity.

Think about that for just a moment. Jesus promises us that we will not be orphaned – that we are never truly alone.

In the book of Isaiah – God boldly declares to us – “I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:15b-16a) Think about that! Let those words really and truly wash over you. Let those words sink in. God carries you in the palm of his hands. Is there any place better – safer – more cared for than in the very hands of our God?

“Stay with us . . . Lord” – and remind us that “from the dawning of creation you have loved us as your own.”

You are never alone.   Not even now during these frightening times. God is always faithful and you are always in God’s perfect loving care. God holds you in the palm of his hand. Truly this is Good News – AMEN.

Lord’s Prayer

Pastor: Lord remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray:

All:  Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,  now and forever. Amen.

or

All: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Blessing

Pastor: May the Lord bless you and keep you this day and all the days of your eternal lives. Amen.

 

 

 

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