Worship for Sunday 26th February 2023, by Rev. Joy Rulton

Lent 1

Call to worship:

After he was baptized by John,

Jesus went by himself to the wilderness

where he was tempted.

Forty days in the desert, Jesus was tempted.

Today, we begin to journey with Jesus through the season of Lent,

which brings us to face some of our own weaknesses and temptations.

Let us worship God and walk the journey together,

seeking the spirit as our guide and companion along the way.

Hymn:  Great God, your love has called us here StF 499

Great God, your love has called us here
as we, by love, for love were made.
Your living likeness still we bear,
though marred, dishonoured, disobeyed.
We come, with all our heart and mind
your call to hear, your love to find.

2 We come with self-inflicted pains
of broken trust and chosen wrong,
half-free, half-bound by inner chains,
by social forces swept along,
by powers and systems close confined
yet seeking hope for humankind.

3 Great God, in Christ you call our name
and then receive us as your own
not through some merit, right, or claim,
but by your gracious love alone.
We strain to glimpse your mercy seat
and find you kneeling at our feet.

4 Then take the towel, and break the bread,
and humble us, and call us friends.
Suffer and serve till all are fed,
and show how grandly love intends
to work till all creation sings,
to fill all worlds, to crown all things.

C: Music: Oxford University Press Words: Stainer & Bell Ltd.

Prayers of adoration and confession:

God of the deserts, the seas and the skies,

we come before you now as the one, true God.

We praise you for bringing light and colour into our lives

and for filling us with a desire to serve.

In your presence, we sense your promise and encouragement,

your belief in us as your children.

And we are happy to receive your warmth and your love.

So many times we have questioned you and turned away from you;

disbelieving your will for us;

stifling ourselves in the darkness of that disbelief

and failing not only ourselves,

but those whom we love.

Forgive us when we fail to walk in your ways,

when we have been incapacitated by our own weaknesses,

bringing a sense of guilt and sometimes despair.

We thank you that you do not give up on us;

that you take us by the hand and put us back on course,

a course leading to contentment and fulfilment,

underpinned by your strength and love.

Restore us to yourself

that we might lift up our hearts and minds and voices

to focus on Christ calling us to follow him wherever that may be.

Help us to learn from his example,

to search our hearts, just as he did,

and to commit ourselves more wholly to you.

On this first Sunday of Lent,

may we listen out for your voice in the days ahead,

that we may know you better,

that we may love you better.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hymn:   Dear Lord and Father of mankind  StF 495

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

Forgive our foolish ways!

Reclothe us in our rightful mind,

In purer lives Thy service find,

In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard

Beside the Syrian sea

The gracious calling of the Lord,

Let us, like them, without a word

Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!

O calm of hills above,

Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee

The silence of eternity

Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all

Our words and works that drown

The tender whisper of Thy call,

As noiseless let Thy blessing fall

As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease;

Take from our souls the strain and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire

Thy coolness and Thy balm;

Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;

Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,

O still, small voice of calm.

John Greenleaf Whittier


Romans 5:12-19

12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. His sin spread death throughout all the world, so everything began to grow old and die, for all sinned. 13 We know that it was Adam’s sin that caused this because although, of course, people were sinning from the time of Adam until Moses, God did not in those days judge them guilty of death for breaking his laws—because he had not yet given his laws to them nor told them what he wanted them to do. 14 So when their bodies died it was not for their own sins since they themselves had never disobeyed God’s special law against eating the forbidden fruit, as Adam had.

What a contrast between Adam and Christ who was yet to come! 15 And what a difference between man’s sin and God’s forgiveness!

For this one man, Adam, brought death to many through his sin. But this one man, Jesus Christ, brought forgiveness to many through God’s mercy. 16 Adam’s one sin brought the penalty of death to many, while Christ freely takes away many sins and gives glorious life instead. 17 The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to be king over all, but all who will take God’s gift of forgiveness and acquittal are kings of life because of this one man, Jesus Christ. 18 Yes, Adam’s sin brought punishment to all, but Christ’s righteousness makes men right with God, so that they can live. 19 Adam caused many to be sinners because he disobeyed God, and Christ caused many to be made acceptable to God because he obeyed.

Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, to be tempted there by Satan. For forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry. Then Satan tempted him to get food by changing stones into loaves of bread.

“It will prove you are the Son of God,” he said.

But Jesus told him, “No! For the Scriptures tell us that bread won’t feed men’s souls: obedience to every word of God is what we need.”

Then Satan took him to Jerusalem to the roof of the Temple. “Jump off,” he said, “and prove you are the Son of God; for the Scriptures declare, ‘God will send his angels to keep you from harm,’ . . . they will prevent you from smashing on the rocks below.”

Jesus retorted, “It also says not to put the Lord your God to a foolish test!”

Next Satan took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. “I’ll give it all to you,” he said, “if you will only kneel and worship me.”

10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “The Scriptures say, ‘Worship only the Lord God. Obey only him.’”

11 Then Satan went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus.


A story:

“There was once a man who lived in the desert. One night he went to bed and had just fallen asleep when his camel stuck his head in his tent and explained that it was dreadfully cold outside and asked permission to just stick his legs inside the tent to keep them warm. The man took pity on him. “O.k.,” he said and went back to sleep.

A little while later the camel woke him up a second time and asked permission to stick his head in. Again, permission was granted. This continued throughout the night until finally the man woke up to find the entire camel in the tent with him. When he told the camel that there just was not enough room in the tent for the both of them, the camel suggested that the man might want to leave.

That is exactly what Satan has a habit of doing. He slips into our lives a little at a time and one day we realise and think, “Hold on a minute…..” and we tell him that there just is not enough room for both he and Jesus in our lives. To which he suggests that Jesus might then want to leave….”

Temptation can be so subtle can’t it. Without realizing, we can slip into ways that we know aren’t right. It just happens.

Every year we hear the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan on the first Sunday of Lent. We tend think of these weeks of Lent as a dreary time when we should give up something we enjoy. But that’s not how it should be. It’s about so much more than just giving up chocolate or cake for six weeks. If we just start eating it again, nothing has changed, we go back to being how we were before Lent began.

Lent should be a time of renewal, a time to think about those things that might be keeping us from knowing and loving and serving Jesus Christ.

Think about pondering this prayer during Lent:

In this season of Lent, Lord,

teach us to think;

not just about what we shouldn’t do,

but also about what we should do;

about what we should let go

and also what we should take up;

about what we can do

and also about what we can’t.


Hymn:   When we are tempted and wrestle alone  StF 240

Top of Form

When we are tested and wrestle alone,

famished for bread when the world offers stone,

nourish us, God, by your word and your way,

food that sustains us by night and by day.


When in the desert we cry for relief,

pleading for paths marked by certain belief,

lift us to love you beyond sign and test,

trusting your presence, our only true rest.


When we are tempted to barter our souls,

trading the truth for power to control,

teach us to worship and praise only you,

seeking your will in the work that we do.


When we have struggled and searched through the night,

sorting and sifting the wrong from the right,

Saviour, surround us with circles of care,

angels of healing, of hope, and of prayer.

 Words © 1996 Hope Publishing Company Bottom of Form

Prayers of intercession:

God of all, we turn to you today and ask for your help.
We pray for wisdom to make right choices and right decisions in all things, to seek your truth and not be swayed by all that the world offers.
Steer us, Lord, in the way we should go.

We pray for those who are easily led astray and end up in situations and places that they struggle to get out of – especially those influenced by status, money, power, drugs and alcohol.
Steer us, Lord, in the way we should go.

We pray that world leaders will always seek justice, truth and wisdom in their decision making, and treat everybody as an equal, with fair opportunities for all.
Steer us, Lord, in the way we should go.

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn:  May the mind of Christ my saviour  StF 504

May the mind of Christ, my Saviour
live in me from day to day,
by His love and power controlling
all I do or say.

May the word of God dwell richly
in my heart from hour to hour,
so that all may see I triumph
only through his power.

May the peace of God my Father
rule my life in everything,
that I may be calm to comfort
sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me,
as the waters fill the sea;
him exalting, self-forgetting –
this is victory.

May I run the race before me,
strong and brave to face the foe,
looking only unto Jesus
as I onward go.      

Kate Barclay Wilkinson (1859-1928)

Sending out prayer

Let us go forth with the love of God surrounding us.
Let us go forth with the wisdom of God guiding us.
Let us go forth with our trust in God protecting us.

May the blessing of God,

Father Son and Holy Spirit,

Be with you always.


Prayers, ideas and images © ROOTS for Churches Ltd www.rootsontheweb.com Reproduced with permission.

Hymns: CCL 491797