Worship for Sunday 6th March 2022, by Rev. Sue Williams

A service for the 1st Sunday of Lent 2022

Even when Jesus felt alone in the wilderness, God was there. 

God is here with us today.

Hymn:  God is here


God is here! As we his people

Meet to offer praise and prayer,

May we find in fuller measure

What it is in Christ we share.

Here, as in the world around us,

All our varied skills and arts

Wait the coming of the Spirit

Into open minds and hearts.


Here are symbols to remind us

Of our lifelong need of grace;

Here are table, font and pulpit;

Here the cross has central place.

Here in honesty of preaching,

Here in silence, as in speech,

here, in newness and renewal,

God the Spirit comes to each.


Here our children find a welcome

In the Shepherd’s flock and fold;

Here as bread and wine are taken,

Christ sustains us as of old.

Here the servants of the Servant

Seek in worship to explore

What it means in daily living

To believe and to adore.


Lord of all, of church and kingdom,

In an age of change and doubt,

Keep us faithful to the Gospel;

help us work your purpose out.

Here, in this day’s dedication,

All we have to give, receive;

We, who cannot live without you,

We adore you! We believe!

Fred Pratt Green : Words © Stainer and Bell Ltd


A prayer of approach

God of the mountains and the sky,

of our minds and our hearts:

we look up to you in awe;

we reach out to you in longing;

we worship you in gratitude;

we sing to you in joy.

For you are our God,

and we are your people –

today and always.   Amen.


A prayer of confession

God of all creation,

forgive us when we lose perspective

and our world shrinks to our size, not yours.

Forgive us and nourish our vision.

Forgive us when we look away from you when we feel empty

and grasp what is not ours to take.

Forgive us and nourish our vision.

Forgive us when the choices we make are self-centred,

and we are indifferent to the needs of the wider community.

Forgive us and nourish our vision.

In Jesus’ name we pray.    Amen.


Assurance of forgiveness

God of all,

you transfigure our smallness with your greatness;

you unlock our limitations with your grace;

you calm our confusion with your faithfulness;

you forgive our mistakes with your generosity;

you inspire our dreams with your love –

enabling, empowering and encouraging us

to serve you and your whole creation

with all we are and all we have.

In Jesus’ name.    Amen.

 These prayers: Roots on the Web


Hymn:  Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

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


A different telling of today’s gospel:

Luke 4.1-13 : In the desert

The landscape is empty, only the fierce furnace of the sun blazes mercilessly on the scorched land. All life has scuttled for sanctuary among the crevices of the rocks or lies up in the hollows of the dried-up watercourses waiting for the cooling breeze of evening. All life, that is, save that of the gaunt figure of a man picking his way wearily to the shade of a lone tree. He’s hungry, thirsty, and tired. Yet from his eyes there still gleams a wise compassion that seems infinitely older than his age. He sits down and rests, his eyes fixed on a jumbled heap of boulders shaped like round loaves of bread. They remind him of his hunger. ‘Turn them into loaves,’ comes the whisper. ‘You are starving, satisfy your hunger. Are you not God’s Son?’ He looks up, as if seeing someone before him, yet he appears to be alone. 

‘That’s what the voice said at your baptism,’ continues the questioner. ‘You are my Son – or was it just your imagination, a trick of the brain, an illusion? Perhaps you are not whom you imagine yourself to be, but just an ordinary carpenter infected with messianic fervour. Prove that I’m wrong. If you do succeed, it will win you a lot of votes. There is a lot of hunger in the world. Millions are starving. And even if you do believe in yourself, then turning stones into bread will convince the atheists and the sceptics. Go on, turn them into loaves!’ 

The man looks again at the rocks and shakes his head. ‘No,’ he replies. ‘It is written: one does not live by bread alone.’ 

Undaunted the voice continues: ‘Come with me to a mountaintop – a holy place. For did not Abraham, Moses and Elijah have mountaintop experiences, moments of vision? I too can weave visions. So, stand with me on the roof of the world to see your destiny. I’m pleased that my talk of bread and circuses did not impress you as they have the Roman world. You are made of finer stuff; you are made to wield power, to exercise authority. Before you kings will bow and emperors will do you homage. Look! This is my world.’ 

The man looks. Spread out before him in a trice is the long march of history: kings, emperors, dictators and presidents, generals and commanders, men and women of wealth, power and influence, all who rule, all who conquer, all who control, all of them bowing before a throne on which he sits. ‘It is yours,’ says the voice. ‘I give it to you and all its glory. All I ask is that you acknowledge me; that you call me your Lord, and you shall have it now. What is your answer?’ 

The man pauses, considering, then gazes down again. Now, instead of the panoply of power, he sees a man wearing a crown of thorns and a purple robe, mocked and buffeted by jeering soldiers. Afterwards, he looks into the tormented face of a crucified man and finds his own staring back at him. He stands upright: ‘No. Depart from me. For Scripture says, “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”’ 

‘Come with me,’ the voice persists. ‘I want you to see something. I will take you to the Temple. There’s nothing wrong with a visit to your Father’s house, is there? Tell you what – we needn’t even leave the desert. Let me open up your imagination. We’ve entered the main gate and have gone through the courts into the Holy Place. Now we are in the Temple itself and have climbed to the roof at its highest point. Don’t look down – it’s a long drop! But I’m forgetting; you are God’s Son. You lead a charmed life. Jump! It’s okay. You can depend on the Father. Does not the Scripture say that his angels will protect you, lest you strike your foot on a rock? It’s quite safe. Think of the entertainment value, think of the draw that a miracle will have. Once you have gathered the crowd by this stunt they will hang upon your words. So, jump!’ 

The man looks down and up again, then he shakes his head once more: ‘I see you know your Bible,’ he replies, ‘yet that does not surprise me. But let me give you another text that will put this suggestion beyond argument: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’ 

The voice was silent. As the sun begins to set, a cool breeze springs up, seeming to whisper, ‘Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’

From Roots on the Web



I like this rendition of the temptations of Jesus.  I like to read familiar things in a new way, it makes me think!  I like the impersonal ‘voice’ in the reading but recognise that for those people with specific medical and psychological issues voices in the head are all too real. 

We are unlikely to be tempted in exactly the same way as Jesus was (and no, it’s not about giving in to the chocolate calling from the kitchen!)  but every Christian will be tested at the points which matter most in her or his life and vocation.   I often find that it’s when I feel a service has gone well and someone tells me how it helped them, the next day I get everything wrong, as if I’m being tested.  Tom Wright says, ‘It is a central part of Christian vocation to learn to recognise the voices that whisper attractive lies, to distinguish them from the voice of God ….’

If only the devil went around in costume as often depicted in art – evil looking with glowing red eyes and a long pointy tail.  Then we’d know what we were up against.   But that supposes a belief in the devil to start with.  Can we have good without  evil?  How the evil thoughts came into Jesus’ head we cannot know, perhaps dreams brought on by the trauma of being alone, or hallucinations from lack of food and water.   The message for us is in how Jesus handled these tempting thoughts to assuage his thirst and hunger. 

If Jesus had fed himself he could not have gone on to feed many.

If he had worshipped the devil in the way the voice suggested, he could have saved himself, but there would be no salvation for others.

Jesus knew that he could have taken the easy route, but it would have been all for himself, not for the benefit of all people in all times.

So, thank God, Jesus made the right choices and that particular voice disappeared.  But be cautious of his disappearing act.  Arnie style, ’I’ll be back’ is his parting threat to Jesus.

For a few minutes, settle yourself, pray to God, and give yourself time to hear God’s voice speaking calm into your soul.

Partly based on a reflection by Marjorie Dobson


Hymn:  Seek ye first the kingdom of God

Seek ye first the kingdom of God

And His righteousness;

And all these things shall be added unto you.

Hallelu, Hallelujah!


Ask, and it shall be given unto you;

Seek, and you shall find.

Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Hallelu, Hallelujah


We shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word

that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

Hallelu, Hallelujah!

Karen Lafferty

 Words © 1972 CCCM Music / Maranatha  Music


Prayers of Intercession

Loving Jesus, who spent 40 days in the wilderness alone,
Help us now in this time of prayer to come alongside and hold to you in prayer those may

feel isolated, alone, tested or tempted as you were.

We pray for those leaders of the world who are tempted by the lure of power, without considering the cost to others. We pray for those at the root of conflict, division and violence whose desire ‘to have things their way’ prevents them listening to your voice of peace.

May the gift of your life bring them out of the wilderness

We pray for the vulnerable and the weak,

to those with little or nothing,

to those subject to the will of others,

and to the very young and the very old:

for those fearing for their lives and families,

forced to take cover in bunkers.

May the gift of your life bring them out of the wilderness

We pray for those in the world who through the greed and unequal distribution of the world’s wealth are hungry and thirsty. We pray for those who are denied education, health care. We pray for those who are denied freedom of speech and suffer persecution for sharing the good news of Christ.
May the gift of your life bring them out of the wilderness

We pray for your church. We pray for all Christian communities seeking to be the salt and light to those around them. We pray for the those who are discouraged, those feeling vulnerable, those who are looking for a new direction for their work and mission.

May the gift of your life bring them out of the wilderness

We pray for those whom we know, for whom illness, frailness or bereavement have left them isolated and cut off from the joy, support and encouragement of human encounter. As we hold them up to you, show us how we may practically make a difference to those in need.

May the gift of your life bring them out of the wilderness

And we pray for ourselves. We ask forgiveness for the times when our actions have been influenced by the desire for others to like us. When we have wanted to control rather work together.

May the gift of your life bring us of the wilderness and into the fullness of your grace; that inspired and strengthened by your love we might mirror that love to the world.    Amen   

 (From the worship cloud)


Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy

Lord of all hopefulness,

Lord of all joy,

Whose trust, ever child-like,

no cares can destroy,

Be there at our waking,

and give us, we pray,

Your bliss in our hearts, Lord,

at the break of the day.


Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,

Whose strong hands were skilled

at the plane and the lathe,

Be there at our labours,

and give us, we pray,

Your strength in our hearts, Lord,

at the noon of the day.


Lord of all kindliness,

Lord of all grace,

Your hands swift to welcome,

your arms to embrace,

Be there at our homing,

and give us, we pray,

Your love in our hearts, Lord,

at the eve of the day.


Lord of all gentleness,

Lord of all calm,

Whose voice is contentment,

whose presence is balm,

Be there at our sleeping,

and give us, we pray,

Your peace in our hearts, Lord,

at the end of the day.

Lyrics by Jan Struther, 1931



The blessing of God

Father, Son, Spirit

Be yours this day and always