Lent 2018 Worship Planning Series

First Sunday in Lent 2018, Year B

Heading into the wilderness, whether it’s imposed upon us or we voluntarily go, is only the first step in the rehab journey toward reconciliation, healing, and wholeness. But it is a step we must take to start the process of recovery.

Wilderness — First Sunday in Lent


AH = The Africana Hymnal

BOW = United Methodist Book of Worship

CCLI = Christian Copyright Licensing International, SongSelect

TFWS = The Faith We Sing (2000)

UMH = United Methodist Hymnal

W&S = Worship & Song (2011)

SOZ = Songs of Zion

Enter in silence. No prelude. No video. No opening hymn or other music. Invite the congregation simply to listen, to enter the soundscape of a desert: https://archive.org/details/aporee_28172_32458 or https://archive.org/details/aporee_30865_35494

At an appropriate time, signal the congregation to rise for the reading of the gospel, facing the back of the congregation, where one of the readers and the pastor or deacon stand by the font, filled with sand.


Mark 1:9-13 Translation by Taylor Burton-Edwards

Reader 1: Narrator
And it happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. And immediately, as he was stepping up out of the water, he saw the sky split and the Spirit as a dove descending to him. And there was a voice from the sky:

Voice (unseen, and in an unexpected tone)
“You are my son, the beloved one. In you I delight.”

Reader 2: (older adult, rising from some other location)
And immediately the Spirit cast him out into the wilderness.

Reader 3: (youth, rising from some other location)
And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tested by Satan.

Reader 4: (child, rising from some other location)
And he was with the wild animals.

Readers 5: (preschoolers, all rising)
And the angels helped him.


The pastor walks to the front of the worship space. The people turn facing front.

Sermon Wilderness

At the conclusion of the sermon, the readers move from the font to a position directly in front of the Lord’s Table.

Song (Choir/Ensemble or Congregation) “Come Out the Wilderness,” UMH 416

Reader 1:
After John was handed over, Jesus went into Galilee publicly proclaiming the good news of God and saying:

Reader 2: (Jesus)
The time is fulfilled. God’s kingdom has drawn near. Repent and believe in the good news!

Living the Call: Acknowledge the Wilderness

Invite all people to identify and write down one or more ways they currently find themselves in a spiritual wilderness. Invite them to make two copies of these items, and give one copy to one other person with whom they will check in during the coming week to share what they’re learning about being in this wilderness and offer mutual support. As they live the call this week, ask them to document times when they’ve learned something as well as situations when what they’ve learned is they need more help to determine next steps. Midweek formation groups will be another opportunity to check in, pray for one another, and encourage one another.

The choir or band may offer a solo piece or anthem during this time of response.

“Desert Song” CCLI # 5060793 or
“Jesus, Tempted in the Desert” TFWS 2105

At conclusion, all may sing:
“Come Out the Wilderness” UMH 416, refrain 2X

When all have completed and exchanged their papers, a deacon or lay minister may lead the congregation in prayer and confession of sin.

Prayers of the People

We are in the wilderness.

As much as we have tried to map, domesticate, and routinize
every inch of our planet and every moment of our lives,
we know our maps do not tell us where we are with you, O God,
and our schedules often serve to distract us from the reality
that we ourselves and so many of our neighbors on this planet
are in the wilderness, too.

And so we pray:
Here, in this wilderness, prepare your way, O God.

With all persons kept in poverty or slavery,
all who are in fear from abusers, terrorists, and oppressors,
all who face addiction of any kind,
and all who are targeted for unjust treatment because of who they are;

Here, in this wilderness, prepare your way, O God.

With leaders in religious, political, economic, and social life;
with our families, friends, and neighbors;
and with all who work to sustain and protect our lives
as military, civilian workers, and first responders;

Here, in this wilderness, prepare your way, O God.

With all who need your healing power,
and with all who offer healing through their skill and presence;
with all who have harmed us,
and all whom we have harmed by our action or inaction;


Here, in this wilderness, prepare your way, O God.


Receive the prayers of your people, most merciful God.
In your compassion, forgive our sins,
and free us for lives of joyful obedience
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


In the name of Jesus, you are forgiven.

In the name of Jesus, you are forgiven.

All: Glory to God! Amen!


Forgiven and free, offer the peace of Christ to one another and your gifts to God.

The peace is exchanged as the offering is collected.

Offertory Music

The Great Thanksgiving BOW 60-61 or

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We are yours, O God.

Bless the Lord!
God’s holy name be praised!

Praised in heaven, praised in earth,
praised throughout your creation
is your name, Holy Triune God.

The deserts rejoice in your salvation,
and the wild animals in your deliverance.

The stars above shout out your glory,
and the earth trembles at your presence.

Satan tries us, but your angels support us,
so we, with all creation, cry “Holy!”

Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of power and might,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is Christ who comes in your name!
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed are you, Jesus Christ,
Word made flesh,
showing us the way
where we can find no way.
Cast out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit,
you made it your home.
Facing every test from Satan,
you trusted the wild animals as your companions,
and angels as your counsel,
and so were made ready to declare to all the world
the great good news of God’s kingdom drawing near.

Blessed are you, Jesus Christ.

Blessed are you for coming among us
and for offering yourself to us
in this holy meal
to fill our hungry and wandering souls,
and to empower us to break free from Satan’s hold
and walk humbly with our neighbor and with God.

With your first disciples, on the night of your betrayal into death,
you took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it, saying:
Take and eat this, my body given for you.

Then you took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it, saying:
Drink this, my blood of the new covenant for you.

Even so,
here and now,
come, Holy Spirit.
Come, Holy Spirit.

Come upon these gifts
and upon us.
Make them be for us
Christ’s body and blood,
that we who receive them may be for all
the body of Christ enlivened by his blood.

Come, Holy Spirit.
Make us one.

Come, Holy Spirit.
Unite us with you.

Come, Holy Spirit.
Revive us!

Make us whole and holy on this day,
as we await that day
when we shall feast with Christ
in the new creation.

To Christ, to you, and to the All-Merciful Creator,
One God, living and true,
be all praise, and honor, and glory
now and forever.

The Breaking of the Bread and Distribution

Music during Communion
Beautiful Things” CCLI #5665521
“I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” UMH 521

Thanksgiving after Communion

Pastor and People:
Jesus, thank you!
You have fed us with yourself
and bound us to you in love,
that we may walk with you in the wilderness.
In the power of the Holy Spirit,
keep these bonds strong,
through the days ahead
so in this wilderness we, too,
may make companions of the wild,
and discover the angels at work in our midst. Amen.


Invite the congregation to face the back of the sanctuary, toward the exits.

“Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days” UMH 269
(Tune: House of the Rising Sun, W&S 3072)
“Forty Days and Forty Nights”

Deacon or Lay Leader (from the back of the worship space)
The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness.
The Spirit drives us there as well.
Settle in.
Make strange companions.
Endure the trials.
Trust the angels.
And learn the way.

Go in peace.

Postlude Variations on House of the Rising Sun (ad. lib.) or
Variations on WAITING (attachment, ad.lib.)