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Giving Up Grief for Lent: Resources

Betrayed and Betrayer:
An Intergenerational “Spy Wednesday” Communion Meal (Written by Nicole M. Havelka for Holy Wednesday or anytime during Holy Week.)

Invite members of your congregation for a simple meal that incorporates prayer, scripture reading, small group reflection and an informal “communion” service. Have them begin by preparing the simple meal together: provide recipes and ingredients for salads that they can prepare easily or invite others to bring salad ingredients for their favorite recipe. Others can bring soups prepared in advance or at church (if time allows). (See recipe suggestions on my Faithful Foodie board on Pinterest.) Play Taize or other quiet, reflective music in the background while people prepare and serve the meal. Have people sit together at round tables and serve each other family style. It’s important that this meal have a family feel, rather than feel staged, formal and served by just one group of people to create a “we’re all in this together” feel.

Blessing the Table

(Can be read by one voice or shared among many scattered among the tables of people assembled.)

We come to this table,

Betrayed and betrayer,
Peacemaker and warrior,
Joyful and Grieved,
Chaotic and Controlled,
Sated and Starving,
Sinner and Sinned against.

God of Grace, we sit here at your table of blessing. All of what we have, all of who we are, are given through you. Bless this food. Bless this table. Bless us. Amen.

Sing together the hymn We Gather Together (Netherlands Folk Hymn; #421 in New Century Hymnal.) or other similar gathering hymn.

Pass the first course salads family style. Have one or two verses of the scripture John 13: 1-35 printed out and placed on each table along with hymnals or music you are using. The pieces of the scripture should be labeled in numerical order so that each table knows when they should read. Printed copies of the full scripture or Bibles should be available for people reading along. After they have eaten the first course, invite them to pick someone at the table to read their portion of the scripture to the whole group. Invite them to read the passage using many voices from each table.

After reading scripture sing, “What Wondrous Love is This?” (folk hymn; #223 in New Century Hymnal)  or other similarly themed holy week hymn.

Sharing the Meal

Pass the main course of soup or other simple entrée. While eating discuss the following questions: (They can be projected on a screen or printed on a sheet of paper and placed on each table.)

  • When have you felt betrayed by a friend or family member? What did that feel like?
  • Have you ever felt left behind, or betrayed, by the community? i.e. are there times that you just don’t feel like you fit in because things have changed so much?
  • Does it every feel like the church has been betrayed or left behind? What does that feel like?

After discussion winds down, ask participants to share with the large group the things that were most meaningful to them in their small groups. Sing, verse 3 of “What Wondrous Love is This.”

A Taste of Sweetness

Read the simple blessing as one voice or many while passing around grapes and Vanilla Wafers or other cookies and fruit that evokes a communion meal as a simple dessert. Invite someone from the congregation to read this closing prayer:

Wondrous Love, you have come to us in a simple meal shared among friends. Remain with us when we are betrayed, when we betray; when we are sated, when we are starving; when chaos rules, when peace prevails. In the name of the one who was and is betrayed, we pray. Amen.

Sing the song, “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” (Doris Akers, 1962; #293 New Century Hymnal)

Other good Holy Week Resources for intergenerational worship:

Intergenerational Food Washing

Lectio Divina, Reading a Story with God

Prayer of Invocation  (written by Nicole M. Havelka for Lent, Week 5, Year C, inspired by Philippians 3: 4-14 & John 12: 1-11)

God of mysterious presence, we yearn for you to fill us, just as we have given up, let go and shed our former selves this Lenten season.

Come, Great Mystery. Sustain us.

As Jesus began his journey toward Jerusalem, we imagine that in his humanness, he might have wondered if you were present. Wondered if he was walking the right path.

Come, Brother Jesus. Guide us.

As the disciples followed Jesus into Jerusalem, the spirit troubled the waters. The world turned upside down. Their former selves no longer felt real, felt adequaate to the new world they were facing.

Come, Troubling Spirit. Inspire us.

This Lenten journey calls us, like Lazarus, to be made new, to be made whole, to be brought to life, even as we doubt your mighty miracles are possible.

We are awakened by the call of Christ.

Intergenerational Discussion Starters for use during worship or Sunday school:

  • Did you give something up this Lent? How has giving that thing up changed you?
  • Name a time in your life when you lost something or chose to let go of something. How did that experienc change you? How was God present to you?

A sermon time or Sunday School discussion written by Nicole M. Havelka based on the Prodigal Son story (Luke 15:11-32) found in Lectionary, Year C, Week 4:

Watching either this Prodigal Daughter video from The Work of the People or The Prodigal Son video from The Skit Guys and/or reach the Prodigal Son story from Luke 15: 11-32. and then use the following questions as discussion starters for small, intergenerational groups:

  • Talk about a time when you felt the loss of something familiar. It can be something as simple as a favorite toy or blanket or as devastating as the loss of a loved one.
  • What did you feel like when you experienced this loss? Where did you find God in that loss?
  • Can you think of a time in your life when you lost all things familiar. Maybe when you moved to a new house? Or changed jobs or schools? What did that experience feel like? How was God present to you in that experience?
  • Name a time when you experienced the loss of something familiar at church. What did church feel like to you when that change occurred? How was God present to you in that time of change?

Call to Worship

(adapted by Rev. Nicole M. Havelka, based on Isaiah 55: 1-13, found this week in the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C)

The bold text could be read by one leader or shared by two or more readers.

Come, you who are thirsty, come!

With parched lips and dry mouths, we come.

Come, you who are hungry, come!

With growling, aching stomachs, we come.

Listen carefully to me: You don’t need to be wealthy in body or spirit to come to God’s table.

We delight in your feast! We come away with our fill!

Incline your ear to me: Come to me and you may live.

May we witness to your steadfast love!

Faithful Conversation Starters (developed by Nicole Havelka for use with Isaiah 55: 1-13)

In intergenerational groups during worship, in Sunday school, during coffee hour, invite people to discuss: “What loss in your life most shaped your faith? How did you get through the tough questions? How did God help to fill your hunger and thirst?

More online worship resources for Lent 3C

On Ministry Matters:

From Re:Worship

Music: Isaiah 55 by Katie Gustafson:

For Inspiration: Lent isn’t just about Bubblegum?

For use in Week 2 of Lent, Year C:

Prayer of Confession (inspired by Psalm 27, written by Rev. Nicole M. Havelka)

God of strength and refuge, we shake our fist and cry out to you. We wail and moan about the culture around us that dismisses the church on which we have built our lives. We also come to you, knowing that the house we have built in your honor has not always been a place of grace and truth, but of judgement, hurt and dishonesty. We come to you with contrite and humbled hearts. Like the Psalmist says, “Do not hide your face from us! Do not turn your servants away in anger! You are our help! Do not forsake us, O God of our salvation!”

Words of Assurance

We wait for our God no longer. Our strength, our refuge has already showered us with grace and returned us to the land of the living. Amen.

Faithful Conversation Starters (developed by Rev. Nicole M. Havelka for use with Psalm 27)

During your sermon time, Sunday school or coffee hour invite intergenerational groups to discuss the questions:

  • What are your best memories of the church?
  • What are some of your most disappointing memories?
  • What does the church mean to you now?
  • What are your hopes for the church’s future?

Other worship resources based on Psalm 27:

Calls to Worship:

From re:worship blog

From The Timeless Psalms by Joan Stott


The Work of the People

“Wait for the Lord” Taize on YouTube


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