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Liturgy and Prayers for a Time of Drought

by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 

The following is a full liturgy that may be used on any green Sunday during a time of heat, dryness, drought and emergency. It follows the Old Testament notion that times of natural calamity are times for a “return to the Lord.” A minimal or maximal approach may be used. You may use the regular Pentecost Season liturgy for the day and select those portions that seem advisable for your situation. Or you may dedicate the entire service as prescribed below, even as an afternoon or evening service. At the minimum, make use of the Prayers of the Church in its appropriate place after the Creed. Consider also the Final Blessings outdoors.

 

 

GATHERING

Order for Confession and Forgiveness

 

Entrance Hymn    “All Creatures of Our God and King”

 

Opening Versicles for Time of Drought:: (replaces the Kyrie)

A:   The Lord is great:
C:  our Lord is above all gods.

 

A:   Whatever the Lord pleases he does:
C:  in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.

 

A:   It is our God who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth:
C:  God makes lightnings for the rain and brings out the wind from its storehouses.   (Psalm 135:5-7)

 

A:   Come, let us return to the Lord, for it is God who has torn, and God will heal us;
C:  God has struck down, and God will bind us up.

 

A:   Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord;
C:  God’s appearing is as sure as the dawn,

 

A:   God will come to us like the showers,
C:  like the spring rains that water the earth.   (Hosea 6:1,3)

 

Hymn of Praise #551   “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”

 

Prayer of the Day:

P:   The Lord be with you.
C:  And also with you.

 

P:   Let us pray. O Lord our God, look down upon our dry lands and parched earth, and come quickly to save us. Send your clouds of water to rain down upon us as your righteousness and love rain down upon our hearts. Fill us with faith and trust in you that we may give you glory now and in your heavenly presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C:  Amen

 

WORD

 

First Lesson:  Jeremiah 14:1-9

The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:   Judah mourns and her gates languish; they lie in gloom on the ground, and the cry of Jerusalem goes up. Her nobles send their servants for water; they come to the cisterns, they find no water, they return with their vessels empty. They are ashamed and dismayed and cover their heads, because the ground is cracked. Because there has been no rain on the land the farmers are dismayed; they cover their heads. Even the doe in the field forsakes her newborn fawn because there is no grass. The wild asses stand on the bare heights, they pant for air like jackals; their eyes fail because there is no herbage. Although our iniquities testify against us, act, O LORD, for your name's sake; our apostasies indeed are many, and we have sinned against you. O hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler turning aside for the night? Why should you be like someone confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot give help? Yet you, O LORD, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not forsake us!

 

Psalm 65 (spoken antiphonally)

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion;
      and to you shall vows be performed,

O you who answer prayer!
      To you all flesh shall come.

When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us,
      you forgive our transgressions.

Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts.
      We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple.

By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation;
      you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.

By your strength you established the mountains;
      you are girded with might.

You silence the roaring of the seas,
      the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.

Those who live at earth's farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
      you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it;
      the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain,
      for so you have prepared it.

You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges,
      softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.

You crown the year with your bounty;
     your wagon tracks overflow with richness.

The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
      the hills gird themselves with joy,

the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain,
      they shout and sing together for joy.

 

Second Lesson:  Revelation 22:1-17

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place." "See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me;  but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!" And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy." "See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone's work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. "It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let everyone who hears say, "Come." And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

 

Verse: “Alleluia”

 

Gospel Lesson:   St. John 4:5-14

So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?" Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."

 

Sermon

 

Hymn of the Day  “We Plow the Fields and Scatter”

Apostle’s Creed

 

Exhortation and Prayers of the Church
in Time of Drought

P:   Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the beginning the Lord our God formed the earth and the heavens and all that exists. God separated the waters and formed the clouds. God marked the limits of the rivers and seas and placed the rain and snow in their storehouses. Throughout our lives, God has watered the earth and let the sun shine to bring forth harvests of abundance for the living. And God has blessed us with infinite love through this abundance.
          The Bible tells us that in times of need, we should turn to the Lord who sustains us with the fruits of creation, bringing our petitions and concerns, asking forgiveness for our sins, and placing our needs trustfully and faithfully into God’s hands. As Jeremiah of old led the people of Israel in prayer to God during a time of drought, so let us now draw near to God with our prayers for our parched lands and loved ones in distress.

 

A:   The Lord is gracious.
C:  The Lord’s understanding is beyond measure.

 

A:   The Lord heals the brokenhearted.
C:  The Lord binds up all our wounds. (Psalm 147:1,5)

 

P:   Gracious Lord, loving God, look down with mercy upon your people as we draw near to you. Fill our hearts with faith. Forgive our sins. Lead us to righteousness and peace. And hear our prayers of concern for our lands, for our people in distress, for our industries that suffer, for all who are affected by the lengthy dryness of this season  We look to you for help. Be our aide and our guide; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

C:  Amen

 

A:   The people of Israel cried out in thirst.
C:  They cried aloud to the Lord most high.

 

A:   The Lord came and commanded Moses.
C:  The Lord commanded, and water came forth from the rock.   (Exodus 17:1-7)

 

P:  Lord of the sun and of the rains, your faithful people thirst again in your sight. Our crops languish in the sun. Even your little creatures are stressed in the heat. As you answered the prayers of Israel of old, quench the thirst of your people, our lands, our crops, and all creatures. Bring forth the rains that sustain and foster growth in the seasons and cycles that you marked with your creative hand. In you alone we trust;  through Jesus Christ our Lord.

C:  Amen

 

A:  God covers the heavens with clouds.
C:  God prepares rain for the earth.

 

A:  God makes the grass to grow on the hills
C:  God gives to the animals their food.

 

A:  The Lord’s delight is not in the strength of the horse or the speed of the runner.
C:  The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear God, in those who hope in God’s steadfast love.   (Psalm 147:8-11)

 

P:   God of hope, God of healing and blessing, God of refreshment and peace, shower down upon us with your infinite love and righteousness. Send your Holy Spirit to fill us with faith. Lead us to green pastures and make us to lie down by still waters, refreshing our souls and giving us peace; for you live and reign with your Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C:  Amen

 

P:   The peace of the Lord be with you always.
C:  And also with you.

The peace of the Lord is shared.

 

MEAL

Offering

Offertory:   “Let the Vineyards”

 

Offertory Prayer:

A:   Let us pray. O God of creation,
C:  we bring before you the gifts of our lives, gifts first given to us by you: fruit of the vineyard, harvest of the field, products of our labor, thankfulness of our hearts. Accept these gifts and bless us by your creation for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 

The Great Thanksgiving

Sanctus

Eucharistic Prayer

Lord’s Prayer

Communion

     Hymn: “Beautiful Savior”
     Hymn: “This Is My Father’s World”

 

Post-Communion Prayer:

A:   Let us pray. Lord God of heaven and earth, we thank you for the gifts and blessings that you shower down upon us, most chiefly the gift of your Son, received by us today in the bread and the wine, fruits of your bountiful creation. Bless us always and the creation you have made, nurturing the growth of all with food and drink from your heavenly hand. We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

C:  Amen

 

SENDING

 

The ministers and congregation may optionally process outdoors for the Final Blessings during the following hymn. If preferred, the blessings may occur indoors at this time, in which case the hymn would follow the blessings as a recessional instead of the Doxology below.

 

Processional Hymn  “Let All Things Now Living”  or  “Sing to the Lord of Harvest”

 

Final Blessings

A:   The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord,
C:  and you give them their food in due season.

 

A:   You open wide your hand
C:  and satisfy the needs of every living creature.   (Psalm 145:16-17)

 

The Blessing of the Parched Earth

P:   Blessed are you, O God, king of the universe. You made the whole earth for your glory and nurture it with sun and rain and the passing seasons. We lift our voices in praise and sing with all creation to give you glory.
      Bless + now our parched earth. Open your heavens wide and send forth the rains that nurture the earth, the fields and their crops, your people and all your creatures. Make the earth to break forth in abundance, so that the harvest from your hand may enrich our lives, and all people see the greatness of God.
      Bless also those who are in any distress from this hot dry season: the elderly, the poor, the homeless, the industries and people who depend upon the land. Save us all by your gracious hand. Heal us and bind us up in faith.
      To you be honor and glory and praise, with the Son and Holy Spirit, now and in all ages to come.

C:  Amen

 

The Blessing of the People

P:   Be steadfast in faith. Trust in the Lord. God’s love will sustain you through this season and always. And may almighty God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit be with you now and forever.

C:  Amen

 

A:   Go in peace. Serve the Lord.
C:  Thanks be to God.

 

Doxology    all sing

          Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
          Praise Him, all creatures here below.
          Praise Him above, ye heav'nly host.
          Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.