Third Sunday in Lent (Year C)

Opening Sentences 

  • Your steadfast love, O Lord, is better than life.
    Therefore our lips will praise you.
    We will bless you as long as we live.
    We will lift up our hands and call on your name.
    For you have been our help
    and in your presence we sing for joy.--from Psalm 63 

Call to Confession 

  • Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;
    let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts;
    let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 

Prayer of Confession 

  • Holy God,
    in the light of your holiness we see ourselves as we really are,
    and we are ashamed.
    We confess that we are people of impure thoughts and unclean lips;
    we think too highly of ourselves and too little of others.
    We cling so tightly to the treasures of this world
    that we cannot open our hands to receive blessings from above.
    Our feet follow the paths of sin;
    we wander so far astray that we become strangers to righteousness.
    Forgive us, and set us again on the path that leads to life.
    Deal with us not as we deserve, but according to your mercy;
    not because we are worthy but because you are gracious.
    We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

    --from Pray to the Lord (adapted) 

Assurance of Pardon 

  • While it is true that we have sinned,
    it is a greater truth that through God's love in Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
    God has shown his love for us in that while we were still sinners,
    Christ died for us.
    He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross,
    so that free from sins, we might live for righteousness;
    by his wounds we have been healed. --Romans 5:8, I Peter 2:24
    I declare to you in the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. 

Prayer for Illumination 

  • Eternal God, through the life, death and resurrection of your Son
    your kingdom has broken into our troubled world.
    Help us now to hear your Word,
    and give us grace to respond in faithful obedience,
    that our lives might be signs of the new life given through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Written by John Paarlberg, pastor of First Church in Albany, New York