Worship in the Home: Sunday, March 29, 2020

Posted on March 25, 2020 by ELCA Worship

Worship in the Home

Fifth Sunday in Lent
March 29, 2020

In this time of world-wide crisis, congregations throughout this church are not able to gather for worship as the body of Christ. While we cannot be together in person, we can hear the word of God and hold each other in prayer. We offer this brief resource as an aid for prayer in the home. As with our prayers in the gathered assembly for worship, you are encouraged to prepare or adapt them locally for your context.


The Prayer of the Day may be prayed. 

Let us pray.

Almighty God, your Son came into the world to free us all from sin and death. Breathe upon us the power of your Spirit, that we may be raised to new life in Christ and serve you in righteousness all our days, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Then the readings for this Sunday may be read, as follows.

First Reading  Ezekiel 37:1-14

1The hand of the LORD came upon me, and brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2The LORD led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3The LORD said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O LORD God, you know.” 4Then the LORD said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5Thus says the LORD God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

7So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9Then the LORD said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the LORD God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” 10I prophesied as the LORD commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

11Then the LORD said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ 12Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the LORD God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act,” says the LORD.

Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.


Psalm   Psalm 130 may be sung or spoken in response to the First Reading.

1Out | of the depths
I cry to | you, O LORD;
2O LORD, | hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my | supplication.
3If you were to keep watch | over sins,
O LORD, | who could stand?
4Yet with you | is forgiveness,
in order that you | may be feared.
5I wait for you, O LORD; | my soul waits;
in your word | is my hope.
6My soul waits for the Lord more than those who keep watch | for the morning,
more than those who keep watch | for the morning.
7O Israel, wait for the LORD, for with the LORD there is | steadfast love;
with the LORD there is plen- | teous redemption.
8For the LORD shall | redeem Israel
from | all their sins.


Second Reading  Romans 8:6-11

6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law-indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through this Spirit dwelling in you.

Word of God, word of Life.
Thanks be to God.


Gospel  John 11:1-45

The holy gospel according to John.
Glory to you, O Lord.

1Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

7Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Judeans were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to the other disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19and many of the Judeans had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

28When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when Mary heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31The Judeans who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Judeans who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus began to weep. 36So the Judeans said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

38Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When Jesus had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

45Many of the Judeans therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.



Having read these readings, think of this:

Christ comes to us in the scripture we have read.  When he comes, he does to us now what he is doing in the text.  We are the dry bones, especially in this difficult time.  We are the dead and nearly dead.  He calls us by name and says, “Come out.”  He tells those around us, “Unbind her and let her go; unbind him and let him go; unbind them and let them go.”  Because of baptism, the Spirit of God, the God who raised Jesus from the dead, dwells in us and makes us alive together with Christ.  Then we should turn to those around us as best we can in this time and let them go.


If you have a hymnal (or using the graphic below), you might now sing or read “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 886)

Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing


Prayers of Intercession

Praying separately in our homes and together in the Spirit, let us pray for the church, the earth, the world, and all who are in need, responding to each petition with the words “O Lord, hear my voice.”

A brief silence.

Come to the church, O saving God. Even when we cannot assemble together, bind your faithful people into one body. Breathe your Spirit of life into the global church, that despite our valley of dry bones we may rise to praise your name. In our virtual contacts, make each of us into signs of baptismal hope in your merciful might.

A brief silence.

Receive the prayers of your family, O God:
O Lord, hear my voice!

Come to the earth, O nurturing God. Use this time when human activity is diminished to restore polluted lands and waterways and to protect endangered plants and animals. Preserve us from natural disasters. Bring all things to new life.

A brief silence.

Receive the prayers of your family, O God:
O Lord, hear my voice!

Come to the nations and their leaders, O God of peace. Lead the world away from war and violence. Guide those in authority to provide for those in dire need of humanitarian relief. Direct our president and other heads of government to deal appropriately in the face of the agony of citizens, and point them toward useful means for combating this plague.

A brief silence.

Receive the prayers of your family, O God:
O Lord, hear my voice!

Come wherever the coronavirus has struck, O compassionate God. Be present to all who mourn their dead; all who have contracted the virus; those who are quarantined or stranded away from home; those who have lost employment; children who cannot assemble for school and parents with needs for child care. Visit physicians, nurses, and home health aides; hospitals and clinics; medical researchers; and the Center for Disease Control.

A brief silence.

Receive the prayers of your family, O God:
O Lord, hear my voice!

Come to all in need, O healing God. Unbind all who are held captive by anxiety, despair, or pain. Comfort those around the world who cannot bury their dead. House the homeless in safe places. Show us how to provide some assistance to those who suffer. Accompany those who seek care in overwhelmed hospitals and clinics. Remember those we name here before you (especially…)

A brief silence.

Receive the prayers of your family, O God:
O Lord, hear my voice!

Out of our depths we cry to you, O loving God. Receive our sorrows and our fears, and hear the petitions of our hearts.

A longer period of silence.

Receive the prayers of your family, O God:
O Lord, hear my voice!

You, O God, are our resurrection and our life. We remember before you all who died in the faith, especially this week Hans Nielsen Hauge, John Donne, Benedict the African, and the victims of the coronavirus. At the end, bring us and all our beloved dead to see your glory forever.

A brief silence.

Receive the prayers of your family, O God:
O Lord, hear my voice!

Into your hands, O mighty God, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy, through Christ, our Savior and Lord.


If you have a hymnal (or using the graphic below), you may conclude by singing or reading “What Wondrous Love Is This” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 666)

What Wondrous Love Is This


Then conclude with these prayers.

Let us pray.

A brief silence is kept before the prayer.

Merciful God, accompany our journey through these forty days.  Renew us in the gift of baptism, that we may provide for those who are poor, pray for those in need, fast from self-indulgence, and above all that we may find our treasure in the life of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
Forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
And deliver us from evil,
For the kingdom, the power,
And the glory are yours,
Now and forever.  Amen.


Almighty God, Father, ☩ Son, and Holy Spirit, bless us now and forever.


Readings for the Week:


Today, March 29, Lutherans commemorate Hans Nielsen Hauge, a lay Lutheran who in early 19th century Norway was imprisoned for years for illegally leading worship in people’s homes.  Yet here we are, two hundred years later, encouraging all members of God’s family to join together through home worship!

Monday Psalm 143. Tuesday (commemoration of John Donne, poet, died 1631) 2 Kings 4:18-37. Wednesday Jeremiah 32:1-9, 36-41. Thursday Psalm 31:9-16.  Friday Philippians 1:21-30. Saturday (commemoration of Benedict the African, confessor, died 1589) March 10:32-34. Passion/Palm Sunday Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:14-27:66 or Matthew 27:11-54.


Reflection material: Gordon Lathrop. Intercessory Prayer: Gail Ramshaw

Portions from Evangelical Lutheran Worship and sundaysandseasons.com, © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress.

Readings from Readings for the Assembly © 1995, 1996, 1997 Augsburg Fortress. Citations from the Revised Common Lectionary © 1992 Consultation on Common Texts. Scripture quotations from NRSV Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, adapted and edited with permission by Gordon Lathrop and Gail Ramshaw.

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