Worship in the Home: March 21, 2021

Posted on March 16, 2021 by ELCA Worship

Worship in the Home

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B
March 21, 2021

In this time of world-wide crisis, congregations throughout this church are not able to gather for worship as the body of Christ. While you 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 Asian and Pacific Islander Association of the ELCA recently issued a statement, affirmed by the ELCA Conference of Bishops, calling on the church to declare a day of lament during Lent to express solidarity with, help in healing and support Asian American victims of violence. Sunday, March 21, has been named as the common date, though worshiping communities may choose a different date as appropriate for their context. Worship resources are available that may be used in home worship or other settings. 

Find a peaceful place to pray, perhaps a table. You may wish to light a candle and place a bowl of water in remembrance of your baptism. One person may lead this acclamation and then pray the Prayer of the Day.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all.

Let us pray.
A brief silence is kept before the prayer.

O God, with steadfast love you draw us to yourself, and in mercy you receive our prayers. Strengthen us to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, that through life and death we may live in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Then the readings for this day may be read, as follows:

First Reading:  Jeremiah 31:31-34

31The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

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


The Psalm may be sung or read in response to the First Reading.

Psalm 51:1-12

1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your | steadfast love;
in your great compassion blot out | my offenses.
2Wash me through and through | from my wickedness,
and cleanse me | from my sin.
3For I know | my offenses,
and my sin is ev- | er before me.
4Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil | in your sight;
so you are justified when you speak and right | in your judgment.
5Indeed, I was born | steeped in wickedness,
a sinner from my | mother’s womb.
6Indeed, you delight in truth | deep within me,
and would have me know wisdom | deep within.
7Remove my sins with hyssop, and I | shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be pur- | er than snow.
8Let me hear | joy and gladness;
that the body you have broken | may rejoice.
9Hide your face | from my sins,
and blot out | all my wickedness.
10Create in me a clean | heart, O God,
and renew a right spir- | it within me.
11Cast me not away | from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spir- | it from me.
12Restore to me the joy of | your salvation
and sustain me with your boun- | tiful Spirit.


Second Reading: Hebrews 5:5-10

5Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
6as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.”
7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek..

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


Gospel: John 12:20-33

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

20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
27Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

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



Having read these readings, think on this:

Things fall apart. People break their covenant with God. We sin. We die. But “come and see,” says the Gospel according to John. And with the Greeks and Philip and Andrew, here at the end of Lent in our homes, we do. We see the cross. That Jesus is lifted up is at the same time his death and his glorification. He is the falling seed that becomes a huge harvest. What we think is an awful death has become the center that draws all things and all people into a new unity in God as if God has married them in a new covenant. The sufferings of Christ have become the source of eternal salvation. In baptism we have been drawn into that salvation, marked with that cross, made part of that new covenant, made alive. In baptism, we have received the very Spirit poured out from Christ and we have been forgiven. Exactly in God’s forgiveness, all of us — least and greatest, wise and not so wise — come to know who God really is. Then we ourselves can learn to turn with forgiveness to our neighbors.


If you have a hymnal, you may now sing or read “Seed That in Earth Is Dying” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 330),My Faith Looks Up to Thee” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 759), “To Christ Belong, in Christ Behold” (All Creation Sings 958). Selected hymns are provided below for those without a hymnal at home.

My Faith Looks Up to Thee

To Christ Belong, in Christ Behold


Then pray these intercessions:

On this fifth Sunday in Lent, let us offer both our laments and our petitions to God, responding to each petition with words from today’s psalm, “have mercy on us.”

A brief silence.

O God, we lament that over the past months many Christians have not be able to assemble in person for worship. Many believers have languished alone. And we pray: Strengthen all Christians in every church around the globe in the covenant of their baptism. Equip children and teachers in Sunday school, confirmation, and service projects, whether online or in person.

A brief silence.

O faithful God, in your steadfast love,
have mercy on us.

We lament that by indulging our own desires, we have misused your creation and have worsened the poverty of others. And we pray: Continue your care for the earth you have made. Protect animals and their habitats. Grant weather that prepares the soil for seeds, and shelter all lands from violent storms, flooding, and wildfires.

A brief silence.

O almighty God, in your steadfast love,
have mercy on us.

We lament that as a nation we have not insured justice for all and equal access to freedoms and to the necessities of life. We lament ongoing prejudices and violence on our streets and in our homes. And we pray: Bring an end to warfare and terrorism. Imbue our courts with truth and wisdom. Guide citizens throughout the world to shape communities that reflect your mercy, justice, and peace, and give them creativity to work for the welfare of all.

A brief silence.

O righteous God, in your steadfast love,
have mercy on us.

We lament the sufferings of people the world over. We lament the sorrows of the pandemic. We lament hunger, homelessness, and loneliness. And we pray: End this pandemic. Provide vaccinations to all persons around the earth. Guide us in healing the sick, welcoming the migrant, feeding the hungry, and living with others in harmony. We pray especially for . . . .

A brief silence.

O benevolent God, in your steadfast love,
have mercy on us.

We lament the hopelessness that afflicts so many people. We lament the anguish of refugee camps, of overcrowded hospitals, of unhappy homes. And we pray: As this Thursday we celebrate the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary, instill in us gratitude for your presence among humankind, for holding us through sorrow, and for leading us into joy.

A brief silence.

O compassionate God, in your steadfast love,
have mercy on us.

We lament our secret sorrows known only to you, and we ask you to receive the prayers of our hearts.

A longer period of silence.

O mothering God, in your steadfast love,
have mercy on us.

We lament the countless who have died of COVID and the diminishment of life that so many have endured. We praise you for those who have given us words for our lament and our praise, especially today Thomas Cranmer. At the end, bring us with all who have died in Christ into your everlasting presence.

A brief silence.

O everlasting God, in your steadfast love,
have mercy on us.

We entrust ourselves and all our prayers to you, Father of glory, in your bountiful Spirit, and in the name of Christ, our great high priest, now and forever.


If you have a hymnal, you may now sing or read “Restore in Us, God” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 328),Christ, the Life of All the Living” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 339). Selected hymns are provided below for those without a hymnal at home.

Christ, the Life of All the Living


Then conclude with these prayers:

Let us pray.
A brief silence is kept before the prayer.

Holy God,
our living Water, our faithful Companion, our true Guide,
by your Word you created a world with rivers and seas, wells and springs,
and in mercy you provided water for your people in the wilderness.
For your Word with the water of baptism, we thank you, O God.
We thank you, O God.

We praise you for Christ, who joined us in our desert,
calling us to righteousness, granting forgiveness,
and walking with us into newness of life.
For Jesus, your gracious Word, we glorify you, O God.
We glorify you, O God. 

Through these days of Lent we plead for your Spirit,
that strengthened by your Word,
we may care for others and for the world you made,
and work for justice and peace for all.
For your Word in our hearts and minds, we praise you, O God.
We praise you, O God. 

Receive our thanksgiving, and grant us your blessing,
Holy God, now and forever.


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.


Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us:
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.


Then speak the Blessing:

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


Devotional Music Links: For your individual or group devotion, you may choose to listen to the following choral recordings made available through Augsburg Fortress: “As Pants the Hart;” “God So Loved the World;” “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy.”


Readings for the Week:
Monday (commemoration of Jonathan Edwards, teacher, missionary to American Indians, 1758) Psalm 119:9-16. Tuesday Acts 2:14-24. Wednesday (commemoration of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Bishop of El Salvador, martyr, 1980) Haggai 2:1-9, 20-23). Thursday (Annunciation of Our Lord) Luke 1:26-38. Friday Philippians 2:12-18. Saturday Jeremiah 33:10-16. Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 14:1 — 15:47 or March 15:1-39[40-27].

Daily Prayer Resources are available, including simple forms of Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer; Responsive Prayer; and prayers for mealtimes and other occasions.

Due to copyright restrictions, we are only able to provide downloadable hymns that are in the public domain and selected hymns for limited use. Other suggestions provided above may be found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. To purchase copies of Evangelical Lutheran Worship and All Creation Sings for the home, visit the Augsburg Fortress website or call 1-800-328-4648. Selected hymns from All Creation Sings will be provided for limited use.

Reflection text: Gordon Lathrop. Intercessory Prayer: Gail Ramshaw

Portions from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, All Creation Sings, and sundaysandseasons.com © 2021 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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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