For Lenten Wednesdays this year, the confirmation students and I came up with prayer stations that corresponded with the stories in the Moses cycle of stories from Exodus and Joshua. They were a very meaningful part of our parish’s journey through Lent, and I am excited to share them with you! One challenge that we face in our parish is that we have a lot of people who are not very mobile, so there cannot be a lot of physical activity involved. We did them in the context of Lenten midweek Evening Prayer, so they were a part of each service. Below, you will find the prayer, hymn, scripture, and explanation that goes with the prayer station.
In this second prayer station, the focus image in the front of the church looked like this after the prayer experience was over:
Prayer of the Day (adapted from a prayer from Evening Prayer in Evangelical Lutheran Worship): O God, tonight we will hear the story of the Israelites being released from slavery and into a new life in you. You have also called us, your servants, to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Hymn of the Day: “This is the Spirit’s Entry Now” (#448 Evangelical Lutheran Worship)
Scripture Text: Exodus 14:8-15, 21-29 (NRSV)
8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out boldly. 9 The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
10 As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord.11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. 16 But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. 22 The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. 24 At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. 25 He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. 29 But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
Freedom Prayer Experience (print in bulletin and read out loud)
Tonight our focus image has been Moses’ walking stick, the symbol of the Israelites’ freedom. Tonight, we invite you to pray for those people and places who need deliverance. It might be a difficult situation in the world (war, famine, violence, oppression, etc.) or a person in your life who needs to be delivered from something themselves (violence, addiction, depression etc.). You may write your prayer on the card provided. The pastor and the confirmation students will pray over these things with you this week as well.
At the end of the service, you will be invited to place your prayer card at the base of Moses’ walking stick. After you have done this, you may leave the sanctuary by the side aisles, where the confirmation students will give you a water blessing to remind you of your baptism and your freedom in Christ as you return to the wilderness of the world.
How to do it: Moses’ walking stick was meant to represent that the miracle of parting the Red Sea had already occurred, and we in the sanctuary of the church were on the dry land on the path to freedom. It was an 8 ft. branch from our tree line. My husband built a small stand with pvc pipe, a wooden platform, and four small angle brackets for the branch to slip into. We covered the stand with thee bags of play sand on a clear heavy painting tarp. To clean up, we sucked up the sand with a ShopVac and dumped the sand into our girls’ sand box at home. We provided 3” X 5” cards and pencils for the experience. I purchased party bowls from the dollar store for the baptismal blessing. During the blessing, they put a water cross on the person’s forehead and said “Because of Jesus, you are free.”