Lenten Prayer Station #5: Promise Stones

Lent, Prayer

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.

This is a picture of the fifth prayer station:

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Prayer of the Day (adapted from a prayer from Evening Prayer in Evangelical Lutheran Worship):  O God, tonight we will learn about the Israelite’s entrance into a new phase of life in the Promised Land.  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:  “Where Charity and Love Prevail” (#359 Evangelical Lutheran Worship)

Scripture Text:  Joshua 3:14-17, 4:15-24 (NRSV)
14 When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. 15 Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, 16 the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.

15 The Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 When the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet touched dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.

4:19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 Those twelve stones, which they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal, 21 saying to the Israelites, “When your children ask their parents in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we crossed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, and so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

Promise Stone Prayer Experience (print in bulletin and read out loud)
Tonight our focus image has been a pile of stones, to help us remember the stone altar that the Israelites built to celebrate finally arriving in the Promised Land.  The Israelites were instructed to tell their children that “God keeps his promises to you” every time they saw the stones.  For our prayer experience, you will be invited forward to receive your own “Promise Stone.”  As you come forward, the confirmation students will remind you that “God keeps his promises to you.”  After you have received your stone, return to your seat by the side aisles.  When you have taken your seat again, you are invited to hold the stone in your hand while you meditate on the promises that God has made to you.  Some of those promises include:

  • I have called you by name. You are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)
  • Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11:26)
  • When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. (Isaiah 43:2)
  • See what love the Father has for us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are. (I John 3:1)
  • Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:8-39)

Consider these or other promises quietly while holding the stone in the palm of your hand.  After the service, take it home with you and put it in a place where you will be reminded of God’s promises as we prepare to enter Holy Week.

How to do it:
For the focus image, I put our Lenten cross on a flower stand and leaned it up against the altar.  Under the cross, I arranged a dark blue bed sheet to look like a river flowing out of the cross.  In the middle of the river, I placed a variety of palm-sized river stones that I purchased from the dollar store.  When it came time to distribute the stones, we placed them in one large wicker basket.  I held the basket in the center of the head of the aisle, and the students distributed the stones to each person, saying “God’s keeps his promises to you” to each person as they came up in the same way as they would for communion.

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