Little Liturgy for Lent (3 of 7): “The Cup of Joy”

Attention Seekers is a project that is about practicing presence in the world – of being alert and attentive to the mystery of existence all around us.

The Season of Lent offers a unique opportunity in the church calendar to practice this sort of intentional attentiveness. And so, instead of posting a series of Lenten reflections as we did last year, we are offering these “Little Liturgies” to aid our fellow attention seekers out there!

The prayers and reflections that follow are pilfered from a variety of sources online and in print (sources acknowledged below).

We follow a version of this liturgy in community each week at Newtownbreda (St. John’s) Presbyterian Church. Join us any Wednesday from 1.00 – 1.20 pm, if you are free.


(Based on Isaiah 61:1-3, written by Rachel G. Hackenberg)

Come, much-needed God.
Adorn the shoulders of your weary people with garlands of joy.
Drape a lei of compassion around the necks of the impoverished and the poor in spirit.
Gift bright festive clothing to those overlooked and bullied.
Bejewel the weary and crown the exiled with gems of courage and pearls of holy hope.
Come, much-needed God.
Be lavish in bestowing joy!


(Inspired by Isaiah 61 and written by Christian Aid UK)

O Christ, you lived as an ordinary man
not in style but simply,
yet still you caused uproar, and questions everywhere;
you drew the expectations of hungry crowds,
and brought buried conflicts to the light.
May we, who are sometimes swayed by the crowd’s approval,
and who often avoid conflict
for fear of its cost to us,
hold fast to the gospel of peace and justice
and follow faithfully in your way of compassion and solidarity
with those who are poor and excluded,
wherever it may lead us.
We confess to you our selfishness, O Lord.
Have mercy upon us.
We confess to you our cruel words and unwholesome thoughts.
Have mercy upon us.
We confess to you the many ways we fail to love the least among us.
Have mercy upon us
and grant us your peace.

READING: John 12:27-36

27 ‘Now 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. 28 Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ 30 Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?’ 35 Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’

After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

REFLECTION: “The Cup of Joy”

by Henri Nouwen (adapted from The Little Book of Lent compiled by Arthur Howells) 

The cup of life is the cup of joy as much as the cup of sorrow. It is the cup in which sorrows and joys, sadness and gladness, mourning and dancing are never separated. If joys could not be where sorrows are, the cup of life would never be drinkable. That is why we have to hold the cup in our hands and look carefully to see the joys hidden in our sorrows.

Can we look upon Jesus as the man of joys? It seems impossible to see joy hanging with outstretched arms on a wooden cross. Still, the cross of Jesus is often presented as a glorious throne on which the King is seated. There the body of Jesus is portrayed not as racked by flagellation and crucifixion but as a beautiful, luminous body with sacred wounds.

Joys are hidden in sorrows! I know this from my own times of depression. I know it from living with people with mental handicaps. I know it from looking into the eyes of patients, and from being with the poorest of the poor. We keep forgetting this truth and become overwhelmed by our own darkness. We easily lose sight of our joys and speak of our sorrows as the only reality there is.

We need to remind each other that the cup of sorrow is also the cup of joy, that precisely what causes us sadness can become the fertile ground for gladness. Indeed, we need to be angels for each other, to give each other strength and consolation. Because only when we fully realize that the cup of life is not only a cup of sorrow but also a cup of joy will we be able to drink it.


(Adapted from Book of Common Worship)

Gracious God,
because we are not strong enough
to pray as we should,
you provide Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit
to intercede for us in power.
In this confidence we ask you
to accept our prayers. 

God of mercy, 
hear our prayer. 

We pray now for your church.
We pray for our sisters and brothers here on the Ormeau Road,
and our sisters and brothers across the world.

Silent prayer. 

Faithful God,
you formed your church from the despised of the earth
and showed them mercy,
that they might proclaim your salvation to all.
Strengthen those whom you choose today,
that they may faithfully endure all trials
by which you conform your church to the cross of Christ. 

God of mercy, 
hear our prayer. 

We pray now for peace – for continued peace in our own land and peace in troubled parts of our world. 

Silent prayer. 

Judge of the nations,
you created humanity for salvation,
not destruction,
and sent your Son to guide us
into the way of peace.
Enable people of every race and nation
to accept each other as sisters and brothers,
your children, on whom you lavish honour and favour. 

God of mercy, 
hear our prayer. 

Finally, Lord, we pray now for all who suffer any sorrow or trial.
In the silence with lift up those know to us.

Silent prayer. 

Compassionate God,
your Son gives rest to those weary with heavy burdens.
Heal the sick in body, mind, and spirit.
Lift up the depressed.
Befriend those who grieve.
Comfort the anxious.
Fill all people with your Holy Spirit
that they may bear each other’s burdens 
and so fulfill the law of Christ.

God of mercy, 
hear our prayer.



Generous God,
We are truly grateful for the way
you lavish your love on us
and for giving us much more than we deserve.
When we are overcome by pain and sorrow
help us to drink from the cup of joy
so that our lives, immersed in yours,
may reflect your victory,
and our sadness become
the fertile ground for gladness.