Little Liturgy for Lent (5 of 7): Out From the Cover of Darkness

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.


(Psalm 119:105-112, The Message)

By your words I can see where I’m going;
    they throw a beam of light on my dark path.
I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back
    from living by your righteous order.
Everything’s falling apart on me, God;
    put me together again with your Word.
Adorn me with your finest sayings, God;
    teach me your holy rules.
My life is as close as my own hands,
    but I don’t forget what you have revealed.
The wicked do their best to throw me off track,
    but I don’t swerve an inch from your course.
I inherited your book on living; it’s mine forever—
    what a gift! And how happy it makes me!
I concentrate on doing exactly what you say—
    I always have and always will.


(Adapted from The Sunday Website)

John 3:16
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son

We can only stand 
in awe-struck silence before such love 
that is beyond boldest expectation, beyond all telling.

(Karl Rahner).

In the name of the Father  …
with us from our beginnings;
you so loved the world
that you gave us
your Son.

Protect us, Father.

And of the Son …
who came to live among us,
your everlasting 
gift of your

Be with us now, Jesus.

And of the Holy Spirit …
Always with us now, 
within our hearts,
our soul

Enlighten us to find cures for
all sickness in the world.
Help us respond to 
the cries of the 
earth and of
   the poor.

Exodus 34:9
This is indeed a stiff-necked people; 
yet pardon our wickedness and sins.

we are stiff-necked,
no doubt!
But, as you did with Moses
 and the Israelites,
please favour 

we are, so often.
Please help us walk 
with you and keep your 
within your Trinity 
of love.

2 Corinthians 13:13
The fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

in the Trinity,
love one another.
Their love becomes the third.
The sharing of these three makes

Let us love one another, in pale imitation.
Make us one in your Holy Spirit.
Make love our instinct.
Let us be Godly
with each


READING: John 3:16-21

Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

REFLECTION: Coming into the Light

Extract from The Road to Daybreak by Henri Nouwen 

A lot of very dark feelings today. Hard to dispel. Most powerful are the feelings of being caught. The powers of darkness have such a grip on me that “coming into the light” seems hardly possible. People leave without saying good-bye, people write saying that I am selfish, people grow angry because I have not written them. People have farewell parties without inviting me, people tell me that the things they promised cannot be done, and so on. Suddenly I feel lost, disconnected, forgotten, left alone, misused, manipulated, confused, angry, resentful, spiteful, and full of self-pity. So little is needed to slip into a depression! I am amazed by the fragility of my emotional balance. The only thing I can do is look at my emotional state with a certain distance and realize how easily everything turns dark.

Happily, the Gospel today has much to tell me – it is the conversation of Jesus with Nicodemus. If there is any conversation I should take seriously, it is this one. So much of me is like Nicodemus, wanting to see the light, but coming to Jesus during the night. Jesus says to Nicodemus, “though the light has come into the world, people have preferred darkness to the light” (John 3:19). In me I can feel this strange preference for the darkness. It seems as if I resist coming into the light and enjoy staying in my self-made darkness. Jesus offers the light, the truth, the life coming from above. He makes it clear that God wants to pull me away from the darkness; he wants to offer me a solid love to dwell in, a firm ground to stand on, a faithful presence to trust in. But I have to look upward instead of inward, and embrace the gifts that are given.

Yet why all this resistance? Why this powerful attraction to the darkness? Jesus says, “Everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, to prevent his actions from being shown up; but whoever does the truth comes out into the light, so that what he is doing may plainly appear as done in God” (John 3:20-21). That is an answer to my question. I do often prefer my darkness to God’s light. I prefer to hang on to my sinful ways because they give me some satisfaction, some sense of self, some feeling of importance. I know quite well that moving into God’s light requires me to let go of all these limited pleasures and no longer to see my life as made by me, but as given by God. Living in the light means acknowledging joyfully the truth that all that is good, beautiful, and worthy of praise belongs to God.

It is only a truly God-centred life that will pull me out of my depressions and give me hope. It is a clear path, but a very hard path as well.


Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Light of the world.
Shine your light on us today.

In our prayers we remember all who feel the weight of darkness today,
both darkness within and darkness without.

Lift them up, Lord,
from the darkness that is within
to the light of your presence.

We begin by praying for those of us caught by the darkness of depression,
the darkness of addiction, the darkness of grief.
In the silence we name them before you.


Lift them up, Lord,
from despair and depression
to hope and love.

We pray now for all those living with the darkness of uncertainty.
We remember especially those struggling with debt, those without a home, those seeking asylum.
Lord, in the silence we name them.


Lift them up, Lord,
from the hidden places within
to the peace of your presence.

Finally, Lord, we pray now everyone suffering under the darkness of war, hunger, and all strife.
We remember Gaza and Yemen, for Sudan and Ukraine, and places under the shadow of death.
Lord, in the silence we give you our prayers.


Lift them up, Lord,
from the fears of today
to the hope of tomorrow.
Reach down to us all, Holy God,
and lift us from the darkness of our perplexity
to the light of your glory.



(A prayer of assurance from Celtic Daily Prayer)

Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept
me safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always marked
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened
this darkness of mine;
and though the night is here,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken
when time was ripe;
and though you be silent now,
today I believe.