Worship Connection: March 4, 2018

February 4th, 2018

Third Sunday in Lent

Color: Purple 

Scripture Readings: Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22


Call to Worship #1:

L: Come with us on this Lenten Journey to the Temple

P: The temple is the great House of the Lord.

L: But sometimes even greed and selfishness can enter the Temple.

P: Be with us, Lord, as we enter this step.

L: The Lord will be asking us to recognize our selfishness.

P: Lord, hear our cries. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:

L: We stand in the need of the presence of God.

P: Our lives can so easily become corrupted by our own greed.

L: But the Lord has heard our cries and calls us forward on this journey.

P: Lord, guide our steps.

L: Come, let us worship God who is always with us.

P: Let us open our hearts to the healing, restoring love of God. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:

[Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL , p. 384 “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” offer the following call to worship as directed]

Choir: singing verse 2 of “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”

 L: Lord, come to us today and heal our wounds.

P: Be in our hearts and our spirits, we pray.

L: Give us courage to put aside the greed and selfishness in our hearts.

P: Heal our spirits and help us to follow you. AMEN.

Call to Worship #4:

L: This is the third step on our Lenten Journey.

P: It is on this journey that we will face our greed and selfishness

L: It is on this journey that God will confront us.

P: Our hearts are ready to receive God.

L: Come, then, and let us move forward toward the Cross.

P: Let us faithfully and confidently follow Jesus. AMEN.


Opening Prayer:
Lord, we come to you this day with so many things laying claim to our lives, our hearts, and our spirits. Open our ears and our hearts to hear your words of healing love. Prepare us to be faithful disciples for you. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession:
Patient Lord, we have cluttered the “temples” of our lives with so much unnecessary things that they have blocked out your healing words of hope and mercy. We have been keenly aware of our economic situation and have spent much time and energy worrying about these things. . Forgive us when we have been so preoccupied with these things that we have not listened to your words and followed your ways. Clear away our fears and frustrations. Give us clean hearts and spirits. Help us to be confident in your mercy and transformational love. These things we offer in the name of Jesus, the Christ. AMEN.

Words of Assurance:
Rejoice! You are forgiven. Let the clutter of your life fall away and be replaced by the love of God in Christ Jesus. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer:
Lord, sometimes we have difficulty hearing the story of Jesus cleansing the Temple of those who would lie, cheat, and steal. We always want Jesus to be patient, meek, and mild. But there are many times when bold action is required to cleanse the cancer of greed and avarice from our lives. Lord, help us to remember that Jesus’ patient words often fell upon deaf ears. Remind us that we need to be bold in our faith; first examining our lives and clearing out the pain, greed and fear. Replace our anxieties with confidence in your all-sustaining love and grace. Enable us to put our service to you and your people above our selfishness. As we reach out to others in need, remind us that we also stand in need of your mercy; for we ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN.

(Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 344, “Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore”, offer the following music/monologue, as directed)

Reader 1: (singing) “Lord, you have come to the temple, looking neither for wealth nor wise ones…”
Reader 2: What did you find, Lord? Have you found those who seek position and status rather than serving you? Have you found those who are more concerned with the fiscal “bottom line” than being disciples?

Reader 1: (continuing singing) “you only asked me to follow humbly…”

Reader 2: It’s interesting, Lord, that you only asked for our commitment and humility. You did not say that we had to be persons of distinction or importance; that we had to toe the line….you asked for our sincerity….and we placed profit above discipleship.

Reader 1: (singing) “O Lord, with your eyes you have searched me, and while smiling, have spoken my name; now my boat’s left on the shoreline behind me; by your side I will seek other seas.”

Reader 2: You know me, Lord. You know me thoroughly. I am weak, and I always think that you should choose someone more worthy; someone who is better prepared; someone who is more eloquent, than me. Yet, you have smiled, and reached out to me. I can’t turn away. I can’t walk away. I can’t let other things crowd out your words of confidence in me. Help me, Lord, to reach back to you - to be willing to go forth, leaving all the things that have cluttered and blocked my life and my service to you. Let me “fish other seas” with you, serving humbly, joyfully, and confidently. AMEN.

Go forth with the Lord at your side, seeking goodness and compassion. Bring the words of hope and peace to all whom you meet. Go in peace. AMEN. 



The traditional color for this Sunday is: PURPLE

Although the traditional color for this Sunday is purple, I am asking you to consider covering the worship center with the brown landscapers’ burlap, so that the coarseness of the fabric will set the tone for the weeks which are coming. The movement throughout Lent this year will be taking step toward the cross. Each week, there will be a representation on each step concerning the gospel message for that Sunday (also including Holy Thursday and Good Friday). Each week will be build upon the previous week., building upward from the bottom step toward the cross. Follow the prompts in the directions below to see the suggestions for each step. The Sunday in Lent will be in italics and bold print.

LENT 1: This is the first step (Ash Wednesday begins with the display on the floor of the worship center, in front of the steps). The journey upward toward the cross begins here. Today’s representation will be THE WILDERNESS.

LENT 2: This is the second step. Today we move forward in commitment, being willing to deny ourselves, and take up our crosses and follow Jesus. Today’s representations will be THE CROSSES of DISCIPLESHIP

LENT 3: Our greed and selfishness have become the focus of today’s representation. Jesus’ overturns the tables of the money changers, for they have been cheating the people for their own profit, they have corrupted the house of worship by their avarice. Today’s representations will the COINS.

SURFACE: You will be creating 11 steps, leading from the cross down onto the floor of the worship area. These steps should be about 8” high You will need to make each step about 2 feet wide and about 12” deep. This might mean building some additional steps to be placed on the worship center and extending the other steps well into the chancel area. If you are limited in space. Make the steps slightly smaller and put them in a staggered format to the right and left of the main step, which should be the highest one. It is on this one that the Lenten cross will rest, to be replaced by an Easter cross

FABRIC: Cover the entire worship area with landscapers’ burlap, making sure that all risers are covered and that the fabric puddles on the floor in front of the worship center.

Take 3 3” wide ribbons or strips of royal purple cloth and place them on the center of the top riser, under the Lenten cross. Make sure that they are separated about 1-2” apart. Bring them forward down over the risers and onto the floor in front of the worship center.

CANDLES: Ash Wednesday: On the top step, in front of the Lenten cross, place a 10” white pillar candle. Lent 1: Place a 3” white candle on the bottom step. Lent 2: Place a 3” white candle on the next step up from the bottom. Lent 3: Place a 3” white candle on the next step up from the previous week‘s step.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Ash Wednesday: If you can get cacti, or other large, spiky plants, place them on the floor on either side of the steps leading to the cross. Place some smaller spiky plants on either side of the cross, but make sure that there is about 8” between the cross and the plants. Lent 1: Place several cacti on the bottom step.

ROCKS/WOOD: Place piles of rocks on each of the steps, just to give some texture. Don’t use too many, but have some there for effect.

OTHER: If it is possible, have someone create a rough, rugged cross, about the size of the brass cross that you might normally use on the worship center. This is known as the Lenten Cross. Place that Cross on the center of the uppermost riser, on top of the strips of purple ribbon/fabric. Lent 2: Place a collection of small crosses, about 6” high on the second step from the bottom. Lent 3: Place coins and other monies on the step (heaped up and spilling over from a basket.


Note: The approach I am using for the Lenten-Easter worship liturgy focuses on the theme: "BARRIERS TO THE CROSS: A Journey of Difficult Decisions". The Scripture being used are the lectionary passages from Mark and John. Many of the liturgical elements are tied in with the Artistic Elements and the above-mentioned theme. Each week we will examine various barriers and barricades, blockades which we encounter on our journey to the Cross.]

YEAR B - Lent 3 - BARRIERS to the Cross: The Enticement of Greed


Call to Worship #1: 

L: The heavens are praising the might of God.

P: Let all God’s people praise God’s Holy Name!

L: Everything that is created bears the special imprint of God.

P: Let us bear the imprint of God’s forgiving and transforming love.

L: Let the words of our mouths be acceptable to God.

P: Let our spirits reflect God’s goodness and compassion. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Long ago God called a wandering people into a special relationship.

P: They were challenged to be God’s witnesses in community to a world divided.

L: In the goodness of God’s time, Jesus was called to teach us about our relationship to God.

P: He taught us that God personally cares for each one of us.

L: The Holy Spirit was sent specifically to comfort and guide us in our witness.

P: May we be faithful in our relationship with God and proclaim God’s love to everyone. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using the United Methodist Hymnal, p. 398, "Jesus Calls Us", have the congregation sing the verses as directed below]

L: There is so much happening to us and around us today.

P: We feel as though we are caught up in a swirling sea, battered by the waves.

L: Listen! Jesus is calling to us.

P (singing verse 1): "Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea; day by day his sweet voice soundeth, saying "Christian, follow me!"

L: Prepare your hearts this day to hear the good news of salvation.

P: We open our hearts and spirits, seeking a new direction in our lives.

L: Let go of all those things which have bound you away from Jesus. Believe, and live!

P (singing verse 3): "Jesus call us from the worship of the vain world’s golden store, from each idol that would keep us, saying "Christian, love me more!"

L: Place your lives in Jesus’ care.

P: We offer our lives, our strength, and our hope to Jesus. AMEN.

Call to Worship #4

L: Come this day, seeking freedom and release.

P: We are bound by the claim of the world on our lives.

L: What do you need this day?

P: We need to learn how to let go of our anger, greed, and indifference and focus our lives on Jesus Christ.

L: Come, freedom awaits you!

P: Lord, help us to drop the chains that bind us to the world’s false claims. Help us to focus on you. AMEN.


Opening Prayer 

Lord, we are brought to this place with the full awareness that all our riches, our "toys", our possessions still do not offer to us the peace we so desperately need. We chase after things and yet find it difficult to follow the path to the cross. Help us to be ready to hear your word for us, to experience your healing love, and to witness to your Good News. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession 

Lord, we could make a special list of all the possessions that are most dear to us. We cherish these objects, these treasures almost more than life itself. Much of our culture demands that we get more and more of objects, commodities. We are encouraged to throw away items because their value decreases so rapidly. Unfortunately, we far too often treat our relationships with each other in the same attitude. We enter relationships for what we can get, and when we feel we have gotten all that we could, we discard the relationship. Jesus came to teach us a new system of values, in which people and hope and faith are treasured. Jesus demonstrated graphically what can happen, even in God’s house, when greed takes the place of faith. Forgive us, patient Lord, when we allow our greed and our fear to rule our lives. Forgive and heal us when we have treated each other with careless abandon. Turn our lives in a new direction in which following you and serving your world are our dearest treasures. For we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer 

Lord of hope and justice, we have come this day to worship with so many concerns that are on our hearts and weighing down our spirits. We feel the bands of the world’s claims on us tightening around our hearts, suffocating our spirits, driving our thoughts and actions. We live in a culture which has encouraged us to be greedy, to go for the "gold ring", to scratch a card for riches which may lie in wait. We rush to the counter with our dollar and our dream. And then we wait on the edge of our seats to find out if we have been the chosen ones. Lord, help us to break the bonds that "instant" riches, "instant" gratification have on us. Help us to remember that you have chosen us to be your witnesses to hope, peace, love, justice in the world. Break the chains of our own oppressions that cause us to place possessions before following you. This day, patient and loving Lord, enable us to look into our lives at the chains that bind us. Free us to serve you and in serving you help us to discover the joy of discipleship and freedom that no riches or treasures can provide. AMEN.


Reader 1: I have just gotten back from my trip overseas to buy this new item for my collection. Expensive, sure, but it’s worth it. Won’t it look nice on top of the hutch in the dining room? I will have to invite everyone over to see it and I will tell them the story of how I got it and was able to bring it home for my collection.

People: Our Father, who is in heaven, Holy is your name.

Reader 2: I’m going right down to the store to buy my lottery ticket. The MegaPrize is being offered tonight and I just know that I will win and then everything will be okay.

People: Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Reader 3: I would love to serve on the mission committee at church, but I really have too much to do. You know how it is with families. We have to take the kids here and there, to this game and that, to this party and that party. There isn’t time for everything. The mission committee will still be there when things settle down.

People: Give us this day our daily bread.

Reader 4: I think that we should turn this sanctuary into an art gallery. We have wonderful artists in our own community and we could hang their pictures on the walls and then people would have something to do during the sermon, other than just listen.

People: And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

Reader 5: We could hold a "holy raffle", you know, everyone gets to bid on the pastor’s time this week. If you win, the pastor is there to serve you, and only you. . You get special prayers, get your name in the bulletin and in the newsletter, and maybe even in the news. You will be especially singled out as a winner.

People: And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil.

Reader 6: I seek peace, O Lord. The world is consuming me. Help me to let go of the greed, the apathy, the indifference, the attitudes and actions that hurt and destroy others. Free me from the possessions which bind me. Help me to serve you more faithfully.

People: For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. AMEN.

Benediction, Blessing, Commission 

The chains of greed and arrogance have been broken. Christ has driven them away. As people who have been freed and changed, go into this world, proclaiming the Good News. God’s peace and love will always be with you. AMEN.


Note: It is a good idea to write a brief description of the visual presentation in the worship bulletin describing the symbols and their meaning.

[The Lenten Services will be progressive in nature, that is, we will create a visual display that will move people through the services of Lent to the Easter Resurrection Celebration. There are several ways in which this visual display can be accomplished. The first way uses multiple levels, both on the worship center and in front of the worship center. Each Sunday and worship service during Lent, the symbols of a barrier and its "key word" will be placed on a riser. All symbols will remain on the riser to which they are assigned. The list will build as the Sundays progress. The second way, more simple than the first, will be using only two or three levels. The barrier for the week or worship service will be put in place each week prior to worship and then following the service it will be removed in preparation for the next week’s worship service. ]


SURFACE: The surface or structure of this display is created through the use of multiple risers. Create three levels with risers on the worship center. The center riser, placed near the back of the worship table, should be the highest, approximately 12" high. The two other risers should be about 4-6" high and should be to the left and right of the center riser. They should come toward the front of the worship center so that a gap of about 6-8" occurs. The other risers should be placed in front of the worship center. You will need a two risers that are 4" shorter than the level of the worship table. These should be placed in front of the worship table with a space of about 12" between them. The next two risers should be about 6" shorter than the previous risers and are placed in front of them, slightly off center so that they do not look like stair steps. The floor may suffice for the first level, although you may want to make risers about 2-3" high to create slight elevations from the main floor.

FABRIC: Purple is the traditional color for Lent. However it is very effective if you cover the entire worship area in burlap. Landscaper’s burlap, once it is aired out, is a great cover. It comes in 50 foot rolls and can be purchased at any landscape or home improvement store. However, do air it out! Using purple cloth, weave the cloth from the center riser, across the worship table and then down onto some of the other risers. Do not cover all the risers with purple cloth, but rather create a draping effect with it. Puddle both the remainder of the burlap and purple cloth on the floor in front of the worship center. Have a piece of dark material, black or very dark navy blue, approximately 1 yard in length, cover the brass cross on the top riser.

CANDLES: Place a candle on each of the risers, with the exception of the top center riser, the riser on which the suitcase is placed, and the riser which will be used for the "coins".. The pillar candle which was in place in front of the top riser is to remain there during most of the Lenten Services. These candles may be purple, the traditional color for Lent. They should be pillar candles about 4-6" in height.

FLOWERS/PLANTS: No plants are placed in this setting.

ROCKS/WOOD: Place some rocks in the setting, in the "valleys" of fabric. The larger rocks that were in place in the Ash Wednesday service may remain at the base of the worship center.

OTHER: Place a brass cross on the top riser and cover it with dark fabric. The cross remains hidden during the first portion of Lenten services. The other items remain on the risers on which they were placed. The "keyword" today is greed. On the riser which is just above the suitcase riser, place a bag, or bowl with some "coins" spilling out of it. If the lid to the suitcase blocks the next riser, select another riser. It will be important that the bag, or bowl and money be seen. The coins are created by either getting a wooden dowel, approximately 1" around, and cutting it into "coins" and spraying each of them with gold paint. Another way to do this is to purchase "fake money" from a toy store and use the plastic coins and paper money in the display. The intention is that the coins will symbolize greed.

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