Worship Connection: February 25, 2024

January 9th, 2021

Second Sunday in Lent

Color: Purple
Scripture Readings: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38


Call to Worship #1:

L: The pathway is just beginning. 

P: We have encountered the wilderness.

 L: Now we are moving rapidly toward Jerusalem.

P: Along the way we will witness astonishing acts of mercy and justice.

L: Lord, be with us on the journey.

P: Guide our lives and our steps, we pray. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:

L: Welcome this day to the second step on our Lenten Journey.

P: We come with great hope and expectation as we walk the way of Christ.

L: Today’s journey will demand much of us.

P: Lord, make us ready to offer ourselves to you.

L: Come, let us begin again the wondrous excursion.

P: Let us place our lives in God’s abiding love. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2129, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”, offer the following call to worship as directed]

L: Are you ready for this journey?

P: We truly are. We have decided to follow Jesus.

Soloist: singing verse 1 of “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”

L: This is not going to be an easy journey. You may want to turn around and go home to safety and security.

P: No. We’re ready. The world is behind us; we are focused on the cross.

Duet: singing verse 1 of “ I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”

L: Many will begin the journey; but not all will continue. Are you ready?

P: We are ready. We place our faith and trust in Jesus.

Choir: singing verse 3 of “ I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” 

Call to Worship #4:

L: Today we step up a little higher on our Lenten Journey

P: We are moving from contemplation to action.

L: Are you ready to take the next step?

P: Yes, we are ready. The cross is before us.

L: Come, walk together on this journey to the Cross.

P: Lord, prepare our hearts and our spirits for this next step. AMEN.


Opening Prayer:
Lord of presence and power, be with us on this second step of our Lenten journey to the Cross. Help us to make a commitment of our lives, our spirits, our hearts to ministry in your name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession:
Guiding Lord, even though we hesitated on our Lenten journey; we vowed to come with you through all the trials and fears toward the Cross. Today we face the challenge which true commitment brings. Are we willing to offer our whole selves to you in service? We would like to think that we can do that, but we are aware of how many times we have turned away from service and instead focused on our own desires. Remind us again of the commitment you would have us give if we are to become disciples. Forgive our stubbornness and fears. Lead us forward, gracious Lord, up these steps toward the Cross. AMEN.

Words of Assurance:
The journey of discipleship is never easy; but you can be assured that you will not be on this journey alone. Place your trust in Jesus. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer:
You stop us in our tracks, O Lord, with your reminder that discipleship is not a “sometime” thing. We are called to place our whole lives in your care; to follow you; to serve you by caring for others, not just once in a while, but always. We admit that we’re not always ready to do this. The demand is great; the need is great; our energies are limited. Help us to place our trust and our lives in your care. You will give us the strength and courage that we will need for this step on the journey. Be with us. Help us to remember that your love is poured out for all your people; you are never far away. It is in Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.


Reader 1: Well, I didn’t do too badly last week. I entered the journey with Jesus, walking toward the wilderness. I have to admit that some of the “snakes” of my own fears were a bit much to confront, but I kept my eyes focused on Jesus, knowing that he was guiding me. I just wish I knew where this was all leading.

Reader 2: That’s the common human problem, we always want to know the outcome before we ever begin a task - the children’s question “Are we there yet?” seems to loom in our minds also.

Reader 1: That’s natural, you know. We want to know if we will make it. Can we overcome the obstacles; stay on the path.

Reader 2: And that is where faith comes in. You have to be willing to place your trust in the guiding love of Jesus.

Reader 1: This sounds like a little more than I bargained for. What other demands will be placed on me?

Reader 2: Your life…..your willingness to squarely face your fears, to take up your “cross” and follow Jesus, no matter what the outcome…..to travel forward without being assured of the ending for your journey. Are you willing to take this step?

Reader 1: I guess so. This is getting a little scary.

Reader 2: Not really. Jesus is guiding you and giving you peace and hope. Place your trust in him.

The step of discipleship requires commitment and faith. Go now in peace, bringing the good news of Jesus’ love to all people. Do not be afraid. God is with you. AMEN.


The traditional color for this Sunday is:


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

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.

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 2 - BARRIERS to the Cross: Unrealistic Expectations 


Call to Worship #1 

L: Welcome to worship today. Our Lenten journey has begun. 

P: We are glad to be here. 

L: This journey will be full of surprises. 

P: We don’t know what to expect. 

L: Place your trust in God who walks with you. 

P: Lord, guide our lives and our steps on the path to the Cross. AMEN. 

Call to Worship #2 

L: Praise and glorify the Lord! 

P: God has done wondrous things in our lives! 

L: The journey has just begun. 

P: We are ready for the road. We are eager for the journey. 

L: Lift up your hearts and spirits to the Lord. 

P: We raise our spirits and hearts in great joy. AMEN. 

Call to Worship #3 

[Using the United Methodist Hymnal, p. 505, "When Our Confidence Is Shaken", have the people sing the first verse as directed below] 

L: Last week when we gathered, we wondered if we were ready for the journey. 

P: We discovered that God is with us and we are, indeed, ready. 

L: Today we look at what our expectations are. 

P: With confidence we boldly go forth with Christ. 

L: Beware of the temptation to believe that you already know what lies ahead. 

P: Save us from being over-confident in ourselves. Help us to place our trust in you, Lord. 

ALL (singing): "When our confidence is shaken in beliefs we thought secure, when the spirit in its sickness seeks but cannot find a cure, God is active in the tensions of a faith not yet mature." 

Call to Worship #4 

L: What do you expect to find here today? 

P: We aren’t sure. We come seeking comfort, peace, hope, direction. 

L: Are you ready for this journey? 

P: We hesitate because we don’t know what lies ahead for us. 

L: Trust in God’s loving presence with you. 

P: We reach out to God, asking for guidance and compassion as we continue on this journey to the Cross. AMEN. 


Opening Prayer 

We gather this day on the second portion of our Lenten journey to the Cross. Last week we looked at our own readiness to follow Jesus. But what about our expectations? We often have fantasies about what lies ahead; picturing ourselves standing lovingly by as Christ heals. Basking in the glow of Christ’s love and ministry. We expect that once we have said "yes" to the journey everything will go very well. Give us a reality check, Lord. Help us to understand that the journey has many twists and turns, hills and valleys. Life is not lived on the plain with everything being equal. Prepare our hearts to look at our expectations. Free us from our images of easy ministry so that we can be more effective servants and witnesses for you. AMEN 

Prayer of Confession  

Lord of all fickle and frightened people, we always want to know what to expect. When we get a good book, we turn to the last chapter to see if the hero survives and everyone rides off into the sunset, happy and fulfilled. We like happy, predictable endings to adventures. But your call to us is a call to ministry in a world filled with surprises. You do not give us an "easy" way out of the tasks you place before us. Even though we would like to be "heroes and heroines" through our healing and caring ministries, help us to remember that it is through you the hope and healing come. We are but conduits for your grace. Free us from unrealistic expectations of grandeur and glory. Forgive us when we lapse into daydreams of "sainthood"; for your call to us is to servant ministry. We will get our hands dirty. We will be exhausted. We will cry. We will know frustration and fear. And we also will know the power of your healing and life-transforming love as we minister to others in your name. Keep us strong and courageous. Give us spirits of joy and hope that will spread to all people we meet. In Christ’s Name, we pray. AMEN. 

Pastoral Prayer  

Lord, you know how we like "instant" things. We want our food prepared in an instant; we want our broken items repaired instantly; we want funds available to us the instant we ask for them. We want you to instantly respond to our needs. You have called us to be part of this journey and this is not an "instant" trip of healing and hope. It will be difficult. We will have to look deep inside ourselves to find the barriers that block our vision. Our expectations for instant gratification need to be broken down. These are walls we erect that keep us from really dealing with the hurts and sorrow of the world. We are not on a nice little trip to a special place where the roses bloom and the birds sing. We are on a journey in an arid and dusty place where rocks, snakes, and dry dust threaten our way. We are called to be those who would bear hope in such a place. Prepare us for this portion of this journey, Lord. Help us to be realistic. Help us to remember that the good that we do, no matter how small it seems, is truly good in your sight. Enable us to work together for peace and harmony in your world. Draw us closer to you and help us to trust in you. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN. 


[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2137, "Would I Have Answered When You Called", have a soloist sing verse 2 at the end of this reading] 

Reader 1: I love going on trips. The excitement! The exotic places! I can hardly wait to begin! 

Reader 2: Where are you going? 

Reader 1: Well, I’m not sure. But I’m traveling with Jesus. 

Reader 2: Where is Jesus going? 

Reader 1: Um-m-m. To some towns, along the lakeshore. You know, places like these. 

Reader 2: What’s going to happen? 

Reader 1: I don’t know. I guess the people will be glad to see us and Jesus will heal a lot of them. 

Reader 2: What will you be doing? 

Reader 1: Oh, I don’t know. I hadn’t really given it much thought. 

Reader 2: What do you expect will happen? 

Reader 1: I just said, healing, and greetings. It should be nice. 

Reader 2: Maybe you will be able to help some of the people with special needs. 

Reader 1: Well, I don’t have training in that area. I could learn, I suppose. 

Reader 2: Maybe you could work with the lepers, those people who are called unclean. 

Reader 1: I’m not sure Jesus would want me to do that. 

Reader 2: Maybe you should just trust in Jesus to give you guidance and strength. 

Reader 1: I guess I’m not as ready as I thought. I expected this was going to be easy. 

Reader 2: This journey is difficult. God has promised to be with you. You will be given all the gifts you need to serve God faithfully and effectively. Do not fear. 

Soloist (singing verse 2): "Would I have followed where you led through ancient Galilee, on roads unknown, by ways untried, beyond security? Or would I soon have hurried back where home and comfort drew, where truth you taught would not disturb the ordered world I knew." 

Benediction, Blessing, Commission

Place your trust in God’s guidance. Go into this world that is in such need of hope and healing with the love of Christ in your hearts. Though the journey is long, God will sustain you. Go in peace, and may God’s peace always go 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. ] 

Today’s symbol is a very gaudy, glitzy WELCOME sign, reminding us that not all things will be easy or pleasant for us. Our expectations for the journey are sometimes unrealistic. A portion of the sign is damaged, perhaps beginning to reveal the true nature of the struggle and the journey. It is not easy and the tasks Christ puts before us are very serious and require a serious commitment. 


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 on which the Welcome sign is placed. 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: Using a piece of posterboard approximately 2 feet wide by 1 foot tall, create a "glitzy" sign. The word in the center of the sign should be "WELCOME", printed in bright red, and outlined in gold glitter paint. Other decorations on the sign should be very gaudy and sparkly, however one corner of the sign should be showing some signs of wear, such as a rip or some of the sparkly border torn or missing. Make it evident that damage has been done. Place this sign on a table easel on the riser near the bottom right of the worship setting.

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