Third Sunday in Lent
Scripture Readings: Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22
The story of God’s saving revelation is at the heart of the lectionary readings. The Decalogue in Exodus lifts up God’s gift of the law of Moses, through which Jews found righteousness. The psalm heralds God’s law: perfect, enlightening, and life-giving. But Paul tells the churches at Corinth that while the Jews still look to the law, the fullness of God’s salvation is revealed in the gospel. In John, Jesus’ action and prophecy in the temple courtyard underscores the notion that, with Christ, we have the fullness and successor to the law.
INVITATION AND GATHERING
Call to Worship (Psalm 19)
Weary and overwhelmed, we gather.
God’s holy word revives us.
Simple and confused, we yield.
God’s word gives us wisdom.
Blind and uncomprehending, we await.
God’s word enlightens our eyes.
More precious than gold is God’s word.
Sweeter than honey are God’s commands.
Opening Prayer (1 Corinthians 1, John 2)
your weakness is mightier than human strength,
your foolishness is wiser than human wisdom.
We rejoice that you are with us today.
Open our hearts and discipline our will.
Teach us to follow your perfect ways.
Test us with your righteous decrees.
As with a whip,
drive us from unholy living,
and turn us toward your holy light.
Through your Son, Jesus Christ,
comfort and redeem us with your holy gospel.
PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE
Prayer of Confession (Psalm 19, John 2)
With hearts of sorrow,
we come before you, O God,
to confess what you already know—
we have failed to keep your laws.
Again and again,
we have followed our own selfish will,
rather than your holy and life-giving will
for our lives.
We have twisted your decrees and institutions
to suit our preconceptions and interests
rather than your own.
Forgive us, O God,
and cleanse us from hidden faults,
that the words of our mouths,
and the meditations of all our hearts,
may be acceptable to you,
our Rock and our Redeemer.
Words of Assurance (Exodus 20)
God shows steadfast love
and blesses to the thousandth generation
those who walk in God’s ways.
In love, God sent Jesus
to bless and redeem God’s people.
God forgives us our sins
and restores us to new life.
Let us rejoice in God’s mercy.
Passing the Peace of Christ (Exodus 20, 1 Corinthians 1)
The Lord continues to bring God’s people from slavery into freedom. Through the power of the cross of Christ, we are being saved. May the peace of Christ be with you.
And also with you.
Let us share signs of peace with one another.
Invitation to the Word (Psalm 19)
The universe proclaims God’s truth.
God’s knowledge flows night and day!
We open our ears to hear, our minds
to comprehend, our hearts to receive.
Response to the Word (John 2)
Holy and eternal God, you make foolish
the wisdom of the world.
Through the foolishness of the cross,
you save those who believe.
Help us, O God, believe not only with our lips
but also with our lives.
THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION
Invitation to the Offering (Psalm 19, John 2)
We worship a God of abundance,
from whose hands flow all the blessings of our lives.
May we be spared the sin of using these blessings
simply for our own pleasure and purposes.
Give us right and generous hearts, O God,
that your blessings may flow from our hands
to those in need.
Offering Prayer (1 Corinthians 1)
The wisdom of the world
tells us to hoard what we own, O God,
while you invite us to share what we have
with those in need.
Accept these gifts for your purposes,
that we may be your servants in the world.
Benediction (1 Corinthians 1)
We proclaim the crucified and risen Christ,
who is the power and wisdom of God.
May Christ strengthen us and give us wisdom.
Go forth in the name of Christ!
Contemporary Gathering Words (Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 1)
The world finds no proof of God.
But the heavens tell of God’s glory.
God’s message is foolishness to the world.
But God’s folly trumps human wisdom.
The freedom of the world brings us death.
But obedience to God’s ways brings life.
We gather in the name of Christ crucified.
The Word made flesh brings life to God’s people!
When we open our eyes, we see your glory, O God.
Sun, moon, and stars proclaim your magnificence.
When we open our ears, we hear your word, O God.
The voice of creation reaches the ends of the earth.
When we open our hearts, we receive your truth, O God.
You fill us with joy and light forever.
When we open ourselves, we praise your holy name.
Praise God’s holy name.
From “The Abingdon Worship Annual 2009,” edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © 2008 by Abingdon Press. “The Abingdon Worship Annual 2015” is now available.