Worship Connection: March 18, 2018

February 18th, 2018

Fifth Sunday in Lent

COLOR: Purple 

SCRIPTURE READINGS: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-12; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1:

L: This is the fifth step on our Lenten journey, the step of sacrifice.

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

L: This requires the willingness to give all of your life to the Lord.

P: Be with us, Lord, as we commit our lives to you.

L: Come, let us worship and offer our voices of praise to God.

P: Let us open our hearts and spirits to God this day. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:

L: God’s mercy floods over us.

P: Lord, wash me clean of the pain in my life.

L: God’s love pours into us.

P: Lord, pour your love into every pore of my being.

L: Let the love and mercy of God reign in your heart today.

P: Be with me, Lord, and guide my life. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2152, “Change My Heart, O God”, offer the following call to worship as directed]

Choir singing “Change My Heart, O God” through 1 time.

L: “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Jacob”.

P: God has made a new covenant with us in Christ Jesus.

L: Yet we have turned away, hardened our hearts and spirits.

P: Lord, help us to change.

Choir: singing “Change My Heart, O God” through 1 time.

L: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people”.

P: But we have failed to be God’s people. We have chosen our own way.

L: Turn again, says the Lord, through the prophets and through God’s own Son.

P: Turn us again to you, O Lord, and awaken our spirits to your love and mercy. AMEN.

Call to Worship #4:

L: The journey of Lent continues with a journey of sacrifice.

P: We are called upon to give our lives to God.

L: We are called upon to give of ourselves to others.

P: Lord, help us to reach inward in confession and outward in service.

L: Be with us this day and walk with us on this journey.

P: AMEN.

PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer:
Lord, be with us this day as we commit ourselves to being your disciples. Help us to face the future unafraid, trusting in your loving care and presence with us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession:
Compassionate Lord, forgive us when we falter on this Lenten pathway; when the road ahead seems too uncertain and we are afraid. We admit that following Jesus is not an easy task. Jesus requires us to be willing to make the ultimate commitment of our whole lives and we hesitate and hold back. Draw us back to you, Lord. Give us confidence and courage to face the future with hope. Let us place our trust in you that the message of peace and mercy you have given to us through Jesus Christ may be offered to others through our own witness to your healing mercy. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.

Words of Assurance:
Even though the future is clouded; God is with us, guiding, healing, comforting, restoring. Rejoice! In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven and healed. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer:
You know us too well, Lord. You know that we would like the ways of discipleship to be easy; to have the paths laid out in a neat line with the future clearly visible at all times. But part of our journey is obscured by our own greed and fear. You do not block the way to hope and peace. Our own fears provide the barriers; and far too often those barriers take the forms of alienation and prejudice. Write your words on our hearts, Merciful God. Plant your transforming love in our spirits. Give us courage. As we have gathered this day to bring before you our concerns, our joys and our sorrows, give us hearts of peace and confidence in your all-sustaining presence. Help us to set our feet on this pathway toward the cross and beyond. AMEN.

Reading:

Reader 1: I’m not sure about this journey. When it started out, it seemed all right to me. I thought I could follow Jesus along the path. Sure, there were some snags and trouble spots, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Now Jesus wants me to be willing to give my whole life, my whole entire life. I’m scared. I don’t know if I can let go of everything, just to follow Jesus. I don’t know if I can continue on the journey. I need some assurances that everything will be OK……that I will be OK.

Reader 2: Listen, Jesus says right from the beginning that we need to place our trust in him. We have seen so much on this journey……healing, forgiveness…..people having a glimmer of hope where only hopelessness prevailed. I suggest that we continue to place our trust in him and fix our eyes on him. We’ll be OK….because we’ll be walking and working with Jesus.

Reader 1: I know you are right, but I had to admit to my fear. I would love to pretend that following Jesus was just an easy task; but actually it’s a huge commitment. Jesus wants us to pay attention to the people who are in need. He wants us to serve and works with them to help create a better life for them. I guess I need to stop worrying and just trust in Jesus.

Reader 2: We all need to place our trust in Jesus. In these times when the future seems so clouded, Jesus reminds us that the greater good is in working together to help each other; offering our gifts and our service, not for a grand reward; but because we can do this to help. Even if it means that we lose ourselves, the gifts we have given will go on long after we have been here, helping others.

Reader 1: Well, let’s get back on the path again. Thanks for the “listening ear” and the good advice.

Reader 2: No problem……

Benediction:
Fix your eyes on the Lord. Place your hand in His Hand, trusting in his guiding and comfort. Go into this world, that needs so much the words of healing love, and bring the good news of God’s absolute love and presence to all people. Go in peace. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional color for this Sunday is:

THE THEME FOR LENT: TAKING STEPS TOWARD THE CROSS

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.

LENT 4: We often want God’s purpose for sending Jesus to be that of retribution for all the hurts and alienation we have felt; however, Jesus came to heal and restore us to a right relationship with God….”for God sent Jesus into the world so that the world through him might be saved….God did not send him into the world for condemnation…”

Today’s representation is A SMALL GLOBE or A PARTIALLY UNFOLDED MAP.

LENT 5: Discipleship requires a willingness to give totally of one’s self to the Lord. Holding nothing back, our deeds of mercy, justice and peace will bear a great witness to all, long after we have moved on in our journey. Today’s representation is a bundle of WHEAT.

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. Lent 4: Place a 3” white candle on the next step up from the previous week’s step. Lent 5: Place a 3” white candle on the next step up from the previous week’s step. (it should be placed behind the sheaf of wheat)

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. Lent 2, 3, and 4: no additional cacti or floral pieces necessary. Lent 5:At a local craft store you may want to purchase a bundle of wheat or grain stalks, to represent the grains of wheat that Jesus describes in today’s Gospel lesson. Place the wheat, lying on its side on the step above the globe/map and in front of the candle on that 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. Lent 4: If you choose, you may place a small pile of rocks by the globe or map.

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. Lent 4: Place a small globe or partially opened map on the step (The map should be opened so that some of it is leaning against the next step up and a small portion of it is spilling down over the edge to the step below.). If you are using a globe, place the candle slightly in front of the globe.


YEAR B - Lent 5 - Barriers to the Cross

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.]

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1: [WBW: Yr B, Lent 5, Welcome, Covenant, God’s presence, God’s love]

L: Good morning! Welcome to worship today.

P: Good morning! We are glad to be here.

L: The Lord is offering us a new covenant and new way of relating to God.

P: This covenant will be within our hearts and spirits!

L: Thanks be to God who continually reminds us of God’s presence with us.

P: Praise be to God who loves and guides us. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2: [WBW: Yr B, Lent 5, Worship, Praise, Commitment, Witness, Grace]

L: This is the hour of worship and praise.

P: Thanks be to God who draws us to this place and time.

L: This is the time of commitment and witness.

P: Praise be to God who opens our hearts and minds to God’s grace.

L: Come, let us worship the Lord!

P: Amen.

Call to Worship #3: [WBW: Yr B, Lent 5, God’s Presence, Power, Grace, God’s Word, Healing, Comfort, Praise]

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2016, "Glorify Thy Name", have the congregation sing the following verses as directed below]

L: Come, let us turn our hearts toward the Lord!

P: Let us sing of God’s power and grace.

Congregation (singing): "Father we love you, we worship and adore you, glorify thy name in all the earth. Glorify thy name, glorify thy name, glorify thy name in all the earth."

L: May our spirits and lives be open to receive God’s word.

P: May we be ready to serve God by serving in God’s world.

Congregation (singing): "Jesus, we love you, we worship and adore you, glorify thy name in all the earth. Glorify thy name, glorify thy name, glorify thy name in all the earth."

L: Bring your sorrows and joys, your hopes and your dreams before the Lord.

P: We bring every aspect of our lives to God for healing and comfort.

Congregation (singing): Spirit, we love you, we worship and adore you, glorify thy name in all the earth. Glorify thy name, glorify thy name, glorify thy name in all the earth."

Call to Worship #4: [WBW: Yr B, Lent 5, Welcome, Communion, Pain, Joy, Comfort, Healing, Restoration, God’s Love, Compassion]

L: Welcome to the house of the Lord!

P: We have come bringing our pain and our joys.

L: God is waiting for you, to heal and comfort you.

P: We need the refreshing, restoring love of Christ.

L: The table of the Lord is prepared for you.

P: Praise be to Christ who has offered us compassionate love. AMEN.

PRAYERS, LITANY, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer [WBW: Yr B, Lent 5, Confession, Witness, Failure, Openness, God’s love, Healing, Hope, Confidence, Trust]

Lord, this Lenten journey has been filled with the unexpected. You have asked us to look deep within ourselves, to identify the many ways in which we have turned away from you. Again this day we ask that you open our hearts to receive your word of healing and hope. The cross of Good Friday looms in our future and we face it with fear. Bring us through this time with confidence and trust in your guiding love. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession [WBW: Yr B, Lent 5, God’s love, Sorrows, Burdens, Faith, Confession, Forgiveness, Hope, Healing, Personal Service, Healing]

Gracious and Patient God, we come before you with so many things which weigh us down. We would like an "easy" faith, one that doesn’t cause us to look within ourselves, to identify those many ways in which we have forsaken you. But faith is never easy. It requires our very souls. Forgive us, God, for all those things which we have neglected to do that would have helped someone else to be closer to you. Heal our hearts from the wounds which have been inflicted upon us by the anger and misunderstandings which occur in relationships. Prepare our lives to be of service to you. In silence we wait. We long for your presence and your healing touch. AMEN.

[Offer a brief period of silence following this prayer]

Words of Assurance [WBW: Yr B, Lent 5, God’s Presence, Mercy, Forgiveness, God’s love]

God is merciful. God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Feel the healing, loving power of God in your lives, for it is given to you through Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer [WBW: Yr B, Lent 5, Burdens, Sorrows, Sins, God’s Love, Hope, Healing, Jesus Christ, Ministry, Mission, Witness, Guidance, Personal Service, Strength]

Why is it, Lord, that we rush headlong into holidays? The store shelves have been filled with bunnies, eggs, candy, and all the trimmings of the secular Easter, and we are drawn to planning for that day. We feel a sense of urgency, and yet you have called us to be on this journey, gradually coming with Christ to the Cross and beyond. Slow us down. Help us to look more closely at our own lives, at the many ways in which they are driven and demands are placed upon them. Remind us again of the ministry and mission of Christ, who came that we might have life. We have offered prayers for family and friends, for situations near and far. We have asked for your help, healing and blessing. Make us ready to receive these precious gifts. Walk with us on this pathway. Help us look at the barriers that have prevented us from following Christ and guide us through them that we may become stronger in our faith and our service to you, for we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Litany [WBW: Yr B, Lent 5, God’s Presence, Mercy, Openness, God’s Love, Restoration, Peace, Power, Grace, Healing]

L: God knows us, inside and out!

P: Have mercy upon us, O God, according to your steadfast love.

L: We can’t run and we can’t hide. God is with us at all times.

P: Have mercy upon us, O God.

L: Don’t be afraid. God will heal your wounds and bind up your broken hearts.

P: Have mercy upon us, O God.

L: From the very beginning, God has known and loved us.

P: Open our hearts to receive your love, O God.

L: Through all our stumbling and bumbling, God has lifted and carried us.

P: Open our hearts to receive your love.

L: Rest easy in the Lord, for God’s healing presence is here.

P: Restore us and give us peace, O God.

L: Place your hand in Christ’s hand. He will lead and guide your life.

P: Bring us into your presence again, O God.

L: Be at peace. God’s love is with you.

P: Thanks be to God for God’s mercy, love, and grace. AMEN.

Benediction, Blessing, Commission [WBW: Yr B, Lent 5, Peace, Hope, Forgiveness, God’s love]

As God has forgiven our sins, let us go joyfully into God’s world, offering God’s love, forgiveness and peace. Go in peace and the peace of God goes with you. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

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. ]

THE TRADITIONAL COLOR FOR LENT IS PURPLE

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. On the fifth riser, representing Lent 5, place a small votive candle along with the pillar candle.

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 service. Today’s gospel lesson mentions "wheat", so the symbol will be a sheaf of wheat (this can be found at most craft stores.) If you cannot a sheaf of wheat, have someone draw a sheaf of wheat on a 12" x 12" posterboard and place it on the fifth riser.

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