Worship Connection: April 3, 2022

September 2nd, 2021

Fifth Sunday in Lent

COLOR: Purple
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8


Call to Worship #1

L: Break open our hearts this morning to hear your word, O God.
P: Let our fears be vanquished, our spirits restored!
L: Come and let us worship with great joy!
P: Let us drop the things of the past which weighed us down!
L: God is about to do something new in our lives!
P: Let God’s will become strong in our lives. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Spring is about to break forth!
P: In all the land, new life is happening!
L: Feel the wonder and power of God’s creative energy
P: Feel the awe and joy of God’s love for us.
L: Let us worship God with a full sense of joy and expectation.
P: Let us open our hearts, our spirits, our souls, to God’s lavish love. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3 

[Using the UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 394, “Something Beautiful” offer the following call to worship as directed]
L: Come to Jesus this day. Bring with you all the pain that you feel.
P: Lord, bring to us healing and hope
L: Come to Jesus this day. Bring with you your confusion and doubts.
P: Lord, bring to us restoration and renewal of life
L: Come to Jesus this day and he will make something beautiful happen in your life.
CONGREGATION: singing “Something Beautiful” through 2 times.

Call to Worship #4

L: When all we have hoped for and trusted in has let us down;
P: There is Christ who reaches out to us.
L: When the world seems dark and despairs threatens to close in upon us;
P: There is Christ, reaching out for us.
L: Come and let us worship the Lord who is always ready to reach out to us.
P: We humbly come before the Lord in hope and faith. AMEN.


Opening Prayer

We come into your presence, O Lord, with so many burdens and concerns on our hearts. Help us to be open to your words of healing and restoration. Bring us closer to you. Enable us to discern your will for us that we may serve you more faithfully by serving others in need. In Christ’s name, we pray. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Patient Lord, we find it easy to blame others and other circumstances for the things which happen in our lives. We hear the words “if only” and wonder why things didn’t happen differently for us. Too often we want you to be a “magic” presence which will, with the wave of a wand, cure our ills, give us success and happiness; but we don’t necessarily want to take responsibility for our attitudes and actions. Life is. Things happen which we didn’t plan for and events swirl around us over which we have no control. But to place blame and not to find ways in which we can work through the situations is detrimental to everyone, especially ourselves. Forgive us when we are so busy placing blame that we don’t recognize your presence and love for us. Free us from placing our own desires first and foremost. Help us to look at the many ways in which you are working in the world for peace and justice, and enable us to be part of that ministry. In Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Let go of your fears. God has forgiven you and offered to you God’s healing love. Accept this free gift, for it is given for you through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer

Lord God, how extravagant your love for us is! You continually pour upon us blessing upon blessing - in the lives of people near and dear to us, in the beauty of creation, in the skills and abilities you have given to us. There is so much for which we are thankful. Yet in the midst of this thankfulness, there lurks the demons of demand and confusion. We want you to be in control of taking care of all the things that threaten us. We want you to prevent us from facing times of confusion and doubt. Actually, we want to have a more complete faith. Like Judas, who misunderstood Jesus’ intention, we wonder about the anointing of Jesus - about the perceived waste of materials. How hard it is for us to see that we need to take some time to honor and praise Christ instead of continually asking for Christ to do things for us. We have a lot to learn. Lord, teach us! Open our hard hearts to the healing words you have for us. Give us patience and persistence in our service to you. And when we stumble and thrash around faithlessly, bring us back to your presence; that we may find healing and hope. In Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.


[This is a skit - more like readers’ theater. It needs to be rehearsed. Reader 1 is Judas. He thinks he understand what Jesus is all about. Reader 2 could be anyone who is really trying to understand what happened when Jesus was anointed with the costly oil. Don’t over-play this, but read it carefully. The final line is the final line - don’t change it.]

Reader 1: I knew it. I just knew it. All that oil, gone to waste. He keeps preaching about helping others, but he let it happen. What is his problem? Why doesn’t he practice what he preaches?

Reader 2: Look, what’s done is done. Don’t get so upset about it. You know this has been a difficult time for him, for all of us. So a little oil got used to soothe his feet….is that such a crime?

Reader 1: You don’t get it, do you! We have so much work to do. We could have taken that oil, sold it and used the money to help others.

Reader 2: Yes. But maybe right how there is something more important than that. Maybe we should turn around and offer some comfort to Him for all he has done for us. We will always be able to find ways to help others - and there will always be others who will need our help.

Reader 1: You are hopeless. You just cave in to anything He says.

Reader 2: I prefer not to think of it as “caving in” but rather as really beginning to listen to him and to understand what he is all about. We do need to take of others and of each other. The poor we will always have with us. But we don’t know how long we will have Him with us. He spoke of his burial. He seems to know something we don’t. We just need to trust him and pay better attention.

Reader 1: You’ll never get rich with that attitude.


Go in peace and may God’s peace go with you. Bring hope and healing to all whom you meet. AMEN.


Note: I recommend putting a brief paragraph describing or explaining the symbolism used in your visual display in the worship bulletin. This a good teaching tool for the congregation.

The traditional color for this Sunday is PURPLE.

The theme for Lent is JOURNEY INWARD/JOURNEY FORWARD. The idea is that discipleship is a journey that is first lived inward, introspectively, reality-check, and then lived forward in service. The worship center will remain covered with the base cloth of burlap or other neutral rough material. Each week something will be added to the worship center and perhaps other things removed, until all are placed at the foot of the cross. I recommend that you have someone construct an “old, rugged Cross”, about 6-7 feet tall, on a free standing base. This cross will be used during Holy Week, but you want to plan far enough ahead to have it ready.

Today‘s gospel lesson is rather disconcerting in the light of journey, but look carefully at what is happening in the Scripture. Like so many of us, Judas has misunderstood what is going on - the only thing he can see is “the bottom line“. It‘s time to pay attention to Jesus. The symbol on the worship center today is a fancy jar of ointment or cream, and also a small pouch with money spilling from it. This represents the gift of sacrifice and love by Mary, and by us all.

Note: you may have left all the other elements on the worship center during this Lenten journey - make sure that there is enough space around each element that they do not appear crowded. If you have a smaller worship center, use only the elements for the day.

SURFACE: Place several risers on the worship center. The tallest riser, approximately 1 foot above the main level of the worship center, should be placed to the upper left as you are facing the worship center. The other risers, about 4-6” high, may be placed, one at the center and the other slightly to the right of the middle one.

FABRIC: Cover the worship center in burlap or other neutral colored, rough fabric. Beneath the jar of ointment, place a 15” square of cloth, in purple or lavender, representing sacrifice and royalty, honoring Christ.

CANDLES: On the middle riser, place a white pillar candle, about 10” high, representing Christ. Place a small candle by the jar of ointment.

FLOWERS/PLANTS: No plants or flowers on the worship center.

ROCKS/WOOD: Some rocks and wood may be placed on the center and at the base of the worship center.

OTHER: No cross on the worship center at this time. Place a jar of ointment on the lavender/purple cloth and have a small money pouch with coins spilling out of it visible to the congregation.

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