The Celebration of the Gospel
March 12, 2017 —Second Sunday in Lent
You must be born again.
— John 3.7
________ We Gather as the Body of Christ______
PRELUDE Herzliebster Jesu Johannes Brahms
[As we listen to the music we quiet our minds and bodies,
listen for our hearts’ deepest desires,
and become present to the Holy One who is lovingly present for us.]
* CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: God is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
All: God does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor punish us for our unfaithfulness.
Then let us turn to the Gracious One, trusting in God.
We praise you, O God, and return to you,
that you may give us new birth in your Holy Spirit.
* SONG Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus Blue hymnal # 349
(10:30) CHILDREN’S TIME
___________ We Attend to the Word___________
(10:30) THE WORD IN SONG His Eye Is On the Sparrow arr. Mark Hayes
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Pastor: The grace of God is with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, we open ourselves in honesty to God.
God of love, help us to see ourselves with the eyes of love,
to see what is in us that is loving,
and what is not loving.
For those times we have been most in harmony with you we give thanks.
For those times we have been out of harmony, we seek your grace.
Forgive us, heal us, and perfect your love in us.
SILENT PRAYER … THE WORD OF GRACE
RESPONSE O Lord, Your Tenderness Black hymnal #2143
SHARING THE PEACE OF CHRIST
PRAYER OF THE DAY
God of love, like Nicodemus, we come to you seeking wisdom and life. Speak to us the Word that gives us new life, that we may be born again from your love. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT Genesis 12.1-4
[In today’s texts God calls us out of our established ways into new ways of living. In Genesis 12.1-4 God calls Abram, at the ripe old age of 75, to leave his relatives and his homeland and journey toward a new land and a new life, in which, he is told, “you will be a blessing.” (He will even become a new person, with a new name, Abraham.)]
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your parents’ house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
PSALTER Psalm 32
[When we hide our sin it eats away at us; but when we confess God forgives us. We ask God to guide us in God’s ways.]
Response: Lead me, Lord. Lead me in thy righteousness;
make my way plain before my face.
How blessed we are, that you forgive us so completely!
When we’re honest, we know our sin—
yet you treat us as if we have none.
When I tried to deny my brokenness
the wound ate me up from within.
Then I got honest with myself.
I stopped trying to hide.
I confessed my waywardness to you,
and you forgave me— you forgave me!
Therefore we have come to trust you deeply,
and we offer prayer to you.
Even in this anxious flood
the seething waters won’t reach us.
You are our hiding place, our safe place.
You surround us with songs of deliverance.
Teach us, O God, the way we should go.
Train us, with your eyes upon us.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice!
Oh, sing for joy, you whose hearts have been saved! R
GOSPEL John 3.13-21
[God’s judgment is light, which both reveals what is hidden, and also transforms it.]
No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Chosen One. Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Human One be lifted up, that whoever believes in the Beloved may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that God gave the Only Begotten, so that everyone who believes in Christ may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Beloved into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Love. Those who trust are not condemned; but those who do not trust are doomed, because they have not trusted in the name of the Begotten One.
And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.
GOSPEL John 3.1-8
Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the dark (so to speak) and Jesus tells him we must be “born from the top,” meaning both over again and also from above—from God. He says we are born of both water (materials) and spirit, which blows like the wind. Pneuma in Greek means “wind” and also “breath” and also “spirit.” ]
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.”
Jesus said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the Realm of God without being born anew from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can you enter a second time into your mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the Realm of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
SONG Blessed Assurance Blue hymnal # 369, vv. 1, 3
THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
____________We Share at Christ’s Table ________
OFFERING OUR GIFTS Rock Of Ages Thomas Hastings, arr: John Turner
* COMMUNION SONG
O Love, how deep, that you would give
your life to us so we may live,
to raise us up to life from death
and birth us new with every breath.
You call us to your table here,
to feast on love and know you near.
We give our gifts, our lives to you—
with you to die and be made new.
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
God be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is good to give God thanks and praise.
[The Blessing and Covenant…]
Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As often as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
Remembering these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
dying and rising with Christ in each breath,
each day, each act of love.
O God of Life, may our lives be praise to you eternally. Amen.
THE PRAYER OF JESUS
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
SHARING THE HOLY MEAL [Everyone is welcome at the table of Christ’s self-giving love.
The bread is wheat-, soy- and dairy free. We dip the bread in the juice.]
PRAYER OF BLESSING
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. May we be born anew from your Spirit each day, breath by breath, to serve you and serve the world in love, in the name of Christ. Amen
______ We Are Sent in Ministry to the World_____
THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD
* SONG Breathe on Me, Breath of God Blue hymnal #420
* THE BLESSING AND SENDING FORTH
RESPONSE We stand and sing to our neighbors:
May the grace and peace of Christ be with you my friends.
Go and share the love of God, love that never ends.
POSTLUDE O God, Our Help In Ages Past Tune: ST. ANNE, arr: Dwight Gustafson
[During the postlude there are people ready to pray with you at the candles in the corners.]