Third Sunday of Lent
Come let us worship our God of kindness – who calls us to repentance and, like a patient gardener, always gives his people a second chance.
+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
God of salvation, we stand before you on holy ground, for your name is glorified and your mercy revealed wherever your mighty deeds are remembered. Since you are holy and forbearing, turn us from every rash and shallow judgement to seek the way of repentance. We ask this through Christ, our deliverance and hope, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, holy and mighty God for ever and ever.
Hymn: “Great I Am” – New Life Worship
A Reading from the Old Testament: Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15 (NLT)
[God reveals his name to Moses, who removes his sandals, a sign of his deep respect for God’s presence and power.]
One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”
When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
“Here I am!” Moses replied.
“Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.
But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
God replied to Moses, “I am who i am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.
This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.
A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 103 (Hillsong)
A Reading from the Letters: 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12 (NLT)
[Paul draws lessons from Jewish history, warning people to be careful.]
I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did….
And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.
A Reading from the Gospels: Luke 13:1-9 (NLT)
[The Gospel combines a call to repentance with a reminder of God’s willingness to give us a second chance.]
About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”
Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’
“The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”
Hymn: “Lord, Have Mercy (Kyrie)” – Lindell Cooley
Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!
Lord we have placed all our hope in Thee.
Gracious God, full of compassion and mercy, hear your people as we present our concerns to you today:
+ For your Church throughout the world to bear witness to your love, compassion and mercy…. Lord, hear us.
+ For an end to wars and trouble, especially in Syria and the Middle East…. Lord, hear us.
+ For Christian charities who look after the dispossessed…. Lord, hear us.
+ For refugees seeking safety and support as they wait to return home…. Lord, hear us.
+ For those who have asked for our prayers, especially our neighbors, families and friends…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all who have died in Christ before us, especially family, friends and neighbors, they may enjoy the heavenly rest that we all seek…. Lord, hear us.
God of mercy and compassion, hear our prayers. Forgive us our sins and give us the grace to love one another as you have loved us, and to forgive one another as you have forgiven us. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in unity with the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Hymn: “Let Your Kingdom Come” – Sovereign Grace
To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)
+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen