Fifth Sunday of Lent
Today we worship our compassionate God, who heals our sinfulness and challenges us to leave sinfulness behind.
+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
God of power, God of mercy, you bring forth springs in the wasteland and turn despair into hope. Look not upon the sins of our past, but lift from our hearts the failures that weigh us down, that we may find refreshment and life in Christ, our liberator from sin, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, holy and mighty God for ever and ever. Amen.
Hymn: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” – Nathan and Christy Nockels
A Reading from the Old Testament: Isaiah 43:16-21 (NLT)
[The challenge to begin anew is seen in this reading from Isaiah.]
“I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
“But forget all that — it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.
“I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.
A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 126:1-6 (NLT)
When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.” Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!
Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.
Psalm: “Psalm 126” – Sojourn Music
A Reading from the Letters: Philippians 3:8-14 (NLT)
[Paul urges us to keep straining ahead for the prize of glory.]
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
A Reading from the Gospels: John 8:1-11 (NLT)
[Jesus meets the woman taken in adultery, treating her with justice and compassion.]
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Hymn: “Press On” – Selah
Wonder-working God: hear our prayers on behalf of your people.
+ For our church leaders that they may walk with you in humility and grace…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all believers that we may show compassion and mercy…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all believers that we may be slow to judge and quick to understand…. Lord, hear us.
+ For dispossessed and destitute families that they may be cared for…. Lord, hear us.
+ For persecuted believers that they may stay strong in faith and hope…. Lord, hear us.
+ For the sick and weary among us that we might be their support…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all who have died in Christ that they may enter his saving presence…. Lord, hear us.
Mighty God, you deliver your people in every trial: hear our prayers through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Hymn: “I’ll Fly Away” – Johnny Cash
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
(1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)
+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen