The 5th Sunday of Lent – 07 Apr 2019 – Luke 20:9-19 ~ The stone that the builders rejected.

Fifth Sunday of Lent

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Opening Prayer

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
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“Shir Ha Ma’alot” – Song of Ascents (Ps 126) – Sheli Myers

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Gospel Reading: Luke 20:9-19 (NLT)

Parable of the Evil Farmers

Now Jesus turned to the people again and told them this story: “A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and moved to another country to live for several years. At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers attacked the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. So the owner sent another servant, but they also insulted him, beat him up, and sent him away empty-handed. A third man was sent, and they wounded him and chased him away.

“‘What will I do?’ the owner asked himself. ‘I know! I’ll send my cherished son. Surely they will respect him.’

“But when the tenant farmers saw his son, they said to each other, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ So they dragged him out of the vineyard and murdered him.

“What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do to them?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you—he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others.”

“How terrible that such a thing should ever happen,” his listeners protested.

Jesus looked at them and said, “Then what does this Scripture mean?

‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’

Everyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”

The teachers of religious law and the leading priests wanted to arrest Jesus immediately because they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the people’s reaction.
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Prayer:

Almighty God: Hear the prayers of your people made right with you through faith in your Son, Jesus Christ. We pray especially –

+ For the unrepentant: Merciful God, you desire not the death of sinners, but rather that they should turn to you and live. Have mercy on the unrepentant and those who do not believe. Awaken in them, by your Word and Holy Spirit, a deep sense of their sinfulness and peril. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of your Word. Grant them to know and feel that there is no other name under heaven given among men by which they must be saved, but only the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so bring them home and number them among your children, that they may be yours for ever….

+ For missionaries: Gracious God, you desire that all people be saved and come to knowledge of the truth: Prosper all those who live, preach, and teach the Gospel at home and in distant lands; protect them in all perils, support them in their loneliness, sustain them in the hour of trial; give them your abundant grace to bear faithful witness; and endue them with burning zeal and love, that they may turn many to righteousness….

+ For local congregations: Father God, strengthen and confirm the faithful; protect and guide the children; visit and relieve the sick; turn and soften the wicked; arouse the careless; recover the fallen; restore the penitent; remove all hindrances to the advancement of your truth; and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church….

+ For those suffering or weak: Compassionate God, we hold up our weaknesses to your strength, our failures to your faithfulness, our sinfulness to your perfection, our loneliness to your compassion, our pains to your agony on the cross. We pray that you will cleanse us, strengthen us, guide us, so that in all ways our lives may be lived as you would have us live without cowardice and for you alone. Show us how to live in true humility, true contrition, and true love….

Almighty God, the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you: Help us so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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“Press On” – Selah

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Blessing – Philippians 3:13-14

Focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Fifth Sunday of Lent, 13 March: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126:1-6; Philippians 3:8-14; John 8:1-11 ~ forgetting the past… I press on

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.

Opening Prayer:

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.
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Hymn: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” – Nathan and Christy Nockels


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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.

God will make a way

“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.
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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


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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-Press-On-FB

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.
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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.

Woman Caught in Adultery  John Martin Borg
Woman Caught in Adultery
John Martin Borg

“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.”
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Hymn: “Press On” – Selah


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Intercessions:

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.
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Hymn: “I’ll Fly Away” – Johnny Cash

Benediction:

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

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Jer 31:31-34; Ps 51:3-4, 12-15; Heb 5:7-9; Jn 12:20-33 ~ his death, his glory

Fifth Sunday of Lent

As Easter approaches, remember all those who are preparing for Baptism; and may we be prepared to renew our Baptismal promises as well.

+ In the name the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening prayer:

In our hearts, O God, You have written a covenant of grace, sealed by the obedience of Jesus Your Son. Raise us up with Christ, the grain fallen to earth that yields a harvest of everlasting life. Help us to glorify Your name by following faithfully where He has led. 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.
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A Reading from the Old Testament: Jeremiah 31:31-343 (NLT)

“The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.

written-on-our-hearts

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
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A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 51:3-4, 12-15 (NLT)

For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.
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Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.
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A Reading from the Letters: Hebrews 5:7-9 (NLT)

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.
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A Reading from the Gospels: John 12:20-33 (NLT)

Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus.

Crucifix Cimabue c 1268-71. Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence.
Crucifix
Cimabue c 1268-71.
Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence.

Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels — a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.

“Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.”

Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him.

Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this to indicate how he was going to die.
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In this cross of Christ I glory, towering o’er the wrecks of time;
all the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime.

When the woes of life o’ertake me, hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
never shall the cross forsake me. Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

When the sun of bliss is beaming light and love upon my way,
from the cross the radiance streaming adds more luster to the day.
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Intercessions:

Gracious God: You are the source of mercy and compassion. Hear our prayers.

+ For all who are preparing to celebrate baptism at Easter time…. Lord, hear us.
+ For obedience to the will of God among the followers of Christ…. Lord, hear us.
+ For Christians suffering persecution for their faith today…. Lord, hear us.
+ For the continuing faithfulness to God’s word of our Jewish brothers and sisters…. Lord, hear us.
+ For those who hunger and thirst, in many nations, today…. Lord, hear us.
+ For the people in need in our communities, particularly our sick…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all who have gone before us in faith, and for those who mourn their loss…. Lord, hear us.

God of mercy and compassion, You give new heart to Your people: hear the prayers we offer in faith, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Benediction:

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen