February 28, 2021 Second Sunday of Lent
This Worship at Home Guide is a supplement to our worship services. For your convenience, a printable PDF is available near the bottom of this page.
Gathering Question/Gathering Music
Gathering Music “Lead Me, Guide Me”
Text/Music by Doris Akers arr. by Jan Sutherland
This gospel hymn can well be understood as an updated adaptation of Psalm 5:8, with the “enemies” of the psalm writer treated as the pressures and temptations of daily life. As with the psalms, the “I” here is understood to express a communal experience.
Gathering Response as we join together in worshiping God:
God sent Christ into the world not to condemn the world
but that the world might be saved through him.
God’s steadfast love endures forever.
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, give us grace to direct our lives in obedience to your Spirit. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our redeemer. Amen
Hymn #43 On Eagles Wings
You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord, who abide in his shadow for life,
say to the Lord, “My refuge, my rock in whom I trust!”
Refrain:And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn,
make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of his hand.
The snare of the fowler will never capture you, and famine will bring you no fear:
under his wings, your refuge, his faithfulness your shield. Refrain
Text/Music ©1979. Jan Michael Joncas (Pub.by OCP). Reprinted with permission. ONELICENSE #A-716826. All rights reserved.
Prayer of Confession
God of mercy, you invite us to follow Jesus. We confess that we have strayed from your invitation. We are misled by pride, we have not always been faithful in love and justice. Hear now our individual prayers of confession…
Have mercy on us, O God. And forgive us our sins. Amen.
Hymn #220 Go to Dark Gethsemane
Go to dark Gethsemane, all who feel the tempter’s power,
your Redeemer’s conflict see; watch with him one bitter hour;
turn not from his griefs away; learn from Jesus Christ to pray.
Follow to the judgement hall; view the Lord of life arraigned
O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs his soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame or loss; learn from him to bear the cross.
Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at his feet,
mark the miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete;
“It is finished!” hear him cry; learn from Jesus Christ to die.
Early hasten to the tomb where they laid his breathless clay;
all is solitude and gloom. Who has taken him away?
Christ is ris’n! He meets our eyes. Savior teach us so to rise.
The tune by Richard Redhead, 1853, was originally intended for a different hymn, but its solemn tone and small range make it an effective setting for this hymn by James Montgomery, 1820, which is a series of somber vignettes portraying what Christians can learn from Christ: to pray, to bear the cross, to die and to rise.
Scripture/Meditation Mark 8:31-38; Psalm 22:23-31
Scripture Lesson Mark 8:31-38
Jesus Predicts His Death
Then Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.
The Way of the Cross
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “IF any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of the Father with the holy angels.”
You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD.
May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember and return to the LORD;
and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations shall be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.
In the presence of your people I will praise your name,
for alone you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
Let us celebrate your goodness and your steadfast love
may your name be exalted here on earth and in heaven above.
“In the Presence of Your People (Psalm 22)”, (Hymn # 631, Glory To God Hymnal)
Anthem/Organ Solo “Kum ba Yah- Someone’s praying, crying, dancing, Lord” arr. by John Behnke
Call To Prayer, Hymn # 472 “Kum ba Yah”
Come by here, my Lord, come by here! (x3) O Lord, come by here!
Someone’s praying, Lord, come by here! (x3) O Lord, come by here!
Text/Music: This African American Spiritual, first recorded in the 1920’s, seems to have originated somewhere in the southern US and enjoyed renewed popularity during the folk revival of the 1960’s. The opening words “Kum ba Yah” are traditionally sung in the Gullah dialect of South Carolina and Georgia.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
God of compassion, we praise you that you look upon our lives with love and understanding, and that you desire for each of us new life in Jesus Christ. We thank you for your overwhelming love of us, which leads us to new life. By your Spirit, strengthen us to be brave and bold in Christ’s service. Hear our prayers for our enemies, our neighbors, ourselves…
Almighty God, whose Word we trust, whose Spirit equips us to pray, we continue to pray saying:
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 debts as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Hymn #321 The Church’s One Foundation
The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.
She is his new creation by water and the word.
From heav’n he came and sought her to be his holy bride.
With his own blood he bought her and for her life he died.
Elect from ev’ry nation, yet one o’er all the earth,
her charter of salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth.
One holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses, with ev’ry grace endued.
Yet, she on earth has union with God, the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we,
like them the meek and lowly, may live eternally.
This hymn, by Samuel John Stone, 1866, was one of twelve written by an English curate to affirm the articles of the Apostles’ Creed. The tune, AURELIA, by Samuel Sebastien Wesley, 1864, was not created for this text, but has become inseparable from it.
Sharing of the Peace: Sharing Jesus’ invitation to his disciples:
Peace be with you. And also with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you!
─ Resources from the Book of Common Worship and Glory to God Hymnal, PCUSA
Text for next Sunday: John 2.13-22; Psalm 19
Interpretation of Psalm 22:23-31 by Susan Marie Smith
The last portion of this psalm of which these nine verses are a part, turn to praise, calling to praise all who are the “offspring of Israel,” all who “fear” and “stand in awe” of God. The opening verses of this poem, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”, are familiar words often heard on Good Friday. This psalm moves from lament to praise.
Praise, in other words, not only stands on its own; it also precedes and follows lament and petition. Praise is the framework for our relationship with God. These last verses of Psalm 22 lend themselves to a sermon on spirituality, reminding the congregation that the act of praising God teaches our psyches, emotions, and spirits how to relate to the God who is wonderous, beyond our comprehension, faithful, powerful, and merciful.
The challenge of praise, as this psalm’s placement early in Lent demonstrates, is the call to praise God before we lament, cry out, or offer petition; and to praise God after we lament, but before our prayers are answered. It is this very praise that most strongly expresses our utter dependence upon and faith in the One whose breath created life and whose word holds all things together. Thus, in praising God “in the midst of the congregation” (22), our minds and hearts learn to turn to the Holy One first of all and last of all, with sure and certain hope. Praise forms us. The praise of God is foundational to our identity as a people in a covenant relationship with God. Like with Jesus, to keep our hearts open in the direst situations enables the love of God to pour through us, even if we seem to be the victims.
─ from Feasting on the Word, Preaching the Revised Commentary Year B, Second Sunday in Lent, Preaching Perspective, Susan Marie Smith.
Interpretation of Psalm 22:23-31 by Thomas Edward McGrath
It is with reverence and deep humility that the church hears the words of Psalm 22. The cry of abandonment and the awful details of the Psalmist’s ordeal remind us that suffering, whether or not it turns out to be “redemptive,” is still suffering. The dreadful particulars of the psalmist’s plight provide the church with a dark canvas upon which to record the later particulars of our Lord’s suffering and death. As the Gospels recount Jesus’ passion, they include eight citations of psalms, five of which are from Psalm 22.
Our verses begin with a summons to praise. “You who fear the LORD, praise him!”
In the context of a psalm expressing abandonment, humiliation, and despair, how does that work? The answer is found in verse 24: the LORD has not despised the afflictions of the afflicted! The LORD has not turned away, but has heard, shared in this bold affirmation.
─ from Feasting on the Word, Preaching the Revised Commentary Year B, Second Sunday in Lent, Pastoral Perspective, Thomas Edward McGrath
Meditation on Psalm 22:23-31
Once again, we have entered the Season of Lent, the season of the Church year that begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Holy Saturday, a season of forty days not including Sundays (that is why it is a Sunday “in Lent” rather than a Sunday “of Lent”. The length of the season comes from the story of Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness, driven by the Spirit (according to Mark). Tended by the angels, tempted by Satan (in Hebrew, the word means “the accuser”), and amidst the wild animals, Jesus faced external and internal temptations. Unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark does not record any dialogue or narratives of temptation. Mark’s temptation narrative lasts all of two (brief!) sentences. Truthfully, my own experience with temptations as a disciple of Jesus is paragraphs long!
For this Season of Lent the focus of our engagement with God in worship will be on the Psalm of the day. The Gospel lesson will also be read each Sunday and there may or may not be connections between them. In the texts that are chosen weekly for the lectionary cycle, the psalm reading is chosen to relate to the Hebrew, or Old Testament text. This last phrase is one that is troubling for me, in part because of the large number of Jewish friends I have. I understand why we call it the Old Testament, but we could just as easily refer to it as the First Testament, or the Testament adopted from the Hebrews. You may say it is only semantics, and there is truth there. However, the word “old” can have the connotation of not being as good/useful or at the very least up-to-date as something new. These are the kinds of conversations I miss having with you in person, face-to-face.
Psalm 22 is one of the most quoted of all the psalms in the Christian canon known as the New Testament when it comes to interpreting/commenting on Jesus’ passion. There are at least thirteen references from the First Testament in the passion narrative of the Gospels. Of the thirteen, eight come from the Psalms. Five of these eight come from Psalm 22, two from Psalm 69, and one from Psalm 31, each a pra
yer for help on the part of one who is suffering. The best known of these quotations from Psalm 22 is found in the very first verse: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, Jesus’ great cry from the cross: “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani” (in Aramaic). Psalm 22 is a prayer for help (1-21) and a song of praise for the help received (22-31). The latter is our text for this morning.
This portion of the psalm is composed of two parts, verses 22-26 and 27-31. The first section is in the first person as the congregation celebrates with the psalmist deliverance from trouble, giving the reasons for the praise (24-26). The second section expands the circle of praise from congregation to humanity itself, to all nations (27), the strong and the dying (29), and even people yet unborn (30-31). “A song of praise for help” is an interesting description of verses 23-31. Presumably, the author had prayed for relief, and upon receiving it, crafted a song of praise to God. For faithful Jews, a relationship with God was impossible without the element of praise. Thus, its inclusion here. The praise of God is another example of the faithful petitioner to testify to God’s faithfulness.
In the “Glory To God” hymnal, there are a dozen hymns that begin with the word “praise” and an abundance of others that include praising God as a primary motif. What causes you to give praise? What happens in your life that invites you into an activity of praise? What do such activities of praise look like? Do you have an exercise that you pursue—physical, mental, emotional—that finds you in an euphoric state, resulting in your singing or rejoicing in some other fashion in the bliss you are experiencing?
How about a recovery from a serious illness or accident? When have you (for most of us have) been in a position of recovery, of recovering from an illness or an accident? Did you make and take the time to give thanks to God (along with medical personnel, family, and other support persons) for their contributions to your recovery? Did you return to a place of worship in the wake of your illness, while you were recovering, and publicly give thanks to God for the reestablishment of your well-being, inviting others to praise God as well?
The awareness of the possibility of doing any of this is enhanced by a willingness to acknowledge that in the midst of the disease or in the wake of the accident, you were met by God. The psalmist states this, speaking of themself: “For the LORD did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; the LORD did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.” This is a very bold statement. Even Moses, it is reported, hid his face from the LORD so that he would not see the face of the LORD because it was understood that anyone who saw God’s face would die. This person who has been ill, who had prayed to the LORD for relief, testifies to having experienced God face to face.
This is a metaphorical, if not literal, testimony to how the individual had experienced God even during the illness and how the experience left the individual with a deeper appreciation—with deeper awe—for God. Perhaps it was the first time in their life that they had experienced God during their own trouble and persecution from disease, rather than simply being a witness to that of another. Perhaps it was because of how the “in the midst of the challenge”, “in the midst of the pain”, God chose to be present. In the midst…
Jesus is teaching the disciples this morning about the promise of suffering, the first of three passion predictions within Mark’s gospel. Peter, as a representative of every disciple, is portrayed as unwilling to understand that Jesus is not simply prattling on, he is teaching how God is present even “in the midst of” horrific experiences.
Jesus is teaching how he is following God to Jerusalem and into the events that will transpire there. Mark writes with the understanding of what has happened nearly forty years after the event. Jesus speaks with the assurance of trusting that no matter what happens, God will be present to and for him, and thus teaches his disciples that they should trust God to do likewise for them. The two halves of this psalm hang together in a complimentary fashion. The psalmist cries out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”, and learns that God has not. God is present “in the midst of” the pain as well as to be praised once the pain is passed. TBTG. Amen.
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