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The Baptism, Temptation, Preaching of Jesus

Lectionary Worship Workbook
Series II, Cycle B
Continue to cover the cross and communion table throughout all of Lent, and the Easter season. (I can assure you that you will receive all kinds of comments, some positive, some negative. Please remember that God in Christ is here to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. Much of the church has invested, "infested," itself with "God is love," and neglected "God is holy.")

We Offer Ourselves In The Spirit Of The Living Christ

Pastoral Invitation (Pastor and Ministers)

In the name of the Living God, welcome to the first Sunday in Lent. We would like to say that we come ready to celebrate God's Presence and Power. We often come seeking, not God's will, but our own. We come with our own agendas -- give me what I want, Lord. Today, I invite us to think about our expectations, and how they compare, or contrast, with God's expectations of us.
P: Come, celebrate Life with our whole being.
M: Praise be to God for our minds that we will know the mind of Christ, for our emotions that we will love in his name, for our wills that we will choose to serve in our daily life.
P: Do you know that you are God's person, and that God's Spirit dwells in you?
M: We come to worship to learn what this means.
P: You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free!

"Let the Spirit In," words and music by Richard Blank.

An Affirmation Of Faith (Pastor and Ministers)
P: We have listened to the words. Have you heard them?
M: We have, yet we are reluctant to integrate them. They are scary. They push us out of our slavery.
P: Remember! God is with us; God will sustain and empower us.
M: We believe. Help us in our unbelief.

Hymn of Praise
(Hymn for the first three Sundays of Lent): "God of Grace and God of Glory," Harry Emerson Fosdick, 1930; alt.; John Hughes, 1907.

Prayer of Praise
Focus on God as the One who prepares us for Lent and Easter.

We Receive New Life

Introduction to the Act of Recognizing Our Humanity (Pastor and Ministers)

Today, we will use a litany, literally, an anti-celebration, of the way we often think, speak, behave. Here is the first response:
P: O God, we have considerable doubts in our minds about the way you are running the universe.
M: Is there any chance that you will show your mercy to us, O Lord?

(This litany appears in David Head's book, He Sent Leanness, published by the Macmillan Company, in 1962) The litany concludes with this line: "We believe there are times, even if not frequent, when we deserve your blessing. Do not let us down." (If this litany, plus the newspaper on the cross and communion table, fails to urge people to celebrate Lent differently, I have no idea what will.)

Introduction to the Word of Acceptance and New Life
Take two minutes to write down your thoughts about this litany, not about whether or not you liked it, for that has nothing to do with anything. How does it affect your thoughts, feelings, words, and behavior? (After two minutes): Now invite the congregation to sing this song, "Let the Spirit In," once more. When finished, before going on to the next act of worship, ask the people to write down their response, and to compare that response with the first time they sang it.

We Are Listening

Message with the Children of All Ages
Explain the meaning of Lent, and the usual response of giving up something. Ask if any have ever given up anything for Lent. Today, I invite you to think about taking on something. What do you think you might be willing to take on without Mother and Father nagging you to do it?

Chorus only, "They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love." Make certain that people know that love is an active verb (something we do), not a passive noun (not something we only think about or talk about doing).

Reading of the Scripture
This provides an easily-dramatized two-part drama, at two locations.

Proclamation of the Good News
You may want to emphasize one or more of these ideas: (1) Our baptism is our ordination into the Kingdom and mission of Christ. (2) In what ways do you allow yourself to be tempted? (3) Explore Harvey Cox's definition of repentance as the responsible use of power. (See The Secular City.)

We Respond In Faithful Obedience

Stewardship Challenge

Robert Bolt, Monday Morning magazine (February 22, 1993) points out that the past tense of "lend" is "lent." He suggests that something has been given to us temporarily on the condition that it be returned. He goes on to say that we could spend the days in Lent working to return what has been lent to us by God. One of the best ways of doing so is to make ourselves available to others in service and ministry.

"For Your Gracious Blessings," a round, source unknown; harm. by David Smart, from Folk Encounter. (See Appendix I for address.)

Hymn of Commitment
"My Song Is Love Unknown," Samuel Crossman, 1664; John Ireland, 1919. (Hymn for the first three Sundays in Lent.)

Charge to the Congregation
To recognize that life and growth are change is (1) to rejoice in our creation, rather than complaining about the way God made us and the world; to rejoice about where we are now, rather than to complain about where we were then; (2) to appreciate the challenges; for we grow through challenges and confrontation, pain and frustration; (3) to thank God for calling us as the church, the church at worship, study, prayer, fellowship, ministry, stewardship; (4) to say "good-bye" to the past, to receive what we have learned, to let go of the old animosities, liaisons, jealousies, hurts, illusions, backbiting, gossip; because when we do, we will discover a new future -- a congregation full of new goodies, new possibilities, new ministries, new hopes, new relationships. The old is finished and gone; behold, all things are new, brand, spanking new!

"Here I Am, Lord," chorus only. Daniel L. Schutte, 1981; alt.; harm. Michael Pope, Daniel Schutte, and John Weissrock, 1983.

"What do we prefer -- popularity or obedience, the power that comes from demanding, or the power that comes from serving?" (WHK).

Music Possibilities In Addition To Those Already Suggested
Music for Preparation: Medley of Lenten hymns.

Response to the Word of Acceptance and New Life: "O Christ, Whose Love Has Sought Us Out," John Edgar Park, 1953; alt., 1972.

Response to the Message with the Children: "Passed Thru the Waters," Richard Avery and Don Marsh, from The Avery and Marsh Songbook. (See Appendix I for address.)

Response to the Proclamation: "Jesu, Word of God Incarnate," Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791); arranged and edited by Ivan Trusler.

Response to the Stewardship Challenge: "What Signs Has God Revealed to Us?" Jane Parker Huber, from A Joy In Singing. (See Appendix I for address.)

Hymn of Commitment: "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go," George Matheson, 1882; Albert Lister Peace, 1884.

Music for Dismissal: Medley of Lenten hymns.
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31 – Sermons
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30 – Children's Sermons / Resources
26 – Worship Resources
27 – Commentary / Exegesis
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31 – Sermons
140+ – Illustrations / Stories
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31 – Sermons
140+ – Illustrations / Stories
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Passion/Palm Sunday
32 – Sermons
160+ – Illustrations / Stories
33 – Children's Sermons / Resources
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29 – Commentary / Exegesis
4 – Pastor's Devotions
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It was a new church for Sam. It was his grandmother's church, and because Sam loved his grandmother, he sat on the edge of the pew and tried hard to listen. "Are you saved?" the preacher asked from the pulpit far away. Sam remembered when he had saved pennies for a new plant for Mother on Mother's Day. "Maybe Mother saved pennies for me," Sam thought. The preacher continued, "Will you give your heart to Jesus?" Sam wondered where his heart was. But if Jesus needed Sam's heart he would be glad to give it.
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Jesus in the temple -- oh, didn't he show those money-changers who were desecrating the temple grounds with their money-grubbing business? Not to mention the mess that all the livestock were making! Out! Out! Out! He cleared them all out, those traders in things that didn't belong in God's house. And he had every right to do it, we tend to think. Serves them right, despoiling sacred space with their commerce -- profiting off of the desire of the faithful to do something pleasing to God. Exploitation. Good riddance!

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