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February 26, 2023 - Seeking: Who will you listen to?

Join us in person or live-streamed at 10AM or find our recorded service at your convenience. Details on our Worship page. Service words are below.

Prelude: Lament (Sean Whelan)

Acknowledgement

Welcome


Gathering Hymn: 40 Days

Forty days, Lord you spent in the wilderness, bed in the sand and sky for a cover. The forty days we will keep them with willingness, fasting and prayer will proclaim that we care for the world’s tremendous lover. In forty days we’ll have entered Jerusalem, smiled at the palms and knelt at the vision of your great Cross but the pain of our losing you dies as the word gathers strength and is heard, saying “Jesus Christ is risen”. For forty days we’ll get ready for Eastertide, share in your death and rise, as the story becomes a song of a love which can never die, love we must share with a world unaware, that the world may know your glory.


Gathering Sentences (Sanctified Art)

Listen!

There is hope to be found here.

Listen!

God calls you by name here.

Listen!

There is love that abides here.

This world is full of chatter, so may we do our best to listen.

God is speaking.

Let us worship. Amen.


God of revelation, unveil your Kingdom in our midst. Show us who we truly are in you: expose the illusions that distort our vision, deliver us from temptations that contort our living, open our eyes in this time of trial – that resistance may be the secret of our joy and our joy a sign of your shalom. Amen.

(posted on the Monthly Prayers page of the Christian Aid website. http://www.christianaid.org.uk/)


Lenten Cross Liturgy

Reader: We are people of the Covenant. During this new Season of Lent we will be looking at the promises God has made to each one of us - promises of love and forgiveness; promises of wholeness for all creation; promises of life beyond death. We will also look at the promises we have made, in response to God's great love for us. On this first Sunday of Lent, we reflect upon the covenant God has made with the whole creation of which we are a part.


Reader: We put out the first candle today as we remember the beauty of God's creation and how we continue to do things that hurt our world. (1st candle is extinguished)


Reader: We think today especially of God's promise to humankind and to all creation. With sadness we acknowledge that creation is threatened by our unwillingness to listen, pollution and our mismanagement of the earth's resources. Our choices have not always been wise ones. Let us pray:


Creator God, we come before you as creatures within your creation. We confess that we have fallen into the way of ease, and lack of concern for future generations. We have not been good stewards of your world. Gracious God, forgive our weakness. Strengthen and encourage us during this Lenten Season.


Collect of the Day (together)

Almighty God, whose Son fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are but did not sin, give us grace to discipline ourselves in submission to your Spirit, that as you know our weakness, so we may know your power to save; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


The Proclamation of the Word


A Reading from the book, Genesis 2.15–17, 3.1–7

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Listen for God’s word coming to us in scripture Our hearts and minds are open


Psalm 32 Refrain: The Lord shall redeem us from all our sins.

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

The Lord shall redeem us from all our sins.

While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’, and you forgave the guilt of my sin. The Lord shall redeem us from all our sins.

Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. You are a hiding-place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.

The Lord shall redeem us from all our sins.

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.

The Lord shall redeem us from all our sins.


Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

The Lord shall redeem us from all our sins.


A Reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans 5.12–19

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgement following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Listen for God’s word coming to us in scripture Our hearts and minds are open


Gradual Hymn: 177 CP A Spendthrift Lover is the Lord

A spendthrift lover is the Lord who never counts the cost or asks if heaven can afford to woo a world that's lost. Our lover tosses coins of gold across the midnight skies and stokes the sun against the cold to warm us when we rise. Still more is spent in blood and tears to win the human heart, to overcome the violent fears that drive the world apart. Behold the bruised and thorn-crowned face of one who bears our scars and empties out the wealth of grace that's hinted by the stars. How shall we love this heart-strong God who gives us everything, whose ways to us are strange and odd; what can we give or bring? Acceptance of the matchless gift is gift enough to give. The very act will shake and shift the way we love and live.


The Lord be with you And also with you The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew 4.1–11

Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him,

‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’

But he answered, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that come from the mouth of God.”’

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”’ Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”’ Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

The Gospel of Christ Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ


Homily


An Affirmation of Faith (Sanctified Art)

Inspired by the words of Isaiah 58.

We believe in a God who chooses freedom,

who unties every rope and carries our burdens.

We believe in a God who ushers in the poor and the hungry,

who has a seat saved for all of us.

We believe in a God whose love is like the sun,

who says, “I’m here, I’m here!” every time we cry.

We believe in a God who walks before us in the parched places,

who rescues our bones, who tends to us like a gardener.

And because we believe, we strive to choose love.

Because we believe, we strive to pursue justice.

Because we believe… Amen.


Prayers of Intercession (Black History Month Resources)


God of all peoples, whose Son reached across the ethnic boundaries, help us to break down the barriers in our communities, enable us to see the reality of racism and bigotry, and free us to challenge and uproot it from ourselves, our society and our world. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


We pray for all victims of racial hatred and discrimination, and we seek your protection for those affected in our churches, our schools, our places of work and our communities.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


We pray for all in our world, of whatever race, who suffer the horrors of modern slavery. Your Son came to bring good news to the poor and freedom for the oppressed. We pray for all working to combat modern slavery and to end human trafficking: for governments and agencies, for Church and other faith leaders, for businesses, charities and individuals. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


We pray for ourselves. May we be voices against oppression and channels of the transforming power of the gospel. Open our hearts to all who suffer in our midst but out of sight. Help us to work for a world where human beings are valued, where no one is enslaved, and no one used against their will for another’s pleasure or need. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray that we may know the power of reconciliation. Wherever there is division between us and others, because of our race or ethnicity, we pray that we may all be led to reconciliation. We pray for all who work to bring communities together in ways that are just and equal for all.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


As we pray for reconciliation, we pray also for restoration. We pray for those whose spirits and communities have been weighed down by racism. Guide us as we strive to ensure everyone has equal dignity. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer


Prayer of Confession

Merciful God, how many times in a day could we choose love?

How many times could we choose justice?

How many times could we speak kindly to ourselves?

How many times could we offer grace?


How many times, God? And how often do we miss it?

Forgive us for choosing the path you did not travel.


Forgive us for hitching our horse to the world’s measure of goodness, instead of yours.

Return our hearts to you, and guide us continually, even in the parched places.

With gratitude we pray, amen.


Words of Assurance

Family of faith, when a baby is learning to walk, the parents do not criticize the baby for falling. Instead, they celebrate every wobbly step. They applaud every hesitant stand. They whoop and holler when their child lands in their arms. Surely the same must be true of God. Although we often lose our way and we often choose the wrong thing, I imagine God whoops and hollers with every step in God’s direction. So hear and believe the good news of the gospel: no matter how many times we fall, no matter how many times we choose the wrong path, God is waiting for us at the end with open arms.

We are forgiven. We are invited. We belong. Thanks be to God for a love like that. Amen.


The Peace


Offertory Hymn: VU 113 To The Desert

To the desert Jesus came, to wrestle and to seek God’s way.

Sun and moon rose high above to watch him as he’d fast and pray.

Together through the valley, the tempter led him around.

Together through the valley, so Jesus answers found.


Like the Hebrews long ago who ventured through the desert sand,

did he find a rock of faith, where streams of living waters ran?

Together through the valley, so shall we make our way.

Together through the valley, we’ll walk for forty days.


In the desert we may find the mystery of who we are,

following a faithful God, so very close and yet so far.

Together through the valley, we’ll gather our dreams in prayer,

together through the valley, and find God’s presence there.


From the ashes to the hill, we’ll travel on our Lenten road.

Hand in hand we’ll cross this sand, and share each other’s heavy load.

Together through the valley, we’ll watch the changing sky.

Together through the valley, as Easter’s dawn draws nigh.


Prayer over the Gifts

God our refuge and our strength, receive all we offer you this day, and through the death and resurrection of your Son transform us to his likeness. We ask this in his name. Amen.


The Great Thanksgiving (“Adapted from a prayer by Rev. Sarah A. Speed | A Sanctified Art LLC)


The Invitation

Friends, if we are honest with ourselves and with God, we are all seeking something. Some of us long for a place to belong. Others seek permission to be who we are made to be.

Some of us are hungry for connection, hungry for justice, or hungry for a glimpse of the Divine.

No matter what it is your soul longs for, there is good news to be found here.

Friends, this is Christ’s table. We are the guests. He is the host. There is a seat here with your name on it. Thanks be to God for a love like that.


Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God. It is right to give God thanks and praise.

God of the lost and the found, surely it is right for us to give our thanks and praise; for day after day we look for you, and day after day we find you: in the laugher of children, in the sun rising over the horizon, in the flowers of spring.

Our seeking does not go unanswered, and for that we are grateful and we lift our voices to sing.


Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might Heaven and Earth of your glory are full Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest. Blessed is one who comes in the name of the Lord

Blessed is one who comes in the name of the Lord

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might Heaven and Earth of your glory are full Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest.


So first and foremost, we come to you in prayer to say thank you, for when we’re seeking beauty, you give us mountains and freckles, green eyes and brown eyes. When we we’re looking for reason to hope, you give us rainbows after the storm, and candles flickering in the window. When we’re seeking peace, you give us three-part harmony and the sound of the rain. And when we’re seeking justice, your life reminds us that everyone is welcome at your Table, and none shall be turned away. For all these reminders we are deeply grateful.

And yet, gracious God, our seeking does not stop. For even though your fingerprints are all over this world, we are not yet at your promised day.

Long before this building was erected, in open spaces and hard places people heard of how on the night of Jesus’ arrest,

and aware of what lay ahead of him, Jesus sat at the table with his friends.


During the meal, he took bread, blessed and broke it and saying ‘‘This is my body, given for you.”

Later in the meal he took a cup of wine, saying, “In this cup is the new relationship with God made possible because of my death. Drink it all of you.”


And as we see and as we seek, pour out your Spirit on this ordinary bread and cup. May this meal be the nourishment we need to continue seeking you in the world.


So in addition to our gratitude, we also pray today for conviction. Do not let us get comfortable with half-hearted seeking. Do not let us grow numb to the suffering of this world. Make us relentless in our pursuit of justice—relentless in our consoling of the grieving, in our welcoming of the stranger, and in the feeding of the hungry.


Until your promised day, we will pray. Until your promised day, we will seek, singing:


Lord’s Prayer (Cameron)


Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread,

Communion in Christ’s body once broken.


Let your Church be the wheat which bears its fruit in dying.

If we have died with him, we shall live with him; if we hold firm, we shall reign with him.


These are the gifts of God for the people of God

Thanks be to God


The Communion


Hymns during Distribution: From Dust to Dust Ashes


Prayer after Communion

God of manna and mustard seeds, we came to this Table hungry and we leave feeling full— full of hope, full of promise, full of what could be.

For we not only found glimpses of you at this Table, but we caught a glimpse of the way things could be: in a meal where all are welcomed and all are fed. Is there anything holier than that? So thank you for nourishing our curiosity alongside our spirit and our conviction.

May we always seek you the way you seek after us. With grateful hearts we pray, amen.


Glory to God,

whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation, in the Church and in Christ Jesus, for ever and ever. Amen.


Blessing

Announcements


Closing Hymn: 458 CP Seek Ye First

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness,

and all these things shall be added unto you.

Allelu, alleluia.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Allelu, alleluia.


Ask and it shall be given unto you; seek and you shall find;

knock and the door shall be opened unto you.

Allelu, alleluia.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Allelu, alleluia.

Dismissal Time has now come for us to leave this sacred place. As we do, may we embrace the challenges of our lives and our world...

We go out from this place to continue our daily journey through life. As we do, may we fashion relationships of inclusion and reconciliation, and a life-style that loves and treats people and the earth gently. Amen


Postlude: 513 CP Guide My Feet

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