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March 26, 2023 - Seeking: Can These Bones Live?

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Gathering Hymn: 442 CP Great God, Your Love Has Called Us Here

Great God, your love has called us here as we, by love, for love were made.

Your living, likeness still we bear, though marred, dishonoured, disobeyed.

We come, with all our heart and mind, your call to hear, your love to find.

We come with self-inflicted pains of broken trust and chosen wrong;

half-free, half-bound by inner chains; by social forces swept along,

by powers and systems close confined; yet seeking hope for humankind.

Great God, in Christ you call our name and then receive us as your own

not through some merit, right, or claim, but by your gracious love alone.

We strain to glimpse your mercy seat and find you kneeling at our feet.

Then take the towel, and break the bread, and humble us, and call us friends.

Suffer and serve till all are fed, and show how grandly love intends

to work till all creation sings, to fill all worlds, to crown all things.

Great God, in Christ you set us free, your life to live, your joy to share.

Give us your Spirit’s liberty to turn from guilt and dull despair

and offer all that faith can do while love is making all things new.

Gathering Sentences (Sanctified Art)

Have you ever felt washed up, brittle, worn-down to the bone?

Have you ever felt grief lay heavy on your back?

Have you ever felt like hope was out of reach?

Have you ever wondered; can these bones live?

If you have, then you are in the right place, for this is God’s house.

Hope lives here.

So, come. Rest your weary bones. Let us worship Holy God.

Prayer for Illumination

Creator God, why is bad news so loud? In the midst of gun violence, hunger, melting ice caps, and anxiety, it often feels like suffering has a microphone. How do we hear you? How do we find you? How do we know that these bones can live? Today we bring our raw selves into this space asking that once more you would rush through this room like a mighty wind. Remind us that these bones can live. Speak to us in your still, small voice and let it be loud enough to speak to the sorrow of the day. We know that good news rests in you, and we know that you are here. So help us listen, not to the bad news of the day alone, but to the hope that you breathe into every word. With open hearts we pray, Amen.

Lenten Cross Liturgy

Reader: On this fifth Sunday in Lent, we move ever closer to Good Friday and Jesus suffering

and death.

Reader: Yet in the midst of the darkness of Lent, we hear both Jeremiah and Jesus speak words

of hope about walking in God’s way.

Reader: Jeremiah speaks of a new relationship, a covenant written on people’s hearts. Jesus

reminds us that ‘only if a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies will it bring forth

fruit.’ As we put out the fifth candle, let us consider what in our lives needs to die in

order that fresh growth and a renewed spirit might be born in us.

(Fifth candle is extinguished.)

Together we pray: O God, you have given us the challenge of following your way of justice. Help us to be brave when following your way makes others angry with us. Help us to know your will, and give us the strength to do it. Amen

Collect of the Day (together)

Almighty God, your Son came into the world to free us all from sin and death. Breathe upon us with the power of your Spirit, that we may be raised to new life in Christ, and serve you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

The Proclamation of the Word

A Reading from the book, Ezekiel 37.1–14

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.’

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.’

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

Psalm 130 (sung): I Will Wait for You

LORD, from the depths I call to you; Lord, hear me from on high

and give attention to my voice when I for mercy cry.

LORD, in Your presence who can stand, if You our sins record?

But yet forgiveness is with You, that we may fear You, LORD.

LORD, from the depths I call to you; Lord, hear me from on high

and give attention to my voice when I for mercy cry.

LORD, in Your presence who can stand, if You our sins record?

But yet forgiveness is with You, that we may fear You, LORD.

Out of the depths I cry to You, in darkest places I will call;

incline Your ear to me anew, and hear my cry for mercy, Lord.

Were You to count my sinful ways, how could I come before Your throne?

Yet full forgiveness meets my gaze; I stand redeemed by grace alone.

I will wait for You, I will wait for You; on Your word I will rely.

I will wait for You, surely wait for You, till my soul is satisfied.

So put your hope in God alone; take courage in His power to save.

Completely and forever won by Christ’s emerging from the grave.

I will wait for You, I will wait for You; on Your word I will rely.

I will wait for You, surely wait for You, till my soul is satisfied.

Now He has come to make a way, and God himself has paid the price,

that all who trust in Him today find healing in His sacrifice.

I will wait for You, I will wait for You; on Your word I will rely.

I will wait for You, surely wait for You, till my soul is satisfied.

I will wait for You, I will wait for You; through the storm and through the night.

I will wait for You, surely wait for You, for Your love is my delight.

I wait—my soul waits—for the LORD; my hope is in His Word.

More than the watchman waits for the dawn my soul waits for the Lord.

O Israel, put your hope in God, for mercy is with Him

and full redemption. From their sins His people He’ll redeem.

A Reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans 8.6–11

To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

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

Gradual Hymn: 649 CP Breathe on Me, Breath of God

Breathe on me, breath of God; fill me with life anew, that I may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God, until my heart is pure, until my will is one with thine to do and to endure.

Breathe on me, breath of God, till I am wholly thine,

until this earthly part of me glows with thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God: so shall I never die, but live with thee the perfect life of thine eternity.

The Lord be with you And also with you The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John 11.1–45

Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

The Gospel of Christ Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ


An Affirmation of Faith (Sanctified Art)

We believe that God loves us—

God loves us enough to weep when we are gone.

We believe that God does not give up on us—

breathing new life into tired bones.

We believe that God returns to us—

always seeking us when we are lost.

We believe that God holds hope for us—

so we hold onto hope as well.

We believe, help our unbelief.

In Christ’s name we pray, amen.

Prayers of Intercession (

Let us take moment of silence to reflect on those things in our life that feel lifeless. Share them with God and imagine your dreams and your hopes starting to breathe, like the bones Ezekiel describes. Imagine your dreams and hopes starting to breathe and coming to life as possibilities. Consider what might you need to do?

Then take a moment to consider how you can breathe life into the hopes of those around you.

Silence Breath of Life, hear our prayer.

God, our hope is in you. Breathe on us and our world, as you blew your breath into those bones of old.

Bring life into our weariness, and joy into our despair.

Breath of Life, hear our prayer.

We pray for those living with only the bare bones of resources…

for those with no fresh water, for those who have lost their land and their livelihood.

We pray for those who feel that the life has gone out of their relationships…

For those families of the victims of violence,

for those feeling friendless, for those who have lost loved ones.

Breath of Life, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who feel entombed by their circumstances…

women and children kept and controlled by others, those who live with depression.

We pray for those who feel let down by others…

for the children of alcoholics and drug addicts, for our young people unable to find meaningful employment.

Breath of Life, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are tempted to despair…

For the people of lands in strife, for the refugee, for the hungry.

Breath of Life, hear our prayer.

God of hope, draw close to them.

Bless them with the promise of hope that no despair can overcome.

Raise them from the tombs of their past mistakes into the light of new possibilities.

Breathe life into their weakness and bless them with fresh strength.

Breath of Life, hear our prayer.

God of life, breathe on us now, confirming your presence within us,

empowering us to go forth as your people, spreading your hope into our world.

Use us to help others, and bring them, and us all, to a place of hope in the fullness of life.

Breath of Life, hear our prayer. Amen.

Call to Confession

Friends, there is nothing that we have to keep hidden from God—not our anger, our grief, or the ways in which we have fallen short. In confession, we speak honestly and are met with grace. So let us not hold back. Let us bring our full selves to this prayer, knowing that God is already running to meet us. Let us pray:

Prayer of Confession

Jesus of Nazareth, I confess:

I forget that you know this feeling.

I forget that you, too, have wept.

I forget that you, too, have lost.

I forget that you, too, have gathered at the tomb,

have grieved for a friend, have felt the sting of humanity.

Forgive me for all the times I place blame on you.

Forgive me for all the times I create distance, imagining that you could never feel what I feel.

Forgive me for allowing the valley of dry bones to be a sea of space between us.

Pour yourself into the cracks in my heart.

Bring these bones back to life.

Bring me closer to you. With gratitude I pray, Amen.

Words of Assurance

Friends, you could spend your whole life ignoring God, pushing God away, or trying to solve the world’s problems all on your own, and God would still love you all the same. Even in our shortcomings, we are God’s beloved. So hear and believe this good news:

We are saved by grace through faith. We belong to God. We are not alone. Amen

The Peace

Offertory Hymn: 489 CP From the Falter of Breath

From the falter of breath, through the silence of death,

to the wonder that’s breaking beyond,

God has woven a way, unapparent by day,

for all those of whom heaven is fond.

From frustration and pain, through hope hard to sustain,

to the wholeness here promised, there known,

Christ has gone where we fear and has vowed to be near

on the journey we make on our own.

From the dimming of light, through the darkness of night,

to the glory of goodness above,

God the Spirit is sent to ensure heaven’s intent

is embraced and completed in love.

From today till we die, through all questioning why,

to the place from which time and tide flow,

angels tread on our dreams, and magnificent themes

of heaven’s promise are echoed below.

Prayer over the Gifts

Giver of life, your Son has destroyed the power of death for all those who believe in him. Accept all we offer you this day and strengthen us in faith and hope; through Jesus Christ, the Lord of all the living. 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: Out of the Depths Bethany

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.



Closing Hymn: 306 CP O for a Thousand Tongues

O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease;

’tis music in the sinner’s ears, ’tis life, and health, and peace.

He speaks, and, listening to God’s voice, new life the dead receive,

the mournful broken hearts rejoice, the humble poor believe.

Hear him, ye deaf, ye voiceless ones, your loosened tongues employ;

ye blind, behold your Saviour come, and leap, ye lame, for joy.

My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread through all the earth abroad, the honours of thy name.

Dismissal Go now in peace to love and serve God

Thanks be to God. Amen

Postlude: Graves Into Gardens


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