COCU20B.Lent 2B.25Feb2018

Readings
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
God promises Abram and Sarai that they will be parents of many nations, that they will be blessed with many descendants and that kings will come from them. Therefore God changes Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah – Princess.
Psalm 22:23-31
God is praised and celebrated because God cares and provides for the oppressed, and all nations will come to worship God, both poor and prosperous, healthy and those close to death.
Romans 4:13-25
Abraham did not receive God’s promise through obeying the law, but through faith, and this faith was considered to be his righteousness – his approval by God. In the same way, when we place our faith in Christ, who died and was raised, it is considered our righteousness – our approval by God.
Mark 8: 31-38
Jesus predicts his death, but Peter objects. Jesus, then reprimands Peter, and tells all his followers that they must take up their crosses and follow him, not trying to save their lives, but willingly giving them up for the sake of the Gospel.

The Lectionary this week challenges what we understand by the word “faith”. What becomes clear here is that faith is not about some intellectual assent to certain propositions. Rather, faith is about the losing of our lives for the sake of the Gospel, which includes both the purpose to which we devote our lives, and the practices by which we seek to live out that purpose.
(Summaries of readings by John van der Laar, Sacredise)

Opening prayer: Faith that carries the cross
It is too easy, God
for faith to become an escape
– a way to avoid the pain of being human and alive;
or a path to success
– a way to pursuade the universe to give us the things we want;
or a system of control
– a way to bend others to our will
But the faith you offer is different, Jesus,
more dangerous and compelling;
It’s the faith that carries the cross,
that embraces death
and lays itself down for the sake of others;
It’s the only faith that can lead us to resurrecton
to life renewed and overflowing.
We praise you for this faith, God,
and open our hearts to receive it. Amen.
(Source: John van der Laar, Sacredise)

Call to Worship
(based on readings including Psalm 22 and Mark 8:31-38)
We come to worship this day from different places.
O God, do not be far from us.
We come to worship this morning for different reasons.
O God, do not be far from us.
We experience the presence of the Spirit in different ways.
O God, do not be far from us.
We hear Jesus’ words with different ears.
O God, do not be far from us.
“Deny yourselves.”
O God, do not be far from us.
“Take up your cross.”
O God, do not be far from us.
“Follow me.”
O God,
we thank you for drawing near to us
in this place,
in our lives.
Amen.
(Source: Joanna Harader, Spacious Faith)

Prayer of confession/Prayers of who we are
(This prayer could form a reflective ‘prayers of who we are’, followed by silence and Words of Assurance)
No dying today

You keep talking about dying, Jesus;
about how life is found
not by white-knuckled clinging;
but by a prodigal losing.
We nod and smile, and ponder the deep significance of these words,
and then, with a slow sigh of relief,
we go back to our life-preservers;
our safe, protected worlds;
our well-sheltered, comfortable spirituality;
and we turn our eyes away from those who reach out to us,
those we could touch with Your life,
if only we would take the risk.
What were you thinking, Jesus?
Surely faith is about finding life,
not laying it down?
Surely we need to follow You in order to be sure
that life doesn’t end when we die?
There’ll be no dying today, Jesus – not if we can help it.
And if your promise is to be believed;
no dying at all – ever.
If only we could keep away the images of those others,
the different, the lonely, the misunderstood, and the forgotten,
the hungry, the abused, the least;
the ones in whose eyes we glimpse, in unguarded moments,
the outline of your face;
the ones in whose silence we hear a sound,
not unlike your voice,
inviting us to carry a cross.
A silence is kept, followed by words of assurance.
(
Source: John van der Laar, Sacredise)

The following prayer could also be used for a Prayer of Confession. It is inspired by Mark 8:35 – 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.
Simply invite people to sit with their hands open, as if releasing something precious. Allow silence to conclude.
Blessing in the Round
This blessing
cannot help it;
it’s the way
it was designed.
Lay it down
and it rises again.
Release it
and it returns.
Give it away
and it makes a path
back to you.
There is no explaining
how it delights
in reappearing
when you have ceased
to hold it,
no hiding the sly smile
it wears
when it shows up
at your door,
no mistaking the wonder
when it circles back around
just at the moment
you thought you had
spent it completely,
had poured it out
with abandon
where you saw
the deepest thirst for it,
had put it entirely
in the hands
of those desperate
in their hunger.
But here it is,
the perfect circle of it
pressing into your hand
that curls around it
and then lets go,
receiving
and releasing
and receiving again
like the breath
that does not belong to us
but sets us in motion.
(Source: Jan Richardson, The Painted Prayerbook)

Prayer reflection (inspired by Romans 4.18 where Paul writes that, “Hoping against hope…” Abraham continued to believe the promise of God)
Hope nonetheless.
Hope despite.
Hope regardless.
Hope still.
Hope where we had ceased to hope.
Hope amid what threatens hope.
Hope with those who feed our hope.
Hope beyond what we had hoped.
Hope that draws us past our limits.
Hope that defies expectations.
Hope that questions what we have known.
Hope that makes a way where there is none.
Hope that takes us past our fear.
Hope that calls us into life.
Hope that holds us beyond death.
Hope that blesses those to come.
(Source: Jan Richardson, The Painted Prayerbook)

Reflections on the Gospel: Weekly Seeds Lent B – Kate Huey – UCC

Radical Gratitude resource – Lent 2B radical_gratitude Lent 2B

Thom Shuman weekly posting using RCL readings: Thom Shuman – Lent 2B

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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