Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time!
God is good!
On Ash Wednesday the church began its journey toward baptismal immersion in the death and resurrection of Christ. This year, the Sundays in Lent lead us to focus on five covenants God makes in the Hebrew Scriptures and to use them as lenses through which to view baptism. First Peter connects the way God saved Noah’s family in the flood with the way God saves us through the water of baptism. The baptismal covenant is made with us individually, but the new life we are given in baptism is for the sake of the whole world.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, the keeper of the covenant, the source of steadfast love, our rock and our redeemer.
God hears us when we cry, and draws us close in Jesus Christ.
Let us return to the one who is full of compassion.
Silence is kept for reflection. Fountain of living water, pour out your mercy over us.
Our sin is heavy, and we long to be free. Rebuild what we have ruined and mend what we have torn. Wash us in your cleansing flood. Make us alive in the Spirit to follow in the way of Jesus, as healers and restorers of the world you so love.
Beloved, God’s word never fails.
The promise rests on grace: by the saving love of Jesus Christ, the wisdom and power of God, your sins are ☩ forgiven, and God remembers them no more.
Journey in the way of Jesus.
Prayer of the Day
Holy God, heavenly Father, in the waters of the flood you saved the chosen, and in the wilderness of temptation you protected your Son from sin. Renew us in the gift of baptism. May your holy angels be with us, that the wicked foe may have no power over us, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Genesis 9:8-17
Today’s reading is the conclusion to the flood story. Because of human sin, God destroys the earth by flood, saving only Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark. Yet divine destruction gives way to divine commitment. As in the first creation, God blesses humanity and establishes a covenant with all creatures.
8God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Psalm: Psalm 25:1-10
Your paths, O LORD, are steadfast love and faithfulness. (Ps. 25:10)
1To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2My God, I put my trust in you; let me not be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. 3Let none who look to you be put to shame; rather let those be put to shame who are treacherous.
4Show me your ways, O LORD, and teach me your paths. 5Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long.
6Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love, for they are from everlasting.
7Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; remember me according to your steadfast love and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.
8You are gracious and upright, O LORD; therefore you teach sinners in your way.
9You lead the lowly in justice and teach the lowly your way.
10All your paths, O LORD, are steadfast love and faithfulness to those who keep your covenant and your testimonies.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22
As God acted through Christ’s suffering and death to bring us to God, so God acts through baptism to save us from a sinful existence. This spiritual cleansing marks our new life in Christ.
18Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
One does not live by bread alone,* but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4)
Gospel: Mark 1:9-15
The Spirit that comes upon Jesus at his baptism sustains him when he is tested by Satan so that he might proclaim the good news of God’s reign.
9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Meditation by David O’Brien
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, and give glory to Your Name, Oh Lord. Amen
Last week we read about one of the two times that God the Father spoke about Jesus being His Son, the Beloved. This week we read about the other time. What do these two occasions have in common? Both seem to be close in time to when Jesus would be tested. Last week’s reading was set not long before His passion. This week’s reading is set just before he was tempted in the wilderness for forty day and nights. It seems to me that God the Father is giving Christ some reassurance as he is about to face some difficult times.
Parents often reassure their children when they face a tough task. My parents were always there for me as I went through life’s journey, through college and then seeking a job, while becoming a parent myself and whenever that presented a challenge for me. I could always count on them for love, advice and support. I remember when our son was going into the USAF, telling him before he left for basic training that we loved him and were proud of him. Also, when he and our other son went off to college, reassuring them that we’d always be here for them. As both the child and the parent, I have been both the giver and the receiver of love and reassurance. I’m sure that you’ve had similar experiences with your parents and with your children.
We often turn to our parents for love and reassurance when we face troubles of our own creation. When I worked in the visiting room at the prison, I was often shown this kind of parental love. A number of the inmates were fortunate enough to have their parents visit them on a regular basis. How difficult must it have been for them to see their son in such a state and knowing that the situation was of their son’s own creation. I particularly remember a situation where one of the former inmates who was on my case load as a parole officer, was killed in a drunk driving crash when he ran into a phone pole. His mother, with whom he was living at the time, and who I had come to know fairly well, called me to tell me about what had happened. My heart broke for her as she explained, through her tears, that no matter what he had done, she loved her son. The fact that he caused his own death did not diminish that love.
The Psalmist also seems to be seeking reassurance from God today. “Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; remember me according to your steadfast love and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord,” sounds like an appeal for the reassurance that God will be there for him. David is probably facing some difficult times when he wrote this Psalm. I’ve read that he probably wrote this psalm during the revolt of Absalom, when he had many enemies and his troubles seemed to be multiplying. But he appeals for God’s reassurance that those who look to Him will not be put to shame. He is also asking for God to teach him in His ways. David’s troubles may have been the result of his earlier sin against Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband. Throughout this psalm, David seems to be racked with guilt. In verse 11 he asks God to pardon his iniquity, “for it is great”.
When I look back at my youth, my sins appear to me to be as grievous as David’s. It is during these times that I should remember God’s love for me is greater than that of a parent for his or her child, and be reassured. May we all rest assured of God’s steadfast love when we face troubles, whether of our own making or not.
Prayers of Intercession
Relying on the promises of God, we pray boldly for the church, the world, and all in need.
A brief silence.
In Jesus your realm has come near to us in every place and time. Give Daniel and Elizabeth, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, and all your church throughout the world a spirit of humility and repentance; teach us to trust always in the good news of your salvation. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
You have made a covenant of mercy with every living creature. Protect all the earth’s creatures from destruction, especially the natural wonder that is the Great Lakes. Empower the work of biologists, conservationists, and science educators. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
All your paths are steadfast love and faithfulness. Direct the words and actions of leaders in our community and throughout the world, that they may maintain justice for the lowly. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Even in the wilderness you are with us. Walk alongside migrants and refugees crossing dangerous lands. Tend to those whose lives feel desolate. Give healing and strength to all who suffer, especially those we remember in our prayer list and those whom we hold in our hearts. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
In the covenant of baptism you claim us as beloved children. Nurture us in our baptismal identity and teach us to live within it for the sake of others. Strengthen this congregation’s ministries of care and concern. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
For our transition team and call committee, that you might guide them in the deliberations, for this Church community, that you might heal our divisions so that we may more perfectly reflect your love to all the world, and for all the intentions we speak now and those we hold in our hearts, that if they be in conformity with your will, you will see fit to grant them to us. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
For parents and children, that the love they show to each other and the relationships they cherish may be a reflection of the love of the Father for the Son and Their love for us all. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
In baptism you join us to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We praise you for all those who have died trusting in your faithfulness. Bring us with them to the fullness of your reign. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
We entrust ourselves and all our prayers to you, O faithful God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Nicene Creed: We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,* who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
And now, as our Savior, Christ is teaching us, we boldly pray:
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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
You are what God made you to be:
created in Christ Jesus for good works, chosen as holy and beloved, freed to serve your neighbor.
God bless you ☩ that you may be a blessing, in the name of the holy and life-giving Trinity.
Go in peace. Share the good news. Thanks be to God.