Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, April 3, 2022
Fifth Sunday in Lent
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!
Our God makes all things new. In the first reading God promises it. In the gospel Mary anticipates it, anointing Jesus’ feet with costly perfume in preparation for the day of his burial. In the second reading Paul recalls his transformation from the persecutor Saul into an apostle. In baptism, God’s new person (you!) rises daily from the deadly mire of trespasses and sins.
Confession and Forgiveness
In the name of God,
who makes a way in the wilderness,
walks with us,
and guides us in our pilgrimage.
Silence is kept for reflection.
we confess that we have wandered far from you:
we have not trusted your promises,
we have ignored your prophets in our own day,
we have squandered our inheritance of grace,
we have failed to recognize you in our midst.
Have mercy on us!
Forgive us and turn us again to you.
Teach us to follow in your ways,
assure us again of your love,
and help us to love our neighbor.
Beloved in Christ,
the Word draws near to you,
and all who call out to God shall be saved.
In Jesus, God comes to you again and again
and gathers you under wings of love.
In ☩ Jesus’ name, your sins are forgiven.
God journeys with you and teaches you how to live in love.
Prayer of the Day
Creator God, you prepare a new way in the wilderness, and your grace waters our desert. Open our hearts to be transformed by the new thing you are doing, that our lives may proclaim the extravagance of your love given to all through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21
The prophet declares that long ago God performed mighty deeds and delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage through the waters of the sea. Now, God is about to do a new thing, bringing the exiles out of Babylon and through the wilderness in a new Exodus.
16Thus says the Lord,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17who brings out chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
19I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20The wild animals will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.
Psalm: Psalm 126
Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy. (Ps. 126:5)
1When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then were we like those who dream.
2Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
3The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are glad indeed.
4Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses of the Negeb.
5Those who sowed with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.
Second Reading: Philippians 3:4b-14
Writing to Christians in Philippi, Paul admits that his heritage and reputation could give him more reason than most people to place confidence in his spiritual pedigree. But the overwhelming grace of God in Jesus calls Paul to a new set of values.
[Paul writes:] 4bIf anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:13-14)
Gospel: John 12:1-8
Judas willfully misinterprets as waste Mary’s extravagant act of anointing Jesus’ feet with costly perfume. Jesus recognizes that her lavish gift is both an expression of love and an anticipation of his burial.
1Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
Meditation by David O’Brien
What would you do if Jesus came to your house for dinner? What would you serve Him? How would he be treated by you and the others in your household?
If Jesus was coming to my house, I’d want to make things as nice as I could. I’d mow the lawn and clean the house, inside and out. Then again, knowing that the Lord knows me inside and out, I’m sure He knows the conditions of my house. Also, knowing that God loves me and accepts me just the way I am, I expect he’d feel the same way about where I spend my days.
If Jesus were coming for dinner, I’d fix Him the best dinner I could. If it were during the warm weather, I’d probably cook Him something on the grill (my wife says my ribs are particularly tasty). I’d offer Him a glass of wine, or maybe an ice-cold beer, or maybe even iced tea. Then again, we read recently that Jesus said that man does not live by bread alone, but by the Word of God. And any wine I could give Him would pale in comparison to the wine He provided at the wedding in Canaan.
If the Lord came to my home, I’d offer him the best chair in the house. I’d try to make sure he was neither too hot nor too cold. My family and I would listen carefully to all he had to say. I would try to see to His every comfort. Then again, being as He hung on a cross for my sins, died, then rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, does Christ really care that much about the humble comforts that I could offer? Nevertheless, I’d try.
Maybe that’s what was in the minds of Lazarus and Mary when He came to their home. I expect that they were doing their best to be good hosts to Jesus, but in all probability nothing they could do would have compared to what Christ had already done for them. Remember that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The perfume that Mary anointed His feet with, in and of itself, was probably not that much compared with the fine perfumes that He been exposed to before He left the Father to become human and to die for us. But He also recognizes that she is doing the very best she can, and He appreciates it. Despite Judas criticizing her, Jesus recognizes that Mary is trying to express her love for Him while He is near.
We’re told that Judas’ motives were not sincere, but others make the same kind of point when they criticize churches for being adorned in too much gold or artwork. Would some of this be better used by providing for the poor? I’m going to say that the answer is both yes and no. In Mary’s case, she actually had Jesus in her house! How can you not want to do something special for Him? In our case, Jesus is in our homes, in our churches and in our hearts! How could we not want to do things to give Him our thanks and praise? The stained-glass window at the back of our church is meant to show the world that Christ is present in this place. The music that is produced by all of our musicians helps us to celebrate our love for God.
Jesus is also present in the hearts and homes of our less fortunate brothers and sisters. When we help them, we are providing good things for the Lord. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that whatever we do for the least of our brothers and/or sisters, we are doing for Him. Recently, in one of our church council meetings, a proposal was brought forward for a community garden. Wouldn’t that also be a great way to not only celebrate the Lord, but to also give to those around us?
Mary’s gift to Christ of the perfume she used to anoint His feet, was given out of love. May we also be so overcome with love for the Lord that we give Him all manner of good things, both through the church and by giving to Him as He is present in those around us!
Prayers of Intercession
Drawn close to the heart of God, we offer these prayers for the church, the world, and all who are in need.
A brief silence.
Do a new thing in the church. Free us from paradigms that no longer serve the gospel and bring forward leaders who imagine fresh ways of doing ministry. Give us courage in the face of change. Inspire our leaders, Elizabeth, Daniel and Howard and others that are yet to come, that they may lead us boldly into the future that you have planned for us. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Do a new thing for creation. Reverse the trajectory of climate change and environmental catastrophe. Revive habitats already impaired by human disregard. Amplify the voices of climate scientists and researchers working to chart a new course. Help us to become good stewards of the creation you have loaned to us. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Do a new thing in our world. Break barriers that prevent political enemies from working together for the well-being of all. Make a way for peace and collaboration among the nations. We pray especially for those brothers and sisters who are suffering the effects of war, such as the people of Ukraine and Russia and the other areas that don’t make our daily headlines. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Do a new thing for those who suffer. Reveal a path for any who are unemployed or underemployed, for those experiencing homelessness, and for all who struggle with money. Comfort those who grieve and restore those who are sick, especially those whom we remember on our prayer list and prayer board, and those we bring before you now. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Do a new thing within us. Direct us into encounters that broaden our understanding of the human experience. Amplify voices that are ignored or devalued. Deliver us especially from the scourge of racism. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Do a new thing in our death. Fill us with the knowledge of Christ and the power of his resurrection as we give thanks for all the saints who have attained the prize of their heavenly call. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Accept the prayers we bring, O God, on behalf of a world in need, for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
And now, as our Savior, Christ, continues to teach us, we boldly pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
You are children of God,
anointed with the oil of gladness
and strengthened for the journey.
Father, Son & Holy Spirit,
☩ bless you this day and always.
Go in peace. Jesus meets you on the way.
Thanks be to God.