Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, March 13, 2022
Second 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!
Though we sometimes doubt and often resist God’s desire to protect and save us, our God persists. In holy baptism, God’s people have been called and gathered into a God-initiated relationship that will endure. Lent provides the church with a time and a tradition in which to seek God’s face again. Lent provides another occasion to behold the God of our salvation in the face of the Blessed One who “comes in the name of the Lord.”
Confession and Forgiveness
All may make the sign of the cross, the sign that is marked at baptism, as the presiding minister begins.
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
God of the covenant, in the mystery of the cross you promise everlasting life to the world. Gather all peoples into your arms, and shelter us with your mercy, that we may rejoice in the life we share in 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: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
God promises a childless and doubting Abram that he will have a child, that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars, and that the land of Canaan will be their inheritance. Abram’s trust in God is sealed with a covenant-making ceremony, a sign of God’s promise.
1After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
7Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” 8But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.
17When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.”
Psalm: Psalm 27
In the day of trouble, God will give me shelter. (Ps. 27:5)
1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2When evildoers close in against me to devour my flesh,
they, my foes and my enemies, will stumble and fall.
3Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear.
Though war rise up against me, my trust will not be shaken.
4One thing I ask of the Lord; one thing I seek;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek God in the temple.
5For in the day of trouble God will give me shelter,
hide me in the hidden places of the sanctuary, and raise me high upon a rock.
6Even now my head is lifted up above my enemies who surround me.
Therefore I will offer sacrifice in the sanctuary, sacrifices of rejoicing; I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7Hear my voice, O Lord, when I call;
have mercy on me and answer me.
8My heart speaks your message— “Seek my face.”
Your face, O Lord, I will seek.
9Hide not your face from me, turn not away from your servant in anger.
Cast me not away—you have been my helper; forsake me not, O God of my salvation.
10Though my father and my mother forsake me,
the Lord will take me in.
11Teach me your way, O Lord;
lead me on a level path, because of my oppressors.
12Subject me not to the will | of my foes,
for they rise up against me, false witnesses breathing violence.
13This I believe—that I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14Wait for the Lord and be strong.
Take heart and wait for the Lord!
Second Reading: Philippians 3:17–4:1
Although Paul’s devotion to Christ has caused him to be persecuted, he does not regret the course he has taken. Writing from prison, he expresses confidence in a glorious future and encourages other Christians to follow in his footsteps.
17Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. 4:1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
The Son of Man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)
Gospel: Luke 13:31-35
Neither Herod’s plotting nor Jerusalem’s resistance to maternal love will deter Jesus from his sacrificial mission.
31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus,] “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”
Meditation by David O’Brien
As many of you know, I’ve been discerning a call to rostered leadership in the Church as a minister of word & service. So far, that has been going pretty well. But what if things started going the other way. What if obstacles were to pop up making this journey of mine more difficult? Our congregation is also on a journey of discernment, regarding calling a particular pastor or not. What if something comes up that disrupts that process?
Today’s readings are about trusting in God. We start out with Abram, who is childless at the time of this passage. God has promised Abram that he will be the father of a great nation and that his progeny will be as numerous. Abram isn’t sure about this because he currently has no children. The laws of inheritance at the time would indicate that all that Abram owns would pass to someone else if he were to die childless. Eliezer of Damascus, a slave who happened to be born while his mother was in service to Abram. While we don’t have slaves today, at least not legally, our inheritance laws work in a similar fashion. If a person dies childless and without a spouse, their property would generally pass to their immediate family. Their parents or siblings. This is distressing to Abram, so he is asking God how he intends to fix it so that his descendants, of which there were currently none, would become this great nation that God speaks of. Today we know how this turns out but imagine being in Abram’s shoes for a moment. God has made these promises to him, but Abram hasn’t seen any of it even start to come to pass yet. If he had any children yet, it might be easier for him to accept God’s promises as true. God takes him outside and shows him the stars of the night sky. He reassures Abram that his progeny will be a numerous as the stars that fill the sky.
The Psalm today was written during a period of strife in King David’s life. He’s telling of how, even though his enemies surround him and may even appear to have the upper hand, he will choose to trust in the Lord. After all, God has rescued him time and again, both in the physical sense as well as the spiritual sense.
Paul is also writing about his trust in God. When writing the letter to the Philippians, Paul was in prison. When Jesus came to him and called him into service, he had been working to persecute the Christians. He got a lot of people angry with him when he switched sides. But Paul is also confident that, in the end, our God will win the battle. He may be in the hands of those who are “enemies of the cross of Christ”, whose minds are set on earthly things. But he knows that our Savior is from heaven and his current situation will be changed to for the glory of God.
In our Gospel reading, Jesus is also talking about trusting God. King Herod is plotting against Jesus and some Pharisees are trying to warn him. (I thought it was very interesting that the Pharisees in this story weren’t the bad guys for a change. I guess that goes to show that you can’t make generalizations about groups of people.) Jesus isn’t concerned and if fact sends them back to Herod to tell him that his work isn’t done and that there’s nothing Herod can do about it right now. Jesus makes two references to him being busy today and tomorrow, but he’ll finish his work on the third day. It’s a reference to his coming crucifixion and resurrection, which Jesus already knows about.
Given all these Biblical examples of trusting in the Lord, I am confident in God’s plan for me and our congregation. If obstacles are placed in my way, I know that God will show me a way around them. Just like if we aren’t able to have a called pastor soon, or something happens to place a roadblock in the way of the one we’re currently considering. There’s no point in worrying about what is to come because I trust that God’s plan for me and for our congregation is good and will work for his glory in the end.
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.
You gather the church into a community of mercy and grace. Bless Elizabeth and Daniel, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor. Unify Christians around the globe in efforts to proclaim good news even in the face of opposition and to protect those whose lives are imperiled by the gospel. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
You create the entire universe and call it good. Hinder those who would cause further destruction to our planet’s fragile ecosystems and augment the calls of those who advocate for thoughtful stewardship of the earth’s resources. Help us to appreciate the slow changes as nature wakes from its winter rest into springtime. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
You raise up leaders committed to love and justice. Turn those whose minds are set upon war and destruction towards peace. Nurture in those who govern patience to receive criticism, openness to new ideas, and courage to change course when needed for the sake of the common good. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
You hear us when we cry to you. Attend to those expecting a child, and console those who have experienced miscarriage. Comfort veterans enduring post-traumatic stress. Shield those endangered by domestic violence. Uphold those who are ill or grieving, especially those whom we remember on our prayer list and prayer board as well as those whom we remember in the silence of our hearts. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
You kindle faith that moves us into action. Guide children and adults preparing for baptism or confirmation. Empower Sunday school teachers, confirmation leaders, and parents who share their faith with younger generations. Give us all a renewed sense of vocation. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
You welcome us into your heavenly realm. We give thanks for those whose labors on earth are ended and who now rest with you. On the final day, gather all of us, with them, in your loving arms. 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.
motherly, majestic, and mighty,
☩ bless you this day and always.
Go in peace. Jesus meets you on the way.
Thanks be to God.