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!
God promises Jeremiah that a “new covenant” will be made in the future: a covenant that will allow all the people to know God by heart. The church sees this promise fulfilled in Christ, who draws all people to himself when he is lifted up on the cross. Our baptismal covenant draws us to God’s heart through Christ and draws God’s love and truth into our hearts. We join together in worship, sharing in word, song, and meal, and leave strengthened to share God’s love with all the 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
O God, with steadfast love you draw us to yourself, and in mercy you receive our prayers. Strengthen us to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, that through life and death we may live 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: Jeremiah 31:31-34
The Judeans in Babylon blamed their exile on their ancestors, who had broken the covenant established at Sinai. Here the prophet looks to a day when God will make a new covenant with the people. There will be no need to teach the law, because God will write it on their hearts.
31The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
Psalm: Psalm 51:1-12
Create in me a clean heart, O God. (Ps. 51:10)
1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
in your great compassion blot out my offenses.
2Wash me through and through from my wickedness,
and cleanse me from my sin.
3For I know my offenses,
and my sin is ever before me.
4Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are justified when you speak and right in your judgment.
5Indeed, I was born steeped in wickedness,
a sinner from my mother’s womb.
6Indeed, you delight in truth deep within me,
and would have me know wisdom deep within.
7Remove my sins with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be purer than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness;
that the body you have broken may rejoice.
9Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my wickedness.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
Second Reading: Hebrews 5:5-10
Using priestly imagery and references to the Old Testament, the author explains how Christ lived in trusting obedience to God, and so God has made Christ the source of our eternal salvation.
5Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
6as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.”
7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain;* but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)
Gospel: John 12:20-33
Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time to celebrate the Passover festival. Here Jesus’ words about seeds planted in the ground turn the disaster of his death into the promise of a harvest in which everyone will be gathered.
20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
Meditation by David O’Brien
Lord, we thank you for the gift of your Word and as we think on these things, open our hearts and our minds to hear you. Amen.
People today tend to treat pain as a disease in and of itself. They see pain as something that needs to be eliminated from our lives. The medical community has created all sorts of treatments for pain, in an attempt to exorcise it from our lives. Some of these treatments have led people into worse trouble, like drug addiction. These doctors with good intentions wanted to eliminate a person’s suffering but ended up creating a whole new type of suffering in its place. Pain can be an important part of our lives. The child, who once touched a hot stove and felt its burning sting won’t be doing that again any time soon. I was building a pole to put our bird feeder on in the back yard a while back and whacked my thumb pretty good with a hammer. That thumb throbbed for hours and the thumb nail turned black. Both became a reminder to be much more careful when swinging a hammer. Emotional pain is similar. I remember being a younger man and having a girlfriend who used me to get money for the things she wanted. After she got what she wanted from me, she would go on her way and ignore me. Whenever I needed help or just wanted to talk, she was nowhere to be found. That hurt me deeply, but I learned from that experience to be more careful about the people I chose to trust.
Pain can be a valuable teacher, when we have sinned and feel the pain of guilt, for example. When the Holy Spirit points out our sin to us, we feel the weight of it. It makes us grieve and we become angry with ourselves over what we have done. In writing Psalm 51, perhaps David was grieving over the sin he had committed against Uriah and Bathsheba. He wrote the Psalm after the prophet Nathan confronted him about his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah (2 Samuel 12). David felt the pain of his guilt and was crying out to the Lord for forgiveness. He knew what he had done was wrong, “for I know my offenses and my sin is ever before me” (Ps. 51:3), and in his sorrow, turned to God in repentance and asked God to cleanse him from his sin. Had David not felt the pain of his guilt over his sin, he might never have repented.
When we feel the guilt of sin, we should learn from that pain, and from David, to trust in the Lord’s steadfast love and mercy. David begged the Lord to have mercy on him, according to His unfailing love and great compassion. When we feel the pain of our sin, we need to trust in that compassion as well and go to the Lord in prayer to confess it, trusting that He will be true to His loving nature. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. (1 John 1:9) When we fail to return to God, our sin creates a barrier between us and Him. David recognized that when he wrote “do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Ps. 51:11-12) God has cleansed us of our sin when Christ bore its weight on the cross. That’s what David is asking for when he writes “create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”. (Ps. 51:10)
The weight of David’s sin made him feel as though his body was broken, but he cried out to the Lord for forgiveness. May we also run to God in repentance and complete confidence that our loving and merciful God forgives us through the sacrifice of His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Prayers of Intercession
Relying on the promises of God, we pray boldly for the church, the world, and all in need.
A brief silence.
You wash us through and through and remember our sin no more. Make your church a community of forgiveness throughout the world. Give your people courage to forgive; through them show the world new possibilities. Bless our bishops, Daniel & Elizabeth, and our pastor, Howard, and all ministries of repentance and reconciliation. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
You fill the earth—from tiny grains of wheat to the mighty thunder—with your presence, and you call us to attend to your will for all creation. Grant weather that prepares the soil for seeds; protect all from violent storms, flooding, and wildfires. Teach us to be good stewards of the world which you have entrusted to us. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
You promise to write your law on our hearts. Guide citizens and their leaders throughout the world to shape communities that reflect your mercy, justice, and peace, and give them creativity to work for the welfare of all. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
You sustain us with your bountiful Spirit. Restore the joy of all who need to know your presence: those who are lonely or feel unforgivable, those who need healing of mind or body, those who are dying, and all who grieve, especially those on our prayer list and those we mention here aloud or lift up to you in our hearts. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Jesus calls us to follow him in life and death. Empower this congregation in discipleship. Equip children and teachers in Sunday school, confirmation, and learning ministries. Give us your truth and wisdom and teach us to follow Jesus. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
In the cross of Christ, your name is glorified. We praise you for those who have given us words to worship you. With all those who have died in Christ, bring us into life everlasting. 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.
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 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.
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.