Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, March 6, 2022
First 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!
These forty days called Lent are like no other. It is our opportune time to return to the God who rescues, to receive the gifts of God’s grace, to believe with the heart and confess with the mouth the wonder of God’s love in Jesus, and to resist temptation at every turn. This is no small pilgrimage on which we have just embarked. It is a struggle Jesus knew. It is a struggle Jesus shares. The nearness of the Lord, in bread and wine, water and word, will uphold and sustain us.
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
O Lord God, you led your people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide us now, so that, following your Son, we may walk safely through the wilderness of this world toward the life you alone can give, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Deuteronomy 26:1-11
The annual harvest festival, called the Feast of Weeks, provides the setting for this reading. This festival celebrates the first fruits of the produce of the land offered back to God in thanks. In this text, worshipers announce God’s gracious acts on behalf of Israel.
1When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, 2you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. 3You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, 5you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. 6When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, 7we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; 9and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. 11Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.
Psalm: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
God will give the angels charge over you, to guard you in all your ways. (Ps. 91:11)
1You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty—
2you will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my stronghold,
my God in whom I put my trust.”
9Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
and the Most High your habitation,
10no evil will befall you,
nor shall affliction come near your dwelling.
11For God will give the angels charge over you,
to guard you in all your ways.
12Upon their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13You will tread upon the lion cub and viper;
you will trample down the lion and the serpent.
14I will deliver those who cling to me;
I will uphold them, because they know my name.
15They will call me, and I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble; I will rescue and honor them.
16With long life will I satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.
Second Reading: Romans 10:8b-13
Paul reminds the Christians at Rome of the foundation of their creed, the confession of faith in the risen Christ as Lord.
8b“The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart”
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
One does not live by bread alone,* but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4)
Gospel: Luke 4:1-13
After being filled with the Holy Spirit at his baptism, Jesus is led in the wilderness. Through his responses to the temptations of the devil, he defines what it means to be called “the Son of God.”
1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’ ”
5Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8Jesus answered him, “It is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.’ ”
9Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to protect you,’
11and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
12Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Meditation by David O’Brien
When looking at the first reading today, I was thinking about what came before it. The ancient Israelites were first a nomadic people. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were often moving from place to place, living in a land that wasn’t theirs. At least not yet. After that, they eventually became slaves to the Egyptians. And then, back to wandering. For forty years, they wandered in the desert, living off what they found. God provided for them, of course, but there was still no sense of permanency, no sense of belonging in any one place. Then, when they came into the promised land, their lifestyle was shifted dramatically. No more wandering from place to place, they shifted from a nomadic lifestyle to an agricultural one. As such, they became dependent on this one land to provide all that they needed. It’s only natural that they should adopt some of the ceremonies of the people who were already living in that land.
One of those ceremonies was the Feast of Weeks, which is described in our first reading. The Canaanites, who were in the land prior to the Israelis, had a very similar festival where they offered the first fruits of any harvest to Baal, their god of the rain. The Israelites adapted this custom to their own faith and offered God the first fruits, the best of their harvest. But rather than just giving thanks for the rain, they were thanking God for everything He had provided for them. The sunshine, the soil and the rain as well. Because it is God who made everything that had made all of their bountiful harvests possible. Strictly speaking, the entire harvest belonged to God. But He has chosen to share it with the ancient Israelis and with us today, so it is only appropriate that we share some of what He has given to us with Him. That still applies to us today, but not just in the agricultural sense. It is God who made the conditions possible for us to thrive in this post-industrial economy. He is the one who gave us the tools we need to be productive and to be able to provide for our families. It is only appropriate that we should be grateful for what God has given us and to share that back with Him. We can do that in several ways, not just by giving to the Church. When we support charities that help people less fortunate than ourselves, we are giving back to the Lord. I’d even say that supporting the arts is giving back to God in that it allows the artist to share the gifts that God has given him or her with the rest of the world.
The Gospel today deals with a different type of gratitude. As the devil is tempting Christ with all of these worldly things, food to eat and the luxuries that would accompany authority over the world, Christ is mindful of the life He’s been given by His Father. He also remembers the love given Him by the Father, a love which He shares with the entire world and also returns towards the Father. The devil also tempts Jesus to test that love that the Father has for Him by putting his own life in peril. Jesus doesn’t bite on this one either because He knows He can trust the Father and He doesn’t need to prove that to Himself or anyone else, least of all the devil. To me, this trusting of God the Father to provide for all of His needs, need for food, comfort and safety, is how Christ is showing His gratitude to the Father. Even in the face of His crucifixion, Christ trusted that the Father would raise Him again and would continue to provide for His needs and help Him to accomplish His mission.
In a society where we are constantly tempted to horde our goods and live a life in safety and luxury, wouldn’t it be better to trust the Lord and to give some of that back so that we can assist God in providing for the needs of others? How many wars could be avoided if we, as a nation, decided to give some of the first fruits of our blessings to other peoples? May we all show our gratitude to the Lord for the gifts He’s given to us and trust that He will continue to provide for our every need.
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.
We pray for the church. Sharpen its proclamation of the word so that your people learn to reject voices of deception and distraction. Strengthen all who are tempted to believe lies about themselves or others. Bless Elizabeth & Daniel, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
We pray for the earth and all its creatures. Protect wilderness places and all plant and animal species that call them home. Sustain farmers and all laborers who work the land and harvest the fruits of its abundance. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
We pray for the nations of the world. Bring peace where there is conflict and reassure all that they can live in safety and peace. Awaken elected leaders and government officials to the needs of those who are oppressed and grant them compassion to deal mercifully with immigrants and refugees who reside among us. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
We pray for those in need. Rescue those experiencing mental illness or contending with addiction. Ease the anxiety of those who live with dementia. Command your angels concerning all who are sick especially those we remember on our prayer list and prayer board, and those we bring to you in the privacy of our own hearts. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
We pray for this assembly. Bless those who bake bread and prepare the table for our communion celebration. Accompany those who share the bounty of this meal with those who are homebound or hospitalized. Bless those who are only able to join us in spirit, due to either illness or institutionalization. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
We give thanks for those who have died. Gather them with all the saints into your heavenly dwelling place. Encourage us with the promise that all who call upon your name are saved. 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 and Holy Spirit,
☩ bless you this day and always.
Go in peace. Jesus meets you on the way.
Thanks be to God.