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Morning Worship in Lent            
 

The Greeting

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Opening prayer

God of our days and years, we set this time apart for you
As we journey with you towards the cross and the empty tomb, form us into your likeness,
So that our lives may glorify you.
Amen.

Prayers of Penitence

God shows his love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Let us show our love for him by confessing our sins with a sincere and true heart.

God our Father, we come to you in sorrow for our sins
For turning away from you,
And ignoring your will in our lives;
Father forgive us
Save us and help us

For behaving as we wish,
Without thinking of you;
Father forgive us
Save us and help us

For failing you by what we do
And think and say
Father forgive us
Save us and help us

For letting ourselves be drawn away from you
By temptations in the world about us
Father, forgive us
Save us and help us

For living as if we were ashamed
To belong to your Son
Father, forgive us
Save us and help us

Absolution

The almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon and forgiveness from all our sins,
time for amendment of life, and the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit.
Amen..

Our Response

Sometimes we feel like we’re walking through wilderness:
Jesus we choose to walk with you.
When our spirits feel dry, help us trust in your Spirit:
Jesus we choose to walk with you.
Fasting seems difficult, prayers seem unanswered:
Jesus we choose to walk with you.
The world howls like wild animals all around us:
Jesus we choose to walk with you.
We can choose to worry, or to trust you to provide:
Jesus we choose to walk with you.
Temptation is everywhere, doubts can overwhelm us:
Jesus we choose to walk with you.
You know what it’s like to walk through this desert:
Jesus we choose to walk with you.
You long to transform us with wilderness worship:
Jesus we choose to walk with you.
Amen.

Readings

Old Testament: Exodus 20:1-17
Then God spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

The Gospel:  John 2:13-22
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken

Other Readings for the Third Sunday of Lent: Psalm 19 & 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

The Collect

Almighty God,
whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain,
and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross,
may find it none other than the way of life and peace;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Homily

Last Sunday’s text focused on the Lenten question “What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?”
Today’s text focuses on the question “What does it mean to be the church of Jesus?”
As our text begins, Passover is near. Hearts and minds are focused on the exodus event and expectations of deliverance.
A faithful Jew, Jesus comes to the temple, sacred space, the dwelling place of God on the earth.
It was a magnificent place. In a futile effort to win over his “ungrateful” subjects, Herod the Great in 20 BC had begun a massive restoration and expansion of the temple that was still underway in Jesus’ day. What a sight it must have been!
But appearances can be deceiving. Entering the temple precincts Jesus found little in the way of sacred space.
The Court of the Gentiles looked and sounded like an open-air market. Cattle bellowing, sheep bleating, turtledoves cooing, people yelling, coins clanging.
Ironically, the activity was necessary for the functioning of the temple! The temple tax had to be paid in temple coinage, so money changers were necessary.
Because sacrificial animals had to be without blemish, sellers of sacrificial animals were necessary. After all, who could make it all the way to Jerusalem with an unblemished animal?
All of this activity was in service to the temple, but … did these services have to be rendered inside the temple precincts? Was it necessary to rob the Gentiles of the one area in the temple precincts they were allowed to enter and pray?
Entering the temple, Jesus discovered how deceiving appearances can be. While the place appeared to fulfil its function, closer inspection revealed that it had forgotten its purpose. The trappings were still in place but the place had no heart for its existence. It had been taken over by buyers and sellers, consumers and marketers who knew how fill the pews and meet the capital campaign goals.
The ways of the world invade the church gradually, subtly, never intentionally, always in service of the church and its mission. Soon the church is full of cattle and sheep and turtledoves and money changers!
What Jesus saw was an outrage. Moving through the “market” with a whip, he created holy havoc. He left no tables unturned and no one untouched. Imagine the scene: tables turning over, coins bouncing across the floor, animals squealing and running wildly, the flapping of turtledove wings, and Jesus crying out, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”
Challenges to the status quo will always be disputed. And Jesus had issued some challenge.
Notice that those challenged did not ask “why” Jesus had acted in this way. They knew that one day the Lord or the Lord’s anointed would suddenly appear in the temple to straighten things out through the prophecy in Mal. 3:1, “See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. They asked Jesus for evidence that he was the one with the authority to do this!
After all, they were doing the things the way they were doing them because they believed they were doing them right. They had no intention of violating God’s purposes, and they would never knowingly oppose God. Isn’t that always the case? Yet Jesus’ words and actions suggested that the temple functionaries were actually acting in opposition to God’s purposes!
In verse 19 Jesus continued his blistering temple critique. “You destroy this temple …” If there is any destruction of the temple going on, it is his challengers who are doing the deed. Ouch!
“You destroy this temple … in three days I will raise it up.” Lent offers an opportunity to ask whether we may be “destroying” the temple!
This section of the text demonstrates a favourite Johannine pattern: Jesus speaks, his words are misunderstood, and clarification follows. The religious leaders assume that Jesus is referring to the magnificent Herodian temple. The idea that Jesus might rebuild such a temple in three days is ludicrous at worst and unreasonable at best … when misunderstood. John’s Gospel continually warns us against the danger of misunderstanding—thinking we understand Jesus, when the Jesus we think we understand is a Jesus of our own design, a Jesus with whom we are quite comfortable. But what if there is more to his words than we are hearing, more to his will than we are doing?
John provides the necessary clarification and a glimpse of things to come. Jesus is not speaking of the physical temple but of his own body. His challengers will seek to destroy him. They will think the deed is done, that not one bone of his body is left standing.
For an instant, the shadow of the cross falls over the narrative.
But the cross will not be the end, for Jesus will rise from the dead. People will try to destroy him; they still do, but our efforts are in vain, for not even the tomb can hold him; he will be “raised from the dead”
Even the disciples did not, could not, would not understand Jesus’ words until after the resurrection. Then many things that had mystified them about Jesus and his work became clear. Then they remembered his life in light of their prophetic scriptures) and Jesus’ own words.
The message to John’s readers is clear. You cannot understand Jesus until you have the whole story.
During Lent we are reminded that the story of Jesus culminates at the cross but does not end there. Taking only parts of the story will lead us to an incomplete and inadequate understanding of Jesus. And that might leave us in a temple of our own construction that is dedicated to the purposes of God but actually stands in opposition to them.
Why not take some time this week to read through one of the synoptic gospels – take in the whole story of Jesus life pay attention to the way in which he dedicates his life to the purposes of God and reflect on your own.
Is there anything which Jesus might be challenging anything which is getting in His way?

Affirmation of Faith

Let us affirm our faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God
Though he was divine,
he did not cling to equality with God,
but made himself nothing,
taking the form of a servant
he was born in human likeness
.
He humbled himself
and was obedient to death
even death upon the Cross.
Therefore God has raised him on high,
and given him the name above every name:
That at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,
and every voice proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord,
To the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

We pray to the Lord for courage to give up other things
and to give ourselves to him this Lent.
Give your Church the courage
to give up her preoccupation with herself
and to give more time to your mission in the world.
[We pray for …]
May the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus
bring forgiveness to your people
and help us to face the cost of proclaiming salvation.
Lord, meet us in the silence,
give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give your world the courage
to give up war, bitterness and hatred,
and to seek peace.
[We pray for …]
May the shoulders of the risen Jesus,
once scourged by soldiers,
bear the burden of political and military conflict in our world.
Lord, meet us in the silence,
give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up quarrels, strife and jealousy
in our families, neighbourhoods and communities.
[We pray for …]
May the presence of the risen Jesus,
his body once broken and now made whole,
bring peace and direction as we live with one another.
Lord, meet us in the silence,
give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage
to give up our selfishness as we live for others,
and to give time, care and comfort to the sick.
[We pray for …]
May the wounded hands of Jesus bring his healing touch,
and the light of his presence fill their rooms.
Lord, meet us in the silence,
give us strength and hear our prayer.

Give us the courage to give up our fear of death
and to rejoice with those who have died in faith.
[Especially we hold … in our minds.]
May the feet of the risen Lord Jesus, once nailed to the cross,
walk alongside the dying and bereaved in their agony,
and walk with us and all your Church
through death to the gate of glory.
Lord, meet us in the silence,
give us strength and hear our prayer,
here and in eternity.

Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, so we 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.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Blessing

May Christ give us grace to grow in holiness,
to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.
Amen.


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