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Midweek Lenten Series: Making Change
Sundays and Seasons
Midweek Lenten Series: Making Change
INTRODUCTION Change is a constant in our lives. Some changes mark gradual transitions, as when daytime shifts toward twilight or winter turns to spring. Others happen in the blink of an eye, separating time into "before" and "after". We choose to undergo some changes after carefully considering our options, while others are forced upon us.
In the weeks, days, and hours before Jesus' crucifixion, the disciples also experienced change: a change of venue as the gates of Jerusalem approached; a change of plans as their long-awaited. Messiah was arrested and tried; a change of circumstance as the crowds shouted "Crucify!"
Change is hard. We long for the expected and familiar, but all too often find ourselves in the midst of uncertainty and the unknown. We cannot predict how things will turn out. The hymnwriter Joachim Neander proclaimed God's steadfast love in the midst of life's inevitable changes: "All my hope on God is founded who will all my trust renew, who through change and chance will guide me, only good and only true. God unknown, God alone, call my heart to be thine own" (ELW 757).
Link to Sunday worship: The gospel readings for the Sundays in Lent for year A are filled with stories where Jesus creates the possibility of change and new life. He challenges Nicodemus to be born from above (Lent 2, John 3:1-17). He offers the Samaritan woman the living water that quenches all thirst (Lent 3, John 4:5-42). Jesus gives sight to the blind man (Lent 4, John 9:1-41) and raises Lazarus from the grave (Lent 5, John 11:1-45).
OVERVIEW Week of Lent 1: Change of Season
"For everything there is a season." We hear those familiar words telling us that life is full of changes. Jesus' parables are also filled with images of life transformed. Just as the mustard seed grows into a tree or yeast turns flour into read, we too are called to be agents of change in the kingdom of God. Christ did not come to earth to maintain the status quo, but rather to usher in a change of season.
Week of Lent 2: Change of Habit
Bad habits are hard to break. The letter to the Galatians urges us to replace them with the fruits of the Spirit. Love, patience, generosity, and self-control are just some of the good habits practiced by those whose foundation is built on Christ.
Week of Lent 3: Change of Circumstances
We move from elementary to middle school, or from our hometown to a new community. We lose a job, or gain a child, or accomplish a goal, or relinquish a dream. Through it all, we learn to give thanks to God in all circumstances.
Week of Lent 4: Change of Heart
Jesus' words to the Pharisees give us pause: "You honor me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me." Jesus invites us to experience a change of heart that will in fact change every part of our lives.
Week of Lent 5: Change of Plans
God's ways are not our own. We expect a conquering king and hero, but Jesus instead leads us down the road to Jerusalem and humbles himself on the cross. God changes our plans and replaces them with a love broader and deeper than anything we could imagine.
OPENING DIALOGUE Week 1 (Based on ELW 757, "All my hope on God is founded")
O God, you are the source of our hope. Guide us through change and chance.
When we grow weary and faint, call our hearts to be your own.
When our plans fall to dust, be our temple and our tower
When the world lacks joy and beauty, reveal your splendor, light, and life.
O God, we praise you for the gift of your Son. Strengthen us to follow the way of the cross.
Week 2 (Isa. 2:3, 60:19)
Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.
That he may teach us his ways; that we may walk in his paths.
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
The Lord will be our everlasting light, and our God will be our glory.
Week 3 (Ps. 62:2, 46:1-2)
For all our blessings, we give thanks to the Lord. God is our rock and salvation, a help in times of plenty.
With all our burdens, we pray to the Lord. God is our rock and salvation, a help in times of need.
In all our celebrations, we sing praise to the Lord. God is our rock and salvation, a help in times of joy.
With all our grief, we cry to the Lord. God is our rock and salvation, a help in times of sorrow.
We will not fear, though the earth should change. God is our rock and salvation; thanks be to God!
Week 4 (Song of Sol. 8:6, Ps. 139:23-24)
Beloved, set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm.
For love is strong as death;
passion fierce as the grave. O God, search me and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Week 5 (Mark 10:32-34, Luke 18:31-34, Matt. 16:22)
We see Jesus walking ahead on the road. He leads us toward Jerusalem.
We follow but are very afraid. He says the Son of Man will be handed over.
We understand nothing about all these things. He says the prophets' words will be fulfilled.
We hear him talk of suffering and death. Forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you!
GATHERING SONG Week 1: All my hope on God is founded ELW 757 Week 2: Here, O Lord, your servants gather ELW 530 Week 3: Jesus is a rock in a weary land ELW 333 Week 4: Spirit of God, descend upon my heart ELW 800 Week 5: Holy God, holy and glorious ELW 637
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. And also with you.
PRAYER Week 1 (Gen. 8:22)
O God of the ages, your creation revolves through seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night. When the seasons come and go and uncertainty looms ahead, we long for the constancy of your love. Give us courage, wisdom, and patience to be your agents of change in the world. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Week 2 (Gal. 5:22-25)
O God our strength, you are the foundation of our lives. Build up in us the habits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Guide us by your Spirit and teach us your ways, that we embody your love to all the world. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
O God our rock and salvation, you walk with us through all the ups and downs of life. Whatever our circumstances, bring us closer to you. Teach us to rejoice in the good times, find hope through the bad times, and always place our trust in you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Week 4 (Eph. 3:14—4:1)
O God of our longing, strengthen us and dwell in our hearts, that we be rooted and grounded in your love. Help us to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of your mercy shown to us on the cross. Fill our hearts with your grace, that we lead lives that radiate your love to all. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
O God our surprise, you offer so much more than our own limited plans envision. You take our place, becoming our salvation through the cross. As we prepare for Holy Week, strengthen our hearts and minds to follow Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. When we betray like Judas, deny like Peter, and scatter like the disciples, forgive our frailties. Bring us the promise of resurrection and new life in you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
How clear is our vocation, Lord ELW 580, sts. 1, 4
GOSPEL READING Week 1: Luke 13:18-21 Week 2: Luke 6:46-49 Week 3: Luke 12:22-34 Week 4: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 Week 5: Mark 10:32-34
HYMN OF THE DAY Week 1: As the sun with longer journey ELW 329 Week 2: Build us up, Lord ELW 670 Week 3: When we are living ELW 639 Week 4: Change my heart, O God ELW 801 Week 5: Lamb of God ELW 336
O God our help,
you walk with us through all of life's changes. Grant us strength, patience, wisdom, and understanding.
O God our hope,
you come to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Show us your salvation, and lead us in the way of the cross.
O God our shelter,
you enfold us like a mother hen gathering her chicks. Watch over all who are sick, grieving, lonely, and in need this day.
O God our home, you claim us as your beloved children. Lord, remember us when you come into your kingdom. Here other prayers may be offered.
All this we ask through the one who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
LORD'S PRAYER Let us pray together: O triune God in heaven above, your blessed name we hallow. Your kingdom come, your will be done in this world as in heaven; give bread for each new day begun; our sins be all forgiven, as we forgive what others do; in every trial see us through; from evil save us. Amen
OFFERING Offering Prayer (Matt. 25:35)
Steadfast God, you bless us amid all the changes and chances of life. Grant us servant hearts, that we may feed the hungry and welcome the stranger in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
BLESSING Based on 2 Thessalonians 3:16
The Lord of peace give you peace at all times and in all ways.
In the name of the Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
SENDING SONG Week 1: Great is thy faithfulness ELW 733 Week 2: Let us ever walk with Jesus ELW 802, LBW 487 Week 3: In the cross of Christ I glory ELW 324, LBW 104 Week 4: Chief of sinners though I be ELW 609, LBW 306 Week 5: That priceless grace ELW 591
Go now in peace, for nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Thanks be to God.
Some of the prayers are based on the text of "O God, our help in ages past" (ELW 632; text by Isaac Watts) and Luke 23:42.