April 3, 2022 – Fifth Sunday in Lent
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Call to worship
One: God says to us: I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers flow in the desert.
All: The LORD does great things for us, and we rejoice.
One: God says to us: Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.
All: The LORD does great things for us, and we rejoice.
One: God says to us: I am about to do a new thing.
All: The LORD does great things for us, and so we worship God with songs of joy and prayers of thanksgiving.
Lighting of the Christ Candle
This is the Christ Candle. We light the candle to help us remember that Jesus Christ, the light of the world, is with us in every place and every time.
“We lay our broken world in sorrow at your feet” (Book of Praise 1997, hymn 202). Words (1985) by Anna Briggs (1947–). Music (tune: “Garelochside”) by Scottish music teacher Kenneth G. Finlay (1882–1974). Words copyright © 1985 Iona Community (Scotland). Used by permission of G.I.A Publications Inc.; streaming use by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music copyright © Broomhill Church of Scotland, Glasgow.
Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
O God, Creator, we come to you today with grateful hearts. In this hour of worship Break into these days of turmoil and uncertainty with the mercy and grace we meet in Jesus. By the power of your Spirit, lighten our hearts, and help us brighten the lives we touch this week in Jesus’ name. And so we praise you, O God,
Lord Jesus Christ, we gather in your name today, aware that you keep moving closer and closer to the cross. We confess it is not easy to follow your story. Your willingness to give yourself inspired some to give of themselves, while others hesitated or criticized. We confess we often struggle to decide what to give, whom to help. We can be critical of those in need and those who help them. Forgive us when we look for reasons not to share, and excuse ourselves from acting generously, as you did.
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.
Declaration of Pardon
And Christ died for us; Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us. Believe the good news of the gospel. In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and set free by God’s generous grace.
Thanks be to God.
The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
I would like to read the first two verses in the gospel of John 12, “Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.”
I want to highlight the first three words, “Six days before.” Today, in the gospel of John 12, it shows a picture of what happened to a group of disciples six days before the Passover, less than a week before the death of Jesus. It shows how the disciples were responding to the death of Jesus.
When a loved one dies, we experience many different emotions. Sadness, anger, guilt, loneliness, and apathy…. We respond differently. Martha, being Martha, made herself busy serving Jesus and others, running around everywhere, making sure everyone was okay. Mary being Mary, followed Jesus everywhere he went. She loved Jesus like none other. Then, some disciples remained silent. Probably some pretended nothing was happening. Others did not know how to deal with what was about to happen to Jesus. I am sure the disciples were angry, sad, and confused. They probably did not know how to process what was about to happen to Jesus. Yet they just remained silent. Although Jesus kept saying what was waiting in Jerusalem, they did not say or ask anything because they were afraid of what Jesus was telling them. Yes, some tried to engage Jesus by saying, “No, that is not going to happen. You are not going to die.” But none was ready to say goodbye to Jesus and prepare his death.”
The room was full of tension and ready to break…. Mary broke that uncomfortable and excruciating silence and tension. Suddenly, Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Bless Mary, I love Mary in the Bible; she is like no one. I am not sure our Bible would be the same without Mary. Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples, was not particularly pleased (Verse 4) “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” Judas was angry. However, it is not clear whether Judas was angry at Mary or angry at Jesus, or angry at himself for not being able to stop Jesus from dying, or perhaps he was angry at God for allowing Jesus to go through what was to happen. Or he was angry at all the above. We don’t know what Judas felt and what he was thinking exactly. But I do think most of us have experienced such anger, disappointment, and chaos in our life journey. Yet everyone else remained silent. Perhaps it was their silent agreement with Judas and with what he said or maybe they did not have any energy to join this temper-tantrums of Judas…
After reading this story, and if we close our eyes, we can picture this family getting together. Sometimes we experience this uncomfortable silence in our gatherings….
This is how Jesus responds to Judas, Mary and all of us. I am going to read verse 7, “Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’”
“Leave her alone.”
Jesus did not say, “You are wrong, she is right.” Nor “You are right, she is right.” Jesus did not start a debate or a trial by analyzing who was wrong and who was right, what was wrong, but Jesus invited Judas and perhaps everyone to let Mary be Mary…. Instead of debating what is right and wrong, instead of trying to control Mary to do what you think is right, listen to her and see her heart….
I believe that Jesus invited everyone to step back….to take a moment and breathe in… Jesus asked them to pause … to take a step back from each other. But pay attention to our own hearts.
Jesus did not belittle Judas by saying, “You are the one who is stealing money….”, Nor did Jesus say, “You need to apologize to Mary right now….” Nor did Jesus agree with Judas, “Mary, why did you not talk to me before doing this?”
But Jesus asked him to leave Mary alone, or perhaps Jesus was telling everyone to leave each other alone. We can leave others alone when we can embrace what we are going through and who we are at the moment….
Jesus said this not only to Judas, but to all of us, “Leave her alone.” Whoever she is and whatever she is doing….
Leave her alone, and start paying more attention to Jesus in each moment… Leave her alone, and start paying more attention to our own hearts and see if any brokenness we need to amend and whether we need healing in our own hearts….
(To be concluded on Sunday April 3rd)
- “Innocuous”. Original composition by GCPC Music Director Rachelle Risling. Copyright © 2022 Rachelle Risling; used by permission.
- Performed on the keyboard by GCPC Music Director Rachelle Risling.
- Audio recording copyright © 2022 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.
We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of being present at Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online, or drop off your offering envelope in the mailbox at the church. Do not leave a cash donation unattended in the mailbox; instead, please call the office (416.261.4037) to ensure someone will be there to receive it. The building will be checked daily for mail and phone messages. If you are not comfortable leaving an envelope, you are welcome to contact the office (once again, 416.261.4037) and someone will pick up your offering.
Dedication of our Gifts
Prayer of dedication
Living God, we offer our gifts today in hopeful gratitude. Bless these gifts and use them to increase the goodness enjoyed by those in need. Bless our lives that, through our relationships, others will be touched by the hope we know in Christ Jesus and find their lives blessed by his love and mercy. Amen.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope
O God in whom we live and move and have our being, we come to you in prayer, trusting that you are with us in the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows of these challenging days. We give you thanks for every sign of your presence with us, for every unexpected kindness, every word of comfort or encouragement, every sign of courage in the face of injustice, every hopeful step towards reconciliation amid conflict, and healing in the face of disease or danger. Thank you for your presence with us in all things.
In this unpredictable world, we pray for those whose lives are caught up in reckless terror or planned oppression, and for those living in places where they are afraid to walk freely; we remember all who find the uncertainty of our times overwhelming and discouraging:
May those living in fear courage to go on in your company.
As the stories of Jesus turn us toward the cross, O God, we pray for those who also walk the road of suffering. We remember before you those whose lives have been plunged into sorrow or despair through tragic death, through critical illness or chronic pain. and through complicated problems that seem to have no end:
May all these know your comfort and compassion.
O God, the stories of Jesus show us that he faced the clamour of many demands and the pressure of many critics. We pray for all those who are exhausted these days, juggling more demands and fewer resources in their work or at home, for those who cannot seem to get it right, whatever they do, and for all those facing unfair criticism and expectations in the responsibilities they bear on behalf of others.
May all these be strengthened by your Spirit of justice and mercy.
O God, we need the embrace of your presence, each in our own way. Anoint us with your Spirit of healing and hope, and bring peace to our lives and this world you love for the sake of Christ Jesus. Amen.
“God is love: come heaven, adoring” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 314). Words (1922) by English clergyman Timothy Rees (1874–1939). Music (1941; tune “Abbot’s Leigh”) by English clergyman Cyril Vincent Taylor (1907–1991). Words copyright © The Presbyterian Church in Canada, 1997. Music copyright © 1942, renewed 1970 Hope Publishing Co.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Changing the Light
Now, it is time to change the light. The light that was in one place can now be in every place and every time going with you wherever you go.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. AMEN.
- “Go Now in Peace”. Words by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1988 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
- Performed by Rachelle Risling (keyboard) and the GCPC Senior Choir. Audio and video production by Rachelle Risling.
- Audio and video recording copyright © 2021 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.
Copyright © 2022 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
Last updated 2022-04-04 – Added Musical Reflection information and link to SoundCloud.