March 5, 2023 – Second Sunday in Lent
A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, March 5, at 11:00 AM Eastern Standard Time. A video recording of the live stream will be available on our YouTube channel from 6:00 PM EST on Sunday, March 5.
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Call to Worship
L: Just as the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness,
P: The Spirit sends us into places of uncertainty where we confront our weakness and insecurities.
L: Even when our situation changes, we cling to the tried and the true.
P: We insist that what worked in the past will work in the future.
L: Yet, Jesus calls us to die to our old ways so that the new will emerge.
P: He said that we need to be born again to see God’s new realm.
L: Embracing God’s realm will mean accepting different principles that no longer feed our egos.
P: It will mean putting the needs of others before our own.
L: We know the depth of God’s love, revealed to us in Jesus, God’s Son.
P: When we are reborn by God’s Spirit, we will go where the Spirit leads us and love as God loves us.
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.
“O Love that wilt not let me go” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 209). Words (1882) by Scottish minister and hymnwriter George Matheson (1842–1906). Music (1884; tune “St. Margaret”) by English composer Albert Lister Peace (1844–1912). Words and music in the public domain.
Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
God of majesty and mercy, Your mystery embraces the vast reaches of the universe and yet you are present with us in the course of our daily lives. With even the tiniest spark of your wisdom illuminated the greatest complexities. With the smallest gesture of your love, you renew our hope. Deepen our sense of your holy presence this day. Assure us that your love will never let us go. And so we offer our praise and our prayers this day to you,
God of mystery and mercy, we confess that we prefer simply certainty to seeking for deeper understanding. We settle for what we know, ignoring our doubts and questions. Forgive us when our faith falters because what we think no longer satisfies. Open our eyes to the truth you hold out to us in Christ, and give us courage to rethink what we have assumed about you and your love for the world.
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
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. Everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! Thanks be to God for love that gives us all a new start this very day!
Thanks be to God!
One: The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
All: And also with you.
Guildwood Senior Choir presents
“How Beautiful”. Words and music by American singer-songwriter Twila Paris (1958–). Choral setting by American composer and arranger Lloyd Larson (1954–). Words and music copyright © 1990 and this arrangement copyright © 1990 Ariose Music/Mountain Spring Music, administered by EMI Christian Music Publishing, part of Capitol Christian Music Group; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Fun with the young at heart (children’s story)
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
“What a friend we have in Jesus” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 746). Words (1855) by Irish-Canadian poet Joseph M. Scriven (1819–1886). Music (1868; tune: “What a friend”) by American lawyer and composer Charles Crozat Converse (1832–1918). Words and music in the public domain.
John 3: 1–17 <– this links to on-line text of the NRSV bible
Click here for additional scripture readings from today’s lectionary. Links courtesy of the Revised Common Lectionary, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with that person.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen, yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The scripture reading is followed by:
One: The Word of God.
People: Thanks be to God.
An Irish priest, John O’Donohue, wrote a book about friendship titled “Anam Cara” (1996). Anam is the Gaelic word for soul; Cara is the word for friend. So Anam Cara means soul friend. It refers to a person to whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life. It is someone you could share your inner-most self, your mind, and your heart. This friendship is an act of recognition and belonging.
That is one of many gifts a faith community can offer us. Many people we meet through a faith community become our Anam Caras, who listen and pray with us through good and challenging times.
And when we read the Bible again and again, People in the Bible also become our friends. Their stories come alive in our own life and they do guide our life. I feel Nicodemus is one of my Anam Caras.
Every time I read this chapter, John chapter 3. I feel like I am meeting a good old friend.
I mean I get it: he is not like Moses, Paul, Joshua or Mary. He is not one of those who were successful in serving God or understanding God. He was struggling and he left Jesus struggling. He completely failed to understand what Jesus was trying to teach him about the eternal life and starting again by trusting God.
Yet, that is why I feel he understands me and my own struggles. I have to acknowledge that I see myself more from Nicodemus than David, Moses, Elijah or Mary. Yes, the stories of Moses and Paul inspire me. Yes, the story of Elijah and the story of Mary help me to discover the depth of faith in their life and confessions. But I see myself and a friend from the story of Nicodemus. Every time I read the story of Nicodemus, I cannot help but to say, “You too? I don’t get it either.” “I don’t get God at times, a lot of time. Why isn’t God doing more? I know God has placed us as God’s hands and feet, but that does not excuse God from doing more, or does it?”
I want to sit down with Nicodemus and have a long conversation with what is happening in his mind and his life and have a chance to share my own struggles.
I just love Nicodemus who tries so hard to figure out the gift of life and death he is given with his own reason, knowledge and understanding….
I would like to believe Jesus has become a good friend to Nicodemus ever since that day. Although Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus was telling him, but I believe their friendship would have grown after this. Just like how my friendship with Jesus grew over the time. One thing that my spiritual journey has taught me my question will not always bring me the answer I was searching for, it would lead us to God, who offers us far more than the answer we are seeking for. We may not fully understand the love of God for us, we know our friendship and the love of God for us will grow as we keep hanging around Jesus.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Whatever questions, doubts, and struggles we hold in our hearts, may we not be afraid to ask them to Christ and may we also recognize what God has been given to us each moment of our life?
“Nessun dorma”, aria from the opera “Turandot” (completed posthumously in 1926) by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924). This arrangement by English pianist and arranger Mark Fowler (1979–). Music public domain. Arrangement copyright © 2020 Mark Fowler.
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
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 306) Based on the tune “Old 100th” with words (1989) by English hymnwriter Brian A. Wren (1936–). Words copyright © 1989 Hope Publishing Co.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music public domain.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
praise God all creatures high and low;
praise God in Jesus fully known,
Creator Word and Spirit One.
Prayer of dedication
Generous God, we offer our gifts to you in gratitude for all that we have received in Christ and in creation. Bless our gifts and our lives, so that we can share in the building up of your kingdom in the world you love. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
The Sacrament of Communion
Introduction (We invite the elders to the table)
The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The Lord be with you.
And with you also.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give God thanks and praise.
The prayer opens with thanksgiving for creation and for God’s mighty acts throughout salvation history. The people join in the ancient song after these or similar words: “… we join with the whole creation to lift our hearts in joyful praise.”
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
Prayers of thanksgiving continue for the work of Jesus Christ, his life, death, and resurrection and for the institution of the Lord’s Supper. The people are invited to “proclaim the mystery of faith:”
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
Thanksgiving continues for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit is invoked followed by a doxology and the people say:
Words traditional liturgical text; this version, The Worship Committee of the Board of Congregational Life, The Presbyterian Church in Canada. Reprinted from The Book of Common Worship, 1991. Words: this version, copyright © 1991 The Presbyterian Church in Canada. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Fraction and Distribution
“Here is Bread: here is wine” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 546). Words and music (both 1992) by English singer-songwriter Graham Kendrick (1950–). Words and music copyright © 1992 Make Way Music, admin Integrity’s Hosanna! Music; 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 risen Christ), the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. AMEN.
“The Lord bless you and keep you”. Words from the Aaronic Blessing. Music by English composer John Rutter (1945–). Words public domain. Music copyright © 1981, 2015 Oxford University Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
“To God Be the Glory”. Music (first published 1875; tune: “To God Be the Glory”) by American manufacturer, hymnwriter and philanthropist William Howard Doane (1832–1915). Arrangement by American composer and arranger Robert D. Vandall (1944–2017). Music public domain. Arrangement copyright © 2012 Alfred Music Publishing Co.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Copyright © 2023 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
Last updated 2023-03-06 00:45 – Added Sermon text; Musical Reflection details.