Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to many of the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words of one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have the internet may find the songs on YouTube.


Some believe that it is only great power that can keep evil in check.  But that is not what I have found.  I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.  Small acts of kindness and love.

            Gandalf, from The Hobbitt, by J. R. R. Tolkien


     The second covenant in this year’s Lenten readings is the one made with Abraham and Sarah: God’s promise to make them the ancestors of many, with whom God will remain in everlasting covenant. Paul says this promise comes to all who share Abraham’s faith in the God who brings life into being where there was no life. We receive this baptismal promise of resurrection life in faith. Sarah and Abraham receive new names as a sign of the covenant, and we too get new identities in baptism, as we put on Christ.

     From generation to generation, God is steadfast. No matter how many ages pass or how often we turn away, God remains faithful. This is the great hope of our faith—no matter how often we stray or how great our sin, God persists in loving us. Jesus Christ binds us to God through our baptism into his death. In worship—especially through confession, affirmation of baptism, and communion—we continually remember the lengths to which God goes to keep covenant with us. The promise of salvation extends even into the future, as the psalmist reminds us: Our children and our children’s children will proclaim God’s salvation to generations yet unborn.


    We acknowledge we gather and worship on Treaty 1 Territory, the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Anishininew, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

     Creator God, thank you for the gifts of relationships — our connection with people, animals, and the land.  Help us, Lord, to see differences and diversity as strengths. Help us to listen compassionately, to speak humbly, and to act justly. Help us to seek the peace, justice, and reconciliation you desire among all your children. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Amen.

        Source:  Mennonite Central Committee


Look back! Look back with courage!

Face the truth God reveals to you!

Look forward! Look forward with hope!

Look to the future! See possibilities growing from the seeds of lessons learned!

There is NO shame in learning history! There is NO shame in relearning history!

Let us learn and unlearn history together.

Wisdom is vindicated by all her children.

And all God’s children proclaim: “So be it!” “Amen!”

CHILDREN’S SONG:   More Voices 134  There Was A Child In Galilee


Almighty God, Source of Life and Life itself.  Your Holy Spirit gathers us into your presence as a hen gathers her chicks to herself.  In the safety of this sacred space help us settle into this time of being together: individuals in shared community through Christ and with Christ. Help us push aside distracting thoughts that impede our learning and our listening. Help us uncover our fears: drive out each one with your perfect and perfecting love so that we can be changed in mind and will be changed in heart.  Thank you for accepting us as teachable: thank you for accepting us as willing disciples willing to grow in our faith, in our Spirits, and in our connection to you and to one another. This, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

CANADIAN LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF:  Nicaragua | Supporting children’s education

     When families don’t have enough to eat, it means children going to school hungry, unable to focus and struggling to learn, or even missing school completely. In Nicaragua, your gifts are keeping kids in school, learning, and growing with full bellies! 

     Across 23 communities in Nicaragua, children are receiving financial help to stay in school, extra learning supports and hot meals at school. 

    Our local partners are working with schools throughout the country. Children from the most vulnerable families are being provided scholarships to support their education. The scholarships help provide for school uniforms, shoes, and school supplies. It also covers stipends for tutors and classroom supplies, and children in need of support are receiving tutoring and homework support.

     A daily meal program also means a good meal for kids who might be hungry otherwise. 

     The feeding program is currently being expanded, with new kitchens being built in several congregations.


            My older sister and I shared a bicycle when we were young.  Since I didn’t know how to ride a bicycle at first, Kelly got to ride the bike – a lot – until I decided I was going to learn how to ride the bike!

            My sister had used training wheels to learn to ride a bike.  I decided I wasn’t going to use training wheels.  Guess how that turned out?!

            Yes, I fell off the bike a lot, scraped and bruised my legs and hands a lot – shed some blood, and finally, I was riding the bike!  What a great feeling!  It was hard to learn, and hard work, and worth every moment.

            Life can be difficult at times.  As with learning to ride a bicycle, you need to keep your balance or you fall off.  When we are in difficult situations, praying helps to keep our balance, not to panic, breathe, and focus on what we need to do.

            Jesus had to go through many difficult times in his life.  When these situations happened, he always took time out to pray, to help him stay balanced so he could do what he needed to do.

            It is because Jesus went through so many difficult times that we can trust Jesus to understand what we are experiencing and give us the strength to get through.  We have a God who knows what it is like to struggle, be scared, doubt, and yet trust God anyway and carry on.  We are never alone.

            Thank you, Jesus, for walking with us, giving us strength and courage, and loving us, no matter what.


God of mercy, you promised never to break your covenant with us. Amid all the changing words of our generation, speak your eternal Word that does not change. Then may we respond to your gracious promises with faithful and obedient lives; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


First Reading: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

As with Noah, God makes an everlasting covenant with Abraham and Sarah. God promises this old couple that they will be the ancestors of nations, though they have no child together. God will miraculously bring forth new life from Sarah’s womb. The name changes emphasize the firmness of God’s promise.

1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” 3Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.”

15God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

Psalm 22:23-31

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord. (Ps. 22:27)

23You who fear the Lord, give praise! All you of Jacob’s line, give glory. 

Stand in awe of the Lord, all you offspring of Israel.

24For the Lord does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty; neither is the Lord’s face hidden from them; but when they cry out, the Lord hears them.

25From you comes my praise in the great assembly;

I will perform my vows in the sight of those who fear the Lord.

26The poor shall eat and be satisfied,

Let those who seek the Lord give praise! May your hearts live forever! R

27All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord;

all the families of nations shall bow before God.

28For dominion belongs to the Lord, who rules over the nations.

29Indeed, all who sleep in the earth shall bow down in worship;

all who go down to the dust, though they be dead, shall kneel before the Lord.

30Their descendants shall serve the Lord, whom they shall proclaim to generations to come.

31They shall proclaim God’s deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying to them, “The Lord has acted!” R

Second Reading: Romans 4:13-25

Paul presents Abraham as the example for how a person comes into a right relationship with God not through works of the law but through faith. Though Abraham and Sarah were far too old for bearing children, Abraham trusted that God would accomplish what God had promised to accomplish.

13The promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
16For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 23Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

Gospel: Mark 8:31-38

After Peter confesses his belief that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus tells his disciples for the first time what is to come. Peter’s response indicates that he does not yet understand the way of the cross that Jesus will travel.

31 began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

HYMN:  More Voices 78  God Weeps


The Jewish website,  Judaism 101, states the following:

The word “mashiach” does not mean “savior.” The notion of an innocent, divine or semi-divine being who will sacrifice himself to save us from the consequences of our own sins is a purely Christian concept that has no basis in Jewish thought. Unfortunately, this Christian concept has become so deeply ingrained in the English word “messiah” that this English word can no longer be used to refer to the Jewish concept.

It has been said that in every generation, a person is born with the potential to be the mashiach. If the time is right for the messianic age within that person’s lifetime, then that person will be the mashiach. But if that person dies before he completes the mission of the mashiach, then that person is not the mashiach.

          The mashiach will be a great political leader descended from King David (Jeremiah 23:5). The mashiach is often referred to as “mashiach ben David” (mashiach, son of David). He will be well-versed in Jewish law, and observant of its commandments (Isaiah 11:2-5). He will be a charismatic leader, inspiring others to follow his example. He will be a great military leader, who will win battles for Israel. He will be a great judge, who makes righteous decisions (Jeremiah 33:15). But above all, he will be a human being, not a god, demi-god or other supernatural being.[1]

Cesarea Philippi.  What about it?  Jesus took his disciples there and Peter had a God-inspired moment.  What of it?

Biblical scholar, Zach Rosing, writes the following:

For the casual reader with no geographical context, this sounds no different than “Jesus took the disciples down the road to the neighboring village”. However, having just come from Bethsaida, this means that Jesus decided to take his disciples on a 32+ mile round trip to Caesarea Philippi, the only recorded trip Jesus took to that region or anywhere remotely like it.

This city, which sits at the foot of Mount Hermon, butts up against a large cliff, referred to as the ‘Rock of the Gods’, in reference to the many shrines built against it. Shrines to Caesar, Pan and another god were all built up against this cliff. In the center of the Rock of the Gods is a huge cave, from which a stream flowed This cave was called the “Gates of Hades”, because it was believed that Baal would enter and leave the underworld through places where water came out of it.

In first century Israel, Caesarea Philippi would be an equivalent of Las Vegas – Sin City – but much worse than the modern city in the American West. In the open-air Pan Shrine, next to the cave mouth, there was a large niche, in which a statue of Pan (a half-goat, half-human creature) stood. Surrounding him in the wall were many smaller niches, in which were statues of his attending nymphs. On the shrine in front of these niches, worshippers of Pan would congregate and partake in bizarre sexual rites.[2]

Ok, let’s back up a bit.

The disciples, while not formally educated, were raised in the Jewish faith and culture.  They would know of the mashiach and his mission.  They would also know of Caesarea Phillipi and no doubt warned from birth of its sins and the need for all self-respecting Jews to avoid it at all costs.  So then why, in the name of all that is holy, is their righteous Rabbi heading straight for this paramount of corruption like a compass drawn to true north?  Not only that, Jesus wants to know what others say about him.  More importantly, Jesus wants to know what his disciples believe about him.

And Peter gets it.  Inspired by Yahweh, Peter looks at Jesus and sees, actually sees, the mashiach.  In that moment Peter has hope!  In the instant it takes for a thought to occur in the mind, Peter has been ticking off the list:

Descended from King David – check

Well-versed in Jewish law – check

Observes the commandments – check

Charismatic leader – check

Inspires others – check

Jesus has shown wisdom in dealing with the religious authorities.  He exudes power – even demons obey him!  Oh yes, Jesus is definitely the anointed one of God.  All he has to do now is gain political and military power and then Israel is free from the oppressive presence of Rome!

Wait!, What?!  Suffering, rejection and death?!  No.  We are so close to freedom, how dare you kill the hope!

Surrounded by the corruption of Caesarea Philippi, idols, immorality and altars to other gods, Peter is further overcome with a verbal rebuke from Jesus and an accusation of being Satan personified!

At the top of his voice, Jesus then calls the people in the area to him.  Were these folks along for the long walk with the disciples, or worse, are they the crowds that flood the streets in sin-city?  The text does not make it clear, yet the character of Jesus in this moment suggests that he is calling to those lost souls on the streets of Caesarea Philippi.

Pick up your cross and follow; lose your life to save it; what is my life worth?  Look around you, Peter.  Look closely and then look Jesus in the face.  Again.  Jesus brought you here to teach you that the God you want is not the God you need.  Look at the citizens around you.  How many of them long for better lives, long for someone to love them just the way they are, long for joy rather than merely existing from day to day.  How many see God as some divine judge ready to condemn them at every turn.  How many of these people walking in the street desire, in their heart of hearts, a God who loves them?  If you want to be my disciple, Peter, you need to open your eyes and see God in the people around you – yes, even in sin-city.  You want joy?  Give it to others.  You want unconditional love?  Give it to others.  You want a purpose for your life?  Serve others.  Do not be afraid to walk the dark streets of life.  That is where the neediest souls reside.

We are journeying through this Lenten season to Jerusalem and Golgotha.  There is no time for political correctness or trying to meet other people’s expectations.  There are many who need to feel the love of Jesus through the presence and compassion of Jesus’ disciples.  This is serious business.  We are to look in the mirror and see where we have turned away from God.  We are to look in the mirror and confess the God we want, and ask God to take that God away and give us the God we need.  Crosses are heavy.  That’s why Jesus wants us to share the burden.  The cross transforms us into compassionate people and a stronger community.  Amen.

Hymn Of The Month:  More Voices 71  When The Wind of Winter Blows


God of Transfiguration, Your power reveals truth in all its beauty, in all its difficulty, in all its complexity.
You embrace us in our diversities—loving us, accepting us.  We ask you to unite us through the power of your Spirit So that we may work to manifest your presence in creation;

God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Speak in our voices as we raise them in prayer.  God of Transfiguration:  Illuminate systems of exploitation and injustice:  Systems that dislocate and enslave. Tear down the monuments we build to ourselves and for ourselves:  Cast down self-congratulatory privilege when we seek to pat ourselves on our back When we are only doing what we should or when we are doing nothing and it is you at work. Lift us out of missions that are photo-ops, and lead us into the ongoing work of partnership and community building.

God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Most Holy God, lead us away from the lofty places, the pretty places, the safe places and into the streets and alleys―Into hospital rooms with lonely patients; Into schoolyards with bullied children―Into places we can’t see because they are on the margins but places that are known to you.

God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

God who calls us, we pray for all deacons who serve your people in Word and Service ministry.  *The call is to stand between, in the liminal and fuzzy boundaries where church and world blur, coaxing folks out of stark categories and into real life where proclaiming the gospel and serving the neighbor are never separate.  You are ordained for action that embodies God’s love on the margins and moves people toward purpose and love that do not require a crucifix, font or altar.  Instead, you show them how God lived in a body, wrapping a towel at your waist, stooping down to fill a basin with water, washing and drying your neighbor’s feet with such care, they are certain they’ve seen Jesus.*  May we all obey the call to love and serve our neighbours.

God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer

Gather these prayers in the one Jesus taught us to say when we are together: 

*(from Speak It Plain by Meta Herrick Carlson)


SENDING SONG:   Voices United 713  I See A New Heaven


Look forward, look back, look outward, look within, and look around! Learn your histories: those of your family and those of your faith. As you do, remember you are a beloved child of God, a precious sibling of Christ, and a treasured companion to the Holy Spirit. Stay blessed and bless up. Amen.


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