Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to 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 to one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have internet may find the songs on YouTube.


“There’s never been a true war that wasn’t fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous.”
     ― Neil Gaiman, American Gods


     The third covenant in this year’s Lenten readings is the central one of Israel’s history: the gift of the law to those God freed from slavery. The commandments begin with the statement that because God alone has freed us from the powers that oppressed us, we are to let nothing else claim first place in our lives. When Jesus throws the merchants out of the temple, he is defending the worship of God alone and rejecting the ways commerce and profit-making can become our gods.

     John’s gospel is unique among the four gospels in that it places the story of Jesus clearing the temple at the beginning, rather than the end, of Jesus’ ministry. This placement shows how John’s gospel emphasizes that Jesus has come to replace the temple. No longer will God’s presence be confined to a place, the temple, but instead, God’s presence is now embodied in the person of Jesus. Jesus welcomes all to him, and erects no barriers or limits on who can be his follower.

     The Ten Commandments are essential to our baptismal call: centered first in God’s liberating love, we strive to live out justice and mercy in our communities and the world.


As we travel this Lenten pathway, we journey together, a community of faith.

As we travel this Way of Jesus, we journey together, but also alone.

Practising our faith:

living Christ’s call to love God with all that we are, to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.

Practising our faith:

as stewards on the Way.

CHILDREN’S SONG   MV 195  Long Ago And Far Away


God of the hungry times, God of the difficult times, God of all the times of our lives, we need to talk. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand the direction we need to go. With all the choices we have in our lives, sometimes we’re not sure when to say “Yes,” or when to say “No.” So we ask for your guidance. We ask for wisdom. We ask for Spirit. In our worship, in our work, in our choices, in our lives. May it be so, loving God! Amen.


We are not alone; we live in God’s world.

We believe in God:  who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:  to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.


     I drive a 2008 Crown Victoria.  It was a police interceptor – a cop car!  It is big and comfy and it can go REALLY FAST (according to the owner’s manual!)

     I have been driving since I was 16 years old.  I will be 58 this year.  That means I have been driving for 42 years.  Before I could get my driver’s licence, I had to learn the rules of the road.  I had to practice driving so that I had control of the car.  I had to remember the rules of the road as I drove, so that I would not cause an accident.  That is why there are rules for driving.  We want everyone to be safe and get to where they are going in one piece!

     Can you imagine what would happen if there were no rules for driving?  Some people may decide to drive through a red light, or a stop sign.  Someone else may suddenly decided to hit the brake at a green light!  Others might not stop for a crosswalk and injure people!  Having rules for driving makes people better drivers and the roads safer.

     It is the same for the 10 commandments that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.  God is serious about healthy relationships and the 10 commandments remind us all to put God first, to respect our neighbour, their property and possessions, and to work at being loving, forgiving people.  God gave Moses and the people of Israel the 10 commandments out of love, so that they would have a better relationship with God and be better people.  God also insisted on a day off for everyone so that they may worship and be together as a family.

     When I was in Sunday School, we memorized the 10 commandments so that we always had them with us to remind us to treat others with love and respect.

     How many commandments can you remember?


Your gifts to Mission & Service help the church advocate for refugees, migrant workers, those who are homeless, and other marginalized groups.

     Mission & Service is often described as the “lifeblood” of our church. That’s because it runs through the veins of everything we do together as a church. If you have ever sung out of a United Church hymnbook, your life has been touched through Mission & Service. If you have been cared for by a United Church minister, Mission & Service has had an impact on you. No matter which region your church is in, there is an organization near you doing life-changing work that is supported through Mission & Service.

     If your church matters to you, then Mission & Service should matter too.

     Through Mission & Service, we help transform lives and inspire purpose. In other words, we connect action and faith.

     For example, right now, our United Church is exploring what it means to be on the move. You may have purchased the Lenten devotional book Faith on the Move or are taking part in the webinar study series, which is in full swing. The development of resources like these are partially subsidized through Mission & Service so that they can be offered at a reasonable cost and in many cases, no cost.

     It’s no coincidence that we are studying being “on the move.” Not only is our faith always in transition, but our United Church literally reaches out to people on the move. We advocate for refugees, migrant workers, those who are homeless, and many other marginalized groups.

     Did you know that over 272 million people in the world today do not live in the country in which they were born? While most people leave their home countries for work, millions of others are forced to leave because of conflict, persecution, and terrorism.

     The United Nations reports that for the first time in their history, the number of people forced to leave their home has topped 70 million. Think about that. It’s one thing to be “on the move” because we’ve made a choice. It’s another to be forced out.  

     As Christians, we are called to help build a better world. To do that, our faith needs to connect with our action. Mission & Service supports us as a church to both learn and advocate.  

     Thank you for generously helping our church deepen faith and live out the compassion of Jesus in all that we think and do.


Guide us, O God, by your Word and Spirit, that in your light we may see light, in your truth find wisdom, and in your will discover your peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Exodus 20:1-17

After escaping from slavery, the Israelites come to Mount Sinai, where God teaches them how to live in community. The Ten Commandments proclaim that God alone is worthy of worship. Flowing from God, the life of the community flourishes when based on honesty, trust, fidelity, and respect for life, family, and property.

1God spoke all these words: 

     2I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3you shall have no other gods before me. 

     4You 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. 5You 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, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. 

     7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses the Lord’s name. 

     8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But 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. 11For 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. 

     12Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 

     13You shall not murder. 

     14You shall not commit adultery. 

     15You shall not steal. 

     16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 

     17You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

  • Psalm 19

The commandment of the Lord gives light to the eyes. (Ps. 19:8)

1The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims its maker’s handiwork.
2One day tells its tale to another, and one night imparts knowledge to another.
3Although they have no words or language, and their voices are not heard,
4their sound has gone out into all lands, and their message to the ends of the world,
  where God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5It comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber; it rejoices like a champion to run its course.
6It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens and runs about to the end of it again;
nothing is hidden from its burning heat. R

7The teaching of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul;
  the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple.
8The statutes of the Lord are just and rejoice the heart;
  the commandment of the Lord is clear and gives light to the eyes.
9The fear of the Lord is clean and endures forever;
  the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold,
  sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb. R
11By them also is your servant enlightened, and in keeping them there is great reward.
12Who can detect one’s own offenses?  Cleanse me from my secret faults.
13Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not get dominion over me;
  then shall I be whole and sound, and innocent of a great offense.
14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
  O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. R

  • Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

The word of the cross is pure foolishness and nonsense to the world because it claims that God is mostly revealed in weakness, humiliation, and death. But through such divine foolishness and weakness, God is working to save us. The center of Paul’s preaching is Christ crucified.

18The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,

     “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

  • Gospel: John 2:13-22

Jesus attacks the commercialization of religion by driving merchants out of the temple. When challenged, he responds mysteriously, with the first prediction of his own death and resurrection. In the midst of a seemingly stable religious center, Jesus suggests that the center itself has changed.

13The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15Making 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. 16He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22After 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.



     It began with Moses.  Those stone tablets with the ten commandments engraved by God’s hand had to be stored somewhere portable, since the Hebrew people were always on the move.  So, the Ark of the Covenant was built, a gold-covered wooden chest with carrying poles, at God’s request and God’s design no less!  God’s presence was in the Ark with the stone tablets.  Whenever the Hebrew people stopped, a tent was erected and the Ark remained in there.  If Moses wanted to talk to God, he simply entered into the tent and held forth with Yahweh.

     After 400 years or so, God was tired of living in a tent and told King David that David and Bathsheba’s son, Solomon, would build Yahweh a temple in which to reside.  And it was so.  The Ark of the Covenant was placed in the innermost room of the Temple, called the Holy of Holies.  Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year on the annual Day of Atonement.

     All would have been well, except the Israelites turned their backs to God, and as a result, both they, and the Ark of the Covenant, were carried off into exile.  

     Thankfully, Cyrus the Great of Persia gave permission for the Hebrew people to return to Judah to build a second temple in Jerusalem, again, at God’s behest.  However, the Ark of the Covenant had disappeared.  Still, the Holy of Holies was included in this second temple and was reported to hold the presence of God.  Fast forward over 500 years, and here we are at the moment in our Gospel text from John, when Jesus enters into the temple courtyard, and, in modern parlance, loses it.

     The Gospel of John is not like the other three.  There is no Mary, Joseph or baby Jesus, no stable, no angels, no Magi, no Herod.  While Mark’s Gospel begins with John the Baptizer, John’s Gospel begins before the creation of time and planet earth.  For the writer of John, the whole focus of the Gospel is the reality that God chose to become human in the person of Jesus, the Christ. This situation at the temple appears at the beginning of the Gospel account, following on the heals of the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned the water into wine. 

     What causes Jesus to make a whip of cords and go on the attack?  The most common interpretation is Jesus’ anger at how the money changers and those selling animals for sacrifice are cheating the poor and vulnerable.  It is one thing to sell animals for sacrifice and change the Roman coin to temple coin.  It is quite another thing to inflate prices or sell animals with imperfections, thereby forcing the people to purchase another animal, hoping that this one will pass examination by the priests.  Getting rich off another’s poverty should be enough to anger any person with a sense of right or wrong and God’s justice. 

     Jesus yells at the people to stop making his Father’s house a marketplace.  Well, Jesus, this is Passover, a high holiday with an enormous influx of travelers returning to worship in the temple.  This is high profit season!  The temple isn’t going to maintain itself!  The priests have to be paid and sacrificial animals purchased.  That requires money!  In essence, the “marketplace” is necessary to allow people to change their Roman coin for temple coin in order to purchase their animal for their sacrifice, and to bring in revenue to maintain their place of worship. 

     Not according to Jesus.

     When Jesus speaks of the temple, he is referring to himself.  One does not need walls of massive stone blocks and a Holy of Holies to experience the presence of God.  One experiences the presence of God in the person of Jesus.  There is no sacrifice demanded, no tax to pay, no list of does and don’ts before being able to enter the building – because there is no building!  The walls are gone, and God walks among the people, dips fingers in the water bowl with tax collectors and prostitutes, touches the dead, heals physical and spiritual ailments.  The religious authorities, and dare I say the disciples, don’t get it.  Later the disciples understand, yes, but much later.

     At the time the Gospel of John was written, the second temple had already been destroyed by the Romans.  The followers of Jesus became aware after his death, resurrection and ascension that God’s presence, that grace upon grace spoken of in the opening verses of John’s gospel, would be found outside the temple.  God had not left.  God had expanded! 

     The Spirit of Christ given to us in our Baptism leads us out of our places of worship and into the world.  How exciting and positively terrifying, all at the same time!  What does that mean for us?  Glad I asked…

I close with a story that I heard in an episode of the TV series, Remington Steele, back in the late 1980’s.  For me, it sums up what the early Church experienced after Christ’s ascension and the destruction of the second temple.  It sums up what we are going through today with the losses in our lives because of Covid.  It sums up where we go in the future. 

     Marcos Androkos.  Little man – neck so short he said it wasn’t worth washing.  Black moustache, thick like wire, and a big smile with a gold tooth in it.

     Oh boy!  He worked us like dogs, he did.  “Harder!”, he’d scream at me, “Don’t you want us all to be rich?!  Hey?!  Hey?!”

     He had a cargo ship and a family that seemed to include half of Greece.  Oh, but he fed you well and, at that time, that was enough to keep his name in my book.  He used to cram every crack in that ship with everything for everyone as long as it got him closer to buying that bloody tanker!

     Night runs were his specialty.

     Oh, you’d have loved the party he threw when he finally bought that bloody tanker!  Had his tooth all shined and gleaming and polished, and more food and music and wine than I have seen in my entire life.

     “Tonight, we are peasants”, he said, filling my glass for the countless time.  “Tomorrow, we are tycoons, eh?”

     We all went down to the pier at dawn to watch it arrive.  She wasn’t out there more than two miles when an explosion in the engine room ripped through the side of the hull.  We fought to believe what was happening.  Sank like a stone.

     Since he was twelve, he wanted nothing else.  And like that – it was gone, bingo.

     The pier became so quiet we could hear each other breathe.  Then, Marcos, he starts to laugh, and I don’t mean a tittle, I mean a full belly, spit in the sky, all out laugh!

I couldn’t bloody believe my ears!  I was furious!  I mean, “Why are you laughing?!”, I screamed at him!

     “Because, from now on, everything is new again, heh?  Just think of the possibilities…”

     We are on our way to Jerusalem where the Messiah will break the bonds of death, the Holy Spirit will be given, the disciples inspired, Christ’s Church take root and gain incredible courage. 

In our Baptism we have died to sin and been given new life in Christ.  We have a God with open arms, unconditional love, forgiveness and grace.  We have a God without walls!  Everything is new again!  Just think of the possibilities!

Our journey continues.

God is here.



HYMN OF THE MONTH     MV 84  In You There Is A Refuge  


Loving God, we thank you for the journey of our lives, with its ups and downs, with its questions and challenges, and with its moments of joy.  We thank you for the beauty around us, for the hills and the trees, for the water and the weather, for all that reminds us of life, and life made new.  In the quiet of this place, we offer you our own celebrations.  God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Even as we say “Thank you,” we realize that there is brokenness in us and in our world.  We realize that we have not always lived the love to which you call us.  Sometimes by action or by inaction, sometimes by just going along with things, we have broken faith with each other, and with you.  We offer to you, our brokenness, loving God, not only asking that we would be forgiven, but that, by your love, we would be made whole, living in new ways, living out Christ’s love.  Receive the prayers of our hearts, God.  God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Knowing that we are forgiven, knowing that we are loved, we turn to the world, to love it into wholeness.

We pray for people living in desert times in their lives, people who are facing famine—of body or spirit,

people who are tempted to turn away from what is right and just; and we pray for a world, all creatures, all places, facing destruction.  We remember especially… Eileen and Bob Clow, Lil Schieman, David Anderson, Mike Froese, the family of Brian Pettapiece, the family of Kanyon Redsky, Brooke Alexiuk, Tracy Skoglund, Carolyn, Douglas, Debbie, Dwayne; Matthew Grossman, Lorraine & Walter Pokrant; for all those infected with the corona virus, or whose loved ones have died because of it.  We pray for healing and wholeness, and we ask that we would be a part of the solution, loving God, turning our prayer from words to actions.  God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

We entrust ourselves and all our prayers to you, O faithful God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.




As we travel this Lenten pathway, we journey together, a community of faith.

As we travel this Way of Jesus, we journey together, but also alone.

Let us go into God’s world, practising our faith,

living Christ’s call to love God with all that we are, to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.

Let us go into God’s world knowing we are never alone.  Christ’s peace, + the Creator’s love, and the breath of the Holy Spirit go with us.


SENDING SONG    VU 638  God, Take My Hand And Lead Me


Copyright © 2016 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS011617. 
© 2011 The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/byncsa/2.5/ca.