First Sunday in Lent
MARK 1:9–15/1:7–13 IV
Face Our Temptations
Genesis 9:8–17, Psalm 25:1–10, 1 Peter 3:18–22, 2 Nephi 11:55–56, Doctrine and Covenants 158:11a
In thinking about Lent it is helpful to consider the first point in Community of Christ’s statement on Christology “We Proclaim Jesus Christ”:
As members of Community of Christ, we are bound together with Christians in every place and in every time by our confession of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, author of our salvation, and head of the church.
—Sharing in Community of Christ, 3rd ed., (Herald Publishing House, 2012, ISBN 9780830915736), 22.
This statement forms the foundation for our faith community’s observance of Lent, joining with other Christians who for many centuries have observed it as the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, not counting Sundays. This time interval is a means of moving from the anticipation and excitement of Advent and Christmas, through the heightened awareness of Jesus’ earthly life as the Light of the World during the season of Epiphany, to a focused review of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in the Lenten and Easter seasons. During Lent, we are helped to center our attention on Jesus as we remember his life and ministry. Lent provides a means to also sharpen our focus on our own lives in relationship to Jesus. And the Lenten season encourages us to turn away from whatever distracts or blocks our commitment to discipleship. May the season of Lent help us walk with Jesus even though the path leads to the cross.
Throughout the season of Lent, create a cumulative worship center using objects or pictures of items as noted below. You will need two of each item: one to place in the worship setting that will stay in place throughout Lent, and one to use during the Focus Moment. Arrange to have physical examples or pictures of the following: a cell phone, a child’s coin bank, a photo of the building in which you meet, a small wooden cross, a handful of grains of raw wheat, and a small, clear bowl. See the Focus Moment notes below for specific information on this service.
Invite People to Christ
As you listen to the scripture of Jesus’ baptism, reflect on your own baptism and confirmation. Who invited you to Christ? How can you invite others to Christ?
Reading of the Gospel Text
Mark 1:9–15/1:7–13 IV
Spiritual Practice: Personal Reflection
Print or project the quoted paragraph.
Prayerfully consider the following statement. In light of today’s scripture from Mark, how does this statement help you enter the Lenten season?
Jesus was betrayed by his own friends, accused of blasphemy and treason, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to die on a cross between two common criminals. By forgiving his murderers and choosing to take on the sin, pain, and suffering of the whole world, he reconciled all of humanity to God.
—Sharing in Community of Christ, 3rd ed., (Herald Publishing House, 2012, ISBN 9780830915736), 23.
End the reflection time by sounding a chime or bell.
Call to Community Worship
Now, behold, I say to you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel. Wherefore you must bow down before him and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul, and if you do this you shall in no wise be cast out.
—2 Nephi 11:55–56, adapted
Praise Hymns (select two)
“God Is Here!” CCS 70
OR “Now Sing to Our God” CCS 108
OR “Oh, Sing to the Lord/Cantad al Señor” CCS 88
OR “When Morning Gilds the Skies” CCS 89
Pursue Peace on Earth
Passing the Peace
Ministry of Music: “The Lord Be with You” CCS 74
Arrange for two singers to sing “The Lord Be with You.” One person will sing the first phrase: “The Lord be with you,” followed by the second person singing the second phrase: “and also with you.” Both sing the remainder of the hymn in unison or parts.
OR Congregational Hymn: “The Lord Be with You” CCS 74
Following the hymn, invite the congregants to greet one another, speaking the two phrases from the hymn: “The Lord be with you” and the reply, “And also with you.” Draw the congregation back by sounding a chime or bell.
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle then lead the congregation in one of the following hymns as today’s prayer.
“Gentle God, When We Are Driven” (stanza 1 solo; stanzas 2–4 congregation) CCS 222
OR “O God of Love, Grant Us Your Peace” CCS 316
For more ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org /daily-prayer-for-peace.
Develop Disciples to Serve
Place a medium-sized, clear plastic storage container in a prominent place in your worship space. It will remain there throughout Lent. Ask someone to be prepared to lead the Focus Moment for each Sunday in Lent. The same person could do it every Sunday, or a different person could lead each week. The leader will need a small lunch bag or a grocery bag in which to conceal each Sunday’s object. For this week, hide two inactive cell phones in a lunch bag. Use phones not in service because one will be placed and kept in the clear storage bin for several Sundays and the other will begin the accumulation of items in the worship setting. The leader introduces the object in the bag using his or her own words based on these ideas:
There is something in the bag that most of us use every day. Sometimes just having it with us all the time distracts us from our work, from conversations at meals, from doing homework, and even from paying attention during worship services. We are often tempted to focus on this object to the exclusion of other things such as spending time with people. What do you think it might be?
Solicit a few responses. If someone guesses correctly, remove one of the cell phones and hold it up. If not, say what it is and hold it up. Suggest that during Lent everyone try to be more aware of keeping a focus on relationships rather than objects. Conclude by saying that one cell phone will be placed in the storage container during Lent as a symbol of choosing to turn away from being enslaved by the device and turning our attention toward being more like Jesus. The other will be visible all during Lent to help us be mindful of its potential to distract us.
Based on Mark 1:9–15/1:7–13 IV
“Jesus, Tempted in the Desert” (solo or congregation) CCS 449
OR “O God We Call” (sing through three times) CCS 195
Leader: To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
Children & Youth: Lead me in your truth, and teach me.
Adults: Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love.
Leader: For you are the God of my salvation.
All: Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions. Pardon my guilt, for it is great.
—Psalm 25, adapted
Abolish Poverty, End Suffering
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture: Genesis 9:8–9, 13
After reading the scripture, remind the congregation that the covenant was universal. It included all of creation, not just people. We can respond to God’s all-encompassing covenant by dedicating our time, talent, testimony, and treasure to help create God’s kingdom of love and peace here on Earth.
As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through eTithing, please use this time to consider your commitment and how you will tithe to your true capacity of time, talent, and testimony.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Experience Congregations in Mission
Hymn of Commitment
“Christ Has Called Us to New Visions” CCS 566
OR “My Savior Said That I Should Be” CCS 589
Doctrine and Covenants 158:11a
First Sunday in Lent
Exploring the Scripture
Is there any good news? We are desperate for some good news. What is the good news? We need to hear good news. The people in today’s story were desperate for good news. In 70 CE Galilee, radical Jews were revolting against the Roman oppressors. Jerusalem was under siege. People were stressed, caught between those who resented the intimidating, brutal oppressors and those who were homegrown terrorists. Probably the prices of basic life commodities were rising beyond the reach of ordinary people. Tensions were high and God was about to do something! According to Mark “In those days Jesus came…” (v. 19). The clear intent of God is about to be revealed.
Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized. As Jesus came out of the water the heavens tore apart and the Spirit descended on him. The Spirit confirmed God was present in that moment. Were these spectacular happenings in fulfillment of ancient prophetic events, or is this account based on what Mark wanted us to know about Jesus? Three times Mark dramatically tells us who Jesus is—the Son of God (vv. 1:11, 9:7, and 15:39). This is a key message of Mark’s Gospel. In the baptism of Jesus we see his obedience to God’s will and the suffering that will lead to the cross. What does it mean for us to understand Jesus is the Son of God and follow his example of obedience to God?
After his baptism, Jesus was taken into the wilderness where he was tempted for 40 days. Later John was arrested and then Jesus appeared in Galilee and proclaimed “the good news of God” (v. 14). Jesus, who has been declared the Son of God, is the good news.
Amid life’s struggles and the stresses they cause, God in the form of Jesus says to us there is good news. Life can be hard and people can think there is no hope. Now is the time for God to speak and act. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news” (v. 15). The kingdom is something new. It is a different way to live. People had heard of repentance for the remission of sins (John’s baptism). Here Jesus is saying the presence and reign of God is here. God is at work and you need to turn away from what you are doing and believe this reality. The people were looking for good news and here it was.
For us today, the peaceable reign of God can be a reality if we believe and work toward it. It can demand sacrifice (changing our priorities) from us, but the kingdom is calling. It is time to share the good news the kingdom of God can be a reality today. To make this happen we engage in Christ’s mission. How do you invite people to a relationship with Christ? How can we abolish poverty and end needless suffering? How can we pursue peace on Earth? How do we develop disciples to serve? How do we experience our congregations in mission? As we find answers to these questions and respond in Christ’s mission, the reign of God will be a reality. God is near.
Throughout the Gospel of Mark we are shown what it means to follow Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah. It leads to suffering, death, and resurrection. It is not easy to follow Jesus but the goal is worth the cost.
- Jesus is the Son of God. God’s beloved, whom we should follow.
- Jesus’ baptism experience confirmed his obedience to surrender his will to God.
- Now is the time to share the good news of the kingdom of God.
- We need to look at our priorities if the reign of God is to be reality.
Questions to Consider
- What is the setting of your neighborhood? What is the conversation you are drawn to hear?
- What actions will you take to declare Jesus is the Son of God?
- How will you invite people to baptism, which transforms people into disciples of Jesus?
- What expression of the kingdom of God are you beginning to see?
- What can you do to make the peaceable reign of God a reality in your neighborhood?