First Sunday in Lent
The Everlasting Covenant
Psalm 25:1-10; Mark 1:9-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22 Doctrine and Covenants 164:9d-f
As congregants enter the sanctuary, distribute pens and small pieces of paper to be used during the Spiritual Practice.
Supplies for the Focus Moment demonstration include a package of hard shell, fruit-flavoured, brightly coloured, round candies, a plate, and warm water. If each child or person creates their own rainbow, provide enough candies, plates, and water for everyone.
Welcome and Statement on Lent
Lent is a time of preparation. A time when we move toward the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. A time to move intently toward God, ridding ourselves of the distance and distractions we have built into our relationships. Lent is when we are called to respond with radical generosity and spiritual discipline to God’s covenants that we may draw near to the One we seek.
Hymn of Lent
Choose one of the following hymns to sing each Sunday for the five weeks of Lent as a time of centering.
“Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley” CCS 452
OR “Come Away from Rush and Hurry” CCS 83
OR “God, We Gather as Your People” CCS 274
Call to Worship
Scripture Reading: Psalm 25:1-10
To fast is to empty oneself intentionally in a way that makes space for God. During the season of Lent, we fast for 40 days remembering Christ’s own fast in the wilderness. It is a time to focus on what matters most amid alluring distractions. This practice empties us and prepares us to go deeper. Fasting is about making space for God.
First consider something from everyday life you would noticeably miss. This could be a food item, a meal itself, an activity you enjoy, or something you buy daily or weekly that may be an excess in your life. It could also be intentionally reorienting your daily routine or inner conversation.
Now think of an intentional act that will replace what you are fasting from. What will you do in place of what you have given up?
—A Guide for Lent, 2015 www.CofChrist.org/common/cms/resources/documents/2015-lent-guide.pdf
- Write on a piece of paper what you are willing to give up and what you will replace it with.
- Share your ideas with another congregational member.
Prayer for Peace
Light the Peace Candle.
God of Wonder and Grace,
I confess my inadequacies. I get overwhelmed in seeking your peace. I see the destruction of your world based on our greed. I see those seeking refuge and calling out in fear and need. Yet we often respond with hostility. I see wars started over misunderstandings and hubris, and I don’t know what I can do. What impact can I make on such overwhelmingly huge problems?
When I feel despondent, help me instead focus on what I can do. Remind me that I can choose to support ethical business and companies. I can reduce, reuse and recycle. I am responsible for my own carbon footprint. I can choose to open my eyes and respond to the needs in my local community.
Help me to recognise that my voice and vote matter, and how I choose to use them can affect people all over the world. Help me to use this voice and vote based on the model of your son. Like Jesus stood for the outcast and oppressed, remind me to do the same; especially when it doesn’t serve my self-interests.
Lord, help me focus on and act on the many little things that I can do to work towards peace, recognising that these all contribute to a more just and peaceful society.
In your son’s name, Amen.
A Daily Prayer for Peace service is held at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA 365 days a year. Additional ideas for Prayer for Peace can be found at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Hymn of Peace
“Who Is My Mother, Who Is My Brother?” CCS 336
OR “When God’s Call to Serve” CCS 535
OR “We Are People of God’s Peace” CCS 306
Reading: The Prequel
God saw the wickedness of humankind,
The thoughts in their hearts were evil.
God was heartbroken and sorry for this creation.
God decided to erase them all.
People, animals, creeping things, birds. All destroyed.
But there was one, one who walked with God,
One who was righteous and blameless.
God was disheartened by the violence that filled the Earth.
God was determined to destroy them all,
Except for that one, Noah and his family.
Noah was to build an ark,
There were specifics -
Wood type, size, decks
God was going to bring a flood, so it needed water proofing and a roof.
While everything would be destroyed, Noah and his family would be safe.
Along with two of every kind.
Animals, wild and domestic, birds, winged creatures and creeping things.
Oh wait, there should be seven pairs of clean animals. Extras needed for sacrificing.
Once inside, the fountains of the great deep burst forth and the heavens opened.
For 40 days this continued,
The waters rose, the boat floated
And all life that was on the Earth died. Only Noah and those on the ark were safe.
God remembered Noah and closed the fountains and the heavens.
And the waters gradually receded.
One hundred fifty days after the rains stopped, the ark rested on a mountain top.
On day 190, Noah sent out a raven, but the waters had not dried.
Noah sent out a dove. The dove found no place to rest.
On day 197, the dove was again released, this time returning with an olive branch On day 204, the dove did not come back.
Noah saw the face of the Earth was drying
After two more months, God said, “Leave the ark.” And they did.
Noah built an altar and offered every clean animal and bird to the Lord.
God smelt the pleasing odour and God’s heart was changed.
God recognised that humankind’s heart would ever be evil.
But promised to never again destroy everything anyway.
“Sing of Colors/De colores” CCS 332
Encourage participants to sing in a language other than their own.
OR “Sing Praise for Rain That Washes Earth” CCS 494
OR “O God in Heaven, We Believe” Stanzas 1, 2 and 4 CCS 493
Scripture Reading: Genesis 9:8-17
Based on Genesis 9:8-17
Focus Moment and Disciples’ Generous Response
Suggestion: Allow children the first opportunity to answer the * questions.
The rainbow God sets in the clouds to signify God’s covenant with humankind is still today often seen as a sign of hope. A rainbow in the sky often gives a sense of peace after a storm may have passed.
Do you know how rainbows are made? *
Light that we see from the sun, or white light, is made up of many colours. When this light passes through a prism or a droplet of water, the light bends enough to separate the different colours and then we are able to see them. This is what is happening when we see a rainbow in the sky. The sun’s light is passing through tiny water droplets in the air, spreading the light apart so that we can see all the colours. Today there are lots of ways that we can make rainbows.
What are some of the ways? *
We can use a crystal, or even a glass of water. Or we can use coloured paper and pencils or markers or chalk. Sometimes we can even use food dye to make a rainbow cake or cookies.
We are going to make our own rainbows by placing Skittles (small, hard shelled, round, chewy, brightly coloured candies) around a plate and adding a little warm water.
Either demonstrate this activity or have the children each create their own rainbow. Be prepared for clean-up at the end of the Focus Moment.
Arrange the candies in a single row, coloured pattern around the edge of the plate. Pour over enough warm water to cover all the Skittles and the plate itself. Watch and wait as a rainbow appears on the plate. The colours will move toward the middle and create a whirl of colour.
There are many ways to make a rainbow just as there are many ways that we can respond as disciples to God’s grace and generosity. Sometimes that can be by sharing the special talents that God has given to each of us. Or it might be spending time with others in need or perhaps giving of the things that we have. Sometimes it is even sharing our stories about God and what God means to us.
During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings, we are able to tangibly express our gratitude to God who is the giver of all.
As we share our mission tithes either by placing money in the plates or through eTithing, use this time to thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
Disciples’ Generous Response Hymn To be sung as the offering is received.
“Take My Life and Let It Be” CCS 608
OR “Is There One Who Feels Unworthy?” CCS 526
OR “My Gratitude Now Accept, O God/Gracias, Señor” CCS 614/615
Encourage participants to sing in a language other than their own.
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Renewing My Covenant with God
Invite congregants to spend the next few minutes in silence renewing their covenant with God. The prompts below can be projected, printed, or read aloud as a guided meditation.
- God’s covenant is a spiritual understanding of an agreement between God and us.
Thank God for this covenant.
- God established a covenant relationship with all living things to not destroy the world by flood again. Thank God for this relationship.
- God sent a rainbow as a sign of the everlasting covenant between God and all creatures on Earth. Consider other signs in your life of God’s promises. Thank God for the love and grace extended to you.
Sending Forth Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 164:9d-f
Hymn of Sending Forth
“Go, My Children, with My Blessing” CCS 650
OR “Let Our Earth Be Peaceful” CCS 371
First Sunday in Lent
Exploring the Scripture
On this first Sunday of Lent, Christians begin their journey with Jesus to Jerusalem for the events of Easter week. The scripture reading reminds us of God’s covenantal, sacred relationship with humankind and all living things.
The story projects hope and recognizes that God is in relationship with us. This ancient story uses the image of a warrior God who hangs his bow in the sky, signaling a commitment to peace and rejection of conflict. The rainbow, with its colored bands caused by refraction of the sun’s rays by mist or rain, is a reminder of the special relationship between God and creation. God speaks to Noah and makes an eternal, sacred covenant with him, his children, all of humankind—and every living thing—to preserve life.
This covenant is not just with the ancient Hebrews, but with all humankind. God does so without a stated expectation. God makes this promise generously without commitment by Noah. Up to this point in Genesis, the writers have told the two accounts of the creation story, the rebellion of Adam and Eve, the murder of Abel, and the wickedness of humankind.
According to the Genesis story, God is tired of humankind’s inclination for continual evil. Therefore, God expresses a desire to destroy every living thing. However, Noah finds favor with God. So, God decides to rescue Noah and multiple pairs of animals from an impending flood. This story comes immediately after the flood subsides. The scripture uses the word “covenant” seven times in the 10 verses. Clearly, the idea of covenant is important. In fact, it is the first of three covenants. The other two being the covenant with Abraham later in Genesis (17:1–27) and the covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai (Exodus 31:12–17).
The ancient world saw covenants as sworn solemn agreements that stressed a future relationship and projected hope. They were between two unequal partners. This sacred covenant relationship is key to this story and the ancient Israelites’ understanding of their relationship to God.
It also is important to our discipleship and Christian community. The early Christians connected God’s covenant with a prophetic hope, whereby God’s perfect desire was to offer unconditional love for creation and for all to flourish. God’s covenant with us—symbolized by the rainbow—signals a bright future. God has made a covenant to be in relationship with humankind. God wants to be in deep and inclusive communion with us. We are called to see the world as God sees it, to join where God is at work in our world, and to discern God’s will in our lives and the life of the community. Our hope is connected to God’s covenant with Noah and all living things.
God promised a relationship with us now and into the future. We are called to share it. It is a message of hope and the steadfast love of a mysterious God. God wants justice, mercy, reconciliation, well-being, and wholeness. As a community, our call is to join with God. “The restoring of persons to healthy or righteous relationships with God, others, themselves, and the earth is at the heart of the purpose” of our journey (Doctrine and Covenants 163:2b). Because God has a covenant with us, we are a people of hope—our labor will not be in vain. What a reassuring thought!
- God is in a covenantal, sacred, and cosmic relationship with humankind and all living creatures.
- God is generous because God covenants without expecting anything in return.
- God assures a hopeful future by committing to a relationship in the past, the present, and into the future.
Questions to Consider
- Where has God planted a rainbow in your congregation?
- How has your congregation represented God’s covenant to humankind and all living things?
- In this scripture passage, God covenants generously without expecting anything in return. How does your congregation serve without the expectations of others? How is your congregation generous?
Small-group Worship Suggestions
First Sunday of Lent
Genesis 9:8–17 NRSV
The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.
The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.
Today is the first Sunday of Lent. We join other Christians who for many centuries have observed it as the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, not counting Sundays. During Lent, we 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.
Prayer for Peace
Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.
Creator of the Earth and all life show us your peace. It is your peace we seek.
Point us to examples of those who can teach us your peace. Give us wisdom to live out your peace in everyday situations. Your peace is both a calming breeze and forceful gale; a smooth lake and fast-crashing rapids; people laughing and marchers protesting. Grant us courage to learn the principles of your peace so that all our actions—the gentle and forceful—are unified in their hope and focus on the world as you wish it to become.
Creator of the Earth and all life show us your peace that we might more fully become what we seek. Amen.
Silent Personal Reflection
Read the following to the group.
Prayerfully consider the following statement in silent reflection. We will allow one minute for silent reflection following the reading.
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, 4th ed., p. 59
End the reflection time by sounding a chime or bell.
Sharing Around the Table
Genesis 9:8–17 NRSV
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
On this first Sunday of Lent, Christians begin their journey with Jesus to Jerusalem for the events of Easter week. The scripture reading reminds us of God’s sacred relationship with humankind and all living things.
The story projects hope and recognizes that God is in relationship with us. This ancient story uses the image of a warrior God who hangs his bow in the sky, signaling a commitment to peace and rejection of conflict. The rainbow, with its colored bands caused by refraction of the sun’s rays by mist or rain, is a reminder of the special relationship between God and creation. God speaks to Noah and makes an eternal, sacred covenant with him, his children, and every living thing. This covenant is not just with the ancient Hebrews, but with all humankind.
The ancient world saw covenants as sworn solemn agreements that stressed a future relationship and projected hope. They were between two unequal partners. This sacred covenant relationship is key to this story and the ancient Israelites’ understanding of their relationship to God. It also is important to our discipleship and Christian community. God has made a covenant to be in relationship with humankind. We are called to see the world as God sees it, to join where God is at work in our world, and to discern God’s will in our lives and the life of the community. Our hope is connected to God’s covenant with Noah and all living things.
As a community our call is to join with God in God’s purposes. “The restoring of persons to healthy or righteous relationships with God, others, themselves, and the earth is at the heart of the purpose of [our] journey” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:2b).
- What image would you use to signify your relationship with the Divine?
- How has God called you to participate in creating healthy relationships with God, others, yourself, and the Earth?
Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint.
—Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.
The offering prayer for Lent is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:
Ever Present God,
Forgive us when we are less than loving, less than hope-filled, less than you have created us to be. Your mercy and grace is always with us. May we find strength in your presence and may we respond to your love with generous spirits.
Invitation to Next Meeting
Community of Christ Sings
450, “Lead Me, Lord” (Sing twice. This will be our closing song each Sunday of Lent.)