Second Sunday in Lent
MARK 8:31–38/8:33–41 IV
Lose Your Life or Save It?
Genesis 17:1–7, 15–16; Psalm 22:23–31; Romans 4:13–25; Jacob 5:14–18; Doctrine and Covenants 163:2a
Lenten Reflections and Worship Setting
See the 18 February Lenten Reflections for details. Before the service, arrange offering baskets in the front of the worship space. People will be invited to bring their offerings forward during the Disciples’ Generous Response.
Reading of the Gospel Text
Mark 8:31–38/8:33–41 IV
Spiritual Practice: Personal Reflection
Print or project the quoted paragraph.
Prayerfully consider the following statement. Considering today’s scripture from Mark, how does this statement help you deepen your Lenten journey?
The promises of God in Jesus Christ are sure—that by the Holy Spirit we will be given grace to do the things we have been asked: courage in the struggle for justice, passion for peace in the midst of violence, forgiveness of our sin, stewardship in place of materialism, healing of body and spirit where there is hurt, and eternal life in the face of death.
—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
God, those who seek you will give you praise. All the ends of the earth will remember and return to you; and all the families of the nations shall bow down to you. For yours is the kingdom. You rule over the nations.
—Psalm 22:26–28, adapted
Hymn of Praise
“The God of Abraham Praise” CCS 94
OR “God of the Ages” CCS 7
Congregational Mission Prayer
Print or project this prayer so all in the congregation can share it.
God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me courage to risk something new and become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.
“God Within God Around” CCS 20
Recruit children and youth to sing the response in unison; alternatively, have an adult sing it as a solo.
OR Congregational Sung Response
“God Within God Around” CCS 20
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
Invite congregants to think of one tangible way they could put the following scripture into practice. If practical, have people share their ideas with someone sitting close by.
Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 163:2a
Peace Prayer: Based on Doctrine and Covenants 163:2a
OR Give the following prayer for peace:
Help us to see your hidden face in every soul we meet today. Help us to be your living peace—your hands, your feet, your gentle voice that speaks release to all who seek him. We see those who walk the streets in ragged clothes, who sit beside us on the bus, who laugh and run in children’s shoes, and we yearn to be your hands and feet. They are old and young; stout and thin. They are everywhere that life begins and ends.
Help us to see your hidden face in every soul we meet today. Help us to be your living peace.
—Danny A. Belrose, Vulnerable to Grace, (Herald Publishing House, 2008, ISBN 9780830914166), 27, adapted.
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.
“Creator of Sunrises” CCS 207
OR “God Weeps” CCS 212
OR Have someone read “Creator of Sunrises” CCS 207 as a congregational confession.
OR Have someone offer a prayer of confession focusing on the need for all to be forgiven for creating situations where God’s shalom is not realized.
For this week, place two coin banks in a shopping bag. Introduce the objects in the shopping bag in your own words using these ideas:
There is an item in the bag that represents something none of us can do without, but which might become our focus to the exclusion of being generous in many ways. What do you think it might be?
Solicit a few responses. If someone correctly guesses “money” or something similar, remove one of the banks and hold it up. If not, identify it and hold it up. Suggest that during Lent we need to remember Jesus said that anyone who would follow him would need to be totally committed. That means our primary focus is on Jesus and not on storing up wealth or other “things” for ourselves that take away our focus on living our lives for Jesus’ sake. Suggest that putting one bank in the storage bin is a symbol of turning away from the temptation of material things. The other bank, which will be placed on the worship setting, is a reminder that wealth can be a blessing when shared. Put one bank in the storage bin and add the other to the worship setting.
“Lead Me, Lord” CCS 450
(duet or quartet—first time unison, repeat in parts; OR have sung as a solo)
OR Congregational Hymn
“Lead Me, Lord” (sing twice) CCS 450
Based on Mark 8:31–38/8:33–41 IV
Disciples’ Generous Response
Briefly share your reflections on the following counsel as it relates to congregational and worldwide ministries.
Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 147:5a–b
Then invite the congregants to show their willingness to follow Christ by symbolically taking up their crosses when bringing their offerings forward and placing in them the baskets provided. Have an usher ready to take a basket to attendees with mobility challenges.
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.
Hymn of Commitment
“Called by Christ to Love Each Other” CCS 577
OR “Your Cause Be Mine” CCS 639
Second Sunday in Lent
Exploring the Scripture
Today’s reading begins with Jesus’ first warning to the disciples that he must suffer and die. (See also Mark 9:30–32 and Mark 10:33–34.) These brief warnings always end with the reassurance that he would rise again (v. 31).
In the verses just before today’s passage, Peter declared that Jesus is the Messiah. Finally, the disciples understand who Jesus is. Instead of praising Peter, Jesus “sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him” (v. 30). Peter’s statement marked a turning point. Jesus left his ministry in Galilee to journey to Jerusalem, knowing that those in power oppose him. John the Baptist’s fate was a foreshadowing. Jesus could have chosen differently, and stopped preaching about the kingdom for a time. But he continued the good news and warned his disciples of his coming death.
Peter was in total denial and scolded Jesus. For Jesus, there were only two views of reality: God’s way and the human way. Humans of ten focus on the miraculous, power, and control. Enduring suffering, instead of wielding the power to avoid it, was a startling and alien thought. Jesus heard in Peter’s protest an echo of the temptation he overcame in the desert, so he scolded Peter. “Get behind me” was simply a way of saying, “Go away!” Calling Peter “Satan” recognizes the temptation to deny and avoid the way of suffering.
Jesus was careful in his teaching to use conditional words: “If any want to…,” “Those who want to…,” “Those who are….” Hearers can decide for themselves if the conditional words apply. Here, again, we see the limit of Jesus’ authority. He did not have the authority to force anyone to follow. He could only invite and point the way. Jesus told his disciples privately about his suffering and death, but he warned the crowds publicly of the potential result of following him. It was the custom for the condemned to carry their crossbar to the place of crucifixion. Mark wrote after Emperor Nero’s infamous crucifixion of Christians in Rome, and Mark’s audience already was living under the threat of martyrdom.
Jesus made it clear that the way ahead was a way of suffering and service. Glory is reserved for the time when the Son of Man will come again. It is not part of the current contract; but in Mark’s world, it was expected soon—within the lifetime of the reader.
The predictions of death highlight the suffering, not the resurrection. That is consistent with the original ending of Mark’s Gospel, which deals quickly and mysteriously with the message with the empty tomb. The oldest manuscripts end with the women leaving in silence, too afraid to tell anyone the good news. Hearers must decide if they, too, will stay silent and afraid. Or will they face potential suffering and death to proclaim the good news?
Jesus’ emphasis on servant ministry is a theme that runs throughout Mark’s Gospel. Jesus ministers to people who can give nothing in return. He serves at the expense of his peace of mind and energy. Giving his life for the reign of God provided a model for others to follow. Life comes from God. We can choose how to spend that life, but we do not have the power to lose or save it. That is God’s domain.
- Peter’s revelation that Jesus is the Messiah closed his ministry in Galilee. Jesus immediately began the journey toward Jerusalem—and crucifixion.
- Jesus dedicated his life to proclaiming and modeling the reign of God. Knowing death was the result, he didn’t back down.
- There are potential negative results of following Jesus, now as then. Followers always have a choice about continuing in faith or retreating in fear.
Questions to Consider
- How do you understand the balance between enduring suffering and relieving it by wielding power?
- How will you use the life God has given you—for God’s purposes, or for human gain, popularity, or power?
- What forms of ridicule, shame, or persecution have you endured because you are a follower of Jesus Christ?
- Who do you say Jesus is? What will you give or endure to truly follow?