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Worship Resources - 28 February 2021

Worship Suggestions

Second Sunday in Lent

GENESIS 17:1-7, 15-16

Blessed

Additional Scriptures

Psalm 22:23-31; Mark 8:31-38; Romans 4:13-25 Doctrine and Covenants 163:9; 10a-b


Preparation

Provide pens or pencils and pieces of paper for everyone to use during the spiritual practice. Pass them out as people enter the worship space or just prior to the Disciples’ Generous Response. Purchase How to Catch a Star, a book by Oliver Jeffers, for the Focus Moment. Ask two people, one adult and one child, to prepare ahead of time for the Genesis drama.

Prelude

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

Use the same hymn chosen last week and continue for remaining 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

Invocation

Response

Focus Moment

Read the book, How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers. Philomel Books (2004), ISBN-13: 978-0399242861. This book can be previewed at:
www.google.com/search?q=how+to+catch+a+star+by+oliver+jeffers+free+download&rlz= 1C1SQJL_enUS865US865&oq=How+to+Catch+a+Star+by+Oliver+Jeffers&aqs=chrome.1.0l8.2919j 0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#kpvalbx=_7xovXtO_MdG4tAbbrKqIAw22

A young boy loves stars and wants one for himself. But no matter how high he reaches; the stars are out of his reach. By the end of the book, the boy happily has a star of his own.

OR Testimony

As an alternative to reading the book, invite someone to share a story about persevering or about accomplishing a task they originally thought was impossible.

After reading the book or hearing the testimony, discuss these questions:

  • Sometimes something seems really, really hard or even impossible, but we need to persevere. When have you finally accomplished something that you thought was too hard to begin with?
  • How can God help us in those moments?

Prayer for Peace

Light the Peace Candle.

Prayer

God,

We pause and breathe in this moment. Pause.

So often we can get caught up in the rush and hurry of life that we don’t see the needs of others or pay attention to the promptings you provide in our lives. So, we pause and breathe in this moment.

We don’t know how prayer works God, so in humility we offer up to you our hurt and broken hearted, those living in wars and ramifications of other’s decisions on their lives, and those too afraid to change their circumstances. We pray that they might feel your peace with them, that in their despair they may find glimmers of hope.

Stir in us, God, unrest. We know that we too are part of the response to these prayers. Please give us courage to respond to the promptings you place in our lives. So that we may all work toward peace. So we pause and breathe in this moment.

In the name of your Son. Amen.

Hymn of Peace or Ministry of Music

“Come and Bring Light” CCS 287

OR “The Peace of Jesus Christ” CCS 317

OR “The Peace of Mind” CCS 320

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.

Genesis 17 – The Drama See two-person drama following this worship service.

OR Scripture Reading: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Scriptural Hymn

“The God of Abraham Praise” CCS 94

OR “O Christ, My Lord, Create in Me” CCS 507

OR “Yo quiero ser/I Want to Be” Sing twice. CCS 498

Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.

Message

Based on Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Disciples’ Generous Response

Spiritual Practice - Count your Blessings

Gratitude has shown to have many benefits in people’s lives from better physical and psychological health to improved sleep and better friendships. It helps us to be present in our loves and notice what is taking place around us. It gives us an opportunity to thank God for the blessings in our lives and be appreciative for what God has created. Spend a short time in contemplation, then write down five things you are truly grateful for.

As we hold our five things that we are truly grateful for in our hands, we offer up gratitude for God’s generosity.

Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 163:9

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

“Can We Calculate Our Giving” CCS 617

OR “Give Thanks” CCS 134

OR “Take My Gifts and Let Me Love You” CCS 609

For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.

Sending Forth: Doctrine and Covenants 163: 10a-b

Hymn of Sending Forth

“Standing on the Promises” CCS 257

OR “Redeeming Grace” CCS 497

Benediction

Postlude


Genesis 17 – The Drama

Props: Bible. Two actors stand or sit facing congregation. Adult holds a Bible. It would be preferable to have the two actors practice their lines ahead of time together and separately.

Adult: Are you ready to hear today’s scripture? Child: Sure am.

Adult: It is from Genesis, so right at the beginning of the Bible. Chapter 17. reading from the Bible – or at least holding the Bible “When Abram was ninety-nine years old…”

Child: Interrupting Ninety-nine!!! That is old, like really old. Like he should have been dead old. Adult: Yes, it is old. Can we continue?

Child: Yep, go ahead.

Adult: “The Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant’…”

Child: What’s a covenant??

Adult: A covenant is like a promise. A very serious promise. Normally there are at least two parties in the promise. An example might be like two people getting married, or between someone and God when that person decides to be baptised.

Child: So, God was making a serious promise with Abram?

Adult: Yes. reading again “And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous. Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him…”

Child: Wait. He fell on his face? That can’t be good, he was old. He would have broken a hip or something, maybe even his nose if he landed on his face. And God just keeps talking like nothing happened. God doesn’t even ask him if he was OK?

Adult: No, no, I don’t think they mean he tripped when they say “he fell on his face” more he bowed down on the ground to God to show his humility.

Child: Wow, that would have taken a long time. I have seen my grandpa try to sit on the ground, let alone bow down and it takes him ages to get down and up. He says it is because his knees aren’t what they use to be.

Adult: You are right. It can get harder for us to get down and up off the floor when we get older, but maybe this also shows how much Abram wanted to bow before God, that he would still try. And maybe when the author wrote that he was 99 it might not have been an actual 99 birthdays as we would count age, but just indicating that Abram was old. Like if you were to say someone was old, how old would you say they were?

Child: Oh, if someone was really old, they would be 110. Did you know that some tortoises can live to be 110?

Adult: No, I didn’t. But I think we are getting a little off track. Child: Oh yeah. So, Abram is bowing down in front of God.

Adult: God said, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations.”

Child: Ancestor of a multitude of nations?

Adult: It means that he would have lots and lots of children and grandchildren, and great- grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Child: Is that where the song comes from: sings “Father Abraham had many kids, many kids had Father Abraham, I am one of them and so are you so let’s all praise the Lord. Right arm.”

Adult: (Interrupting) I am going to stop you there. And yes. God continued, “No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham…”

Child: God just changed Abram’s name?

Adult: In their day names were a big deal. Names meant different things. Abram meant high father, whereas Abraham means father of many. Which is what God was promising. God told Abraham “for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I 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.”

Child: So, God was making this special promise not just with Abram, oh, I mean Abraham, but all of the many, many children he would have and their children and so on? That God would be their God?

Adult: Pretty much.

Child: So, it that the whole story for today?

Adult: Almost, there is just a little more. “God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife,” Child: Was Sarai old too? Like 110 years old?

Adult: Not quite 110, they say she was 90. But yes, she was old too. “Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her and give you a son.”

Child: Old people don’t have babies.

Adult: You know what, even Abraham thought this too. He didn’t believe God. In fact, it is recorded that Abraham laughed at God, when God told him Sarah was going to have a baby.

Child: But with God anything is possible right? Adult: Right.

Child: Is there a Mother Sarah song? You know, like the Father Abraham song? Adult: No, but maybe you could write one.

Child walks away humming.

Sermon Helps

Second Sunday in Lent

Genesis 17:1–7, 15–16

Exploring the Scripture

When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him. God would make a covenant with Abram, and his descendants would be many. Abram, despite his age, would be the father of many nations. God also changed Abram’s name to Abraham. The covenant would extend through all time to Abraham’s descendants. God also changed the name of Abraham’s wife from Sarai to Sarah and promised she would give birth to a son.

Old Testament covenants, or promises, are sacred agreements between God and God’s people with declarations, or oaths, and specific stipulations. These ancestor stories of the covenant in Genesis were family stories handed down, as remembered promises, told by later generations.

The stories of God’s covenant or promises to the ancestors of Israel begin in Genesis 12:1–3 as God calls Abram to leave his home and journey to a “land that I shall show you.” God promises to make Abram a great nation from which all the families of Earth will be blessed. The covenant is extended in Genesis 15: 5–21 with the assurance that Abram’s descendants will number as many as the countless stars with a promise of land with specific borders. In today’s text, Genesis 17, God’s covenant promise continues as Abram again is told his offspring will be many and will include a multitude of nations.

Our text begins with the background of this third promise; Abram and Sarai were in their 90s. It had been 24 years since the first covenant promise. They long since had given up on the idea of having a child together. Abram believed the promise of progeny had been fulfilled through his now-13-year-old son, Ishmael, with the handmaiden Hagar. Abram was settled, he was elderly, and he thought he already had his long-promised son. While Abram was content, it seemed God had more to share about the promised future. Ishmael would receive a blessing, and despite their age, the promised child would be Abram and Sarai’s.

This third covenant conversation between God and Abram included the promise of future progeny to include a multitude of nations. Also included is the promise that Abram’s descendants would control the land of Canaan forever, and a promise of an everlasting covenant with those descendants.

As a sign of the promise, Abram and Sarai are to be called by new names. Abram would be Abraham, and Sarai would be Sarah. These new names represented a new transformed reality through faithfulness to the covenant. Abraham and Sarah’s new names shaped their future as a show of commitment to their part of the covenant.

God’s part of the covenant is everlasting. Abraham and Sarah’s part in the covenant was to walk before God, to be loyal and faithful in their relationship to God. The essence of the covenant was—and is—the divine affirmation, “and I will be their God” (v.8). In this chapter, God, too, was given a new name translated as God Almighty from the Hebrew, El Shaddai (v. 1). Scholars believe El Shaddai is used in Genesis as a title which becomes synonymous with YHWH. These new names represented the continued covenant relationship between God, Abraham, and Sarah, as well as a new beginning.

Abraham was the father of multiple faith traditions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In each tradition, Abraham is a model of faithfulness, trust, and radical obedience to God. Genesis shows us an Abraham and Sarah who were fully human, who made mistakes and at times, made questionable decisions. Despite their many flaws, Abraham and Sarah, through obedience to the covenant, became models of faith. Their family and their story carry a promise of God’s faithfulness through all time, generations, and people.

Central Ideas

  1. God is faithful, and God’s promises are everlasting.
  2. We are called to live within the same covenant as Abraham and Sarah through baptism.
  3. We, too, can say, God is our God, and we are God’s people.

Questions to Consider

  1. How has God been faithful in our experience?
  2. What are our covenants with God? On what do we base our relationship with God? How do we experience new beginnings in our covenant relationship with God?
  3. How can this time of Lenten self-reflection provide hope through God’s everlasting faithfulness?

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Second Sunday of Lent

Genesis 17:1–7 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.


 

Gathering

Welcome

Today is the second 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.

God of Peace,
You bring light to our darkness 
and hope to our determined core.

Embolden us as we yearn for peace. 
Direct us as we watch for peace.
Reassure us as we work for peace.

You are the light! 
You are our peace! 
Amen.

Spiritual Practice

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
www.CofChrist.org/common/cms/resources/documents/sharing-in-community-of-christ-4thed-web.pdf

End the reflection time by sounding a chime or bell.


Sharing Around the Table

Genesis 17:1–7 NRSV

When 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. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I 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.

When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared and made a covenant with him. Abram, despite his age, would be the father of many nations. The covenant would extend through all time to Abraham’s descendants. As a means of fulfilling the covenant, Abrams wife Sarah would give birth to a son.
Old Testament covenants, or promises, are sacred agreements between God and God’s people with declarations, or oaths, and specific stipulations. These ancestor stories of the covenant in Genesis were family stories handed down, as remembered promises, told by later generations.

The stories of God’s covenant or promises to the ancestors of Israel begin in Genesis 12 as God calls Abram to leave his home and journey to a “land that I shall show you” (verse 1). God promises to make Abram a great nation from which all the families of Earth will be blessed. The covenant is extended in Genesis 15 with the assurance that Abram’s descendants will number as many as the countless stars with a promise of land with specific borders. 

In today’s text, Genesis 17, the conversation between God and Abram includes the promise of future progeny to include a multitude of nations. 
As a sign of the promise, Abram and Sarai are to be called by new names. Abram would be Abraham, and Sarai would be Sarah. These new names represented a new transformed reality through faithfulness to the covenant. Abraham and Sarah’s new names represented the continued covenant relationship between God, Abraham, and Sarah, as well as a new beginning.

Abraham was the father of multiple faith traditions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In each tradition, Abraham is a model of faithfulness, trust, and radical obedience to God. Genesis shows us an Abraham and Sarah who were fully human, who made mistakes and at times, made questionable decisions. Despite their many flaws, Abraham and Sarah, through obedience to the covenant, became models of faith. Their family and their story carry a promise of God’s faithfulness through all time, generations, and people.

Questions

  1. How has your experience with God been transforming in your life?
  2. What new beginnings have you experienced in your relationship with God?
  3. What surprising things have transpired on your spiritual journey?

Sending

Generosity Statement

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. 
Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

Community of Christ Sings 450, “Lead Me, Lord” (Sing twice. This will be our closing song each Sunday of Lent.)

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group


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