Worship Order for
(John 3:1-3, NRSV)
was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to
Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that
you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these
signs that you do apart from the presence of God." Jesus
answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see
the kingdom of God without being born from above."
eyes, brothers and sisters, and look at the cross of Christ. Yes,
it is a symbol of the worst things that human beings can do
against one another. But it also is a signpost of the kingdom of
God, showing the way. Can you see it? If so, letís join together
and lift it high, and proclaim the love of God in Christ Jesus,
Lord, we come
as Nicodemus came to Jesus long ago, having caught a glimpse of
glory, seeking more. Speak to us as you spoke to him. Shed light
upon our darkness. Open the window of our hearts and minds that a
fresh breath of your Spiritís wind may blow through. Reveal your
awesome love which cannot be contained in mere human words. Bring
us to new birth that, like infants, we may behold your kingdom as
if this was the first day of a brand new life.
We pray all this
in the name of the One whose cross we lift up high. Amen.
"I once was blind"
lived more than two hundred and fifty years ago. He was born in
1725, and his mother died when he was only seven years old. His
father was a sea captain, and when John was eleven he left school
and went to work on his fatherís ship. He worked on several
ships and finally, when he was older, became the captain of his
own ship. It sounds like John Newton was doing very well, doesnít
it? But there was just one problem. His ship was a slave ship.
Back in those
days, people from Europe and North America went to Africa to
capture slaves. They kidnapped the native Africans and put them on
slave ships. These ships traveled to the West Indies and North
American, where the slaves were sold and forced to work on big
farms called plantations. On the ships, the Africans were treated
cruelly. They were not given enough food and water. They got sick
from living all crowded together in the dirty hulls of the ships,
and many of them died before they reached land. This was the kind
of ship John Newton captained.
On March 10,
1748, Mr. Newton and his crew were returning to England from
Africa when their ship was caught in a terrible storm. They all
thought the ship would sink and they would drown. Mr. Newton began
reading a book called Imitation
of Christ written by a Christian monk. The frightening
storm plus the message of Godís love and forgiveness in Jesus
that John Newton found in the book caused him to believe in God
and ask Jesus to be his friend. John Newton, slave trader, became
For a while, he
stayed captain of his ship and tried to make life better for the
slaves aboard. But soon he realized that taking away the freedom
of other human beings and selling them as slaves was wrong, and
for the rest of his life he worked to make slavery illegal in his
home country of England.
Mr. Newton got
married and worked as a clerk for nine years until he finally
became a minister. John Newton also wrote some hymns, one of which
tells how he felt about becoming a Christian. Itís called "Amazing
Grace!" (Show children the hymn in the hymnal, #143)
We still sing "Amazing Grace" today. Grace is an-other
word for Godís love and forgiveness for us. Itís the thing
that we Christians believe in and cherish most. The words to Mr.
Newtonís song go like this... (Read the words to
the first verse.)
not matter how a person comes to learn of Godís grace. Whether
one grows up as a Christian or becomes a Christian later in life
is not important. What is important is that we know that God loves
the world so much that God sent Jesus, and that whoever believes
in Jesus should not perish but have everlasting life.
[for more on this hymn see Osbeck's
101 Hymn Stories #6.]
Let s Pray.
Dear God, we thank you for your love and forgiveness. Thank you
for sending your child Jesus, the Christ, to show us that amazing
adapted from A Time with our Children
- Year A,
by Diane Demming, pp. 42-43
with our Tithes and Offerings
Abraham and Sarah? Long ago, God sent them forth in their old age
and childless. "I will make of you a great nation,"
the Lord said. "I will bless you and make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing ... and in you all the
families of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis
12:1-3). It took faith to step out into those words.
When we return
our offerings, weíre not just placing money in a plate. Weíre
acknowledging the blessings that we have received. "In you
all the families of the earth will be blessed," God
promised. These offerings are also like signposts along the way of
faith. "In you all the families of the earth will be
blessed." As you give, ponder what your signpost says. Is
it pointing toward Godís kingdom?
Will the ushers
please come forward to receive what we have to share.
(after the offering)
Yes, Lord, Amen!
You are the source of every blessing we have received. Thank you.
You are also the One who helps us to be a blessing. In so doing,
help us to point the way to you. We follow your Son, in whose name
we pray just now. Yes, Lord, Amen!