Worship Order for Sunday

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
March 9, 2008
Worship 10:00 am, Sunday School 11:10 am

The Fifth Sunday of Lent

      Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"  (John 11:25-26)

  Morning Praise (9:45 am)

*Call to Worship

*Hymn                                    "Come, thou fount"                                      521

*Opening Prayer

  Scripture                                   Ezekiel 37:1-2

  For Children                  "A dream full of bones"

  Scripture                                 Ezekiel 37:12-14

  Sharing a joy, a concern, a word of testimony or praise
                                 (please be brief, and aware of God’s listening presence)

  Hymn                           "Breathe on me, breath of God"                            356

  Pastoral Prayer

  Tercentennial Minute          "Israel Poulson and The Loaf of Bread"

  Returning our Tithes and Offerings

  Offertory              (Please sign the attendance pad and pass it on)

  Dialogue Gospel reading             John 11:1-45

  Message                               "Scared to death"

*Hymn                                    "Lord of the Dance"                 (insert/overhead)



#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

Call to Worship

Out of the depths of despair, I cry to you, O God;
praying that you would hear my anguished calls for help.
I could not stand if you counted my sins against me;
for I would be utterly helpless and my hope would be gone.
But out of your mercy and grace, you restore my hope. 

ALL: We worship and adore you, O God, we stand in awe of your great mercy.

O how I yearned to hear the promise of your forgiveness
with a longing as great as a watcher in the night waits for the dawn.
O that all people would put their trust in you, O God,
and experience your  steadfast love and forgiveness.

ALL: We worship and adore you, O God, we stand in awe of your great mercy.

Psalm 130, adapted
from Liturgies Online, by Rev Moira Laidlaw,
Uniting Church in Australia.

Opening Prayer

Merciful God, we know that there are times when our attitudes and behavior, our words and deeds, can so distance us from you that our lives become arid and life-less, lacking meaning and hope.  But you breathe new hope into our lives in Jesus and through the gift of your Spirit.  The areas we thought were dead spring into life and circumstances we believed were beyond redemption suddenly take on a new light.   Wounded hearts are healed of their resentment and desire for revenge.  Our vision expands to discern the signs of mercy and love which are present when we set our minds on your holiness and on the depth of your love for us.  Love revealed so clearly in Jesus’ persistence in showing how the power of evil and even death can be overcome when lives are linked with yours through him.  We worship and adore you, O God, with hearts filled with gratitude and praise. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

from Liturgies Online, by Rev Moira Laidlaw,
Uniting Church in Australia.

For Children
A dream full of bones
(Ezekiel 37:1-14)

May I share with you a dream? It's a dream found in the Bible. Someone named Ezekiel (can you repeat that name with me? E-ze-key-el) had this dream. I need to warn you, though. The dream may seem a bit scary. That's why I brought my friend Teddy with me. He was my friend back when I was your age, and when I had bad dreams, Teddy was there to hug and make me feel better. It looks like I hugged him a lot, doesn't it? My mom saved him after I became too "big" for a Teddy bear, and gave him back to me when I grew up. He sits in my office now and reminds me of when I was your age. When I look at him I also remember that big people have scary dreams, too. Big people like Ezekiel.

            God was in his dream, and God took Ezekiel to a place – a valley, it says – in which there were lots and lots of bones. Dry bones, it says. Can you imagine that: a valley full of dry bones? People bones. Is that scary, does anyone need to hug Teddy right now? Actually, this wasn't a bad dream for Ezekiel. It was a good one. It's just the "bones" part that may seem a little scary, because when you see people's bones, it means they are not alive.

            In the dream, God told Ezekiel to say something to all these bones. Can you imagine talking to bones? That's sounds funny, doesn't it? Ezekiel was supposed to say, "Dry bones, listen to what God says. God says he's going to breathe on you and you will live. You bones will come together – foot bone connected to the leg bone, leg bone connected to the… (etc.) – and God will tie you together with muscles, and you'll get skin to cover you, and will breathe." In the dream, that's what God told Ezekiel to say to all those bones. And Ezekiel, in his dream, did what God told him to do.

            And then, can you imagine this, there was a noise. In the silence of all those bones just lying there, Ezekiel heard a rattling sound. Those bones began to move. Does anybody need Teddy to hug? Remember, this is actually a good dream, not a nightmare. Those bones rattled and moved and came together to form skeletons, and then the bones were connected to each other by muscles, and skin covered them, so that where once there was a valley full of dry bones, now there were people, lots and lots of people. And then wind came and filled them up and these people began to breathe. They were living.

            This was a good dream of people becoming alive again. And God made them alive. No longer just a bunch of dry bones, but living, breathing people – smiling, laughing, jumping, dancing, living people. The dream turned out good. God was in that dream. And God wanted Ezekiel to remember that dream. That is why it's in the Bible. That's why I, and my old friend, Teddy, have just told you about it. Would you pray with me?

          Thank you, God, for these children. When they have bad dreams and are afraid, hold them in your arms. Like my old Teddy, help them not to be afraid. May bad dreams turn into good dreams. Thank you. Amen.

            Oh, by the way, if you ever want to visit my friend Teddy, just ask me. He lives in my office.

Pastoral Prayer


written closer to the time (if not at the moment)


Tercentennial Minute
"Israel Poulson and The Loaf of Bread"

There's a tendency to think of the old Brethren elders as "one size fits all," but even though they sought uniformity in faith and practice, they still tended to be unique figures. Certainly Israel Poulson, Sr., followed the pattern of not following a pattern.

First of all, he was half Native American in a largely German church. Second, he played the fiddle when Brethren sang a capela. And finally, he was a dreamer, and he told people about his dreams.

Israel Poulson (who lived from 1770 to 1856) was abandoned by his parents when he was seven years old.  He was raised near Centreville, New Jersey. When he first married he was unable to read or write, but his first wife taught him those skills. When she died he married her sister.

Israel Poulson was loved by the children and trusted by his neighbors. Once a man called a "false prophet" announced that the world was about to come to an end and asked what people intended to do. One individual who was developmentally disabled had a quick answer – "I would hold on to Uncle Israel’s coat-tail."

He was a popular preacher and story teller.  He was famous for three visions. The first two, "The Laborers by the Way" and "The Old Fiddle" concerned the importance of the attitude we bring to our Christian work and the danger of preaching the same old sermon over and over.

But the one he called "The Loaf of Bread" was the most compelling. In that dream he found himself in the midst of an immense concourse of people, slowly pressing forward together towards the same goal. Where were they headed? He saw a giant set of scales. Suddenly he realized that one by one each person was weighed in the balance. Some caused the scale to go down. Others would be cast up into the air – weighed in the balance and found wanting. As he drew closer to his turn his heart began to fail.  When his turn came he realized he did not weigh enough to hold down the scale. Suddenly a boy was spotted pushing through the crowd and calling out as loud as he could. He had something under his arm. It was a loaf of bread. The boy threw the loaf towards Poulson, who caught it. Suddenly he weighed enough to. 

And then he recognized the bread as a loaf he had once given to a widow.

And that's our Tercentennial Minute for March 9, 2008.

by Frank Ramirez, pastor of the Everett, PA Church of the Brethren
posted by permission                        
The Everett church graciously makes available these weekly vignettes from Brethren history
to all who are interested during this 300th anniversary year of our denomination.
Frank will be the guest preacher for our Homecoming on October 26, 2008
(this is our congregation's 100th anniversary year)

Returning our Tithes and Offerings

A valley of dry bones … a giant set of scales and a loaf of bread … God pulls back the curtain and reveals a bigger picture through visions of a world right-side up, where people breathe deeply and widows are fed. Worshiping God with our offerings is not just about checkbooks and wallets, friends. It involves getting our minds in the right place, living out of this dream of God’s upside-down kingdom. Listen to this scripture:

"If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. But if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. Our desires fight against God, because they do not and cannot obey God's laws. If we follow our desires, we cannot please God.
           "You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God's Spirit, who lives in you. People who don't have the Spirit of Christ in them don't belong to him. But Christ lives in you. So you are alive because God has accepted you, even though your bodies must die because of your sins. Yet God raised Jesus to life! God's Spirit now lives in you, and he will raise you to life by his Spirit.

Romans 8:6-11 (Contemporary English Version)
Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Please pray with me.

            Living God, we thank you for the privilege of giving in your exalted name. We value our ability to give in a way that honors your spirit. As we present our offerings, we remain secure in our knowledge that you will sustain us by your redeeming grace and your infinite love. May your righteous spirit always dwell in our hearts. Amen. (Based on Romans 8: 6-11.)


Prayer Copyright 2008 David S. Bell.

Dialogue Gospel reading
John 11:1-45

       Note to dialogue partners: Reader 1 has the difficult task of seeing this scripture through the eyes of misunderstanding. In John's gospel, those around Jesus often don’t quite "get" what he is saying. Many times their responses to him are very far off the mark. Reader 1 needs to beware, lest you read misunderstandings as if they are gospel truth. Read these responses as if you are throwing a dart at a target, but be aware that most often – with a few exceptions - the result is anything but a bulls-eye. Reader 2 also needs to be careful. This is a story which reveals much more than friendship and grief. The focus here is not so much upon the death and resurrection of Lazarus as the death and resurrection of Jesus. His “weeping” is not the emotion of grief. Pay attention to cues. When it says, "he cried with a loud voice," do so! Read through the eyes of revelation.

1 - Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, "Lord, he whom you love is ill."

2 - But when Jesus heard it, he said, "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

1 - Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

2 - (pause)  Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again."

1 - The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?"

2 - Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them." After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him."

1 - The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right."

2 - Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."

1 - Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

2 - When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother.

1 - When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him."

2 - Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

1 - Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."

2 - Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

1 - She said to him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world." When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him.

2 - Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there.

1 - When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

2 - When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, "Where have you laid him?"

1 - They said to him, "Lord, come and see."

2 - (pause)  Jesus began to weep.

1 - (pause)  So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"

2 - Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone."

1 - Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days."

2 - Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

1 - So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said,

2 - "Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me."

1 - When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice,

2 - "Lazarus, come out!"

1 - The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth.

2 - Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

1 - Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

from The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education
of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Brothers and sisters,
      Don't be "scared to death" of death.
            Furthermore, don't be afraid to really live.
                  It is your name that Jesus speaks,
                  it is our name altogether that we hear
                        as he stands at the entryway to our lives.
      "Come out," he cries, "and dance."
            Will you?
                  This week?
                        ¡Dios te bendiga!
                              God bless you!

(para traducir a español, presione la bandera de España)


Interested in Sunday School?
Below is a growing list of possible sites to visit. As you discover others, please let us know.

International Lesson:
Faith and Life Resources
Mennonite Publishing House

International Lesson:
Mennonite Weekly Review

(scroll down on left to "Sunday School lessons)

International Lesson:
Christian Standard
(one week ahead)

International Lesson:
Living Web Sunday School Project

International Lesson:
Adult Bible Studies
from The United Methodist Publishing House
(click "supplemental resources" and "current events supplement" under both the "Student" and "Teacher" sections in the left hand column)

While one of our adult classes follows the International lesson above (see also), using
A Guide for Biblical Studies,
published quarterly by our denomination,
another class often uses one of the
Good Ground series,
also published by Brethren Press.

For children and youth, we use the new
Gather Round curriculum
(developed jointly by the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonite Church)


©2008 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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