Worship Order for Sunday

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
March 17, 2013
Worship 10:00 am          Sunday School 11:10am

The Fifth Sunday in Lent

   Beginning with Praise (9:50 am)          "Who are these" (vs. 1-2)          270 & insert

   A Prophet’s Proclamation         Isaiah 43:16-2

*We Respond                                                                          (back of bulletin)

*With voices raised             "Great is thy faithfulness"                                    327

*And hearts wide open

  An Apostle’s Confession        Philippians 3:2-14                    (from The Message)

  With our Children           "Picking up the Trash"

  Our Confession        "When I survey the wondrous cross"                          259

  Returning our Tithes and Offerings

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

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

   Scripture in Song                        "Psalm 126"

  Praying Together

  A Gospel Story                           John 12:1-8

  Message                           "a fragrant footnote" (mp3)

*Responding                     "Beneath the cross of Jesus"                               250

*Blessing on our way


*Rise in body or in spirit

#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

A Prophet’s Proclamation

Voice 1 (from up front):

Thus says the Lord,
      who makes a way in the sea,
                         a path in the mighty waters,
      who brings out chariot and horse,
                               army and warrior;
               they lie down,
               they cannot rise,
               they are extinguished,
                             quenched like a wick:

Voice 2 (from the balcony):

Do not remember the former things,
        or consider the things of old.
                I am about to do a new thing;
                        now it springs forth,
                                do you not perceive it?
                I will make a way in the wilderness
                            and rivers in the desert.
        The wild animals will honor me,
                  the jackals and the ostriches;
          for I give water in the wilderness,
                          rivers in the desert,
                to give drink to my chosen people,
                        the people whom I formed for myself
                                so that they might declare my praise.

Isaiah 43:16-2 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.

We Respond

O Lord, send your Spirit swirling among us.
Like a whirlwind stirring fallen leaves,
Let it stir up our memories of your faithfulness.

You, O Lord, have kept your promises.
You have lifted us up when we have fallen.
You have set before us a path that leads to life.

As we walk that path, grant that we may not grow discouraged.
When we begin to pine for the past, or cling to the present,
Open our eyes that we might see the new thing you are doing.

And seeing it, may we be inspired to be a part of it.
Startle and surprise us, we pray,
With glimpses of your incredible, creative, compassionate power.

Then we shall lift up our hands and voices
In praise and thanksgiving for all that you have done,
All that you are doing, and all that you have promised.

As one we will proclaim:
"Glory! Glory! Glory!
Praise be to our God who does great things." Amen.

by James L. Benedict, pastor
Union Bridge, MD Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren Living Word Bulletin
Anchor/Wallace, Sleepy Eye MN 56085, "The Living Word Series"

And hearts wide open

As I pray, please follow my lead and physically do as directed.

             In the quiet of this moment, O Lord, we put down our hymnals… and stand with faces looking up, not bent down… Our eyes are closed. We don’t have to worry what those around us are thinking… We bring our hands up and hold them over our hearts… This organ pumps blood throughout our body, without which we would die. It also represents the center of who we are. We often attribute not only our feelings, but also our very will – that which empowers us to do and to be – to our heart. We feel our heart beat…
            In the quiet of this moment, O Lord, we move our hands away from our hearts… and slowly open our arms with palms raised... We stretch our arms outward and upward…  In so doing, we are opening ourselves more fully to you, open to the new mercies seen every morning, open to what you provide daily, open to your great faithfulness… With hands reaching outward and upward to you, we break the quiet of this moment by joining our voices in a familiar prayer which Jesus taught, saying:

               Our father, who art in heaven hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be don on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen

An Apostle’s Confession

             We shift from the proclamation of the prophet Isaiah to a confession of the apostle Paul. Perhaps you recall that before he did a new thing for God by opening wide the door of Christ’s church to welcome in people who were not part of the covenant, Paul had been hard at work trying to slam that door shut. In fact, up until the day the Lord confronted him on the road to Damascus, his life’s goal was to put an end to this Jesus movement. God, of course, had other plans.

             In the following reading from his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul lists his credentials, for apparently some folks had doubts about his resumé. Was he really good enough to be someone sent by God, an apostle? Did he come from good stock, part of the Israel family tree? Did he lead a virtuous life? Was he fully trained, with a degree from the right school? Did he practice what he learned? These were not bad questions. However, they were not the most important questions. Let’s listen to what Paul had to say.

              (the following is printed on sheets of paper, many of which will be crumpled up and tossed on the floor after being read – to be dealt with in the children’s story. Some will be tenderly kept.)  

Steer clear of the barking dogs, those religious busybodies, all bark and no bite. All they’re interested in is appearances—knife-happy circumcisers, I call them.    ...    (crumple and toss)

The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it.      ...      (treasure and keep)

We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it—even though we can list what many might think are impressive credentials.    ...    (crumple and toss)

You know my pedigree: a legitimate birth,    ...    (crumple and toss)

circumcised on the eighth day;    ...    (crumple and toss)

an Israelite from the elite tribe of Benjamin;    ...    (crumple and toss)

a strict and devout adherent to God’s law;    ...    (crumple and toss)

a fiery defender of the purity of my religion, even to the point of persecuting the church;    ...    (crumple and toss)

a meticulous observer of everything set down in God’s law Book.    ...    (crumple and toss)

The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for.    ...    (crumple and toss)

And why? Because of Christ.      ...      (treasure and keep)

Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life.    ...    (crumple and toss)

Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand,      ...      (treasure and keep)

everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash    ...    (crumple and toss)

so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him.      ...      (treasure and keep)

I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules    ...    (crumple and toss)

when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.      ...      (treasure and keep)

I gave up all that inferior stuff    ...    (crumple and toss)

so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.      ...      (treasure and keep)

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made.    ...    (crumple and toss)

But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.      ...      (treasure and keep) 

Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this,    ...    (crumple and toss)

but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.      ...      (treasure and keep)

Philippians 3:2-14 from The Message.
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002.
Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

With our Children
"Picking up the Trash"

             Oh, my… I’ve made quite a mess, haven’t I? Would you help me pick up this trash? (as we do so:) You know, sometimes we get a little confused about the things that are most important. Like, which is more important: that my parents love me, or that they buy me anything I want? That’s hard, because sometimes they buy me something I want because they love me. But sometimes they don’t buy me what I want, and the reason they don’t is because they love me. If you had to choose between being loved and having anything you wanted, what would you choose? That’s a hard one. Me? I would choose love, because I think that’s more important. How about you?

            Here’s another hard question. Which is more important: that I am a good friend to someone or that everybody likes me? I told you it was hard. We all want to be liked, don’t we? But just because someone likes you doesn’t mean they are your friend, and I think I would rather have a good friend, someone I could count on to be my friend, even when others didn’t like me. That’s more important to me than being liked by everybody. How about you? I think that the best way to have a good friend is to be a good friend to someone. Do you agree? Of course, it’s not always easy to be a good friend.

            As I said, we can get confused about what is most important. We can confuse getting everything we want with being really loved. We can confuse being popular with being a good friend. Kids can confuse these things. So can adults. In the scripture I just read, the apostle Paul was trying to tell people the things that he considered most important. The stuff that wasn’t so important he laid aside. I exaggerated that a bit by crumpling up the paper and tossing it on the floor. By the way, thank you for helping me pick them up and put them in the trash can. I’ll make sure we put that paper in recycling, so it can be re-used.

            Now, I’m interested in the things Paul considered most important. As I was reading, I didn’t crumple up and toss those papers. I saved them, so I could re-read them later. Let me get them… Would you like to hear the things that he thought were most important?
            being led by God’s Spirit,
            filling the air with Christ’s praise,
            knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, first hand,
            embracing Christ and being embraced by him,
            trusting Christ,
            experiencing his resurrection power,
            being a partner in his suffering,
            reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously
                        reached out for me,
            keeping my eyes on Jesus,
            running toward God’s goal and not turning back.

            I think that is a pretty good list. How about you? … Would you pray with me?

            Thank you, God, for these friends of mine who are sitting here with me. Help me to be a good friend to them. Thank you for Jesus, the best friend possible. Help us to love like Jesus loved. Amen.

Returning our Tithes and Offerings

             This hymn takes us to the place where Jesus died, a location called “Golgotha,” which is a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “skull.” In Latin, the word is more familiar to us: “Calvary.” Frankly, we don’t exactly know where this spot was, though many believe it was located where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre now stands. From scripture, we know that Golgotha was outside the city walls of Jerusalem, possibly near a road (for there were passers-by), on a hill (for it could be seen from a distance), and that it was somewhere near a garden tomb. Other than that, we know little. Likewise the reason it was called “Golgotha,” or “skull.” Was it because skull bones were commonly seen here? Was this where such things were tossed, as if like trash? We don’t know.

            We do know that crucifixions were a common practice at that time by the Romans, a means of keeping order by exhibiting criminals and troublemakers to the general populous, showing what happens if you get out of line. That Jesus was nailed to a cross with a criminal on either side, would not have been an unusual sight. Perhaps it is the unexceptional nature of it all that startles us. Here is someone who should not be here, treated like this, and yet he is. In fact, maybe this has been the plan all along.

            Here Jesus died. No sugar coating. No fancy dress. No gold-plated cross, just a rough hewn beam. No fast forward past all the pain. No hiding the ugliness of it all. If we had been there, we might have thought, “this stinks!” in all senses of that word. Sort of like the word the apostle Paul used to describe his past before he encountered the crucified and risen Lord. It’s “skybalon,” he wrote, a shocking bit of Greek profanity he used to shake his listeners awake. The English equivalent begins with “sh” and ends with “t.”

            The cross should scandalize us today, shocking us into awareness, getting us to reconsider what is most important in our lives, what we would be willing to die – and thus willing to really live - for. You see, we all tend to confuse our priorities, to lose track of who we are and where we are headed. It is appropriate at this moment in worship to, as we just sang, “survey the wondrous cross.” Even if this is not the Sunday you return your monthly or bi-monthly offering, in your imagination stand at Golgotha with your finances just now. Re-read the last verse of that hymn as the plates are passed, and ponder what is most important to you. Does what you do with your money reflect your priorities as a follower of Jesus?

Ushers, please assist us as we mull over that difficult question.

Praying Together


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


Blessing on our way

God is about to do something new,
            as Isaiah promised long ago.
      Oh, it’s not a huge crucifixion and resurrection event
            which need not be repeated,
                  for Christ Jesus did that once and for all.
      However, as we serve like Martha,
                                 welcome like Lazarus,
                                 break open and share like Mary,
                           and press on toward the goal like Paul,
            God blesses and restores.
                  And the aroma of Christ’s love
                        permeates wherever we go.
                              What has been sown in tears
                                    will be reaped with shouts of joy.


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:
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)

International Lesson:
International Bible Lesson
a weekly column by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.
in "The Oklahoman" newspaper
also found

International Lesson:
Living Web Sunday School Project

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.

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


©2012 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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