February 22nd, 2023
AS WE GATHER
As we begin our Lenten journey, we focus our attention on various witnesses to Christ in John’s Gospel. We begin with John the Baptist, a man on a mission. “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him” (John 1:6–7). John the Baptist’s mission is “to bear witness about the light.” In fact, fourteen times in John’s Gospel, the word witness is connected with John the Baptist. “He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:8–9). John points us to Jesus, who takes away our sin, our guilt, and our shame at the cross.
In the name of the Father and of the ☩ Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Today we begin our Lenten journey, recognizing the witnesses who point us to Christ,
testifying to His words and actions for us.
John the Baptist directs us to Jesus, proclaiming:
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION
John’s words remind us that we need forgiveness. We cannot escape our sin, guilt, or shame on our own. Though we may try to hide our sin, our heavenly Father knows all things. He invites us to turn to Him so that our sin, guilt, and shame might be taken away.
Together we confess:
Lord, we come before You filled with regrets of things we should not have done, words we wish we could take back, and thoughts we cannot bear to remember. Our sins have infected our relationships with others and our relationship with You, Lord. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so the joy of Your salvation might be restored to us.
John’s words remind us that forgiveness comes to us from Jesus. Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world by His death and resurrection. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, the Lamb of God, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the ☩ Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen. Behold, we are forgiven by Christ!
IMPOSITION OF ASHES
We are indeed forgiven in Christ. Still, in this world, we suffer the wages of sin, which is death. We endure pain, disease, and grief. Today we receive the mark of the cross upon us in the form of ashes. These ashes remind us that we are merely dust and ashes, that when we die, our bodies will return to dust and ashes. But the sign of the cross reminds us that dust and ashes are not the end for us. When Jesus returns, He will raise us from the dead, and we will live forever with Him in the new creation.
Amen. We will be free from sin, death, and Satan when Jesus returns.
(As each person comes forward, the pastor makes the sign of the cross on his or her forehead or hand with ashes, saying:)
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
The Lord be with you.
And also, with you.
COLLECT OF THE DAY
LET US PRAY
Dear heavenly Father, You sent Your Son to be the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Embolden us to follow Him on the journey to the cross, learning as we go from those witnesses who point us to Jesus, our forgiveness and life; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
PSALM Psalm 51:1–12
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that You have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the
beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen
OLD TESTAMENT READING Joel 2:12–19
The Old Testament Reading is from Joel, the second chapter.
Because of the coming Day of the Lord, the prophet Joel calls the people to a community lament. The repentant community reminds God of his gracious character and asks God to spare the people, lest the nations doubt God’s power to save.
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, “Spare Your people, O Lord, and make not Your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ”Then the Lord became jealous for His land and had pity on His people. The Lord answered and said to His people, “Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.”
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
EPISTLE 2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10
The Epistle is from Second Corinthians, the fifth and sixth chapters.
The ministry of the gospel endures many challenges and hardships. Through this ministry, God’s reconciling activity in the death of Christ reaches into the depths of our lives to bring us into a right relationship with God. In this way, God accepts us into the reality of divine salvation.
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with -our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
GRADUAL Hebrews 12:2
[O come, let us fix our eyes on] Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
HOLY GOSPEL John 1:29–34
The Holy Gospel according to St. John, the first chapter.
Glory to You, O Lord.
The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! “This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because He was before me.’ I myself did not know Him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that He might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on Him. I myself did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to You, O Christ.
SERMON John the Baptist Pr. Josh Text: The Gospel Lesson
I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth
and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God,
begotten of His Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father,
by whom all things were made;
who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary
and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.
He suffered and was buried.
And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures
and ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of the Father.
And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead,
whose kingdom will have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord and giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,
who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church,
I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins,
and I look for the resurrection of the dead
and the life ☩ of the world to come. Amen.
God of good gifts,
receive these and all our offerings
as we present them in faithful service
for the sake of your gospel.
Prepare our hearts to receive you in this meal
as you pour out your very presence
through Christ Jesus, the wellspring of eternal life.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give Him thanks and praise.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
Blessed are You, Lord of heaven and earth, for You have had mercy on those whom You created and sent Your only-begotten Son into our flesh to bear our sin and be our Savior. With repentant joy we receive the salvation accomplished for us by the all-availing sacrifice
of His body and His blood on the cross.
Gathered in the name and the remembrance of Jesus, we beg You, O Lord, to forgive, renew, and strengthen us with Your Word and Spirit. Grant us faithfully to eat His body and drink His blood as He bids us do in His own testament. Gather us together, we pray, from the ends of the earth to celebrate with all the faithful the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end. Graciously receive our prayers; deliver and preserve us. To You alone, O Father, be all glory, honor, and worship, with the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
THE WORDS OF OUR LORD
Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My ☩ body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”
In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My ☩ blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
PROCLAMATION OF CHRIST
As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
O Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, in giving us Your body and blood to eat and to drink, You lead us to remember and confess Your holy cross and passion, Your blessed death, Your rest in the tomb, Your resurrection from the dead, Your ascension into heaven, and Your coming for the final judgment. So remember us in Your kingdom and teach us to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven;
hallowed be Thy Name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those
who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil;
For thine is the kingdom
and the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen
THE PEACE OF THE LORD
The peace of the Lord be with you always.
Let us pray.
Gracious God, our heavenly Father, You have given us a foretaste of the feast to come in the Holy Supper of Your Son’s body and blood. Keep us firm in the true faith throughout our days of pilgrimage that, on the day of His coming, we may, together with all Your saints, celebrate the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and ☩ give you peace and may you be a blessing to others!
Go in peace as you serve the Lord
Thanks be to God.
The Worship Is Over … Let the Service Begin!