+ FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT +
GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
660 Frances Lane
Ashland, Oregon 97520
The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor
21 March 2021
Welcome to worship! It is the love of God that has brought us together to offer our praise and thanksgiving for all he had done for us in his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. As we worship today, we stand once more in awe of that divine love, which reaches all the way to the Cross for our salvation and peace. Guests and visitors, please honor us by signing our Guest Book in the entrance hall of the church as you leave this morning’s worship. If you have no church home of your own, we invite you to make Grace the center of your worship, learning, fellowship, and service. Come to worship with us again and often!
God’s New Covenant
In the fifth covenant of the Old Testament promises, God promises Jeremiah that a “new covenant” will be made in the future: a covenant that will allow all people to know God by heart. The Church sees this promise fulfilled in Christ, who draws all people to himself when he is lifted up on The Cross. Our baptismal covenant draws us to God’s heart through Christ and draws God’s love and truth into our hearts. We join together in worship, sharing in Word, song, and meal, and leave strengthened to share God’s love with all the world.
PRAYER BEFORE WORSHIP
Heavenly Father, you sent your Son to show us your love and the way of life. Make us sincerely thankful for this gift and your patience with the sins and sorrows of us all; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
+ THE ORDER OF CELEBRATING +
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus speaks of a grain dying in the earth as an image of his death and resurrection. Christ is the seed fallen to earth that yields the harvest of life, health, and salvation. Christ is the one who accompanies us in our baptismal death and raises us to life with him. Christ is the grain of wheat that we share in the breaking of bread. Christ’s Spirit strengthens us in lives of fruitful service to those who hunger and thirst for life.
PRELUDE Fairest Lord Jesus—Jonathan W. Lee
Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano
ORDER OF CONFESSION
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.
In you I trust, O my God. Do not let me put to shame, nor let my enemies
triumph over me. Those who know your Name will trust in you, for you, Lord have never forsaken those who seek you. I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
We proclaim our trust in God, and our acceptance of his will, yet our human nature resist the will of God and rebels against him. Let us reflect on our stubborn sinfulness, and humbly confess our sins to God our Father and in the presence of one another.
Most merciful God, we confess that we often put our trust in ourselves rather than accepting your will. We have chosen to insist on our own way, and complain when it seems that things have gone wrong. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.
God is gracious and merciful, compassionate and forgiving. He has chosen us to be his own, and for the sake of Jesus Christ he forgives us all our sins. At his command and promise, I, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Forgiven and reconciled by God, let us be reconciled with one another and share the peace of the Lord as we greet each other.
The grace and mercy of God, who in Christ Jesus bears our burdens and saves us from all our sin be with you all. And also with you.
In peace, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have
For the peace from above and for our salvation
let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being
of The Church of God, and for the unity of all let us
pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For this holy house and for all who offer here their
worship and praise let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Help, save, and defend us, O God. Amen.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
O God, with steadfast love you draw us to yourself, and in mercy you receive our prayers. Strengthen us to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, that through life and death we may live in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Jeremiah 31:31-34
[The Judeans in Babylon blamed their exile on their ancestors who had broken the covenant at Sinai. Here the prophet looks to a day when the people can no longer make such a complaint. There will be no need to teach the law because God will write the holy law in their hearts.]
The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all now me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
REFRAIN: Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love.
Wash away all my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. REFRAIN
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquity.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit.
To sustain me. REFRAIN
SECOND LESSON Hebrews 5:5-10
[Using priestly images and references to the Old Testament, the author of Hebrews explains how Christ lived in trusting obedience to God, and so God has made Christ the source of our eternal salvation.]
Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”;
as he also says in another place,
“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered;
and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God
SPECIAL MUSIC I Have Decided to Follow Jesus—Lloyd Larson
HOLY GOSPEL John 12:20-33
[Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time to celebrate the Passover festival. Here Jesus’ words about seeds planted in the ground turn the disaster of his death into the promise of a harvest in which everyone will be gathered.]
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain falls into the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
GRACE CHOIR Wondrous Love— arr. Bradley Ellinghoe
SERMON Seeing Jesus — Pr. Jim Text: The Gospel Lesson
Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
During his first year of playing Little League, the young boy never hit the ball. After each game he would say to his father: “My Sunday School teacher said that Jesus promised to help us if we ask him. I asked him to help me hit the ball.” The father and son had long a talk about prayer and answers to prayer. On the last game of the season, the boy went to bat at the bottom of the ninth with the score tied and the bases loaded. He hit a home run. On the way home that night … with the home run ball clutched tightly in his fist … the boy said to his faith, “I only asked for a single.”
All too often we remember the prayers in which God says, “No.” And we easily forget the time when we ask God to help us get to first base and instead end up with a home run.
That’s what happened in today’s Gospel lesson. Whether Jewish proselytes or on spring break from the University of Athens … some Greeks wanted to see Jesus and got more than what they asked for or expected.
They were in Jerusalem for the annual celebration of The Passover and had evidently heard about Jesus. He was after all the main topic of conversation during this celebration … having entered into Jerusalem riding on a donkey amid triumphant shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David,” as people waved palm branches and spread their cloaks in his path. The buzz about Jesus was that he had raised a man named Lazarus from the dead after four days. That miracle … along with his entry into Jerusalem … caused a lot of excitement.
The Greeks in the text shared that excitement. They wondered if everything they had heard was true. So, they found one of Jesus’ disciples with a Greek name … Philip … and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” They thought that they would know more about this man … Jesus … if they were able to see him and speak with him with face to face. And we all can identify with that … for that’s the way we judge an individual and his character by the way he acts and talks.
So instead of handing these Greeks an autographed picture of Jesus, Philip teams up with his brother Andrew and took them to see Jesus. Listen again to what happens when they are introduced:
“And Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to receive great
glory. I am telling you the truth: a grain of what remains no more than a single grain
unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many
That doesn’t sound like an answer to the request “We wish to see Jesus.” Yet Jesus answers them by telling them something about seeds and the time for him to receive great glory. Doesn’t sound like the answer I would expect.
What Jesus was telling them is: “Hang around. Watch what is going to happen. Don’t just look and run. You ain’t seen anything yet. Stay and see the glorious thing that is about to happen.”
That’s what Jesus meant in answering the Greeks’ request. If you look at a seed, you see only a seed … for what you see is what you get. But if it’s planted, it dies … and in losing itself in the ground, a new plant grows and produces many more seeds. From the seed that is planted, you get a lot more than what you first saw.
If we were able to see Jesus and see what the Greeks saw then, we would see an interesting man. And if that were all we saw … that’s all we’d get. But if we stuck around to see Jesus in his full glory on the Tree of the Cross, we would see much more. We’d see him die as a seed planted in the ground … only to rise again to life so that all who believe in him might have life. What Jesus invited the Greeks to see was more than himself in Jerusalem. He invited them to see God’s plan for the salvation of the world. He invited them to see the glory of his death and resurrection that bears new life for all who believe.
And then there was thunder. Or … was it a voice? They asked to see Jesus … and they heard God speak from heaven verifying what Jesus had told them. You can almost imaging them nudging each other and saying, “All we asked for was to see him.”
So, what’s the point of today’s Gospel? What does it say to us? In seven short days, we will begin Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday. In fourteen days, we will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior from the dead. “The point?” you say. We are like the Greeks. We have come this day with the request: “We wish to see Jesus” … the request we come with each and every Sunday. And in answer to that request … Sunday after Sunday … you and I will hear about his love for us in his dying and rising for us. Sunday after Sunday … and, indeed, day by day … you and I will get more than we ever asked for.
Listen to the text: “Whoever loves his own life will lose it; whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for life eternal. Whoever wants to serve me must follow me, so that my servant will be with me where I am. And my Father will honor anyone who serves me.”
In other words, Jesus is telling the Greeks … and us … that if we only wish to see him and not listen to him and what he is saying and doing, we cannot receive eternal life. For when we ask to hear the story of what he has done us, we hear not the story of his death and resurrection, we also hear how he loved … forgave … healed … strengthened … comforted. He has done great things for us and he still does! He does them through us as we forgive others … bring healing to others … comfort others … and share our faith with others.
“We wish to see Jesus.” I pray that in the remaining days of your Lenten journey you will see what has happened and is happening in your life in Christ, our Savior and Lord. I pray that you will see how others are blessing you because Christ is in them. And I pray that you will see opportunities to share the blessings of God with others because of the new life in Christ that is within you by reason of your baptismal faith.
“We wish to see Jesus.” What Jesus said to Nicodemus in that night talk we heard about in last Sunday’s Gospel is the core of John’s Gospel … the core of our faith and the answer to the Greeks’ request to see Jesus. See him "In this way, God loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that all who believe in him may not be lost but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion
of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and
the life + everlasting. Amen.
PRAYERS of THE CHURCH
Relying on the promises of God, let us pray boldly for The Church, the world, and all in need.
O God, you wash us through and through and remember our sin no more. Make your Church a community of forgiveness throughout the world. Give your people courage to forgive; through them show the world new possibilities. Bless ministries of repentance and reconciliation. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
You fill the earth, O God, with your presence—from tiny grains of wheat to the mighty thunder— and call us to attend to your will for all creation. Grant weather that prepares the soil for seeds, protect all from violent storms, flooding, and wildfires. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
You promise, O God, to write your law on our hearts. Guide citizens throughout the world to shape communities that reflect your mercy, justice, and peace, and given them creativity to work for the welfare of all. Fill world leaders and governing bodies with a sense of your peace and mercy to protect the wellbeing and freedom of all races and nationalities. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
You sustain us, O God, with your bountiful Spirit. Restore the joy of all who need to know your presence: those who need healing and grow weary in their struggle with health concerns especially Charlie and Marguerite (MaryAnn’s father and mother), Rusty (under hospice care), Shari, and those suffering from COVID-19, together with those we name in our hearts that they may receive hope, healing, and the mercies rendered by us as God’s people as we pray for them. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
With loving and tender care, O God, embrace all who are lonely or homebound, especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Rusty, Bonnie, Vernia, Elma, and those
we name in our hearts that they may be assured of your loving presence in our compassion, prayers, and care for them. Lord, in your mercy, hear
With steadfast love and mercy, O God, comfort The Simms and Peterson families who mourn the death of Lila Ruth Peterson (Cindy’s mother), together with The Hoff and Turner families who mourn the death of Raal (Alice’s sister). As Jesus died and rose again for our eternal life, now uphold these families with your love. Even now, lift their eyes beyond their tears and fill their hearts with the sure and certain knowledge of your abiding presence. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Your Son calls us to follow him in life and death, O God. Empower this congregation with your truth and wisdom and teach us to follow Jesus.in discipleship. Strengthen us with your grace, that we may sow mercy to others and give witness to your Son. Give us patience and courage when the call process seems long and never-ending. Keep us mindful that it is your Spirit who leads and guides us and will in due time provide us with a pastor—yet unknown to us, but known and loved by you. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
In the Cross of Christ, your Name is glorified. We thank and praise you for all the saints whom you have called to take up the Cross and follow you, revealing its power in life and death. Give us that same trust and bring us at last to life everlasting. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Grant these prayers, merciful God, and all that we need, as we eagerly await the Easter feast; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God of our salvation, we offer you these gifts as signs of our time and labor. Receive the offering of our lives, and feed us with your grace, that, even in the midst of death, all creation might feast on your unending life in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
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.
Holy God, our living Water, and our merciful Guide,
together with rivers and seas, wells, and springs
we bless and magnify you.
You led your people Israel through the desert,
and provided them water from the rock.
We praise you for Christ, our Rock, and our Water,
who joined us in our desert, pouring out
his life for the world.
In the night in which he was betrayed,
our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;
broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying:
Take and eat; this is my + body which is given
for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,
And gave it for all to drink, saying:
This cup is the new covenant in my + blood
shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness
of sin. Do this in remembrance of me.
Remembering, therefore, his life, death, and resurrection, we await your salvation for this thirsty world. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus
Pour out your Spirit upon this holy food and on all who are gathered for this feast; wash away our sin, that we may be revived for our journey by the love of Christ.
Amen. Come, Holy Spirit.
Through him all glory and honor are yours, Almighty Father, with the Holy
Spirit, in your holy Church, both now and forever. Amen.
Now in the words of our Lord, we are bold 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.
My Song Is Love Unknown LSB 430
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
God of our pilgrimage, in this meal you nourished us with the gifts of faith
and hope. Sustain us on our journey that, refreshed by your grace, we may
reach the promised land, the Easter Feast of victory in Jesus Christ. Amen.
SONG Oh, That the Lord Would Guide My Ways LSB 707
+ With Great Joy … Tell Everyone What He Has Done! +
Go in peace. Serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God.