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Second Sunday in Lent - "If You Want to Follow Him" by Pr. Jim



660 Frances Lane

Ashland, Oregon 97520


The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor


28 February 2021


A warm welcome to all who worship with us this morning, especially those who have joined us as guests and visitors. May this time of prayer and praise make us eager to share in the proclamation of the Good News of God’s love and redemption in Christ as we go forth into another week of service in his Name. 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!

AS WE GATHER To Take Up A Cross

The second covenant in this year’s Lenten readings is one made with Abraham and Sarah (First Lesson). God’s promise to make them the ancestors of many, with whom God will remain in everlasting covenant. Paul says the promise comes to all who share Abraham’s faith in God who brings life into being where there was not life (Second Lesson). We receive this baptismal promised of resurrection life in faith by taking up the cross and following Christ (Gospel). Sarah and Abraham receive new names as a sign of the covenant, and we too get new identities in Baptism as we put on Christ.


O God our Father, the battle of good and evil rages within and without, and our ancient

foe tempts us with his deceits and empty promises. Keep us steadfast in your Word so

that when we fall you will raise us again and restore us through your Son, Jesus Christ

our Lord. Amen



Lift High the Cross LSB 837


The readiness of Abraham and Sarah, and the eagerness of Jesus to do God’s will are models for contemporary disciples in The Church. Baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, we are called to live a distinctive style of life shaped by faith in God’s mercy. As followers of Christ, we take up our cross and stand with all those who suffer in our midst. Our Lenten journey always takes us to the Cross, the heart of God’s love for us and for the world.

PRELUDE Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee—Jeff Bennett

Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Return to me with all your heart,” says the Lord, “with fasting, with weeping and mourning, with broken and contrite hearts.” If we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. As our Lenten journey continues, today we are called to take up our crosses and follow Jesus.

+ A Brief Silence for Reflection & Self-examination +

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed Our minds are set on human things, and not on the things of God. For the sakes of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. For-give 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 has heard our prayer, and for the sake of Jesus Christ, he answers us in mercy. For his sake 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.

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.    


O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be our means of life. Grant us so to glory in the Cross of Christ that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of 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 Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

[As with Noah, God makes an everlasting covenant with Abraham and Sarah. God promises this old couple that they will be the ancestors of nations, though they have no child together. God will miraculously bring forth new life from Sarah’s womb. The name changes emphasize the firmness of God promise.]

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come to you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

PSALM of THE DAY Psalm 32 [Please join in singing the Refrain.]  

REFRAIN: Keep me, keep me as the apple of your eye.

Hide me, hide me in the shadow of your wings.               

I will lift up my eyes to the hills.

Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,

the maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip,

He who watches over you will not slumber;

Indeed, he who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep. Refrain

The LORD watches over you,

The LORD is your shade at your right hand.

The LORD will keep you from all harm,

He will watch over your life;

The LORD will watch over your coming and going

Both now and forevermore. Refrain  

SECOND LESSON Romans 4:13-25

[Paul presents Abraham as an example for how a person comes into a right relationship with God not through works of the law but through faith. Though Abraham and Sarah were far too old for bearing children, Abraham trusted that God would accomplish what God had promised to accomplish.]

The promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null, and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.

For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest of grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for his is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words “it was reckoned to him,” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

SPECIAL MUSIC By the Grace of God—Anthony Giamanco

HOLY GOSPEL Mark 8:31-38

[After Peter confesses his belief that Jesus in the Messiah, Jesus tells his disciples for the first time what is to come. Peter’s response indicates that he does not yet understand the way of the cross that Jesus will travel.]

[Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of the Father with the holy angels.

The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

GRACE CHOIR For God So Loved the World—Robert Clatterbuck

SERMON      If You Want to Follow Him — Pr. Jim Text: The Gospel Lesson

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Romans 4:13-23; Mark 8:31-35

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” That’s everything in unmistakably brief … clear … words that are at the heart of following Jesus. By reason of my Baptism, I must carry a cross … and so must you … if you want to follow him. I’m mentioning this at the onset of today’s homily because it’s so easy to take it for granted. The Cross … you see … is no mere talisman or trinket worn around our necks. If it becomes that … if it only stands in repose next to this pulpit or hangs as a mere decoration on the wall in our homes … we have missed its significance. The cross, says our Lord, is a way of life. His call to follow him … to get behind him … in the walk of self-denial and cross-bearing is to go against the tide … that deadly current that moves us away from a trusting relationship with God … moves us away from one another … and moves us to uncertainty about who we are and what we are about.

In the text, Jesus speaks not only of the Cross that awaited him. He is speaking to us of the way of the cross as the epitome of life itself. The way he died is the way he lived … it is the way of life and way of dying that we too must walk. For the only way to real life is learning that salvation and peace is found in the Cross and empty tomb of our Lord … of taking up our cross and following him on the road of death to life. So what does it mean to take up our cross in our time?

It is today what it has always been and always will be … following Jesus. Cross-bearing is simply that life which springs from grace … and grace simply means his Cross formed in us.

Living a life that springs from grace on the road of death means … seeing as Jesus saw others … and as the Good Samaritan saw the one fallen upon by thieves. I think of those who have fallen by the wayside and hurting … those who have fallen between the cracks and are suffering the results. Seeing and caring means taking up the cross in the form of time … effort … and care for those who are so easily passed by.

Living a life that springs from grace on the road of death means … welcoming back the prodigal with the Father’s love. Welcoming back is taking up the cross in the form of loving and forgiving a person for who he or she is. Welcoming is facing the hard task of rebuilding lives and relationships through acceptance and forgiveness.

Living a life that springs from grace on the road of death means … sharing your abundance with those who lack life’s essentials. It means going against the tide to put down feelings of impatience and contempt for those on the fringes of society living along Bear Creek or the I-5 corridor … those whose lives are out of control and who look like it … and often smell like it.

Living a life shaped by grace on the road of death means … loving your enemies and doing good to those who make you miserable. It means going against the tide to take up the cross of concrete acts of good toward those who have done the opposite to you. It means putting yourself on the line against the terrible and vicious cycle of getting back or getting even with someone.

These examples of following Jesus against the flow and tide of the world are only the beginning of what it means to carry one’s cross on the deadly road that leads to life. We all keep adding to our experience of cross-bearing as our faith is active in love and shaped by it. To be sure, we don’t begin the day by asked what cross we’ll take up next. But … we are to begin each day with the remembrance of our baptism and with pray to faithfully follow our Lord who walked the way of the Cross to die and rise again so that we might follow him on death’s road to life with him forever.

Our Lord’s bid to “take up the cross and follow him” is not confirmed by thinking about it but by doing it. On this 2nd Sunday in Lent, The Church needs this text. Our parish needs this text … just as each and every one of us needs it in a time when everything seems to be on hold because of COVID-19.

In the early part of the 20th Century, Albert Schweitzer wrote these words about heeding our Lord’s call: “Follow me!” he commands. And to those who obey him, whether they are wise or simples, he will reveal himself in the toils … the conflicts … the sufferings through which they shall pass in his fellowship. And, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience who he is.

Another week of cross-bearing begins for each of us. And, there is no better beginning for it than in the hearing his Word … the tasting of his meal … the receiving of his love and forgiveness won for us by his dying and rising for us. The Lord’s day … this day … prepares us for the days that follow as we walk the road of dying and rising with him. Against the world’s tide we go … but then who wants to go with the flow and where it leads? Instead … we will take up our cross and follow him from death to life.

Day by day, dear Lord, three things I pray …

To see you more clearly,

Love you more dearly,

Follow you more nearly,

Day by day by day.

+ 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.


Relying on the promises of God, let us pray boldly for The Church, the world, and all in need.

Holy and steadfast God, your gift of grace is for all people. Give confident faith to all the baptized, that they may follow you wholeheartedly. Give new believers to join in your promises; give hope and courage to those who suffer for their faith. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

All the ends of the earth worship you, O God. From galaxies to micro-organisms, preserve your creation. Teach us to wonder at your works and join you in tending creation’s well-bring so that the coming growing season may yield an abundant harvest and all the bounty we need to feed this hungry world. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You rule over the nations, O God. Raise up advocates for peace and justice within and between nations that all people may live in harmony with one another. Give life were hope seems dead; call into existence new realities we cannot even imagine. Move and guide our president and congress to resolve the issues before them with collegiality for the common good of our nation and people. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

O God, in your Son Jesus Christ, you joined humanity in suffering and death. Reveal to all the depth of your love shown on the Cross. Accompany all who suffer in body, mind, and spirit. Restore all who grow weary in the struggle with health concerns and healing. Guide all who provide medical care to your servants especially Shari, 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 presence in our compassion, prayers, and love for them. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

O God, during these Lenten days teach us the stories of our faith by heart. Deepen our faith and understanding. As you kept your promises with our ancestors so guide us confidently into the future with the assurance of your steadfast and eternal promises made to us as your children. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

O God, as we move forward in identifying the pastoral candidate you have chosen to serve as your under-shepherd among us, keep us mindful that it is your Spirit who leads and guides us and will in due time make known our new pastor—yet unknown to us, but known and loved by you. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

With steadfast love and mercy, O God, comfort the Hoff and Turner families who mourn the death of Raal (Alice’s sister) who received the crown of life this past Thursday. As Jesus died and rose again for our eternal life, now uphold Gary, Samantha, Garth, Alice Stu, and all those whose lives were touched by her. 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.

As we await the day of Christ’s coming, O God, lead us by the example of all the saints whom you have called to take up the Cross and follow you, that together we may find our lives in you. 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 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.

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.


DISTRIBUTION Distribution Song

                                             Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me LSB 837


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 On My Heart Imprint Your Image LSB 422

+ With Great Joy … Tell Everyone What He Has Done! +

Go in peace. Serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!

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