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Lent II– Black History Month – February 28, 2021
Lenten Liturgy of the Seven Candles:
On this Sunday morning, for a brief space of time, we leave behind the world of home, work, school – the world where our lists of things to do, activities to participate in, tasks to complete. We come to this moment seeking something else. We come seeking a shift – from ordinary to the sacred, from doing to being. I invite you to leave your world around you and enter the sacred. Let go of your list. Recall that it is the season of Lent. Remember the parable of the sower. The sower throws the seed…and where it lands determines if it will grow or not grow. Think of it this way, think of the season of Lent as the sower, the time when seeds of faith are thrown with special intensity, as a time when God calls to us in a low, urgent voice. Listen… Jesus is being drawn to Jerusalem. Where is God drawing you in this time? What is God calling you to do?
As we imagine our seven candles of Lent, and for the second time one is extinguished, we acknowledge the darkness and pain of injury done to Jesus on the cross.
Let us pray:
Loving God, as we journey this holy season of Lent, may we be open to your presence. Give us strength to make changes that are needed in our lives and the courage to walk into new life. Amen.
CALL TO WORSHIP
May the warmth of God’s love welcome us. May the grace of Jesus’ life inspire us. May the movement of the Spirit lift our hearts in praise.
PRAYER FOR FAITH AND HOPE:
God of mercy, there are times in our lives when broken dreams and crushed hopes threaten to overwhelm us. In the darkness of these times, we long for your presence. Enable us to follow your beloved Child, in faith and in hope, this is our prayer. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF THIS FAITH AND HOPE:
Here the Good News: There is no darkness dark enough to put out the light of Christ. God’s love is greater than our broken dreams and crushed hopes. The will to reach boldly for the love of Christ is ours. May it be so in your life and in mine. Amen.
“Tree of Life and Awesome Mystery”
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Second verse of Lent II
Seed that dies to rise in glory, may we see ourselves in you, if we learn to live your story we may die to rise anew. We may die to rise anew.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 8:4-8 – The Parable of the Sower
4 When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. 7 Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8 Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
Mark 8:31-38 – Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
31 Then he 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. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 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.”
34 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. 35 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,[a] will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words[b] in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
MEDITATION: “Turning the Soil”
Knees bent, ashes smudged on foreheads, letting go and taking up our cross – the work of Lent is no less messy yet as necessary as the work of a farmer in early spring, muck boots stuck in the mire of melted grey snow, calloused hands reaching low to pull aside the mulch that blanked the garden beds, spades and shovels and yes, even hands, turning soil, loosening it after a winter-freeze, not unlike the turning of Lent, the turning, turning, re-turning to the God we have covered with lost hope and lost faith in the darkness of our days. We all have dark days and wonder where, is God. “Turning the soil” is what we must do so the seed of faith can take root and lift its head through the soil toward the light. Where light can shine upon people no matter our race or our colour, where privilege dies on the cross for new life.
Peter proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah but when Jesus openly teaches that he must undergo great suffering, be rejected, killed and then on the third day be raised, I wonder if Peter is not covering his head in the soil of a dark place when he took Jesus aside and rebuked him. Peter has lost faith in Jesus’ foretelling of his death and the hope of the resurrection. Jesus corrects Peter harshly, “Get behind me Satan.” For Peter’s imagination must be turned over, to be unearthed, the truth must first turn his thinking upside down. The ensuing proclamation of Jesus turns sight, thought, imagination, reason, life itself upside down as certainly as the ground is turned upside down to ready itself for seed. Jesus must suffer. Peter must be humbled. The world is about to change. History is about to enter a new age, an age in which darkness does not rule. Those who would serve this King must deny themselves and take up the cross of thinking less about themself but taking up the cross of humility.
Humility is not about self degradation, it is about willingly entering a life dependent on many others, on plant and animal, air and soil; the very substance we are formed from and to which we will return. When we come face to face with our place on this earth, a certain attitude of humility and gratitude permeates our being; we learn that we depend on death for new life. Lost hope and faith fall-down from the cross and spring up out the tomb. Like the clods of earth that are broken by a sharp spade in-order- to receive the seed, we are broken open by a God who loves us enough to humble us, so that, in time, we are raised from our bended knee to stretch out our hands to a suffering world because Jesus first stretched out his arms on the hard wood of the cross.
Take up your cross and follow. As children of God, we do not follow alone. We share each other’s cross as we walk each other home to our heavenly place and our burdens are lightened when we carry the other’s cross. Throughout Jesus’ life and teachings, Jesus makes clear that the hope he embodies, the hope he holds out to us, is not passive. Hope is not an idle wish for things to get better. Instead, hope calls us to action. It asks us to align and ally ourselves to God who is the source of hope and who calls us to participate with God in working for the wholeness that God desires for us, for the world. Here is a message about what it means to hope – to hope against hope, to hope when there is no cause to hope, to hope in the face of forces that work against hope. We belong to a God who tells us that what is torn down will be raised up, and what is destroyed will live again. Because we belong to this God, hope lives even when we feel we have lost it and cannot summon it up in ourselves. Hope comes as a gift of grace that we cannot manufacture. Hope asks us to give hope legs in the world and work with Christ for the healing of the world.
In these Lenten days and on the last Sunday of Black History month, let us not give up hope and faith that we, together can take our place in making our world die to racism, prejudice, hate toward any person of colour or of different culture so-as-to rise and become the world where we, everyone of us, becomes the person God intends us to be. Amen.
I Dream a World
I dream a world where one
No other one will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every one is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all –
Of such I dream, my world! – Langston Hughes
PRAYER for Black History Month
Spirit of Abundance, God of Grace, Mother of Hope, we pause now to remember those stories that are all around us, but so often passed over, those stories that when told are shared because of what someone is, not who they are. This month in our nation’s character is Black History month. Help us to realize that Black history is all our histories. May the day come when these stories
are so wildly taught that no month need be separately divided.
We know this day will not come until we as a people make different choices. We pray now for those new choices. May we come to see a day where the prison system becomes redemptive, not punitive. A day where the legal system learns to focus more squarely on the facts, and the not colours of our skin. A day where our schools are as well funded, as the needs demand. May our role models be allowed to excel when they thrive, and not be taken down for their rich heritage. We know this will require a shift in power. And this can be scary for some. Give those full of fear – hope. May we come to know grace, so that our hearts will not be hardened to the pain around us. There are so many beautiful stories needing to be told and we need to get the chance to hear them. Widen our vision so that the history that is shared this month, and every month, come to be known as our history too. We are most human when we see the humanity in others. This we pray in the name of Christ. Amen.
Lord, we praise and adore you.
We thank you for the joy we have in worshiping you in spirit and in truth. Amen.