18 February 2024


First Sunday in Lent

Mark 1:9-15

When We Are Tested


Additional Scriptures

Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Doctrine and Covenants 10:6


Distribute paper and something to write with to each participant as they enter the worship space.

For the Focus Moment, find an empty backpack or shopping bag and several large, heavy stones, plus small paper bags, one for each participant, paper hearts and small candles or tealights.



Call to Worship

Leader: To you, O Lord, we lift our souls.

Congregation: Our God, in you we trust.

Leader: Do not let us be put to shame.

Congregation: Make us know your ways, O Lord.

Leader: Teach us your paths.

Congregation: Lead us in your truth and teach us.

Leader: Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord.

Congregation: According to your steadfast love remember us.

ALL: We come with open hearts and trust in your faithfulness.

—Psalm 25:1-10, adapted

Hymn of Praise

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness”
CCS 11

OR “Blessed Be Your Name”
CCS 252

Opening Prayer

Lent Reflection


We are at the start of our Lenten journey with a focus on Jesus’s baptism and forty days of fasting in the wilderness. Lent is a time of journeying inward and going deeper as we prepare to live our lives in service to Christ’s mission. As you journey through Lent, consider how you will focus on Jesus Christ and the things of the spirit. What practices, habits or approaches will you include in your day-to-day life to ensure you are more in-tune with the spirit.

Lenten Ministry of Music OR Congregational Hymn

“When We Are Tested"
CCS 453

“How Long, O God, How Long?”
CCS 455

Prayer for Peace

Light the Peace Candle.


Dear God,

The Earth groans under the weight of violence and excess that is sapping your creation of vitality and humanity of hope. The Earth seems to chase after peace and fails to find it. May your church be prepared to respond to the need we see all around us. May we take this period of Lent as a time to practice simple and gentle living as your son, Jesus Christ, did during his forty-day fast. May we prepare to go out in mission to serve all of your creation. God bless our efforts as we seek to build peace in our own hearts and mind and let that peace flow through the actions of our hands and feet in your world that you have created for all of us.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Scripture, Song, and Story

Lectionary Scripture Reading: Mark 1:9-12

Story through Song

“When Jesus Came to Jordan”
CCS 442

OR “Jesus, Promise of an Angel” Stanzas 1 and 2


Ask someone to tell the story of their baptism.

Lectionary Scripture Reading: Mark 1:13-15

Story through Song

“Jesus, Tempted in the Desert” Stanzas 1 and 5
CCS 449

“Lead Me, Lord” Sing twice.


Ask someone to tell a story of being tempted and feeling God’s presence and support.

Lent Reflection: Our Personal Fast

A traditional practice during Lent is to fast from something that we indulge in perhaps too much or something that makes us feel separated from God. Examples include: a specific food, TV time, impulse buying, and so on. Let us consider fasting in a deeper sense. Lent is a period where we follow Jesus into the wilderness in preparation for our own ministry. To go on this journey inward, it’s important we shed those things that may distract us or cause us to focus on other things than our committed discipleship. Use the paper provided and consider these questions. What you write is for your eyes only; take it home with you as a reminder.

Question 1: What is something that you often feel distracted by in your life? Write a list of distractions that you might fast from during Lent. Choose a distraction from your list.

Allow a few minutes of silent reflection and writing.

Now that you have considered what to give up, there is now space to reengage our time and focus.

Question 2: How will you best use this opened space in your life? Write of what speaks to you as a way to deepen your Lenten journey.

Allow a few minutes of silent reflection and writing.

To end this time, begin singing quietly “Bless the Lord,” CCS 575. Continue singing until everyone has returned their attention to the room.


Based on Mark 1:9-15

Hymn of Opening Ourselves to the Journey

“Bless Now, O God, the Journey”
CCS 559

OR “The Glory of These Forty Days,” Stanzas 1 and 4
CCS 451

Focus Moment: What to Bring on the Journey?

If we’re going to go on a journey, we need to pack items to take along. Here, I have some heavy stones.

Place the stones in backpack. It should be very heavy. Ask several to try to lift it.

Is it really easy or kind of hard to lift that pack?

Remove the stones and place a paper heart and a candle/tea light in the pack.

Now lift the pack. Easy or hard?

Sometimes we carry heavy stuff around inside us, like stones. Worry, anger, shame can weigh us down. During Lent we focus on removing these weights, just like we took the stones out of the backpack. Distribute empty bags to each participant. With the weights gone, we can repack with the love of God (place a heart in each bag) and the light of Jesus (place a candle/tea light in each bag).

Encourage participants to take the bag home with them as a reminder of unpacking the things that weigh us down, replacing them with love and light.

Disciples’ Generous Response


A common practice when fasting is to consider ways to be more generous with your resources to give to those in need. If you are fasting for Lent, consider ways you can donate the money you save. Whether it is coffee at your favorite coffee shop or something else. Consider ways you can use your treasure this fasting period to help make your community a better place for all to live.

During this time of Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. With our offerings we can tangibly express our gratitude to God, who is the giver of all.

As we share our mission tithes either by placing money in the plates or through eTithing, use this time to thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.

If your congregation is meeting online, remind participants they can give through CofChrist.org/give or through eTithing.org (consider showing these URLs on screen).

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

Hymn of Pilgrimage

“Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley”
CCS 452

OR “There’s an Old, Old Path”
CCS 244

Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.

Closing Prayer

Sending Forth

Put your trust in that Spirit which leads to do good, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; this is my Spirit.

—Doctrine and Covenants 10:6, adapted

Go and walk with assurance that God’s loving Spirit is at your side.




Years B

First Sunday of Lent

Mark 1:9–15


Exploring the Scripture

Is there any good news? We are desperate for some good news. What is the good news? We need to hear good news. The people in today’s story were desperate for good news. In 70 CE Galilee, radical Jews were revolting against the Roman oppressors. Jerusalem was under siege. People were stressed, caught between those who resented the intimidating, brutal oppressors and those who were homegrown terrorists. Probably the prices of basic life commodities were rising beyond the reach of ordinary people. Tensions were high and God was about to do something! According to Mark “In those days Jesus came…” (v. 19). The clear intent of God is about to be revealed.

Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized. As Jesus came out of the water the heavens tore apart and the Spirit descended on him. The Spirit confirmed God was present in that moment. Were these spectacular happenings in fulfillment of ancient prophetic events, or is this account based on what Mark wanted us to know about Jesus? Three times Mark dramatically tells us who Jesus is—the Son of God (vv. 1:11, 9:7, and 15:39). This is a key message of Mark’s Gospel. In the baptism of Jesus we see his obedience to God’s will and the suffering that will lead to the cross. What does it mean for us to understand Jesus is the Son of God and follow his example of obedience to God?

After his baptism, Jesus was taken into the wilderness where he was tempted for 40 days. Later John was arrested and then Jesus appeared in Galilee and proclaimed “the good news of God” (v. 14). Jesus, who has been declared the Son of God, is the good news.

Amid life’s struggles and the stresses they cause, God in the form of Jesus says to us there is good news. Life can be hard and people can think there is no hope. Now is the time for God to speak and act. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news” (v. 15). The kingdom is something new. It is a different way to live. People had heard of repentance for the remission of sins (John’s baptism). Here Jesus is saying the presence and reign of God is here. God is at work and you need to turn away from what you are doing and believe this reality. The people were looking for good news and here it was.

For us today, the peaceable reign of God can be a reality if we believe and work toward it. It can demand sacrifice (changing our priorities) from us, but the kingdom is calling. It is time to share the good news the kingdom of God can be a reality today. To make this happen we engage in Christ’s mission. How do you invite people to a relationship with Christ? How can we abolish poverty and end needless suffering? How can we pursue peace on Earth? How do we develop disciples to serve? How do we experience our congregations in mission? As we find answers to these questions and respond in Christ’s mission, the reign of God will be a reality. God is near.

Throughout the Gospel of Mark we are shown what it means to follow Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah. It leads to suffering, death, and resurrection. It is not easy to follow Jesus but the goal is worth the cost.

Central Ideas

  1. Jesus is the Son of God. God’s beloved, whom we should follow.
  2. Jesus’ baptism experience confirmed his obedience to surrender his will to God.
  3. Now is the time to share the good news of the kingdom of God.
  4. We need to look at our priorities if the reign of God is to be reality.

Questions for the Speaker

  1. What is the setting of your neighborhood? What is the conversation you are drawn to hear?
  2. What actions will you take to declare Jesus is the Son of God?
  3. How will you invite people to baptism, which transforms people into disciples of Jesus?
  4. What expression of the kingdom of God are you beginning to see?
  5. What can you do to make the peaceable reign of God a reality in your neighborhood?



Year B 

Focus: First Sunday of Lent 

Scripture: Mark 1:9–15 




Today is the first Sunday of Lent. We join with other Christians who for many centuries have observed it as the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, not counting Sundays. 

Lent helps us to center our attention on Jesus as we remember his life and ministry. Lent also provides a means to sharpen our focus on our own lives in relationship to Jesus. The Lenten season also encourages us to turn away from whatever distracts or blocks our commitment to discipleship. 

May the season of Lent help us walk with Jesus, even though the path leads to the cross. 

Prayer for Peace 

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly. 

Light the peace candle. 

Loving Creator and Provider, 

We praise you for your unconditional grace and generosity that extend to all inhabitants of Earth, to every facet of your vast creation. We are aware of the great need for peace in so many countries, including the country we each call our own. Be with all leaders in every land that they may make wise decisions as they confront the challenges of good governance. Increase their understanding so that they may realize the value of compromise and reconciliation rather than force and violence. May they fully comprehend your vision for all humankind and strive for peace among all nations. 

In the name of your dear Son, Jesus Christ, we ask. Amen. 

—Mildred Jordan 

Spiritual Practice 

Personal Reflection 

Prayerfully consider the following statement in silent reflection (one minute): 

Jesus was betrayed by his own friends, accused of blasphemy and treason, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to die on a cross between two common criminals. By forgiving his murderers and choosing to take on the sin, pain, and suffering of the whole world, he reconciled all of humanity to God. 

Sharing in Community of Christ, 3rd Ed., 
(Herald Publishing House, 2012, p. 23 

End the reflection time by sounding a chime or bell. 

Sharing Around the Table 

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved;[ with you I am well pleased.” 

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” 

—Mark 1:9–15 NRSV 

Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized. As Jesus came out of the water the heavens tore apart, and the Spirit descended on him. The Spirit confirmed God was present in that moment. 

After his baptism, Jesus was taken into the wilderness, where he was tempted for 40 days. Later John was arrested, and then Jesus appeared in Galilee and proclaimed “the good news of God.” 

People were yearning for “good news.” In this scripture we hear God in the form of Jesus proclaim to us the good news. The kingdom is near. This kingdom was something new where God was at work. The people were looking for good news, and here it was. 

It is time for us to share the good news: The kingdom of God can be a reality today. We live the good news when we engage in Christ’s mission. The reign of God is near when we invite people to a relationship with Christ, work to abolish poverty and end needless suffering, and Pursue Peace on Earth. 


  1. Share how you have experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit.
  2. What expression of the kingdom of God are you beginning to see?
  3. What can you do to make the peaceable reign of God a reality in your neighborhood?


Generosity Statement 

“Sharing for the common good is the spirit of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 165:2f). 

We receive God’s grace and generosity. The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response. 

The offering prayer for Lent is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response: 

Constant God, May we be dependable disciples. Your unconditional love for each of us is expressed through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. May we faithfully respond to that ministry as we are accountable to one another, to you, and ourselves. Amen. 

Invitation to Next Meeting 

Closing Hymn 

We will sing twice CCS 450, “Lead Me, Lord” at the close of each Sacred Space gathering during Lent. 

Closing Prayer 


Optional Additions Depending on Group 

  • Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
  • Thoughts for Children


Thoughts for Children 

Materials: bottle of water, cups, cards with this prayer: 

Lord, We pray in hope for the day all will have clean water. Amen. 

Today begins the season of Lent. During Lent we prepare for Easter. Many people observe Lent by fasting or giving something up from today until Easter. Others pray, read scripture, or do things that help them be better disciples. 

Each Sunday during Lent we will talk about something we can do to prepare for Easter. 

We have this bottle of water. (Pour a small cup for everyone.) Tell me about the water. Is it clean? How does it taste? 

Not everyone in the world has clean water. As disciples we give to organizations that help people get clean water (www.outreach-international.org). We also do what we can to keep from wasting water. How can we save or use less water? (Affirm all answers.) 

Each of us can take a prayer card and place it in our house where we get a drink of water. Every time you get a drink, remember to say the prayer. (Hand out the prayer cards and read the prayer aloud.) 


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