Second Sunday of Lent
Nada te turbe
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Mark 8:31-38; 2 Nephi 3:50
Items for Focus Moment: chair, book of scripture, small bell or chime, sign printed with “The End is Near”; a chair. Recruit three people of any age for the Focus Moment. These helpers can be chosen ahead of time or in the spirit of the moment.
Be ready to project or distribute printed pages (or both) of the following scriptures: Psalm 22:23-24; Genesis 17:1-2; Mark 8:35; and Romans 4:13, 20-21.
Call to Worship
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to the Lord. And he rules over the nations.
Rejoice, O my heart, and cry to the Lord, and say, “O Lord, I will praise you forever; my soul will rejoice in you, my God, and the rock of my salvation.”
—Psalm 22: 27-28; 2 Nephi 3:50, adapted
Hymn of Praise
“Praise to the Living God”
OR “The God of Abraham Praise”
OR “God of Wonder, God of Thunder”
Last Sunday was the beginning of a five-Sunday journey through the Lenten season. Unlike the early disciples who didn’t seem to understand where the journey was heading, we do. But during Lent we have an opportunity to imagine ourselves on the same journey as the disciples, experiencing their excitement and at times their uncertainties. There were signposts along the way, not visible ones, but words that Jesus spoke to them. Let your Lenten reflections this week help you focus on signposts for your own journey as a disciple alongside Jesus Christ.
Prayer for Peace
Optional: have a volunteer solemnly ring a chime or bell three times.
Light the Peace Candle.
Lent is a time that leads us to turn our focus inward, to think about where we are on the journey walking with Jesus. Week by week we remember parts of his journey in the last days of his earthly life and the courage it took for him to keep moving.
While we are not on the same kind of journey, we are walking as he did on this Earth that was created as a blessing to all creatures. While we do so we need to actively participate in helping to protect, preserve and restore this wonderful planet to be what God created it to be. In doing so we will be peacemakers.
Congregational Prayer for Peace
Read aloud in unison or sing together.
“Touch the Earth Lightly”
OR “God of Creation”
Invite the three people chosen to participate to take their places: one on the chair with a book of scripture in hand, one holding the bell or chime, and one carrying the sign. The person with the bell or chime quietly rings it while slowly walking around the person on the chair. Alternatively, a person participating online could unmute and do this part by providing any audible distraction.
Meanwhile, the person seated continues to focus on reading. The person with the sign begins to circle around the seated person too, holding the sign so they can see it while the chiming, bell ringing or other sounds continue. The person seated keeps focusing completely on reading. After 2-3 minutes have elapsed signal to the participants to stop and return to their seats or mute again.
That was an example of not letting anything disturb us. Sometimes outside events can arouse feelings of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. We lose the ability to stay focused on God and God’s promises. We let disturbing things overwhelm our minds.
Scriptures can help guide us into refocusing by holding up how people encountered God through many generations. In Community of Christ, we hold the following Basic Belief about scripture:
Scripture is writing inspired by God’s spirit and accepted by the church as the normative expression of its identity, message, and mission. We affirm the Bible as the foundational scripture for the church. In addition, Community of Christ uses the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants – not to replace the witness of the Bible or improve on it, but because they confirm its message that Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. When responsibly interpreted and faithfully applied, scripture provides divine guidance and inspired insight for our discipleship.
—Sharing in Community of Christ: Exploring Identity, Mission, Message, and Beliefs
HeraldHouse.org, fourth edition, page 36.
Display Psalm 22:23-24; Genesis 17:1-2; Mark 8:35; and Romans 4:13, 20-21 or refer to the printed or projected scriptures. Allow two to three minutes for the congregation to read them, then briefly discuss these questions:
What do these four scriptures seem to have in common?
How do they convey that God is trustworthy?
Based on Romans 4:13-25
Invite participants to take three deep breaths. Ask them to think about the message they just heard. What thoughts will they take with them into the coming week? What was something new to think about and remember? If time permits, after several moments to ponder, invite them to turn to a neighbor and share.
Disciples’ Generous Response
God is the giver of life and hope. We can place our trust in God’s faithfulness toward us. We can respond to God’s generosity by being good stewards of creation and sharing our giftedness and resources.
During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings we are able to join in making God‘s work visible in the world.
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 grown 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 Trust
“I Know Not What the Future Hath”
OR “Standing on the Promises”
OR “By Gracious Powers”
Encourage participants to sing in a language other than their own.
Congregational Unison Prayer
Read Stanzas 1 and 3 aloud in unison. End with Amen.
“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”
SERMON AND CLASS HELPS
Second Sunday in Lent
Exploring the Scripture
The phrase “hoping against hope,” which is sometimes used to suggest clinging on even when all seems hopeless, originates from verse 18 of today’s scripture passage and is central to its message. In Abraham, we meet an extraordinary person who had faith in a God who promised the impossible and then did it. God declared to Abraham, “I have made you the father of many nations” (v.17). Such a promise would be challenging for anyone to grasp and accept. But, with Abraham, who was almost 100 years old and whose wife Sarah was barren, it would have been beyond belief. Yet, we are told Abraham “did not waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (vv. 20–21).
Paul presents Abraham as the Father of All Believers. Abraham inherited the promise made to him by God, not because he adhered to the law, but because of solid and consistent faith—in the face of much evidence to the contrary—that what God promised would come to pass. Abraham believed in hope, a hope that saw beyond the circumstances to find rest on the promises and ability of God.
Paul’s intent is not to place Abraham on a pedestal. He does not imply Abraham was a perfect person who never doubted. What is portrayed is a man whose attitude was consistently one of faith and hope in the promise of God.
In the opening chapter of Romans, Paul describes a human race that has ignored, dishonored, and failed to worship God. In contrast, in Romans chapter 4, we find Abraham, one who is called to undo humankind’s sin by believing in God as creator and life-giver (v. 17) and by trusting in God’s promises (v. 19). However, we must recognize that it is through Jesus Christ, not Abraham, that humankind is saved.
While the focus is on Abraham in this chapter, Paul concludes that Jesus, who was crucified because of human evil, was raised for our justification—that we might become one with God through our faith. If our goal is justification, then Abraham provides a worthy signpost towards it, but it is only in Jesus that the goal is reached. As theologian Tom Wright explains, “Abraham believed that God would give life where there was none. Christians believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. In both cases, it can only be a recognition that God is God, that our life and the life of the world are in God’s hand, that God has already begun the new creation and invites us to trust God to carry it through to the end.”
“Hoping against hope, he believed…” (v.18). God had promised Abraham he would become the father of many nations. Indeed, this was impossible. Jesus told his disciples he would be killed and rise again on the third day. Indeed, this was impossible. Unless you believe in a God of the impossible, that is.
- Abraham inherited the promise made to him by God, not because he adhered to the law, but because of solid and consistent faith.
- Abraham believed in the hope that sees beyond circumstances to find rest on the promises and ability of God.
- If our goal is to become one with God, then Abraham provides a worthy signpost towards this goal, but it is only through Christ the goal will be reached.
Questions for the Speaker
- Think of a time when you clung to hope when all seemed hopeless. How did your faith in God help you through that time?
- What do you hope for right now, and what part does faith play in this hope?
- Abraham believed in hope. Who are the people in your life you would consider believers in hope?
- Jesus was raised for our justification. What do you understand by this?
SACRED SPACE: A RESOURCE FOR SMALL-GROUP MINISTRY
Year B Letters
Second Sunday of Lent
Romans 4:13–25 NRSVUE
We join with other Christians who for many centuries have observed Lent as the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, not counting Sundays. During Lent, we 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. And the Lenten season 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.
God of lightness and darkness, peace in our world today may seem unreasonable, far-fetched, ludicrous. Also ridiculous was the thought that Abram and Sarah might have a son. Yet, their descendants now number as many as the stars. God, we know you are capable of the most unlikely things, and we praise you for that! You create something of nothing—every day! We trust that you are working in the world, shining peace into the world like stars in the night sky.
May we pause to see the stars, to see the peace, which you create daily. And then, may we join you. May we be so bold as to work to create something from nothing—and may we see that there is already a peaceful-something, even in the most ludicrously nothing places. In the name of Jesus, our north star. Amen.
Practice of Silence
Practicing silence may be difficult at first. The mind may run wild. Allow yourself grace in this practice. We will begin when I ring the chime. We will be silent for five minutes. I will ring the chime again to conclude our time of silence.
Remember to breathe deeply. Focusing on each breath can help quiet the mind. Become aware of your surroundings; notice how the air feels on your skin; trust that you are in the presence of the Holy—fully surrounding and embracing you. Allow your inner conversations to stop for a while. Be fully present with the One who is fully present with you.
Ring the chime to begin.
Wait five minutes.
Ring the chime to conclude the period of silence.
Ask: How does it feel to be present with God in silence?
Sharing Around the Table
Romans 4:13–25 NRSVUE
For 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. For 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 transgression.
For this reason the promise depends on faith, in order that it may rest on grace, so that it may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (who is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”), in the presence of the 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 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), and the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore “it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not 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 for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
The phrase “hoping against hope,” which sometimes is used to suggest clinging on even when all seems hopeless, originates from verse 18 of today’s scripture and is central to its message. In Abraham, we meet an extraordinary person who had faith in a God who promised the impossible and then did it. God declared to Abraham, “I have made you the father of many nations.”
Such a promise would be challenging for anyone to grasp and accept. But with Abraham, who was almost 100 years old and whose wife, Sarah, was barren, it would have been beyond belief.
Abraham inherited the promise made to him by God, not because he adhered to the law, but because of solid and consistent faith in the face of much evidence to the contrary that what God had promised would come to pass. Abraham believed in hope—a hope that saw beyond the circumstances to rest on the promises and ability of God.
While the focus is on Abraham in this chapter, Paul concludes that Jesus, who was crucified because of human evil, was raised for our justification—that we might become one with God through our faith. Just as it was “reckoned unto Abraham,” so will it be reckoned unto us…those who believe in God.
As we continue this Lenten journey of self-reflection and preparation, perhaps it is best to focus not on the cross, but on the resurrection, new life, and “hope against hope” that God has promised, if only we will have faith. God had promised Abraham he would become the father of many nations. Indeed, this was impossible. Jesus told his disciples he would be killed and rise again on the third day. Indeed, this was impossible. Unless you believe in a God of the impossible, that is.
- Abraham believed in hope. Who in your life would you consider as models of Abraham’s faith and hope?
- Think of a time when you clung to hope when all seemed hopeless. How did your faith in God help you through that time?
- What are your hopes today, and how is faith present in this hope?
Beloved Community of Christ, do not just speak and sing of Zion. Live, love, and share as Zion: those who strive to be visibly one in Christ, among whom there are no poor or oppressed.
—Doctrine and Covenants 165:6a
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:
Ever-present God, forgive us when we are less than loving, less than hope-filled, less than you have created us to be. Your mercy and grace are always with us. May we find strength in your presence, and may we respond to your love with generous spirits. Amen.
Invitation to Next Meeting
Community of Christ Sings 244, “There’s an Old, Old Path”
Optional Additions Depending on Group
- Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
- Thoughts for Children
Thoughts for Children
This Lenten activity continues through the season of Lent.
You will need:
- Copy paper
- Glue sticks
- Last week’s papers cut into thin strips
Before this meeting, cut the paper used last week into small strips.
Throughout Lent, participants will build a piece of art that reflects their Lenten journey. Be prepared to collect the progressing artwork each week. Make certain to have extra pieces of artwork in various stages of completion for participants who miss a week or two.
Say: Today is the second Sunday in Lent. Lent is a time when we prepare for Easter by intentionally taking time to grow our relationship with God. We can deepen our relationship with God in many ways, but three are especially important during Lent: fasting, praying, and almsgiving. Last week we talked about fasting.
Ask: Does anyone remember what fasting is?
Say: This week, we are going to talk about prayer. There are many ways to pray. No matter how you pray, it is important to create safe space around you or within you where you can spend time with God. Today, we are going to create a visual reminder of a safe space so we can remember how important it is.
Last week you brainstormed things you could fast from during Lent and then colored over those things. I took your papers and cut them into fine strips. We are going to glue these fine strips on a new piece of paper in the shape of a nest. You get to decide what your nest looks like and how many strips of paper you need to make it.
While participants are using glue sticks and paper strips to create nests on their papers, talk about ways we can create space for God.
Say: Once you have created your nest, write your name on the back of your paper and hand it to me. I will keep the papers until next week, when we continue to add to our art.
This week, see how you intentionally can create space in your life for God.