CALL TO WORSHIP (Psalm 130:5-6)
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in God’s word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
Let us pray: God of all consolation and compassion, your Son comforted the grieving sisters, Martha and Mary; your breath alone brings life to dry bones and weary souls. Pour out your Spirit upon us, that we may face despair and death with the hope of resurrection and faith in the One who called Lazarus forth from the grave. Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION (Romans 8:6)
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Please join me in the prayer of confession, followed by a silent personal confession.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION (Psalm 130:1-2)
Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord. Let your ears be attentive to the words of our confession! We confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart and mind and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. In your mercy, forgive what we have been, help us amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your holy name. Amen.
Moment of silent personal confession
ASSURANCE OF PARDON (Psalm 130:3-4, 7-8)
Pastor: The psalmist writes, If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with God is great power to redeem. It is God who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.
Peoples: In the grace of Jesus Christ, those who repent will be forgiven.
Pastor: May the peace of Christ be with you!
Peoples: And also with you.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION (Psalm 130:5)
Let us pray: Lord, we wait for you, and we hope in your Word. Speak to us today. Call us into the light. Breathe your Word upon us until we live again in you. Amen.
GOSPEL STORY: John 11:1-45, NRSV
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’
When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’
Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
- Where do you place yourself in this story? With the disciples? Mary? Martha? The crowd of mourners? Lazarus?
- Given that Jesus is God, what does it mean for us that our God wept and mourned over the death of his friend’s brother? What does it say about grief?
- Where have you seen glimpses of Easter in the midst of this somber Lenten season?
1 Jesus walked this lonesome valley, he had to walk it by himself;
O, nobody else could walk it for him, he had to walk it by himself.
2 We must walk this lonesome valley, we have to walk it by ourselves;
O, nobody else can walk it for us, we have to walk it by ourselves.
3 You must go and stand your trial, you have to stand it by yourself,
O, nobody else can stand it for you, you have to stand it by yourself.
Second Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14, NRSV
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. God led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. God said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’
I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’
Then God said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.’
So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them.
Then God said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’
I prophesied as God commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
Then God said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.’
Listen to Pastor Leia’s sermon, “Valley of the Shadow,” here.
1 Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew,
that I may love the way you love, and do what you would do.
2 Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure,
until my will is one with yours, to do and to endure.
3 Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly thine,
until this earthly part of me flows with thy fire divine.
4 Breathe on me, Breath of God, so shall I never die,
but live with thee the perfect life of thine eternity.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (written by Slats Toole)
Everlasting God, we come to you with words we come to you with songs we come to you with sighs we come to you with our selves, our whole selves which are hurting and anxious and confused and grateful and bored and sometimes just too many things are once.
All our jumbled thoughts and feelings cry to You, screaming out in different tones and colors, longing for You.
You are the rock that steadies us. You are the refuge that keeps us safe. You are the water that give us life. You are the Spirit that surrounds us even now.
When we cannot see each other face to face, You still bind us together with cords that cannot be broken. You assure us that neither life nor death, nor angels or rules or things present or things to come or any pandemic or disease can separate us from Your love for us in Christ Jesus.
We are united in our gratitude for all those who are working on the front lines, from healthcare workers to janitors to grocery store workers. We are united in care for those businesses we love who have to close their doors, for the millions of people who have lost jobs and income, for everyone who has been barely holding on, who are now falling into their own personal states of emergency, for those who already could not make ends meet, who now see no way out.
We are united in our hope for a way forward in this wilderness, for testing opportunities and enough equipment to go around, for scientists to find a cure, and for all of us to find ways to live safely in these days like no other we have ever experienced.
We are united in our concern for all those who are sick, with COVID-19 or anything else, all those who cannot access care all those who don’t have enough symptoms to get a test, all those who are trying to manage their physical or mental health.
We particularly pray for the Thompson family as they grieve for Von. We pray for those in the workforce who are finding ways to work from home. We pray for those in the workforce who are considered essential and must continue to work, even under risky circumstances. We pray for those who are too sick to work. We pray for those who are suddenly out of work, uncertain if their jobs will exist when this is all over, uncertain if bills will be paid, uncertain what tomorrow might bring. We pray as a united community and we also pray as individuals in our own homes, with our own needs, our own fears, our own joys. We lift these prayers to You now.
Hear us as You heard Jesus, in our weeping and our words in our songs and our sighs, in all the ways we call to You. Even while we remain apart, we join all our prayers together in the one Your Son taught us, saying:
THE LORD’S PRAYER
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 debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
1 God of grace and God of glory, on your people pour your power;
crown your ancient church’s story, bring its bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.
2 Lo! the hosts of evil round us scorn the Christ, assail his ways!
From the fears that long have bound us free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
for the living of these days,
for the living of these days.
3 Cure your children’s warring madness; bend our pride to your control;
shame our wanton, selfish gladness, rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
lest we miss your kingdom’s goal,
lest we miss your kingdom’s goal.
4 Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore;
let the gift of your salvation be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
serving you whom we adore,
serving you whom we adore.
CHARGE AND BENEDICTION
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May God’s countenance be lifted upon you and give you peace.
Even in the wilderness of fear and sickness,
the tomb is not the end of our story
the valley of dry bones is not the end of our story.
The voice of Jesus will call you out into the sunlight—
The breath of God will swirl around you and lift you up into new life.
From wherever you are, serve the Lord: Creator, Son, and Holy Spirit.
If you are using this page to follow along with today’s worship service while it is being live streamed, please join us for virtual coffee hour! Turn on your video camera and join us at about 11am or a little before with this link. You could also join over the telephone by dialing (312) 626-679 and entering the meeting code 113 977 353