Here is our worship service for February 28, 2021, the 2nd Sunday in Lent.
The worship bulletin can be found here. The bulletin will have the full order of worship, all the words of the liturgy, the hymn/page numbers corresponding with the ELW, and the sermon in full. The sermon is also found below the video.
For a more full worship experience, you may have a bowl of water, something small to eat and drink, and a lit candle in your space. The bowl of water is to interact with during the Thanksgiving for Baptism near the beginning of the service. The food and drink is to be consumed for communion during the singing of Lamb of God. The lit candle is for the whole service and can be extinguished near the end of the service when the altar candles are. These are all optional as always, but are meant to help enhance your worship experience.
The worship video will be available for viewing at (and after) 10am on February 28, 2021.
Holy God, open our eyes, ears, and hearts to see, hear, and feel you speaking your Word to us, that your good news might empower us to receive and trust in your promise of salvation and grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So… any of you been watching WandaVision on Disney+? The season isn’t over yet, so for the sake of those who are waiting for it to finish and then binge the whole season, I’ll try to keep this completely spoiler-free. But if you’re still worried about spoilers, feel free to just pause this video and go catch up and then come back.
Well, WandaVision is basically the latest installment in the MCU, the Marvel Cinematic Universe that is based on the superheroes of the Marvel comics universe, which many of you know that I love. I realise some of you might be rolling your eyes right now, but that would be shame because WandaVision, and the whole MCU for that matter, is really really good.
Anyway, without getting into too many details that would take forever to explain, this WandaVision TV series follows two of the superheroes who were romantically involved in the movies, Wanda and Vision (I know, they got really creative with the series title). But the weird thing about this series is that the last time we saw Vision was in Avengers: Infinity War, where he died. In fact, everyone in Wanda’s life died throughout the movies. Her parents, her twin brother, and now her significant other. And so this series then is about how she deals with the pain of all her loss, the trauma of having her heart broken over and over, and suffering that she’s been through after all of her dreams of happiness have been shattered.
In that… she actually doesn’t deal with any of it at all.
Instead, she uses what is called “hex magic” (or maybe chaos magic if you’ve read the comics) and creates a completely new and different reality in which Vision is alive and they’re married and she attempts to live happily ever after. But of course, it doesn’t work. Maybe in the classic Disney fairy tale and princess movies it would, but not in the MCU or else they couldn’t make more movies which translates to billions of dollars which allows them to live happily ever after. Or so we think it might work in the industry, at least.
Because that’s just a pipe dream, isn’t it? To live happily ever after? I mean, how many of us can honestly say that we or someone we know are living happily ever after? Like no sadness, no setbacks, no suffering? No complaints, no complications, no conflicts? No pain, no problems, no pandemics? I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that none of us could honestly say that. In fact, I don’t think anyone in the history of anyone ever could. This certainly was the case in bible times.
The bible is all about people trying to live happily ever after and God saying “well…” It all starts with Adam and Eve thinking that eating from the forbidden tree will give them happiness. Then there’s Noah and his family that we read about last week that thought a brand new world would be great but it turned out to be like the old world. And then to Abraham and Sarah (nee Abram and Sarai) as we read today, that just want a kid and will do anything to have one which cost them a lot more than they had wagered on. And all that leads us to the birth of this nation of Israel that just wanted to get into their promised land where they were supposed to live happily ever after but things just kept getting in their way. You know, like the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Romans. It’s like they just can’t escape life’s problems, hurts, and suffering.
But then murmurs of a Messiah started. One who would bring balance to the force, free everyone from the Matrix, and restore Israel to all its intended glory. This gave people hope. They put their trust in a brighter tomorrow. There was a new faith that happily ever after might finally be attainable.
And he actually showed up. A bit less religious than they thought but still a breath of fresh air. Perhaps more carpenter-y than they expected but he still checked off a lot of those boxes. Maybe not as mighty and in-your-face that the prophesies alluded to, but he was the one. They were sure of it. Let the good times roll.
But then, as we read today, he says something weird. He doesn’t talk about putting together a plan to overthrow their oppressors and free them from captivity, but instead he talks about suffering and dying at the hand of his enemies. Essentially these words just grab Israel’s collective heart, rips it out of its metaphorical chest, and smashes it into tiny bits.
God forbid! That can’t happen! Our hopes of happiness, our expectation of elation, the promise of peace… gone? Really? Are we just doomed to live in perpetual torment and never be happy? Was this all a pipe dream? Is life really just suffering? Well, brace yourselves, because he’s not finished. He then says if we want to follow him, we need to first pick up our crosses.
Our cross. Let’s not forget that the cross in those days wasn’t the fancy jewelry piece that it is today, but it was only known as an instrument of pain and humiliation. Not a weapon for defense, mind you, but a tool to oppress you literally to death. It was used to prove a point that we are but powerless against the evils of the world. It was used to make an example of anyone who thought they were better than the ruling government. It was used to bring even more suffering to an already suffering people.
So like we talked about last week, yeah, life is suffering. And we don’t have the powers or hex magic to recreate reality like in WandaVision. We don’t have the ability to rewrite our lives so we can live happily ever after. We just don’t seem have what it takes to pick up those metaphorical crosses that plague our lives, that hold us back, that just suck the literal life out of us. Life is suffering.
And so we hide our pain. We’re ashamed of our problems. We’re embarrassed to ask for help. But Jesus says no. Don’t deny the hardships we face, because that is part of being a child of God. Don’t mask the brokenness of life, because that is what he has come to heal. Don’t try to cover up our deep battle scars, our desolation, our depravity, because that is what joins us together as a community, a people, a kingdom in need of a Saviour.
See, it’s in life’s problems that we can lean on God’s strength. It’s in the ups and downs of life that we can rely on God’s providence and grace. It’s in facing the evils that plague us that we can truly see God on our side, holding us, redeeming us, and lifting us off our crosses and bringing us into the life that is truly life. A life not free of problems and pain, but a life that knows the fullness of God’s peace, relationship, and love.
So this isn’t to say that life will suddenly be easy, because it won’t. It isn’t to say that we’ll no longer suffer, because we will. It isn’t even to say that all our problems will vanish in the blink of a magical hex, because that’s not even possible in the real world. But it is to say that we can be healed in our brokenness, we can be saved from within our pain, we can feel joy in God even in the midst of the difficulties in life. Not that we can just ignore or brush off those difficulties, but that we can accept suffering as a part of life, but it doesn’t control us, it doesn’t define us, and it most certainly doesn’t have the last word in who we are or whose we are. For our God has declared us from the beginning of creation as God’s own forgiven and redeemed race.
And so we can pick up our crosses and follow Christ, because in Christ our yoke is easy and burden light. Not because they aren’t there, but because we know we have someone beside us, journeying with us, and helping us carry this seemingly unbearable load. Yes, life can be painful with all these things that it can throw at us, but we are given tools and truths to help us battle it. Life can be difficult, but we are given strength and the support of a community to help us withstand it. Life is suffering, but we do not suffer alone and are reminded that God is with us, God resides in and around us, and God loves us beyond anything we can comprehend or imagine. And because of that, while life can remain suffering, life can also be good.
In this season of Lent, may we embrace our crosses that might hinder us but don’t define us, that we could face them and face ourselves, and see and remember just how loved we are as God’s blessed and beloved children. Thanks be to God. Amen.