Worship Service for the 5th Sunday in Lent

Hi everyone,

Welcome to worship for this 5th Sunday in Lent, landing on March 17, 2024! I can’t believe we’re at the end of Lent already, and looking forward to the Easter season!

The bulletin for this service can be found here. You can follow along with that for the order and words of the liturgy, or you can just go off the words that will appear on your screen. The sermon is also included in the bulletin as well as on this page below the actual worship video.

For a fuller online experience, you are invited to have a candle nearby, lit at the beginning of the service and extinguished near the end after the sending hymn (at the same time the altar candles are put out). You are also welcome to participate in communion by having something small to eat and drink ready to consume at the correct time. Further instruction will be given.

May God’s everlasting love and promises give you strength and joy, now and forever!

May your living Word, O God, continue to change our lives and recreate us as your people in the world.  Fill us this day with your Spirit, that we may treasure your promises and truth with our whole hearts, through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

So I’ve been having somewhat of a rough week, I think it started with that darn daylight saving spring forward nonsense that happened last Sunday, and that threw my whole clock off.  Mind you, my clock isn’t that great to begin with, as I don’t get much sleep on a normal basis, but I noticed that my nightly average dropped by a whole hour this week, meaning I’m short roughly 7 hours the whole week… and for me that’s like a night and a half’s worth of sleep.

I know, this sounds like a total first world problem, like “boo hoo, you didn’t get your beauty rest for like a week,” and I should probably grow up and get some real problems.  But if I’m being honest, there were some other things that happened this past week as well that contributed to this rough week being rough.  Like some of you know that my uncle isn’t well and in hospital and we learned this past week that he could really go at any time now.  While this was kind of expected for a while, the fact that there was some other unrelated family drama that actually makes dealing with this a bit more difficult.  And to top it off I noticed that the coolant leak that I noticed like a year ago in my car has only gotten worse.  I guess the engine’s self-repair mode is on the fritz. 

And then, in spite of the fatigue, the stress, and the worry about what fluids are leading out of my car, I still have to perform my day to day duties, I still have to show up and clock in, and I still have to give this darn sermon. 

Still, all that might not seem so bad to you.  But for me, it was just another one of those weeks when things just seem more down, more difficult, more depressing than usual.

And we’ve all had those kinds of weeks, haven’t we?  Maybe when things just don’t go your way no matter how hard you try.  Or maybe you faced actual problems that put you in actual distress, not just these frivolous first world kind.  Or maybe you faced death as well, threatening you or a loved one, and you found it hard to deal with.

Or maybe it wasn’t just a week.  Maybe it was a month, or several months, or maybe even a few years much like the last few that we’ve had together through the pandemic and other things in the world.  Maybe it’s been even longer for you.

When life gets difficult like this, sometimes we know what to do or where to go or who to talk to.  But often times, for me at least in this past week, we don’t.  So we’re just treading water trying to stay afloat, we meander on praying that things would just get better on their own, we look around us aimlessly perhaps just trying to catch a glimpse of hope


Hope comes in different forms.  Maybe in a memory of better times.  Maybe in an understanding ear from a friend.  Or maybe in the support of a community.  And our faith tells us that our hope comes, of course, from Jesus.

That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?  That’s why we participate in these Christian activities and practices such as this season of Lent?  That’s why we even have faith?

We want to see Jesus, is pretty much the consensus.  Or we want what Jesus is offering in healing, in redemption, in peace.  And truth be told, it sometimes seems like Jesus can be pretty elusive, in that we don’t always know where to look, how to look, or even what we’re looking for.

But we know that we just want to see Jesus.  Maybe he’ll give us the words to say.  Maybe he’ll give us the strength and energy to keep going.  Maybe he’ll inspire our lives that we could do better, regulate better, just be better.  Isn’t that what those Greeks in today’s gospel reading were asking Philip for?  “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

I mean, the Greeks at the time were known to be intellectuals.  They were known for their philosophical chops.  They were known across the lands to be the smartest, the most educated, most forward-thinking people.  For the super gentile heathens that they are, at least. 

So Jesus’ reputation precedes him.  If not for his miraculous works or whatever, then for his teachings of compassion and grace, or his actions of welcome and community, or maybe he was just seen as the crazy guy who overturned the tables at the temple that just happened earlier in this story.  He’s that table turner guy. 

Either case, whatever the reason the Greeks had to want to see Jesus, poor Philip doesn’t know what to do with the request.  So he did what anyone of us would probably do, he delegated it to someone else.  In this case, it was Andrew, and the two Bethsaidian homeboys went to talk to Jesus about it.  But Jesus doesn’t react like how we might have thought, like with an “oh ok” and he goes out to sign autographs for the Greeks or something.  But instead he goes on a very John-like-style theological rhetoric about what he’s even there for and what will happen and I guess what needs to happen.  Jesus talks about how death isn’t the last word but the beginning of new life.  Jesus answers the request of his presence by revealing what his presence even means.

His presence, aside from giving hope, is about strengthening faith and community, and to show love.

So you want to see Jesus?  There he is.  In all of that.  This is actually the theme of Lent in this Lectionary Year B.  There is a focus on covenants.  It starts with God’s promise to Noah that the world will not again be destroyed by flood.  Then there was God’s promise to Abraham that he’ll be the father of a great nation.  Then God makes promises through the 10 Commandments.  And last week God promises healing and wholeness through unusual means. 

And this week?  This week we are promised that this healing will come through the new temple which is the body of Christ.  This week we learn how all the covenants God made in the past weren’t ever about obedience or morals or ethics, but God’s covenants, God’s promises, God’s pledge to us all was always about relationship, community, and love.  God has been, throughout history, teaching us how to live with one another through discipline, honour, and compassion.  And when all those didn’t work, then the ultimate example of Christ was brought into our midst.

In our midst as one of us, showing us how this covenantal living actually works, how it’s done, and why it is beneficial for us all.

Because this community is so strong that it lasts forever.  The relationships that we foster with God and each other can be so uplifting that we are moved to share with all that we meet.  The love and grace that is given to each and every one of us is so steadfast, so faithful, so eternal that no amount of sin; no type of bad days, weeks, or even years; not even death can take it away from us or us out of it.

My friends, this is where we see Jesus.  Among us, around us, in this community.  This is how we experience Jesus.  Through relationship, forgiveness, and reconciliation.  This is how we know Jesus.  Through compassion, humility, and service.  This is Jesus.

And as we move out of the season of Lent and into the holiest of weeks, we see how our fallen humanity continues to break the covenant made by God through our own sinfulness, angry, and retaliation.  But that still doesn’t stop God’s love for us, but instead shows us that even in the brokenness there is healing, even in the pain and hardship there is forgiveness and redemption, even in the suffering and death there is resurrection and new life.

This is the place where Lent leads us to see, that God’s promises and covenant are written within our hearts.  It reveals to us all how God’s love is bigger than whatever we or anything in all of creation could throw at it.  It  shows us that while death hurts, while sin kills, while hardship is… hard, we can know there is grace in it, there is life still to be had, there is God revealed in the community, in the relationship, in our very identities as a forgiven and saved people.

So as we wrap up this season of Lent, this season of covenants and promises, may we look forward to the coming Holy Week and Easter with confidence in knowing that our relationship, our position, our identity in God’s love is not bound by sin, or death, or any amount of bad days or weeks, but remains steadfast and eternal through the life and teachings of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  Thanks be to God.

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