Worship for Sunday March 29




Fifth Sunday in Lent
March 29, 2020
First Presbyterian Church, Fargo
Prayer of the Day
Lord God, Great I AM, you are resurrection and life. As we worship you this day, show us who we are: bearers of good news, messengers of resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Gathering in Christ’s Presence

Welcome and Concerns of the Church
Opening Sentences

     O people, hope in the Lord. With the Lord, there is steadfast love and great power to redeem.
     Let us worship God.
Hymn — Love Divine, All Loves Excelling 
1 Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven, to earth come down,
fix in us thy humble dwelling;
all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion;
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation;
enter every trembling heart.

2 Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into every troubled breast;
let us all in thee inherit;
let us find the promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.

3 Come, Almighty, to deliver;
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return, and never,
nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray, and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.

4 Finish then thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be;
let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee:
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.
Call to Confession
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Trusting in the Spirit of God, let us confess our sin.  
Prayer of Confession
O Lord, if you held our sin against us, who could live, who could stand? We seem to have more faith in death than hope in your promise of life. We seek peace through war and find security in weapons. We abandon the hungry, sick, and dying, and pursue wealth by making others poor. And even so, you love us; still there is forgiveness with you! Therefore we worship you; for you alone, O Lord, can save us from death and redeem us from our sin. Amen.
Assurance of God’s Forgiveness

Hearing God’s Word

Children’s Message
Prayer for Illumination
Lesson 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.

Sermon        Lazarus Unbound            
Hymn—In the Bulb, there is a Flower
1 In the bulb there is a flower;
in the seed, an apple tree;
in cocoons, a hidden promise:
butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter
there’s a spring that waits to be,
unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see.

2 There’s a song in every silence,
seeking word and melody;
there’s a dawn in every darkness,
bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future;
what it holds, a mystery,
unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see.

3 In our end is our beginning;  
in our time, infinity;
in our doubt there is believing;
in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection;
at the last, a victory,
unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see

Responding to God’s Word

Statement of Faith                                       Taken from A Brief Statement of Faith
In life and in death we belong to God.  Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel, whom alone we worship and serve.  We trust in God the Holy Spirit, everywhere the giver and renewer of life.  The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith, sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor, and binds us together with all believers in the one body of Christ, the Church. The same spirit who inspired the prophets and apostles rules our faith and life in Christ through Scripture, engages us through the Word proclaimed, claims us in the waters of baptism, feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation, and calls women and men to all ministries of the Church.  We rejoice that nothing in life or in death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  Amen
Prayers of the People, ending with 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.

Call for the Offering, ending with the Prayer of Dedication.        Link to Secure Online Giving Portal

Bearing the Word into the World

Hymn—Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain

1 Come, you faithful, raise the strain  
of triumphant gladness!
God has brought forth Israel  
into joy from sadness,
loosed from Pharaoh’s bitter yoke  
Jacob’s sons and daughters;
led them with unmoistened foot
through the Red Sea waters.

2 ’Tis the spring of souls today:  
Christ has burst his prison,
and from three days’ sleep in death  
as a sun has risen.
All the winter of our sins,
long and dark, is flying  
from the Light, to whom we give
laud and praise undying.  

3 Now the queen of seasons, bright  
with the day of splendor,  
with the royal feast of feasts
comes its joy to render;
comes to glad Jerusalem,  
who with true affection
welcomes in unwearied strains  
Jesus’ resurrection!

4 Neither could the gates of death,  
nor the tomb’s dark portal,
nor the watchers, nor the seal  
hold you as a mortal:
but today, among your own,  
you appear, bestowing
your deep peace, which evermore  
passes human knowing.
Charge and Benediction
Life is short,
And we do not have much time
to gladden the hearts of those who
make the journey with us.
So… Let us  swift to love,
and make haste to be kind.*
May the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ,
The love of the Father,
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit go with you now and always.

* A Journal entry of Henri Frederick Amiel
December 16, 1868.—I am in the most painful state of anxiety as to my poor kind friend, Charles Heim…. Since the 30th of November I have had no letter from the dear invalid, who then said his last farewell to me. How long these two weeks have seemed to me—and how keenly I have realized that strong craving which many feel for the last words, the last looks, of those they love! Such words and looks are a kind of testament. They have a solemn and sacred character which is not merely an effect of our imagination. For that which is on the brink of death already participates to some extent in eternity. A dying man seems to speak to us from beyond the tomb; what he says has the effect upon us of a sentence, an oracle, an injunction; we look upon him as one endowed with second sight. Serious and solemn words come naturally to the man who feels life escaping him, and the grave opening before him. The depths of his nature are then revealed; the divine within him need no longer hide itself. Oh, do not let us wait to be just or pitiful or demonstrative toward those we love until they or we are struck down by illness or threatened with death! Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind!

Amiel, Henri Frédéric. Amiel's Journal: The Journal Intime of Henri-Frédéric Amiel (p. 306)