Call to Worship On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And He will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, that He might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:6-9
Confession, O Lord. Lead us always to a deeper experience of your love. Enliven us by the familiar but always new story of shame and triumph, suffering and hope that this week reveals. Mold us to the ways of the Servant whose life we honor. In the name of Christ, our Lord, Amen.
Contemplation Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24
We see this every year, all around us as the season of autumn approaches. The leaves change and the flowers fade as the cold grip of death takes hold of them yet again. Old things are dying to bring about new life. It is a strange cycle of mourning and rejoicing that makes up our days
We put to death our self-centeredness and we are raised to life in Jesus. We deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. Death brings life.
Death could seem a looming and scary thing. But the love of God toward us in Christ compels us not to be afraid of death and what it will cost us. God held nothing back, but rather, gave up his own Son for us. Surely he will also return to us life abundantly. And that abundant life is this: gaining Jesus, being with and following him. The process of dying to ourselves and our own agenda and stuff helps us to locate our treasure (life, joy, purpose) in Jesus. Lent reminds us that true life is found in Jesus.
When the seed of God – Jesus – fell into the ground and died, he became not just our Creator but our Redeemer and our Seed of Life. As we die to ourselves we get more of Him and in turn more of who we are created to be. When you truly grasp the death of Jesus, when the truth and beauty of all that Jesus gave up for you sinks into your life, you will joyfully give up all you have and are to follow Him.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
So reflecting on this verse about dying and remaining alone and bearing much fruit, I absolutely get that deep breathe of standing on the edge before whispering, Not my will but your will be done.
And that little seed, just like an equally clueless little caterpillar, has no idea of the as-yet unmanifest beauty and delight that is in the mind of the loving Creator. And neither do I. But I am willing, dear LORD God.
Not just willing, but with great joy.
Take me, I’m yours.
This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.
Closing Prayer You are holy, O God of majesty, and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. As one of us, He knew our joys and sorrows and our struggles with temptation. He was like us in every way except sin. In Him we see what you created us to be. Though blameless, He suffered willingly for our sin. Though innocent, He accepted death for the guilty. On the cross he offered Himself, a perfect sacrifice, for the life of the world. By His suffering and death, He freed us from sin and death. Risen from the grave, He leads us to the joy of new life. Through Christ, all glory and honor are Yours, almighty Father, with the Holy Spirit in the holy church, now and forever. Amen.