Worship Outline and Sermon 

Worship Outline: March 3, 2024, Sunday in Lent (Holy Communion)

Introduction to the day

The third covenant in this year’s Lenten readings is the central one of Israel’s history: the gift of the law to those God freed from slavery. The commandments begin with the statement that because God alone has freed us from the powers that oppressed us, we are to let nothing else claim first place in our lives. When Jesus throws the merchants out of the temple, he is defending the worship of God alone and rejecting the ways commerce and profit-making can become our gods. The Ten Commandments are essential to our baptismal call: centered first in God’s liberating love, we strive to live out justice and mercy in our communities and the world.


(*=please stand, as able)


Quiet Time for Reflection and Prayer




Welcome and Announcements


*Confession and Forgiveness

The assembly stands. All may make the sign of the cross, the sign that is marked at baptism, as the presiding minister begins.

Blessed be the holy Trinity, one God, who forgives all our sin, whose mercy endures forever.


Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.

Silence is kept for reflection.

Gracious God,

have mercy on us. We confess that we have turned from you and given ourselves into the power of sin. We are truly sorry and humbly repent. In your compassion forgive us our sins, known and unknown, things we have done and things we have failed to do. Turn us again to you, and uphold us by your Spirit, so that we may live and serve you in newness of life through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

God, who is rich in mercy, loved us even when we were dead in sin, and made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved. In the name of Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven. Almighty God strengthen you with power through the Holy Spirit, that Christ may live in your hearts through faith.



*Gathering Song Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee (# 836)


Joyful, joyful we adore thee,

God of glory, Lord of love!

Hearts unfold like flow’rs before thee,

Praising thee, their sun above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness,

Drive the gloom of doubt away.

Giver of immortal gladness,

Fill us with the light of day.


All thy works with joy surround thee,

Earth and heav’n reflect thy rays,

Stars and angels sing around thee,

Centre of unbroken praise.

Field and forest, vale and mountain,

Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,

Chanting bird and flowing fountain

Call us to rejoice in thee.


Thou art giving and forgiving,

Ever blessing, ever blest,

Well-spring of the joy of living,

Ocean depth of happy rest!

Thou our Father, Christ our brother,

All who live in love are thine;

Teach us how to love each other,

Lift us to the joy divine!


(Text: Henry van Dyke. Music: Ludvig van Beethoven, adapt. Text and music: public domain.)


*Greeting (p. 98)

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

And also with you.


*Kyrie (p. 98)


In peace, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the Church of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For this holy house, and for all who offer here their worship and praise, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

Help, save, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord.

Amen, amen.


*Prayer of the Day

Holy God, through your Son you have called us to live faithfully and act courageously. Keep us steadfast in your covenant of grace, and teach us the wisdom that comes only through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.



First Reading: Exodus 20:1-17

After escaping from slavery, the Israelites come to Mount Sinai, where God teaches them how to live in community. The Ten Commandments proclaim that God alone is worthy of worship. Flowing from God, the life of the community flourishes when based on honesty, trust, fidelity, and respect for life, family, and property.

1God spoke all these words:

2I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3you shall have no other gods before me.
4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

12Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13You shall not murder.
14You shall not commit adultery.
15You shall not steal.
16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

7You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

      The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.


Hymn Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me (# 767)


Lord, take my hand and lead me

Upon life’s way;

Direct, protect, and feed me

From day to day.

Without your grace and favour

I go astray;

So take my hand, O Saviour,

And lead the way.

Lord, when the tempest rages,

I need not fear;

For you, the Rock of Ages,

Are always near.

Close by your side abiding,

I fear no foe,

For when your hand is guiding,

In peace I go.


Lord, when the shadows lengthen

And night has come;

I know that you will strengthen

My steps toward home,

Then nothing can impede me,

O blessed Friend!

So, take my hand and lead me

Unto the end.


(Text: Julie von Hausmann; tr. ‘Lutheran Book of Worship’. © 1978, Augsburg Fortress. Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved.  Music: Friedrich, Silcher, public domain.)


Second Reading:  1 Corinthians 1:18-25

The word of the cross is pure foolishness and nonsense to the world because it claims that God is mostly revealed in weakness, humiliation, and death. But through such divine foolishness and weakness, God is working to save us. The center of Paul’s preaching is Christ crucified.

   18The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,

  “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
  and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.


*Gospel Acclamation

We proclaim Christ crucified, the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:23, 24)

*Gospel: John 2:13-22

The holy gospel according to John. Glory to you, O Lord.

Jesus attacks the commercialization of religion by driving merchants out of the temple. When challenged, he responds mysteriously, with the first prediction of his own death and resurrection. In the midst of a seemingly stable religious center, Jesus suggests that the center itself has changed.

  13The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

      The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.


Sermon Pastor Matthew


*Hymn of the Day We Praise You, O God (# 870)


We praise you, O God, our redeemer, creator;

In grateful devotion our tribute we bring.

We lay it before you; we kneel and adore you;

We bless your holy name; glad praises we sing.


We worship you, God of our fathers and mothers;

Through trial and tempest our guide you have been.

When perils o’ertake us, you will not forsake us,

And with your help, O Lord, our struggles we win.


With voices united our praises we offer

And gladly our songs of thanksgiving we raise.

With you, Lord, beside us, your strong arm will guide us.

To you, our great redeemer, forever be praise!


(Text: Julia C. Cory. Music: A. Valerius, ‘Nederlandtsch Gedenckclanck’, 1628. Text and music: public domain.


*Apostles’ Creed (p. 105)

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.


*Prayers of Intercession

Trusting in God’s promise to reconcile all things, let us pray for the church, the well-being of creation, and a world in need.

A brief silence.

You alone are God. Awaken the church to the mystery of your presence, including Salem as it constructs its new building. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You renew creation. Protect rainforests, mountaintops, oceans, and wilderness areas from exploitation. Unite nations, policymakers, and businesses in efforts to protect the climate. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You judge the nations. We pray for an end to war and strife in every land especially Palestine and Israel, Syria, Myanmar, Russia and Ukraine, and Sudan. Strengthen international efforts to negotiate peace and provide humanitarian aid to people fleeing from conflict. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You bring healing and hope. Guide all medical professionals, researchers, and scientists. We pray for any who are sick or who ask for our prayers. They include … Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You abide with your people. Sustain us as you hear our silent prayers … Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You bring life from death. We remember our loved ones who have died, confident that they have new life in you. May we trust that nothing can separate us from your love. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Accompany us on our journey, God of grace, and receive the prayers of our hearts, through Jesus Christ, our Savior.




The peace of Christ be with you always.

And also with you.


*Offering Prayer

Jesus, you are the bread of life and the host of this meal. Bless these gifts that we have gathered that all people may know your goodness. Feed us not only with this holy food but with hunger for justice and peace. Amen.


*Great Thanksgiving (p.107, sung)

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, almighty and merciful God, through our Savior Jesus Christ. You call your people to cleanse their hearts and prepare with joy for the paschal feast, that, renewed in the gift of baptism, we may come to the fullness of your grace. And so, with all the choirs of angels, with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:



Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.


In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.


Lord, remember us in your kingdom, and teach us to pray:

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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.


Invitation to Communion

Bread for the journey. A feast for hungry hearts. The body and blood of Christ given and shed for you.



If watching online, after the presiding minister says, ‘The body and blood of Christ, given and shed for you,’ we welcome all to take and eat a piece of bread, remembering and giving thanks for the promises given us in Christ Jesus. Please also do so, taking a glass of wine or another beverage.


During Communion, please join in singing:

For the Bread Which You Have Broken (# 494, st.1-2)


For the bread which you have broken,

For the wine which you have poured,

For the words which you have spoken,

Now we give you thanks, O Lord.


By this promise that you love us,

By your gift of peace restored,

By your call to heav’n above us,

Hallow all our lives, O Lord.


(Text: Louis F. Benson, alt. © 1925 Robert Jefferys Jr., admin. Augsburg Fortress. Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved. Music: ‘Gross Catolisch Gesangbuch’, Nürnberg, 1631; arr. William Smith Rockstro, public domain.)


Prayer after Communion

Generous God, at this table we have tasted your immeasurable grace. As grains of wheat are gathered into one bread, now make us one loaf to feed the world. Amen.



Beloved, we are God’s own people, holy, washed, renewed. God bless you and keep you, shower you with mercy, fill you with courage, and give you peace. Amen.


*Sending Song We All Are One in Mission (# 576)


We all are one in mission;

We all are one in call,

Our varied gifts united

By Christ, the Lord of all.

A single great commission

Compels us from above

To plan and work together

That all may know Christ’s love.


We all are called for service,

To witness in God’s name.

Our ministries are diff’rent;

Our purpose is the same:

To touch the hearts of others

With God’s surprising grace,

So ev’ry folk and nation

May feel God’s warm embrace.


Now let us be united,

And let our song be heard.

Now let us be a vessel

For God’s redeeming Word.

We all are one in mission;

We all are one in call,

Our varied gifts united

By Christ, the Lord of all.


(Text Rusty Edwards. © 1986, Hope Publishing Company. Music: Finnish tune; arr. hymnal version. © 2006, Augsburg Fortress. Text and music reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved.)



Go in peace. Serve the world. Thanks be to God.




From sundaysandseasons.com. Copyright © 2024 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Sermon: March 3, 2024, Third Sunday in Lent

Text: John 2:13-16

       Imagine what would have happened if Jesus had done this in the age of cell phones and social media!  Videos of him swinging the whip of cords would immediately have swamped the internet.  Images of cattle and sheep stampeding down the narrow streets of Jerusalem would have been shared around the world.  Breaking news would have screamed about riots in the temple caused by Passover pilgrims scrambling to grab all the coins scattered about. Memes depicting Jesus as Rambo, Robin Hood, or even Martin Luther would have become the rage.  He would have been labelled a rabble rouser, a hero, or, as the religious leaders implied, an enigma. Why had he done this? Where did his authority come from? What was he going to do, or claim, next?

       The thing is, with that being an age before such media, I wonder how long it took for the vendors and the money changers to get things back in order.  After all, they had been doing nothing wrong, except in this one’s eyes. As soon as they got the animals rounded up, as quickly as they were able to place the coins in the proper bags, life in the temple likely returned to as it had before.  Jesus and his disciples were gone. Pilgrims kept arriving. Sacrifices and worship kept happening. Life carried on.  Jesus offered theological interpretations of his actions to his followers and the authorities. However, for everyone else, the memory and significance soon were forgotten. 

       Before we also leave this behind, I’d like us to consider a few questions that it raises for me and you, and for all those who seek to follow God.  If God’s Spirit were to interrupt our lives, how dramatic would it have to be?  What would there be that Creator called us to leave behind, to reconsider? How would we live differently, moving forward?

       Many other stories in the Bible reveal dramatic entrances of God breaking into the world. Our first reading comes after Moses encounters God in a cloud, at the top of a mountain. Paul turns from persecutor of the faithful to the apostle to the Gentiles after being struck blind on the road to Damascus. Often the human falls to the ground trembling, fearful about God’s judgement to come, or what Creator is going to ask. It’s not always a good thing, it seems, when God comes a calling.

       I believe that this story teaches us that God can come into our lives, at any time, in any fashion. At times it might feel as though Creator comes into our midst swinging, knocking us down, Still, at all times, whether with a large flourish or a quiet entrance, Creator seeks to build us up, so that we might reflect God’s image in what we say or do.

       One of the ways that God has acted, and continues to act, in these ways, is through the sharing of the 10 commandments. These can feel like the stone tablets on which they are written are being slapped over our  heads. We are so busy living. God has to shock us as it were, causing us to stop in surprise and in pain and in fear.

I wrote in my devotion in ‘Eternity for Today’ last Thursday that sometimes when we hear the 10 commandments we see them as a list that we have to complete. The more we can check off that we have obeyed, the more boastful and self-assured we can be. Verse 6 agrees with this understanding, promising that God shows “steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love [God] and keep [God’s] commandments.”

       On the other hand, if we see God using these 10 commandments as a way to break into our routines, and to listen, we are able to see them in another sense. First, they inform us that try as we might, we can never live up to the expectations of this list. Sin will always cause us to fail, sometimes in big ways. Yet, more often, it’s that we stumble, veer off the path, take the wrong turn, or fail in little ways that add up to a lot.  The good news is that even as God sees this, Creator uses the 10 commandments to break into our lives and to call us to live in renewed relationship.  It’s as though we hear, ‘Hey, got a minute?’  God knows none of us are perfect. Still, Creator once more invites us to live so as to love God and one another.  God invites us to build up and strengthen those around us, rather than to tear them down. The Commandments call us once more to see in each other the image of the Creator, and to offer respect and love, even as we would to the divine.  Once we have stopped, and listened, God calls us to get up, move forward, and to live to share the Good News.

       If you wait this week for God to break into the world wielding whips, power, and bringing great upset and great change, you might be disappointed. The Creator can, of course, break into our lives in such dramatic ways.  Still, as Paul says in our second reading, God’s Good News doesn’t conform to our understanding of judgment and strength. Instead it is in the cross, and its seeming weakness, that  the miracle of God’s love revealed in the Son is that God continues to come to you and me. In the midst of whatever we’re doing, however mundane it might seem, however far way from God it might seem, God is able to break in, have us stop what we’re doing for a while, listen, and learn. God speaks to us through these moments, through prayer, through creation, through others, through our everyday tasks, and reveals to us again and again what it means to live on the basis of grace, mercy, hope, and love. God meets us and enables us to live and to grow as children of God.

Soon, we will encounter God breaking into the world in the sacrament of Communion. Be ready for God breaking into your lives in love again and again. Amen.