3/31/19 Fourth Sunday of Lent


4th Sunday of Lent



We gather to worship God on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) because the Gospels testify that Jesus rose from the dead early on the first day of the week. The Lord’s Day is also called the “eighth day” of creation, a sign of the new creation that has begun with Christ’s resurrection. While we may worship God on any day and at any time, the Sunday service, in particular, is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and an anticipation of the fullness of God’s coming reign.

The psalm sets the tone this day: “Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sin is put away!” Happy are those who have “become the righteousness of God” in the merits of Christ Jesus. Happy are those for whom the forgiveness of God has “rolled away . . . the disgrace” of former times. Happy is the father at the return of his prodigal son. Happy are we that our sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake. Rejoice!


PRELUDE: Up Jumped Spring- Freddie Hubbard





I will arise and go to my father and say,

I have sinned against heaven and before you.

God of compassion, you welcome the wayward, and you embrace us all with your mercy. By our baptism clothe us with garments of your grace, and feed us at the table of your love, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


*GATHERING HYMN # 416 O Come Unto the Lord


PRAYER OF RECONCILIATION                                            

Blessed be the Holy Trinity, + one God, who gathers us in the wilderness to redeem us, anoint us, and make us new. Amen.

In these forty days, let us be honest, confess our sin, and receive God’s promise of mercy.

Silence is kept for reflection.

God at the margins,

We have wandered far from your home;

again and again, we lose our way.

We turn inward, afraid of the world around us.

We forget that you have saved your people before

and promise to do so again.

Do not remember the deeds of our past,

but turn our faces toward the future,

where your forgiveness is sure,

your welcome is clear,

and your love overflows.


Like a hen who gathers her chicks, God embraces you in tender care.

Like manna in the desert, God feeds you with surprising mercy.

Like a loving parent, God runs to meet you again this day, forgiving your sins for the sake of + Christ, leading you from death into life.


Since God has reconciled with us in, with and through Jesus, let us then be reconciled with one another. The Peace of Christ be with you all. And also with you.


OFFERING OF MUSIC: By Your Love- words & music by Jeanne Cotter



ALL SING # 547 Go, My Children, With My Blessing (verse 1)


PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word

FIRST READING: Joshua 5:9-12

By celebrating the Passover and eating the produce of the promised land instead of the miraculous manna that had sustained them in the desert, the Israelites symbolically bring their forty years of wilderness wandering to an end at Gilgal.


9The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.

10While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the Passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. 11On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.


We live not by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God.

Thanks be to God.


PSALM 32 While I Keep Silence


SECOND READING: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

One way to describe the gospel is the promise that in Christ everything is transformed into newness. All mistakes, all deliberate sins, all old history is reconciled with Christ’s resurrection. This is Paul’s strong message to the congregation in the city of Corinth.


16From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


We proclaim Christ crucified—the wisdom and power of God.
Thanks be to God.


GOSPEL: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Jesus tells a parable about a son who ponders his father’s love only after he has spurned it. The grace he receives is beyond his hopes. That same grace is a crisis for an older brother who believed it was his obedience that earned his place in the father’s home.


Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to [Jesus.] 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3So he told them this parable: 11b“There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” ‘ 20So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

25Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”


All of this is from God, who entrusts us with the message of reconciliation.

Praise be to you, Lord Christ.







Seeking the grace, mercy, and love of Almighty God, we offer our prayers for the church, for people in need, and for all of creation.


A brief silence.


God of abundant grace, guide your church to look upon people as you look upon them, with compassion and as deserving of mercy. Shape us to be worthy ambassadors of Christ. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.


Bestow dignity on migrant and seasonal farm and factory workers. When the time comes for them to leave jobs, provide new ways for them to make a livelihood. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.


Inspire musicians and poets (like John Donne, whom we commemorate today) to point to your unfathomable beauty and creativity. Enhance our vision of your holiness through their works. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.


Protect and preserve all people who look to you to be their hiding place (especially). Be their respite from trouble, and give them hope. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.


Erase the pain of trauma and the shame and stigma of social contempt. Change the hearts of those who bully or mistreat others, and heal broken relationships. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.


Here other intercessions may be offered.

Invite your whole company of saints into eternal, joyful feasting. This week we commemorate John Donne; Amos; Frederick Denison Maurice; Theodora; Francis of Paola; Mary of Egypt; Richard of Chichester; Martin Luther King Jr.; Albrecht Dürer; and William of Eskilsö. When we question your abundant mercy, soften our hearts to receive the gifts of faith and love. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.


Reveal your will as you receive our prayers, and conform our ways to your ways; through the saving work of Jesus Christ our Lord.



All that we seek to accomplish, all that we strive to achieve, all that we claim to possess— all of this amounts to nothing without the grace of Christ.

Let us offer our lives to the Lord.


During this time of the offering, you are encouraged to take a moment to be in prayer with God and reflect on what it means to be a student or disciple of Jesus Christ. The Gospel understanding of discipleship is a way of being in the world that affects every relationship. Disciples shape one another according to the action of the Spirit in their lives. The energy of the disciples flows from faith in what is unseen yet believed. At its very core, discipleship is a call to love so radical that it never gives up on God, one’s neighbor, or one’s self. How is God calling you to use your gifts, talents, time and resources to love radically, especially as a part of this worshipping community?


Offerings and tithes will be collected by the ushers in the Narthex (the great entrance hall) following worship. If you would like to make an offering using your smartphone or tablet, go to www.SouthminsterChurch.org and click on the Donate link.


OFFERTORY: Amazing Grace- 19th century English tune, setting by Charles Callahan


The Lord be with you. And also with you.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

God of compassion,

we praise you that you look upon our frail lives
with love and understanding,

and that you desire for us all
new life in Jesus Christ.

We are overwhelmed by your love,

which goes to the cross for us,
endures the grave,

and leads us to new life.
By your Spirit,
strengthen our souls

to be brave and bold in Christ’s service.
Take our offerings,

and use them and us for your purposes,
in the name of Jesus Christ,

our crucified and risen Lord, as we 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 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.


*HYMN # 649 Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound




POSTLUDE: O Come Unto the Lord- hymn tune KOREA by Chai Hoon Park (1943), setting by P. F. Tillen (2019)


NOTES: Order of service and content is in accord with the Presbyterian Church’s Directory for Worship. Prayers are from the Sundays and Seasons (Year C), and the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (2018).





31                John Donne (1572– 1631)

Amos (8th century BCE)


1                 Frederick Denison Maurice (1805– 1872)

Theodora (120)

2                 Francis of Paola (1416– 1507)

Mary of Egypt (344-421)

3                 Richard of Chichester [Richard de Wyche] (c. 1197– 1253)

4                 Martin Luther King Jr. (1929– 1968)

5                 Albrecht Dürer (1471– 1528)

6                 William of Eskilsö (1125– 1203)


Presbyterian Church. Book of Common Worship. Presbyterian Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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