Worship for Sunday, March 21, 2021

Jeremiah 31:31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 51:1-12

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
in your great compassion blot out my offenses.
Wash me through and through from my wickedness,
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my offenses,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are justified when you speak and right in your judgment.
Indeed, I was born steeped in wickedness,
a sinner from my mother’s womb.
Indeed, you delight in truth deep within me,
and would have me know wisdom deep within.
Remove my sins with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be purer than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
that the body you have broken may rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my wickedness.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit. Amen.

Hebrews 5:5-10

Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”;
as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

The Word of the Lord.

John 12:20-26

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.”

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus was an incredibly busy person and so were his disciples.   Throughout the Gospels – we see Jesus and his disciples had places to go – people to see and truly important things to do. After all – they were men on a mission to change the world.

It would have been so easy for them to ignore folks like the Greek men who approached them in our Gospel reading for this week. The disciples could have avoided making eye contact with these men and hurried right past them.   They could have pretended they didn’t see them or hear their questions.

But the disciples didn’t ignore the Greek men. Philip and Andrew took the time to listen. And then – Philip and Andrew shared their request with Jesus.

At first – Jesus’ response seems rather bizarre. After all – when Philip and Andrew tell Jesus there are some nice Greek men who would like to drop by for a visit – Jesus responds by telling them he is about to die.

What on earth was Jesus talking about? Because it sure didn’t sound like Jesus was answering their request.

It was kind of like they asked Jesus what 2 + 2 was and Jesus answered purple.

At first Jesus’ answer just doesn’t seem to fit the question. But when we look closely – we see Jesus is answering their question.

First – Jesus knows these Greek men want far more than just to see him.   Because if all they wanted to do was to see Jesus – they wouldn’t have needed the disciples’ help.

Jesus wasn’t hiding in a cave – or hanging out in the desert. Jesus didn’t use disguises. Nor did Jesus surround himself with the 1st century equivalent of the Secret Service.

Jesus spent his days in public – preaching – teaching – and healing.   Jesus was out in the world almost all of the time. Jesus was pretty easy to see and to hear – if that was all you really wanted to do.

Jesus knows the Greek men actually wanted to get to know him and to know what made him tick. So this is the question Jesus answers. Jesus tells them how to get to know him.

Jesus tells them to know him – they need to go where he has gone and do what he has done. They need to live as he lived.

Think about the people you know the best – how did you get to know them so well?

You spent time with them – often lots of time. You talked to them and listened to them. You shared in their lives.

I could bore all of you to tears with how well I know both of my sons – but I will spare Jack this week and just pick on Will.

When Will was tiny he adored school buses. And for years he went everywhere with a bus tucked under his sweet little arm. Buses are a thing of the past for Will now.

Ships are his passion these days. First it was the Titanic and her sister ships and now it is warships. I listen to endless – I mean – delightfully inspiring descriptions of the German warship the Bismarck and the Japanese battleship the Yamato and the Langley which was a part of the US fleet. And so – so many – many more . . .

I could go on and on and on telling you about all of the things I know about my Will and his passion for ships and whale sharks and the color orange – plain McDonald’s cheeseburgers and pineapple and playing with his brother on the trampoline and snakes because I have gotten to know him pretty well over the last 8 years.

But I couldn’t tell you most of these things about my niece and nephew.   I love them and they are delightful human beings. But I could only guess their favorite colors and favorite foods. Because we just don’t spend enough time together.

If you want to know anyone really well – you need to spend time with them.   You need to share in their lives and to listen to them.

In our Gospel reading for this week – Jesus tells us if we want to know him – we need to spend time with him. We need to spend time doing the things he did.

We know Jesus went to worship and studied God’s Word. Jesus spent time with other believers. Jesus prayed. But Jesus did so very much more.

Jesus served. Jesus spent his life helping other people in God’s name – because he knew the best way to help people know God was to show them God’s grace, love, and mercy.

We are called to follow in his footsteps. We are called to help and to serve others.

Yes – it is incredibly important for us to worship our Lord. We need to be a part of a Christian community. We need to study – and to pray – but knowing Jesus doesn’t stop there. To know Jesus we must serve others.

Serving will look different for each of us. Your way of serving will not be exactly like my way of serving our Lord. But we should take our cue from Jesus. Jesus helped people – he had compassion for the suffering – he welcomed strangers and outcasts. He was kind and loving. Jesus fed the hungry and comforted the grieving. He welcomed children and embraced sinners. Jesus was gracious and friendly and kind.   Jesus made incredible sacrifices for others!

And we can do the very same things.   We can help. We can have compassion. We can live lives of grace – love and mercy. We can be generous. We can serve.

Perhaps you will choose to serve by bringing food or toiletries for the Fern Creek – Highview United Ministries or by donating school supplies this summer.

Maybe you will get to know Jesus better by helping at the Ronald McDonald House or by pulling weeds in the church flower beds.

Maybe you will get to know Jesus better by calling someone from church and checking in with them – or by sending a note to some of the people on our prayer list. We all should be supporting one another through these difficult days of the pandemic.

Perhaps you will serve by helping a neighbor with some spring yard work or by donating blood at our blood drive in April.

No matter how you serve – know this:

When you serve – you are signs of God’s love – grace – and mercy.

When you serve – other people can see and begin to know Jesus through you.

When you serve – lives are changed and the world becomes a better place for us all.  Truly this is Good News. Amen.

 

 

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