Mar 12

5th Sunday in Lent (Year B)

Jeremiah 31:31-34

  • In this new covenant that God makes with the people, it is God who acts.  The text doesn’t say that “YOU will put the law within YOURSELVES”; and yet, I think we often read it as if it does say that.  God says “I will put MY law within them.”  God’s the One in charge.
  • This could be an interesting text to explore while pondering the understanding that Christ alone is Lord of the conscience…
  • If you want to read more from Jeremiah (especially if you are preaching on this text), I would suggest reading Jeremiah 31:8-14.  It provides a hope-filled promise of welcome and homecoming from the Lord.  Really, even verses 15-30 could be used, as it helps to provide context for the new covenant God makes.
  • If you decide to use the other passages suggested above (in addition to the lectionary text), why not present them in the form of a dramatic reading?  Use other voices to read for Ephraim and the people…

Psalm 119:9-16

  • The psalmist reminds us in his/her own poetic way that we are called to guard our own ways – not the ways of others.  The act of pointing fingers doesn’t get us any closer to God.
  • Simple decor for the Table and front of the worship space go well with this meditative text: an open Bible, a rustic-looking cross, and a simple Christ-candle would work well.
  • If you use projection equipment, I suggest a variety of images of people (individually, and in community) in prayer, study, and communion.  Use the verbs in the psalm as a guide: seek, treasure, teach, declare, delight, meditate, fix my eyes…

Hebrews 5:5-10

  • Christ had every right to take a high position of power, but he declined and took the lowest position.  He submitted himself to God completely.  He didn’t do what he did because he “knew” that God would lift him up later — doing that would not have been “submission”.  That would have been “manipulation”.  But because Christ submitted to God out of pure love and devotion, “he became the source of eternal salvation”.
  • Featuring the cross in your worship decor is especially fitting if you are focusing on this text in worship.

John 12:20-33

  • Genuine love seeks (and expects) no favors.  To follow in the footsteps of Christ, we must let everything go.  We have to let go of assumptions, expectations, dreams, plans, security, power… you name it!  If we truly want to follow and serve God, we have to realize that all the “stuff” that we hold onto is keeping us from grasping God’s gifts.
  • Jesus provides a wonderful object lesson in this text – and it is one that you can use with both kids and adults.  AND – it doesn’t have to cost very much, either!  All you need are some seeds, some clear plastic cups, some dirt, and some water.  I suggest using lima bean seeds (or some other bean seed), since they are relatively large and easy to see.  Fill the plastic cups almost all the way with dirt (potting soil works really well).  Plant a seed along the side of the cup, so you can see it as it starts to grow, and gently water it.  Set the cup in a warm  place with plenty of sunlight (indoor window sills are great places), and you should see your seed start to grow over the next several weeks.
    • You can do this as a “demonstration” in your sermon. You may even want to send people home with bean seeds of their own.
    • You can also do this as a “demonstration” as part of a Time with Children.  If you want to have the kids plant their own seeds during that time, and you are concerned with the messiness of dirt, you can also use crumpled up paper towels that are soaked in water.  Do not give beans to children without planting them, as the small beans could be a choking hazard!  If you want to send materials home with the children, make a “kit” for each child by placing all of the materials (except for the water) in a plastic bag with simple instructions.

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