Acknowledging the Territory
As we gather this morning let us remember that we gather on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Mi’kmaq people. We gratefully acknowledge this and respectfully honour their traditions and spirituality.
Time of Quiet Centering
As we prepare to worship together, let us take a moment of silence to prepare ourselves to enter this sacred time.
Service of Lenten Candles
During the season of Advent we light candles as we prepare to receive the Light of Christ at Christmas. During Lent we extinguish candles as we prepare for the day that Light was snuffed out.
Today as we continue our Lenten Journey, we look back to our ancestor Abraham who set out on his journey not knowing where it would lead but trusting that God would show him the way. We look back to the time when Jesus’ disciples struggled to trust what he told them. Today we look at our own lives and we wonder what we need to find our way through this journey. We need a compass, something to point us in the right direction. Just as God promised to lead Abraham, God promises to lead us. Just as Jesus pointed the way for his disciples, Jesus points the way for us. God is our compass. And so as we take the next steps on our journey, we extinguish our second candle knowing that, no matter how dark things might get, God will be there to point us in the right direction.
Place Compass on table and extinguish the second Lenten candle.
Call to Worship
There are times on every journey when we wonder if we are still heading in the right direction.
As we continue our Lenten journey, we need assurance that we are still on the right path.
There are times we need to stop and ask directions.
But who do we ask and how do we trust that they will know the answer?
On our Lenten journey we need to remember to stop and ask for God’s help.
We need to trust that Christ knows the way.
And so we gather in worship, to seek God’s direction and to faithfully follow Christ’s way.
Opening Prayer (in unison)
Divine Guide, as we travel through Lent, we begin to realize that there are many twists and turns in the path and that the way ahead is not always clear. There are times when it can be tempting to simply give up and go home. But you continue to call us forward and challenge us to follow where you lead. Forgive us when we doubt you. Strengthen our faith and commitment as we continue to follow your path that leads to the cross and beyond. Amen.
Gift of Music
This morning we are only going to hear two of the four lectionary readings.
The first one is taken form the letter to the Romans. In it we are reminded that it is not obedience to a set of rules and regulations that leads us to God, but faith.
Our second reading, from the gospel according to Mark, talks about a time when the disciples, especially Peter, struggled to understand and to believe the direction that Jesus was telling them they must go.
Following the Compass
Have you ever done any orienteering? For those of you who have not, I can tell you it is not always as easy to follow a compass as you might think. If you happen to be off on your reading by a single degree, you can end up totally missing the mark.
I think that must have been how Peter felt. He had been faithfully following Jesus wherever he led them and now, all of a sudden, Jesus was telling him that the person he had been following all this time was going to be put to death! No! That could not possibly be the direction that Peter’s compass was pointing. He must have misread something along the way. He needed to take a new reading.
So Peter took Jesus aside and questioned him. “You must be mistaken. You must have misunderstood the directions that God has been giving you. You can’t die. You’re going in the wrong direction!”
Sometimes the direction that the compass is pointing is not along a clearly marked, easy to travel path. Sometimes the compass points us into the densest and most difficult part of the forest. Sometimes it points us through the middle of a fast-moving stream that threatens to sweep us away. Sometime it points us to what may seem like an insurmountable object.
It can be very tempting to try to avoid the obstacles. It can be tempting to try to go around those things that seem too difficult to get through. But varying from the course, even by a few degrees can end up getting us totally lost.
We may be somewhat shocked by Jesus reaction when Peter rebukes him for warning about his death. But think for a moment, how Jesus must have felt. He knew his compass clearly pointed to the cross, but here was Peter saying, maybe you’ve misunderstood. Maybe there’s a way around it. Maybe there’s another path.
I’m sure Jesus must have longed to find a way around the cross. I’m sure that he must have been tempted to accept Peter’s suggestion that there might be another way. And perhaps that is why he responded the way he did. But regardless of how he felt or how tempting it might be, Jesus refused to take his eyes off his compass. “If any of you want to come with me,” he told them, “you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me.”
Now of course we know that the path doesn’t end at the cross, but those first disciples had no such assurance. For those of us travelling this Lenten journey today, the path we are following is well marked. The high brush, the weeds and the brambles have been tramped down by the feet of all those that have walked this path before us. Not only that but we have been left signposts and maps to go along with our compass readings. There is still rough terrain, hills to overcome and valleys to walk through and we know the journey will never be easy.
But if the path has become so well marked, do we still need our compass or can we simply follow the path itself? Why can’t we relax a bit and stop worrying so much about whether we are headed the right direction or not? Why can’t we just stick the compass in our pocket for a while?
Well, no matter how clear the path may appear, there will always be other paths that run alongside, that cut across or that veer off from the path we are on. If we trust that what appears to be the right path is the one we should be following, we might end up travelling a good distance before we discover that it is actually a branch that is leading us in completely the wrong direction.
The writer of Romans tells us that Abraham was blessed by God, not because he obeyed the law, but because he believed and he trusted in God. The clear path laid out by the law may have appeared to be the right choice, but Abraham was willing to risk going off the beaten path if that is where God was pointing him. He was willing to trust God’s direction, just as an orienteer must trust their compass.
This is the challenge that we face during this second week of Lent. We need to trust where God is leading us even if, sometimes, it feels like we are being led off the beaten path and out into the wilderness. We need to believe that, even if we seem to be headed directly for some insurmountable obstacle, if we trust Divine guidance, we will find a way over, through or around whatever lies ahead.
I think this may be an especially important lesson for us today as we prepare for our annual meeting. Looking back at 2020, we could never have imagined how many twists and turns we would be forced to face over the past 12 months. We have faced obstacles that, certainly at times, seemed insurmountable. We have had to change many things and we have had to learned to think on our feet. It has been a very steep hill we have climbed, a steep learning curve, and there were certainly times when we really wondered if there was any way through this.
We are still on that journey, but I hope that if this past year has taught us anything, it is that there is always a way through. If we believe and if we trust, we will find a way. And the exciting part, is that in the process, we just might be trampling down some of those old weeds and brambles that have sprung up around us. We just might find that we are actually helping to clear a path for the future.
So as we continue on this Lenten journey that we know leads to the cross and beyond, let us recommit ourselves to following our compass … our God. Amen
Prayers of the People
As we prepare to enter our Annual Meeting, I want to share with you a Pastoral Prayer written by Anna Constantin of Port Alberni, BC.
Let us Pray:
Loving God, who meets us on the mountain peaks and the valleys of our lives, we take this time to meet you in the silence of this moment to invite you to fill our minds with new thoughts, to inspire our spirits, to stir our enthusiam, and to cradle our wondering and broken places with your love.
We celebrate that you call us into being, that you created us to do wondrous things, and that throuhg our voices and actions you inspire others to be the best they can be. Holy God, help us to see how our actions, which we may conside small and insignificant, may have great effect on another and that our words bring great truth and insight into our relationship with you. Help us to realize the potential that each of us has and the truth that we are all so needed in this community you call the body of Christ.
We take a moment to remember how we are all connected with this world that you love so very much. Help us to remember those in need, who may feel disconnected from you and your creation. We take a moment to remember that your living spirit touches every corner of the earth and that all are precious to you. Strengthen us and give us courage to be advocates and stewards of your creation so that we can fulfill our calling to be co-creators of this earth we call home.
Holy One, in this season of light and darkness we call Lent, help us to see, not only the places within each one of us filled with your light, but also those places that we try to hide from you – those things that we are ashamed of, those burdens we think we must carry alone, those questions we are afraid to ask of you. Help us to see that the darkness and the light are the same to you and that your desire is to bring reconciliation, and birth a new way of being to each one of us.
So we take a moment in silence to pray those thoughts that are closest to our hearts, the things that you can take and transform if we will only give them to you…..
We pray this in the name of Christ. Amen
Gift of Music
And so now we continue our worship through our action, as we continue our Lenten Journey. We continue to walk with God, following the example of Christ, and sharing this journey with the Spirit and with one another. And so as we move into our Annual Meeting now and as we move out from there, into wherever the journey ahead may take us, remember now and always, we Go with God.