Notes on the Notes – Lent 3 – March 4, 2018
Theme: When We Deny God!
Psalm 17:1-7 John 18:12-27
This week we have two readings that are in contrast to each other. In the psalm, the speaker is calling on God to hear him, saying that that God should listen because he has followed God steadfastly. The reading from John, on the other hand, is the telling of the denial of Peter after Jesus’ arrest. We are challenged to consider whether God only hears the good and faithful servant, or whether we trust that God also forgives those who, in human weakness, stray from God’s way?
“O God, How We Have Wandered” (VU #112)
“O God, how we have wandered and hidden from your face;
In foolishness have squandered your legacy of grace.
But how, in exile dwelling, we turn with fear and shame,
As distant but compelling, you call us each by name.
And now at length discerning the evil that we do,
By faith we are returning with hope and trust in you.
In haste you come to meet us, and home rejoicing bring,
In gladness there to greet us with calf and robe and ring.
O God of all the living, both banished and restored,
Compassionate, forgiving, our peace and hope assured.
Grand now that our transgressing, our faithlessness may cease.
Stretch out your hand in blessing, in pardon, and in peace.”
This penitential hymn is a reflection on the parable of the Prodigal Son. The words were written by Kevin Nichols (1980). The author puts us in the place of the prodigal, but also gives us the assurance that, once we turn back to God, we will be welcomed and forgiven.
Hear the hymn played on piano at: https://youtu.be/ATB9aW3eIC8
“How Great the Mystery of Faith” (VU #390)
“How great the mystery of faith, how deep the purposes of God,
In birth and aging, life and death, unveiled, yet never understood!
Attracted by life’s deepest claim we wait, assembled in this place,
With needs and hopes we cannot name, a thirst for healing, truth, and grace.
The best that we can do and say, the utmost care of skill and art,
Are sweepers of the Spirit’s way to reach the depths of every heart.
Come, walk among us, Holy Friend, as all are gathered and prepared,
That scattered lives may meet and mend through open Word and table shared.”
Brian Wren’s text from Bring Many Names is a centering hymn as we begin worship. It opens with a reference to 1 Timothy 3:16. This week we will be using the melody CANONBURY, composed by Robert Schumann (1839) and also known as the melody for the hymn “Forth in Your Name, O Christ” (VU #416) and “Lord, Speak to Me.”
Hear the hymn on piano at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mLa0Z2YM4U
“When We are Tempted to Deny Your Son” (VU #119)
“When we are tempted to deny your Son; because we fear the anger of the world,
And we are few who hear the insults hurled, your will, O God, be done.
When we are tempted to betray your Son, because he leads us in a harder way,
And makes demands we do not want to pay, your will, O God, be done.
When we forget the cross that held your Son, and would avoid the burden of this life;
The cry for justice and an end to strife…your will, O God, be done.
When doubt obscures the victory of your Son, and faith is weak and all resolve has fled,
Help us to know him risen from the dead: your will, O God, be done.”
The lyrics of this hymn bring the denial of Jesus from the ancient past, when Peter denied Jesus three times, to the present day and our own struggles with following Jesus. Daniel W. Romig wrote the words for this hymn in 1965. It was first published in an American Presbyterian hymnal known as The Worship Book (1972). The melody, FAITH, is by J. Harold Moyer (1965).
“Peter Wept a Bitter Tear”
“Bold and faithful servant, disciple of Christ,
Loyal companion and friend,
Yet in the courtyard, near the glowing fire, betrayal, denial and sin!
Peter wept a bitter tear in the early morning light;
There he cried alone in fear for his defiance in the night.
Pain and anguish filled his heart from words that echoed in his ear.
Peter wept a bitter tear.
Rock of devotion crumbled and alone,
Broken apart by his fall.
One look from the Savior from across the way,
And Peter remembered it all!
Peter wept a bitter tear…”
This week’s anthem by Lloyd Larson brings us to the place in the Gospel story where Peter, having denied Jesus, comes face to face with what he has done. The rock on which Christ was to build his church, at this moment, has failed and crumbled under the pressure of his human weaknesses.
“Bread of Life”
“At this table, Lord, we lay our burdens down;
At your feet we humbly kneel to pray.
At the foot of the cross, we contemplate the cost as we share this feast today.
Lord, break your bread of life for me;
Feed my hunger, set my spirit free;
Pour out your grace on me.
Lord, fill my cup from the fountain of your love.
Open my eyes that I might see;
Break your bread of life, Lord, for me.
At this table, Lord, we renew our strength;
From this cup we drink of boundless grace.
Teach us, Lord, how to share that bounty of your care
When we leave this holy place.
Lord, break your bread of life for me…”
Joel Raney’s anthem encourages us to lay our guilt and our burdens down, knowing that we are forgiven through grace. Through the sacrament of communion, we are transformed.
“O Jesus, I Have Promised” (VU #120)
“O Jesus, I have promised to serve you to the end;
Remain forever near me, my Saviour and my friend;
I shall not fear the journey if you are by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway if you will be my guide.
O let me feel you near me: the world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me, around me and within,
But, Jesus, then draw nearer and shield my soul from sin.
O let me hear you speaking in accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion, the murmurs of self-will;
O speak to reassure me, to hasten or control;
Now speak, and make me listen, O guardian of my soul.
O Jesus, you have promised to all who follow you,
That where you are in glory your servant shall be too.
And Jesus, I have promised to serve you to the end;
O give me grace to follow, my Saviour and my friend.”
This intensely personal hymn of commitment was written by John Ernest Bode in 1866.
Hear the hymn sung with slightly different words at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agWXZW7iVKc