February 21, 2021

First Sunday in Lent
February 21, 2021
11 Old York Road ~ Ringoes, NJ 08551
Mary “JJ” Simpson-Keelan, Pastor
Shannen Hemmel, Musician
The Chilcoat Family, Assisting Minister
Terry Welsh, Videographer and Editor
In this time of world-wide crisis, Living Waters Lutheran Church respects the guidance of our Bishop and government agencies and therefore calls the faithful together for a time of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving through on-line venues. Because we love God and neighbor during a time of rising COVID cases and increasing spread, we choose to behave cautiously. To help tend the public health during this pandemic: (1) Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet. (2) Wear a face covering. (3) Wash your hands, and regularly clean surfaces. (4) Reduce exposure time to areas with potentially high aerosol concentration, (5) Limit group encounters. (6) Encourage everyone who feels sick or uncomfortable/vulnerable in group settings to please stay home and consult a healthcare provider.
The church is all God’s baptized people. Those who worship, pray, study, and connect for fellowship and service from their homes are very much “the church”. The Good News of God’s reign continues to be fully proclaimed with power and authority on-line in this new time.
On Ash Wednesday the church began its journey toward baptismal immersion in the death and resurrection of Christ. This year, the Sundays in Lent lead us to focus on five covenants God makes in the Hebrew Scriptures and to use them as lenses through which to view baptism. First Peter connects the way God saved Noah’s family in the flood with the way God saves us through the water of baptism. The baptismal covenant is made with us individually, but the new life we are given in baptism is for the sake of the whole world.
P: Blessed be the holy Trinity, one God,
the keeper of the covenant,
the source of steadfast love,
our rock and our redeemer..
C: Amen.
P: God hears us when we cry, and draws us close in Jesus Christ. Let us return to the one who is full of compassion.
Silence is kept for reflection.
Fountain of living water,
pour out your mercy over us.
Our sin is heavy, and we long to be free.
Rebuild what we have ruined
and mend what we have torn.
Wash us in your cleansing flood.
Make us alive in the Spirit
to follow in the way of Jesus,
as healers and restorers of the world you so love.
[Note: during Lent there will be no absolution on Sunday mornings. Absolution will be granted on Maundy Thursday]
P:        Holy God, heavenly Father, in the waters of the flood you saved the chosen, and in the wilderness of temptation you protected your Son from sin. Renew us in the gift of baptism. May your holy angels be with us, that the wicked foe may have no power over us, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C:         Amen
Lenten Candle Reflection and Prayer[1]
Today is the first Sunday in Lent—the season for journeys of the heart. Close your eyes. Be still. Listen. We are entering a holy time. Each Sunday over the next six weeks we will extinguish another candle and the light will slowly fade into darkness. For we are retelling the story of Jesus’ betrayal and suffering and death. We do this because in the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God is revealed—in the amazing transformation of death into life, in endings transformed into beginnings, and in dead-ends that become a source for new possibilities.
This is the sacred center of our faith—the truth made manifest in Jesus Christ—that God is in each and every one of us, quietly transforming us and the world. In his pain and suffering, Jesus speaks to every pain and loss you have endured and offers you the promise of transformation. It’s an old story, but it still has the power to reveal, to heal, and to redeem. Jesus is at the heart of our faith, in the depth of our souls. He is waiting for us, inviting us to leave ordinary time and follow along with him on the journey that brought him to the Cross. Listen in silence, for Jesus is calling you.
(Silent time.)
As we extinguish this light, we acknowledge the darkness and pain of injustice in the world.
(A candle is extinguished.)
Let us pray: Loving God, as we journey through this holy season of Lent, give us strength and courage to make the changes that are needed in our lives. Open our hearts and minds to your steadfast presence and help us to put our trust in you. Amen.
HYMN OF PRAISE: ELW 321, Eternal Lord of Love, Behold Your Church verses
1    Eternal Lord of love, behold your church
walking once more the pilgrim way of Lent,
led by your cloud by day, by night your fire,
moved by your love and toward your presence bent:
far off yet here—the goal of all desire.
2    So daily dying to the way of self,
so daily living to your way of love,
we walk the road, Lord Jesus, that you trod,
knowing ourselves baptized into your death:
so we are dead and live with you in God.
Text: Thomas H. Cain, b. 1931-2003 Text © Thomas H. Cain.
First Reading: Genesis 9:8-17
Today’s reading is the conclusion to the flood story. Because of human sin, God destroys the earth by flood, saving only Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark. Yet divine destruction gives way to divine commitment. As in the first creation, God blesses humanity and establishes a covenant with all creatures.
8God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22
As God acted through Christ’s suffering and death to bring us to God, so God acts through baptism to save us from a sinful existence. This spiritual cleansing marks our new life in Christ.
18Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.
VIDEO PASTOR           
Gospel Acclamation
C: We are turning, Lord, to hear you; you are merciful and kind— slow to anger, rich in blessing, and with love to us inclined.
Gospel: Mark 1:9-15
The Spirit that comes upon Jesus at his baptism sustains him when he is tested by Satan so that he might proclaim the good news of God’s reign.
9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.        
HYMN OF THE DAY     ELW 766, Lord of Our Life verses 1 & 2
1    Lord of our life and God of our salvation,
      star of our night and hope of ev'ry nation;
      hear and receive your church's supplication,
      Lord God Almighty.
2    See round your ark the hungry billows curling,
      see how your foes their banners are unfurling.
      Lord, while their poisoned arrows they are hurling,
      you can preserve us.
Text: Matthäus A. von Löwenstern, 1594-1648; tr. Philip Pusey, 1799-1855, alt.
P: People of God, what do you believe?
C: We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty
maker and owner of all things
seen and unseen-known and still undiscovered.
P: People of God, what do you believe?
C: We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God.
Through him all things were made.
P: People of God, what do you believe?
C: We believe that Jesus came for us
and for our salvation.
He became human.
He suffered death and was buried.
P: People of God, what do you believe?
C: On the third day he rose again,
He ascended into heaven.
We believe that he will come again
and his kingdom will have no end.
P: People of God, what do you believe?
C: We believe in the Holy Spirit, the giver of life,
who works as one with the Father and Son.
We believe the Holy Spirit is at work
in the Old Testament and the New.
We believe the Spirit of God is constantly at work
in and through the church.
Children of God, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace with God and one another. The peace of the Lord be with you always.
We share with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us: ourselves, our time, and our possessions. Living Waters is a generous people offering ourselves to God and neighbor, and with the Church through all the ages, giving thanks for the saving love in Jesus.
P: Faithful God,
you walk beside us in desert places,
and you meet us in our hunger with bread from heaven.
Accompany us in this meal,
that we may pass over from death to life
with Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
P: On this first Sunday in Lent, let us pray boldly for all in need, responding to each petition with words echoing today’s psalm, “In you we put our trust.”
Relying on you, O God of our salvation, we pray for the church throughout the world, that strengthened by the promises of baptism, we discern your way of truth and justice, and reject the attractive lures of evil. Sustain those Christians who are beset with temptations or hardship. Receive our prayers,  O righteous God:
C: In you we put our trust.
P: Remembering Deaconess Elizabeth Fedde, we pray for all deacons and deaconesses, that they serve those in need with constancy and joy. Empower our congregation’s ministries of care, and provide the funds needed for service. Receive our prayers, O generous God:
C: In you we put our trust.
P: Grateful for a plenteous creation, we pray that you preserve the wild beasts and keep lands from being flooded by waters. Encourage the work of biologists, conservationists, and science educators, that we all come to appreciate more about the wonders that you create. Receive our prayers, O creative God:
C: In you we put our trust.
P: Distressed by injustice and violence, we pray for leaders who govern in our nation and around the world, that they strive for equality and concord in all things. Visit the people of Myanmar and Sudan and stem the might of tyrants the world over. Receive our prayers, O sovereign God:
C: In you we put our trust.
P: Alert to the difficulties of wintertime, we pray for all who are cold, for all the homeless, for refugees awaiting assistance, and for all whose employment requires them to endure brutal weather. Surround them with a community of concern. Receive our prayers, O warm-hearted God:
C: In you we put our trust.
Pained by the suffering of others, we pray for all who are sick, especially those we name here before you: . . . 
Edna, Linda, Sheryl, Tee, Robert, Brad, Sergio, Vera, Martje, Eric Sr and Suzanne, Cathy, Louise, Linda H.,Lisa, Linda, Cecelia, Diane, Izzie, Kallan, Mary Anne, Brand, Betty
We pray for all who have contracted COVID-19, for those who are bowed down by trials of any kind, for those who face natural disasters, for those whose suffering is known only to you. Comfort those who feel desolate. Give health and wholeness to all who suffer. Receive our prayers, O benevolent God:
C: In you we put our trust.
P: Praying also for ourselves, we ask your Spirit to accompany us through each wilderness that we must endure. Hear now the desires of our hearts. Receive our prayers, O tender and mighty God:
C: In you we put our trust.
P: We praise you for the Christians of time past, especially Polycarp and all the martyrs who died in their witness to you. Give us the faith that at the end, your rainbow will bring endless beauty to all things. Receive our prayers, O splendid God:
C: In you we put our trust.
P: Into your hands, O God, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy, through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
C: Amen.
P:         Let us pray with confidence in the words our Savior gave us:
C:         Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
P: Do not be dismayed by the brokenness in the world.
All things break.
And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you
C:        Amen
P:         Go in peace. Share the good news.
C:         Thanks be to God
VIDEO SENDING SONG                                                                                                                   
SENDING SONG ELW 326, Bless Now, O God, the Journey
1    Bless now, O God, the journey
that all your people make,
the path through noise and silence,
the way of give and take.
The trail is found in desert
and winds the mountain round,
then leads beside still waters,
the road where faith is found.
2    Bless sojourners and pilgrims
who share this winding way;
your hope burns through the terrors,
your love sustains the day.
We yearn for holy freedom
while often we are bound;
together we are seeking
the road where faith is found.
3    Divine eternal lover,
you meet us on the road.
We wait for land of promise
where milk and honey flow,
but waiting not for places,
you meet us all around.
Our covenant is written
on roads, as faith is found.
Text: Sylvia G. Dunstan, 1955-1993 Text © 1991 GIA Publications, Inc.,
VIDEO ANNOUNCEMENTS                                                                                                              
Meeting ID: 889 6997 3246, Passcode 210 809
1ST Sunday: Confirmation
2nd Sunday: “Can I Get a Witness” (Highs/Lows in a Hope-Filled Future)
3rd Sunday: Adult Forum or Lutheran 101
4th Sunday: Virtual Fellowship Hall
5th Sunday: “Live and Remote” Worship
From Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #23228 New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Hymns and songs reprinted under the permission of CCLI.com #11169728, streaming #20576443
[1] https://processandfaith.org/lenten-candle-liturgy/#
[2] https://pilgrimwr.unitingchurch.org.au/?p=256
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