Fifth Sunday in Lent (Year C)

Summary & Song

In the readings for this Sunday the prophet writes: I am about to do a new thing, says the Lord; do you perceive it? (Isaiah 43:16-21) The psalmist sings: When the Lord restored our fortunes, we shouted with joy (Psalm 126). The apostle Paul writes: Knowing Christ Jesus as Lord, I regard everything else as loss (Philippians 3:4b-14). In John, Mary anoints Jesus feet with perfume at the home of Lazarus (John 12:1-8).

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Psalm 126 (When God First Brought Us Back)

Words by Carl P. Daw, Jr. (Based on Psalm 126 / Traditional American Melody
Arranged by Paxson Jeancake, 2019

When God first brought us back from exile we were as dazed as those who dream.
Then were our mouths brimming with laughter; joy from our lips gushed like a stream.
The godless cried in envious wonder, “Look what the Lord has done for them!”
Indeed our God has greatly blessed us; rejoice and sing, Jerusalem!

Once more, O Lord, restore Your people; come with your saving help again,
as to the brook-beds in the desert, You bring the sweet, reviving rain.
Let those who sow with tears and sighing sing as they reap and joy proclaim:
May those who weep when seed is scattered, gather their sheaves and praise Your name.

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 43:16–21

16 Thus says the Lord,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings out chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild animals will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21 the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

Psalm 126

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.

4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5 May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.

Philippians 3:4b–14

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

John 12:1–8

1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Isaiah 43:18-19, 20b-21

Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

Prayer of Renewal

Based on Psalm 126:4-6; John 12:1-8

Restore us, O Lord,
like streams in the desert.
May those who plant in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Like Mary, may we be extravagant
in our love and worship of you.
Give us generous hearts
that long to serve our neighbors
and reach out to those who do not know you.
In your holy name we pray. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Philippians 3:7-14

Brothers and sisters, what do we believe concerning the value of knowing Christ?

We believe that whatever gains we had,
these we have come to regard as loss because of Christ.

We regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of
knowing Christ Jesus our Lord,
being found in him,
not having a righteousness of our own that comes from the law,
but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.

We want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection
and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death,
that we may attain the resurrection from the dead.

We do not believe that we have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;
but we press on to make it our own, because Christ Jesus has made us his own.

Forgetting what lies behind, we strain forward to what lies ahead,
and we press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

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