Third Sunday in Lent (Okuli)

No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Lk9,62 Watchword)

Hymn of the Lutheran Church

Jesus, lead Thou on till our rest is won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow calm and fearless.
Guide us by Thy hand to our fatherland.

If the way be drear, if the foe be near,
Let not faithless fears o’ertake us;
Let not faith and hope forsake us;
For through many a woe to our home we go.

When we seek relief from a long-felt grief,
When temptations come alluring,
Make us patient and enduring.
Show us that bright shore
Where we weep no more.

Jesus, lead Thou on till our rest is won.
Heav’nly leader, still direct us,
Still support, console, protect us,
Till we safely stand in our fatherland.

Nikolaus Ludwig Graf von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) translated by Jane L. Borthwick (1813-97)

“Der Judaskuss” (unbekannter Künstler, 12. Jh., Uffizien)

God´s Holy Word for this Sunday

The Introit teaches us to pray in a God pleasing way:

The Lord pays attention to the godly and hears their cry for help.
But the Lord opposes evildoers and wipes out all memory of them from the earth.
The godly cry out and the Lord hears; he saves them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he delivers those who are discouraged.
The godly face many dangers, but the Lord saves them from each one of them.
He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken.
Evil people self-destruct; those who hate the godly are punished.
The Lord rescues his servants; all who take shelter in him escape punishment.

Psalm 34, 16-23

We hear about the holy prophet Elijah

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, including a detailed account of how he killed all the prophets with the sword. Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah with this warning, “May the gods judge me severely if by this time tomorrow I do not take your life as you did theirs!” Elijah was afraid, so he got up and fled for his life to Beer Sheba in Judah. He left his servant there, while he went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He went and sat down under a shrub and asked the Lord to take his life: “I’ve had enough! Now, O Lord, take my life. After all, I’m no better than my ancestors.” He stretched out and fell asleep under the shrub. Suddenly an angelic messenger touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked and right there by his head was a cake baking on hot coals and a jug of water. He ate and drank and then slept some more. The angel of the Lord came back again, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, for otherwise you won’t be able to make the journey.” So he got up and ate and drank. That meal gave him the strength to travel forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

He went into a cave there and spent the night. Suddenly the Lord’s message came to him, “Why are you here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been absolutely loyal to the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, even though the Israelites have abandoned the covenant they made with you, torn down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left and now they want to take my life.” The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord. Look, the Lord is ready to pass by.” A very powerful wind went before the Lord, digging into the mountain and causing landslides, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the windstorm there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his robe and went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. 

1. Kings 19, 1-8 (9-13a)

In the letter to the Ephesians we read

Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints. Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting—all of which are out of character—but rather thanksgiving.For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let nobody deceive you with empty words, for because of these things God’s wrath comes on the sons of disobedience. Therefore, do not be sharers with them, for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live like children of light— for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth—trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

Ephesians 5, 1-2 (3-7) 8-10

The Holy Gospel as recorded by the Evangelist St. Luke:

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9, 57-62

The Sermon is based on the Gospel recorded by the Evangelist St. Luke

While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd appeared, and the man named Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He walked up to Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” When those who were around him saw what was about to happen, they said, “Lord, should we use our swords?” Then one of them struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear.But Jesus said, “Enough of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come out to get him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs like you would against an outlaw? Day after day when I was with you in the temple courts, you did not arrest me. But this is your hour, and that of the power of darkness!”

Luke 22, 47-53

Sermon outline

  • Sermon outline: The Kingdom of God up front + So, don´t look down or back. Enough of that. Look up. Stay focused. IX is calling:
    • He brings the Kingdom of God as true Son of God.
      • Preaching
      • Praying
      • Healing
      • Forgiving
      • Fulfills the law and all righteousness once for all.
    • People look away, look back, betray him and the kingdom of God
      • – with a kiss (Judas!) for thirty pieces of silver.
      • – with the sword (Peter!) against the apparent enemy.
      • – run away, deny and desert him. (Elijah, Peter, John)
      • – taking their lives into their own hands. (Judas)
      • – Not loving, trusting and fearing God above all else.
      • Living in darkness und giving in to darkness. Blindness. (Saul; Judas; Peter: He went outside and it was dark and he cried bitterly)
    • Jesus suffers and dies, but rises victoriously on the 3rd day
      • Sucks up all evil, swallows it line, hook and sinker.
      • Everything goes dark. Life of the old creation dies.
      • The new life rises from the grave.
      • A new day. A new generation. A new creation. A new heaven and earth.
  • So, look up and forward. Stay focused. The Kingdom of God is up front. IX is waiting for You – with open arms. That´s where we´re heading. The church/faith and Christianity is not so much in being, than rather always in becoming. We are on our way.

Prayer of the Church—Responsive Form (Okuli: 12th March 2023) 

Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.

Heavenly Father, guard the souls of Your people against the devil and his angels who afflict the world. Arm Your Christians with spiritual weapons, sharpen their tongues with the words of Christ, and overthrow all the power of the devil. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Almighty God, Pharaoh refused to heed Your judgments against Egypt and repent of his evil. Give Your Church godly patience to hear Your words of rebuke in faith, to repent of our sins and to seek the forgiveness You eagerly extend. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father in heaven, You call mothers and fathers to imitate You and to lead their children in the way of light. Strengthen them to flee all immorality. Instill in their families a repentant spirit and a lively hope. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord God, direct the hearts of our leaders and teach them to respond faithfully to the dangers and disasters that arise. Lead them to humble themselves under Your hand and serve their people sacrificially. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Almighty God, Creator of all things, You govern our world for the good of Your people. Provide seasonable weather, preserve us from plague and famine, and enrich us by the fruitfulness of the earth according to Your gracious design. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Holy Father, You have given us Your own Spirit in our Baptism into Christ. Defend us from all spiritual attacks. Guard us in body and soul. Help those afflicted by any adversity, [especially _____________,] and lead them to renewed strength and peace. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Blessed Lord, You join Your Word to the bread and wine and so invite us to eat and drink. Grant that we may hear and keep Your Word in faith, that we may worthily receive the true body and blood of our Savior and so be given Your eternal blessing. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The peace of the Lord be with You + Pax vobiscum +

The Lord bless Thee, and keep Thee:

The Lord make his face shine upon Thee, and be gracious unto Thee:

The Lord lift up his countenance upon Thee and give Thee peace.

Numbers 6,24-26 (4th Book of Moses)

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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