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The Lamb of God

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ORGAN PRELUDE

ANNOUNCEMENTS                        Psalm 27:1, 4-9 "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?"

CALL TO WORSHIP

*OPENING HYMN                            "Morning Has Broken"  # 274

*INVOCATION AND LORD'S PRAYER     O God, so long ago You sent forth Your word promising us Your Holy Light amid the darkness of human sin and despair. In Christ You have fulfilled Your promise. We thank You, Lord.

*GLORIA PATRI

SCRIPTURE READING         (Isa 49:1-7 NLT)  "Listen to me, all of you in far-off lands! The LORD called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name. {2} He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword. He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver. {3} He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory." {4} I replied, "But my work all seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose at all. Yet I leave it all in the Lord's hand; I will trust God for my reward." {5} And now the LORD speaks--he who formed me in my mother's womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring his people of Israel back to him. The LORD has honored me, and my God has given me strength. {6} He says, "You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." {7} The LORD, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the one who is despised and rejected by a nation, to the one who is the servant of rulers: "Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will bow low because the LORD has chosen you. He, the faithful LORD, the Holy One of Israel, chooses you.""

MISSION MOMENT

OFFERING                 (Hab 3:17-18 NLT)  "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, {18} yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation."

*DOXOLOGY

*PRAYER OF DEDICATION            Gracious Lord, some of us have plenty; some of us have little.   The fortunes of most of us change from time to time; we are sometimes up, sometimes down.  Yet your love for us does not change.  May our love for you never change, even when the way is hard and unpromising.  Bless and use for your honor and glory the little or much that we are able to offer to you.   

CHILDREN'S STORY TIME  "This Little Light of Mine"

CHORAL ANTHEM

PRAYER         Gracious God, in Holy Baptism you have called us into the fellowship of saints and have equipped us for the work of ministry. Keep us faithful to our calling to be your servant people that we might be found blameless when the Lord Christ consummates his glorious kingdom. Lord, so often we have struggled with just receiving the gift of Your love, and we have failed to understand it is a gift we were meant to pass on. Too often we have limited the blessings You could bring to the world if only we would share Christ with those around us. Forgive us, Lord, and through our lives take Christ to the nations.             O God, in so many ways You have touched our lives to give us guidance and show us Your Love. Give us the wisdom to delight in Your discipline and to proclaim Your love to the world.

*PREPARATIONAL HYMN             "Take Time To Be Holy"

SCRIPTURE TEXT                 (John 1:29-42 NLT)  "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! {30} He is the one I was talking about when I said, 'Soon a man is coming who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before I did.' {31} I didn't know he was the one, but I have been baptizing with water in order to point him out to Israel." {32} Then John said, "I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. {33} I didn't know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, 'When you see the Holy Spirit descending and resting upon someone, he is the one you are looking for. He is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' {34} I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Son of God." {35} The following day, John was again standing with two of his disciples. {36} As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and then declared, "Look! There is the Lamb of God!" {37} Then John's two disciples turned and followed Jesus. {38} Jesus looked around and saw them following. "What do you want?" he asked them. They replied, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?" {39} "Come and see," he said. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place, and they stayed there the rest of the day. {40} Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of these men who had heard what John said and then followed Jesus. {41} The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother, Simon, and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means the Christ). {42} Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, "You are Simon, the son of John--but you will be called Cephas" (which means Peter)."

(John 1:29-42 NRSV)  "The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! {30} This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' {31} I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel." {32} And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. {33} I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' {34} And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God." {35} The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, {36} and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" {37} The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. {38} When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" {39} He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. {40} One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. {41} He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). {42} He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter)."

SERMON        The Lamb of God

Increasingly people are refusing to accept responsibility for their actions. It's more convenient and less painful, it seems, to blame somebody else -- that other racial group, women, men, parents, and the like -- than take responsibility for oneself. The Jews placed their sins symbolically on a scapegoat and drove him out into the wilderness. This may have helped them cope with guilt but it didn't get to the crux of the problem of sin. / God did that in the person of his Son. / John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, "There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." / Jesus took our sins to the cross where he crucified them. He enables us not only to evade the guilt of our sins for a time, he frees us from their power so that we have victory.

Jesus must have communicated a strong sense of being called as the Messiah, for the next day Andrew, one of the two disciples, finds his brother, Peter, and excitedly announces, "We have found the Messiah." Andrew witnessed as one who has been called by Christ. Not only does he make a verbal witness but brings his brother to Jesus.  All of these men have one thing in common: They are not fulfilling their own inward desires by responding to a call from outside themselves to be and to act as the Lord's servants.

   Those of us who are white cannot fathom the pain of racial prejudice that blacks and other minorities face in our society. This has been brought to our attention by the riot that followed the first Rodney King trial in Los Angeles. In that riot a white truck driver was pulled out of his truck and brutally beaten by some young black men. One of them took a brick and threw it with force at the head of the driver, John Denny. The man who threw the brick and Denny were both invited to appear on the Phil Donahue show. Denny is a Christian and does not blame or hate those who attacked him. He even seems to excuse their actions on account of the conditions they live in. To forgive them is wonderful, but should he also release them from the responsibility for their actions? The man who threw the brick, Mr. Washington, says that he is sorry for the harm he has caused Denny but also stated that he does not entirely regret participating in the riot. The audience in the studio was agitated with Washington because they felt he wasn't really sorry for what he had done, that he was not really ready to confess that he had done wrong. I think that the audience intuitively understood that Mr. Washington could not rise above his past sins until he owned them and confessed them. This is not a racial issue; it is a spiritual matter. What it boils down to is this: We don't need a scapegoat; we need to lay our sins on the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

            monologue on "The Lamb of God."   present it with dramatic flair.

     "Here is the Lamb of God!" John the Baptist said to all who would listen.  "Here is the Lamb of God!"  But what does he mean?  He points at Jesus when he speaks, but what is a Lamb of God?

     Does John refer to the thousands of lambs sacrificed daily at the Temple in Jerusalem?  Their young blood was spilled and lives sacrificed as a means of connecting with God.  Their death expressed the worshipers' acknowledgement of God's power over life and death.  They died as a way of thanking God for the abundance of harvest, for the increase in the herds and flocks, for a new child born into the household.  And the lambs died to remove the guilt that separated the people and nation from God.  In John's time, lambs died to reconnect God's people with God who created and sustained them.

     At Passover each year, a lamb was slaughtered for every household.  Its blood was painted onto the doorposts to remember the time that the angel of God passed over the homes of the Israelites, to take their suffering into the homes of their Egyptian taskmasters.  The meat of the Passover Lamb is entirely consumed by morning, thus commemorating the strength God gave the people to make their escape from Egyptian slavery.

     When John points at Jesus and says, "Here is the Lamb of God!" he tells everyone that Jesus is the one expected to be sent from God.  Jesus is no lamb chosen from our flocks to be offered to God, but is the Lamb chosen and sent to us by our Almighty God.  This Lamb from God will assure that death passes over us.  This Lamb will free us from slavery to sin.  This Lamb will reconnect us with the perfect and holy God who created and

sustains us.

     Jesus accepts this divine role when he identifies himself with Isaiah's suffering servant, one who is like a lamb led to the slaughter.  From the time of John's baptism, Jesus is led

like a lamb to the eventual slaughter in Jerusalem.  His teaching and healing, the miracles Jesus works, the journey to Jerusalem, all of his ministry leads to one moment  -- his sacrifice on the cross.  "Here is the Lamb of God!" we say as we stand stunned, watching our Savior's blood drain from his body for our salvation.

     Yet, there is more to this Lamb of God than just dying.  This one sacrifice accomplished what all the other sacrifices could never have achieved.  This death opens the seals on the Lamb's book of life.  This death is the beginning of the end.  Because this death is reversed, as Jesus Christ rises from his grave, ascends to the throne of God, and brings about God's reign on earth as in heaven.  The Lamb of God marries himself to the people of God, and connects them with God as never before possible.  He brings the New Jerusalem into our world, and becomes himself the light that illuminates the entire city with his life and his love, forever.

     "Here is the Lamb of God!" John says, and hearing his words, John's followers turn from following John.  They begin to follow Jesus Christ, the Lamb that connects people and nations to God.

     John's words still echo down through the centuries.  He again points to Jesus Christ and tells us that the Lamb of God walks among us here.  Those who seek life and eternal unity with God will follow the Lamb to whom John points.

The congregation can respond to this monologue by singing or

speaking the following words:  found on the bottom right of your bulletin.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,

   have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,

    have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,

    grant us thy peace.

When Andrew and the other disciple of John the Baptist tailed Jesus, he turned to them and asked, "What are you looking for?" They inquired as to where he was living. Jesus responded with an invitation: "Come and see." Our Christ is inviting, urging us to come home to him, that we might get to know him through his self-revelation. No hard sell, just a gracious invitation. Now Christ lives amongst his people. But how inviting are those who have charge of his house, the church? // People still inquire, "Where does Christ live?" Can we in good conscience invite them to come to our houses or our churches, saying, "Come and see?"

___ Put 3 x 5 cards in the worship bulletins.  Challenge the congregation to write down the names of unchurched friends.  Ask them to name at least one person in each of these categories:  (1) a fellow worker; (2) a relative; (3) a personal friend; (4) a schoolmate (if they are students); (5) someone who is just an acquaintance (such as an employee at a store they frequent); and (6) someone who lives near them.  Then ask them to put their signature on the card if they are willing to do two things in the next six months.  First, pray every day for the people whose names they wrote on their card.  Second, make at least five personal invitations to the people to come to a worship service with them.  (Your church may want to plan several special events that will make it easier for people to bring visitors.)

*INVITATIONAL HYMN                 "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms"

*BENEDICTION                   

Ld1: Be like Andrew, go into the world

        and tell others where you have found the Messiah.

Ld2: Seek out your family, your friends, your neighbors,

        everyone you meet,

        and invite them to come to church with you

        and to meet Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Ld1: You will not go alone,

        the Holy Spirit of God will go with you.

Ld2: You will hear the voice of God's Holy Spirit

        guiding you to just the right person,

        giving you the right words to say,

        and making your words powerful good news in their ears.

Ld1: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Cng:  Amen.

ORGAN POSTLUDE


Lesson 1: Isaiah 49:1-7 (C, E); Isaiah 49:3, 5-6 (RC); Isaiah 49:1-6 (L)

   The prophet of second Isaiah shares his strong sense of being called by the Lord; he was set aside for his prophetic/servant role while he was still in his mother's womb. He was called to relay some painful truths and feels as if his efforts have met with futility, but then the Spirit of God gives him hope and strength for his mission of restoring the wounded and scattered sheep of the defeated flock of Israel. The Spirit gently chides him for his constricted view of his mission and announces that his task is not merely to restore his fallen people to what they were but to challenge them with a glorious calling to be a light for all the nations on earth, that all nations might acknowledge the Lordship of God. At a time of great darkness, God renews and magnifies his call to his people.

Lesson 2: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9    The Apostle Paul begins his epistle to the Romans by setting forth his apostolic credentials -- not his human gifts but his call by God. He then addresses the church as those who are likewise set apart by God and called to be saints. The One who called them is faithful and would preserve them in faith until the day when the Lord Jesus appeared in kingdom power, supplying them richly with all the spiritual gifts they would need in the interim. All Christians have a call to be God's saints and some have a further call to be apostles, teachers and the like, but it is God who supplies the spirit and strength to fulfill that call.

Gospel: John 1:29-42

   The gospel continues the "call" theme found in the first two lessons. Here we have a man with a potent sense of call, John the Baptist, who points to Jesus as being the Messiah.Through this act he fulfills his calling, which is to point to the One chosen by God to purify the people. Two of John's disciples heard their teacher point to Jesus and say, "Here is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." These two follow Jesus to the place of his lodging and spend the rest of the day with the Master.

THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION ON THE LESSONS

Lesson 1: Isaiah 49:1-7

   Reach out and touch someone. Is there anyone who has not heard this advertisement? It has been employed in some of the most gripping advertisements on television. The ads touch us because they present realistic situations, usually joyous ones, where people are sharing their real selves with those they care about. We all need to touch and be touched. What the slogan is really saying is: Go ahead and call someone. / When God called the prophet Isaiah to be his servant, he was sending him to reach out and touch those who were dear to the heart of God. He wanted to communicate his love for them, to lift them up from their beds of tears, and gather them together. In turn, the Lord called his chosen ones to reach out to those in spiritual darkness, namely the Gentiles, that they too might walk in the light of the Lord. God calls us to reach out and touch someone with the good news of Christ's love. What are we waiting for?

   "I have labored in vain," complained the weary and depressed prophet. How typically human during a time of darkness to look back on our lives and behold only futility and failure. This would be quite a realistic appraisal if we were to view our lives atomistically, in isolation from God and others. Then the prophet remembers, "Surely my cause is with the Lord." If my cause is also the Lord's cause, surely he will vindicate me, the prophet reasoned.

   Wouldn't you think that if a person was feeling as if he were a failure that the Lord might relent and say: "That's all right. I'll remove some of your burden and make it easier for you." But that's not what happened to Isaiah. The Lord gave him and his people an even greater task, "to be as a light to the nations." In fact, the task seems impossible. Maybe that's how God makes great people and faithful people, challenging them with a great task. The task may be too great for us alone but our God is able.

Lesson 2: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

   "Called to be ...." Most of the time when we were called on, it is to do something, but when God calls us, it is being that he is concerned about. The Lord's primary concern is who and what we are. As Christians, we are all called to be saints, to live holy lives. We realize such sanctity not by striving to be perfect, that would be self-defeating, but by offering each moment of our lives to the Lord. Perhaps this would be a fitting prayer for a saint to offer to the Lord: "I'm not much, Lord, but I'm yours. Take me and use me as you will. In Jesus' name. Amen."

PREACHING APPROACHES WITH ILLUSTRATIONS

Lesson 1: Isaiah 49:1-7

   Sermon Title: Faith And Futility

   Sermon Angle: The prophet laments: "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity ..." (v. 4). Then, in practically the same breath, he adds, "Yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God." It's quite obvious that faith and futility are not mutually exclusive. Some of the greatest saints, called to the most difficult tasks have, at times, felt like they had been abandoned by God and that their labors were in vain. This is quite natural because those who exercise the greatest faith usually meet the most opposition. Also, faith views the world from a different perspective than does futility. If we look backward at our lives from a strictly rational, sense-experience perspective, it may truly appear that we have failed miserably. The outcome may be a drastic departure from what we had hoped. Faith, on the other hand, comprehends that life is far deeper than what we see. Our perception is finite and largely subjective. Faith acknowledges that our lives are in God's hands and that ultimately "all things will work together for good to those who love God" (Romans 8:28).

Lesson 2: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

   Sermon Title: Called To Be

   Sermon Angle: Paul addresses the church at Corinth as those "called to be ...." Obviously, I have left out the object in this phrase but as Shakespeare so eloquently turned the phrase, "To be or not to be, that is the question." All existence falls into two categories: being and doing. Our society judges us by what we do; we are measured by our accomplishments. The Bible indicates that doing flows from being. Who and what we are is primary. In the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches, "Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are the meek," and so forth. Those who are acknowledged by the Lord have met the criteria of being which flows from their being in the Lord. But what is it we are called to be? Saints. Those who are holy or, we could say, wholly the Lord's.

   Outline:

   1. Ask the question, If you were standing before the Pearly Gates and Saint Peter were to ask you why you should be allowed to enter, what would you reply? Would the reasons cited have more to do with what you have done or who you are?

   2. As Christians, we are called to be, not to do (vv. 1-2). We are saved by grace through faith.

   3. Do we take time to discover who we are in God and to live out this identity?

   4. If we live as God's saints, we will be blameless as we stand before the throne of God (v. 8).


John the Baptist pointed others to Jesus.

Andrew brought his brother to Jesus.

Should we be content to just bring

ourselves to worship Jesus?

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