Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Holy Communion on the Second Sunday in Lent, 10:30 a.m.

 The livestream may be found here.

‘Nicodemus Came to Jesus by Night’



The color purple, used for the vestments and paraments in Lent, symbolizes somberness and solemnity. Crosses and images of our Lord and the saints are veiled with purple cloth during Lent.


FIRST READING (Genesis 12:1-4): God’s call to Abraham is, in effect, a new birth for Abram. It is a break with Abram’s past, calling him to leave the life he has known before and go into a new life which must be lived by faith, trusting in God’s promises. In this primal act of faithfulness God’s plan of salvation for humanity through the family of Abraham is set in motion.


SECOND READING (Romans 4:1-5, 13-17): Writing to a mixed Jewish-Gentile congregation, Paul addresses the thorny question of whether non-Jews had to obey the dietary and ritual laws of the Old Testament in order to be Christians. He lifts up the example of Abraham, who lived before Moses gave the Law on Sinai. Abraham was righteous, not by performing the Law but simply by having faith in God’s Word and acting on that faith (as seen in our first reading). Therefore, Paul reasons, Christian righteousness can be defined as faith in God’s promises in Christ, and therefore Gentiles who believe in Christ need not be bound by the Law of Moses.


GOSPEL (John 3:1-17): Jesus reminds Nicodemus of the story from Numbers (21:4-9), when to heal people from a plague, Moses held up a staff with a bronze serpent attached to it for the people to look upon. A person who had faith in the LORD would trust in the promise of God through his serpent Moses and live. So it is that those who trust in God’s act in Jesus are those who receive life in Jesus’ name. This trust is like a new birth – it separates us from our past life of sin and brings us into a new situation, in which we are in communion with God and inheritors of the life of Jesus.




The American Guild of Organists has designated this Sunday to feature music of Women Organists. Jeanine Nellis Yeager and I studied piano with the same teacher for many years, shared recitals, including playing the piano reduction of concert. Though piano is her major instrument, she has served as organist for churches in the Dayton, Ohio area. She has over forty books of piano compositions with Kjos Publishing; her setting has been adapted for organ. Jeanne Demessieux was both a church musician and recitalist of some renown, as well as a composer. Florence Price’s music has come back into prominence in recent years; she was a composer and teacher who was highly regarded.                                                                      


Joyce Strobel




 Of the Father’s Love Begotten - Jeanine Yeager (b 1938)

Rorate Caeli [Drop down, ye heavens, Isaiah 48:5] –

Jeanne Demessieux (1921-1968, French)

Air - Florence B. Price (1887 - 1953, American)

How Gentle God’s Commands - Text/ Philip Doddridge (1755);

Music/ J. M. Strobel


How gentle God’s commands, how kind his precepts are.

Come, cast your burdens on the Lord, and trust his constant care.

Beneath his watchful eye his saints securely dwell;

that hand which bears all nature up shall guard his children well.

Why should this anxious load press down your weary mind?

Haste to your heavy Father’s throne, and sweet refreshment find.

His goodness stands approved unchanged from day to day;

I’ll cast my burdens at his feet, and bear a song away.




Blessed be God: Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit,

  And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever. Amen


Hear the commandments of God to his people:

I am the LORD your God,

who brought you out of the house of slavery.

You shall have no other gods.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not make wrongful use

of the name of the LORD your God.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


Honor your father and your mother.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not murder.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not commit adultery.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not steal.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,

or his male or female slave, or his ox, or his donkey,

or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


These are the commandments of the LORD our God.

  Lord, have mercy on us sinners,

  and incline our hearts to keep your law.


Let us pray together the prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian:

  O Lord and Master of my life,

  take from me a spirit of laziness, despair,

  love of power, and idle talk.

  But give your servant a spirit of chastity,

  humility, patience, and love.

  Yes, O Lord and King,

  grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my neighbor.

  For You are blessed forever and ever. Amen   


WHymn             Green LBW 93                    Jesus, Refuge of the Weary


The People turn to face the cross as it passes in procession.



The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,

and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

  And also with you.                                                                             2 Corinthians 13:13


O God and Father, in the waters of baptism you bring us to new birth to live as your children. Strengthen our faith in your promises, that by your Spirit we may lift up your life to all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.




Abraham believed God,

and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

  Let us hear the Word of the Lord.                                          Romans: 4:3



FIRST READING:          Genesis 12:1-4a


1The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
4aSo Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.


The Word of the Lord.                                                  

  Thanks be to God.


PSALM 121 - Choir        I to the Hills Lift Up My Eyes

Text/ Scottish Psalter, 1650

Setting/ Douglas E. Wagner


I to the hills will lift my eyes; From where does come my aid?

My safety comes now from the Lord, who heaven and earth have made.


The Lord does keep, the Lord your shade, on your right hand does stay;

The moon by night you shall not smite, nor yet the sun by day.


The Lord shall keep your soul; he shall preserve you from all ill.

Henceforth, your going out and in, God keep forever will.


SECOND READING                                                    Romans 4:1-5, 13-17


1What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 4Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.
13For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
16For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.


The Word of the Lord.                  

  Thanks be to God.



VERSE   John 3:16                                                     Setting by John W. Becker

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life.


Gospel                                                                                             John 3:1-17


The Holy Gospel according to St. John.

1Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
11“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”


The Gospel of the Lord.


The Gospel of the Lord.




W Hymn of the DaY              God Loved the World      Green LBW 292



The pastor and people confess the faith of the Church in the words of the Nicene Creed.


X At the words ‘For us and for our salvation,’ and continuing through ‘and was made man,’ a solemn bow is appropriate to praise the incarnation of our Lord.


We believe in one God,

                the Father, the Almighty,            

                                maker of heaven and earth,

                                of all that is, seen and unseen.


We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

                the only Son of God,

                eternally begotten of the Father,

                God from God, Light from Light,

                true God from true God,

                begotten, not made,

                of one Being with the Father.

                Through him all things were made.

                X For us and for our salvation

                                he came down from heaven;

                                by the power of the Holy Spirit

                                he became incarnate from the virgin Mary,    and was made man. X

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

                                he suffered death and was buried.

                On the third day he rose again

                                in accordance with the Scriptures;

                                he ascended into heaven

                                and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

                He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

                                and his kingdom will have no end.


We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

                who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

                With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.

                He has spoken through the prophets.

                We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

                We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

                We look for the resurrection of the dead,

                                and the life of the world to come. Amen




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


Silence is kept.


For the renewal of the Spirit of new birth in the whole Church; Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


For all those throughout the world preparing for the new birth of baptism at Easter; Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


For our congregation: that we may live by faith in your promises and be strengthened in the covenant you have made with us; Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


For the North American Lutheran Seminary: its administration, faculty, staff, and students; Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


For the government, the armed forces, and those who protect and serve our communities; Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


For the nations of the world, refugees and stateless persons, and for those afflicted by war, natural disaster, and plague; Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


For all who are in special need, especially these whom we name before you:


The Pastor reads the names and situations submitted for prayer.

The People may intercede for others aloud or in silence.


Lord, in your mercy,                                                         

  hear our prayer.



In thanksgiving for Abraham, who lived in faith in your promises, and for all who have died in faith, who have crossed into the land shown them and await with us the fullness of the kingdom to come; Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


Into your hands, Father, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your steadfast love, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.




Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us access to his grace.

The peace of the Lord be with you always.   

  And also with you.


The People exchange a sign of peace with the simple words, Peace be with you.


The People are seated as the Lord’s table is prepared.



OFFERTORY  Psalm 116:12-13, 17-19                      Setting by Kevin Norris

What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call on the name of the Lord. I will take the cup of salvation and will call on the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.



Lord, come to us and cleanse us,

come to us and heal us,

come to us and strengthen us,

 and grant that, having received you,

 we may never be separated from you,

 but continue yours forever.




It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places offer thanks and praise to you, O Lord, holy Father, through Christ our Lord. When you blessed the seed of Abraham long ago, you foretold in his posterity the coming of Christ your Son in human flesh, and that same multitude of nations which you promised to Abraham as his descendants you have gathered now from every people and tribe and language and bound them together in the Church of Christ, in which we rejoice to receive the gift and that blessing once promised to our holy ancestors. And so, with Abraham and Nicodemus, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:



The pastor leads the people in praying the Eucharistic canon:


Blessed are you, O Lord our God.


You created us in your image;

    and in the mystery of your great love for us

    you sent your only Son, Jesus Christ,

    born of Mary by the power of the Spirit. 


Led by that Spirit he was tempted as we are tempted;

                He proclaimed your forgiveness to sinners;

    he loved even his enemies. 


Despised and rejected,

                he bore the alienation of the world

    as he stretched out his arms on the cross;

    and by this all-sufficient sacrifice

    he has drawn all people to himself,

    giving his life as a ransom for many. 


As we gather in his name and celebrate his testament,

    send your Spirit upon us

    and upon these gifts of bread and wine,

    that they may be for us

    the very body and blood of your Son,

    Christ Jesus, redeemer of the world.


In the night in which He was betrayed

                our Lord Jesus took bread and gave thanks,

                broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying:

                        Take and eat; this is my Body, given for you. 

                Do this for the remembrance of me.


Again, after supper, He took the cup, gave thanks,

                and gave it for all to drink, saying:

                This cup is the new covenant in my Blood,

                shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. 

                Do this for the remembrance of me.

Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:

                Christ has died. 

                Christ is risen. 

                Christ will come again.


Blessed are you, O Lord our God. 


By your Son's life-giving passion and death,

                and by His resurrection and ascension into glory,              

                our Lord Jesus continually intercedes for us

                and for all he has claimed as his own. 


As we now share together

                this Bread of Life and this Cup of Salvation,

                unite us with all your faithful people                                                       

                in the forgiveness of sins,

                and bring us, at length, to that eternal celebration of life

                at the Lamb's high feast.









In the presence of Christ, we pray to his Father using the words he gave us.


Christ is in our midst.

                By the power of the Spirit,

                we pray to his Father, saying:


Our Father, who art in heaven,

                hallowed be thy name,

                thy kingdom come,

                thy will be done,

                                on earth as it is in heaven.

                Give us this day our daily bread;

                and forgive us our trespasses,

                                as we forgive those who trespass against us;

                and lead us not into temptation,

                                but deliver us from evil.

                For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,

                                forever and ever. Amen                                    

Matthew 6:9-15


This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Happy are we who are called to his supper.

  Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,

  but only say the word and I shall be healed.

John 1:29; Revelation 19:9; Matthew 8:8


HYMN                   For Perfect Love So Freely Spent                     stanzas 1 and 2  


                For perfect love so freely spent,

                for fellowship restored,

                we celebrate your sacrament

                and sing your praise, O Lord.


                We come, by sin disquieted,

                and find our lives made whole;

                around this table we are fed

                refreshment for the soul.






Choir    What Shall We Offer - Text/A. G. Spangenberg (1704-92),

       Tr. John Wesley (1703-91), alt.

       Music/ Richard Proulx (1937-2010)


What shall we offer our good Lord,

poor nothings, for such boundless grace?                                                        

Fain would we God’s great name record and worthily set forth his name. 

Great object of our growing love, to whom are more than all we owe, Open the fountain from above, and let it our full souls o’erflow.       

So shall our lives thy power proclaim, thy grace for every sinner free,

Till the world shall learn thy name,

shall all stretch out their hands to thee.                                               

O multiply the sower’s seed! And fruit we every hour shall bear, throughout the world thy gospel spread, thy everlasting truth declare.

So shall our lives thy power proclaim.


When all have received, the People stand at the direction of the pastor.


The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you and keep you in his grace.    




                 For Perfect Love So Freely Spent                                      stanza 3


                Abide with us; in all our ways

                your saving love be shown;

                so may our lives be hymns of praise,

                O Christ, to you alone.



O Lord, you have called us to be your witnesses.

Cleanse us from all unbelief and sloth

and fill us with hope and zeal,

  that we may do your work,

  and bear your cross,

  and bide your time,

  and see your glory.



Almighty God, Father, X Son, and Holy Spirit,

bless you now and forever.




                Green LBW 377   Lift High the Cross   



Go in peace. Serve the Lord.                

  Thanks be to God!




From Sundays and Copyright 2023 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #20540.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Eucharistic Canon reprinted with permission from A Little Book of Canons by Rod L. Ronneberg, STS, © 1997 and © 2010.

Additional liturgical material from Common Worship: Times and Seasons,

© 2006 The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England,

and Foretaste of the Feast to Come, by Philip Pfatteicher, 1997 Augsburg Publishing House.

Proper Preface from We Give You Thanks and Praise: The Ambrosian Eucharistic Prefaces, ed. Alan Griffiths, Sheed and Ward, 2000.

Tresham, Henry, 1749?-1814 ; Shipster, Robert. The Macklin Bible -- Nicodemus Came to Jesus by Night, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved February 28, 2023].

Agnus Day appears with the permission of


St Stephen Lutheran Church

55 Forsythe Road, Pittsburgh PA 15220

(412) 279-5868




Saturday Evening Worship – 6:30 pm

Sunday Morning Worship – 10:30 am