In this Lent season, we have been walking with Jesus toward Jerusalem. Next Sunday is already Palm Sunday when Jesus enters Jerusalem. Today we begin hearing clearly Jesus’ warning to his disciples regarding the future that will soon unfold.

This morning we prepare our hearts with Gospel Mark 10:32-34

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.’

Preparation: Create in me a clean heart

Call to Worship (Psalm 51: 1-12)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Hymn: O Let the Son of God enfold you


God of the covenant,
in the glory of the cross
your Son embraced the power of death
and broke its hold over your people.
In this time of repentance,
draw all people to yourself,
that we who confess Jesus as Lord
may put aside the deeds of death
and accept the life of your kingdom. Amen.

Scripture: John 12:24, 25

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Sermon: Sacrifice

I grew up with John 12:24. This was framed like an art and was hung in our living room. Of course, the symbolism of sacrifice was always in front of my eyes. It became a motto for my life as it was for many Christians since Jesus. For Christians, this sacrifice meant that we try to make others better Christians as well as serving them even to the detriment of our own health and well being. The trouble with this form of sacrifice is that we are nice to the point of fault and are often taken advantage of by others who did not care at all about us and our needs. It often ended up as others selfishly using our kindness.

It is true that dying to advance the common good is certainly heroic. We saw many people willingly put themselves in harm's way including dying in order to save others. As we speak, in many places around the world, people are being beaten mercilessly, imprisoned senselessly and killed indiscriminately as they try to improve the lives of others. At the same time, everyday we see reports of people doing everything they can to improve lives of others everywhere. We are told by governments everywhere that those who died at battles made ultimate sacrifices for their nations.

In our world, however, the truth is that individual sacrifices are lost in the sea of selfish and greedy people who exploit these noble sacrifices for their benefits. Look at what is happening with the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Even the grandchildren of Dr. King has sold the rights to Dr. King’s speeches for profit. Everything has a price it seems and everything is used for someone’s profit including the names and acts of those who gave their lives for others.

The elephant in the room in this case for us Christians is the profiteering Christian shysters who call themselves evangelists and leaders who use Jesus’ words to make themselves rich. There are so many that we have lost count on how many of them are living high lives demanding poor people to send them money for their ministries. Remember how some of those tele-evangelists who asked their audiences for money so that they could fly around the world in private jets to expand their ministries?

Contrast these evil people with those who have been faithful in local congregations. So many congregations in North America have been struggling. Indeed, each year, average attendance has been declining in significant numbers. Why, just before the COVID pandemic hit, I remember reading somewhere that the average worshippers on Sunday in a church was down to less than 50 people in Canada. I fear that today the average number would be around 30 people. Yet, there is no sign of this number increasing. If anything the number will decrease as we continue into the future.

Something interesting happened during the COVID lockdowns. Many churches which were already in financial trouble should have been hit severely by the pandemic. However, as the pandemic lockdowns deepened, something opposite happened. People began supporting their churches more. Most congregations did well as many members sacrificed far more than usual to keep their churches going. All congregations in our Presbytery were able to sustain themselves because so many people were willing to give more.

After the pandemic lockdowns were lifted, we are seeing the trend of people doing less for their churches. They returned back to their usual ways and began doing less for churches. Things are not going well for most congregations. A few members in each congregation, however, are sacrificing even more so that these churches will continue. Without these few dedicated members, the demise of our congregations are a certainty, proving once again that when there are those who are willing to sacrifice, there will be life to a faith community.

In churches everywhere we saw in reality verse 25, “those who love their life lose it.” I have been involved with many congregations that want to become strong and carry on witnessing the gospel. We know that the world has changed. We also know that bringing and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with our neihgbours require a very different forms and methods. Hear it correctly. We are not changing the gospel. We are adapting our means of witnessing the gospel in ways that today’s people will understand. But in reality, if we change anything, we hear from those who cling onto how we always have done.

Changes are hard because we do not want to lose our life as we live it. We do not want to lose the way we always have been. We do not want to sacrifice for the future. We like to preserve everything the way they are. When we hang onto how we always worshipped, gathered, sat on a particular seat and desire the way we like things to be, then, as this passage indicates, the fruits we bear are less and less until there is no more. This is why Jesus expresses it bluntly, “those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Lent is all about following Jesus or walking with Jesus. Each day we symbolically give up our own lives little by little until we lose them altogether as Jesus is put on the cross. We need to realize that following Christ is to let go of what we love about our lives. This is hard. It is not for a faint of heart, but for those who are able to answer God’s call to lose our own lives, pick up our crosses and follow our Lord. Without hearing this call to sacrifice and our response in giving up our lives, there is no eternal life for us just like the rich man who could not give up his wealth.


Steadfast God,
amid many changes and challenges around us, 
we are grateful that you are with us. 
You understand our fears;
you support and guide us;
and you give us courage to face whatever lies ahead. 
Thank you for the gift of faith, a solid rock to support us, 
and so we trust that you keep working,  in ways seen and unseen,
for goodness to prevail.  
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Loving God, 
in this time of when there is much to be anxious about, 
we pray for the world you love.
Send your healing Spirit to bring peace with justice to the troubled places,
(name places currently in the news … )
Bring care and comfort to those who have been hurt in conflict, 
wisdom to those who seek to end hostilities, 
and courage to those who advocate for the most vulnerable.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Send your healing Spirit to mend relationships
between religious groups and cultural groups
who find themselves in tension or turmoil. 
We pray for mutual respect to grow
between people who look at each other with suspicion,
and among people who have painful histories with each other.
Open our hearts and minds
to those whose situations and concerns we don’t understand,
and bring your gift of reconciliation to us all.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Send your healing Spirit to people we know and to the earth you love.
We remember before you friends in grief… (pause)
those suffering illness and all waiting for treatment… (pause)
those facing difficulty at work or finding work… (pause)
disagreements in our church or community… (pause)
concerns about the environment we depend on… (pause)
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for the continuing ministry of the Church
in our neighbourhoods and around the world.
As we move toward our celebration of Christ’s resurrection,
send your healing Spirit to raise our hearts and our hopes
with the promise of new life in Christ.  
Restore to us the joy of your salvation and sustain in us all a willing spirit. 
We pray through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who taught us to pray, saying:
The Lord’s Prayer

Offering/Offering Prayer


Please remember that we have our Lent Devotion taking place on Wednesday at 10 am. Everyone is welcome.

Next Sunday, March 24 is Palm Sunday. It is also our communion Sunday. Please prepare your hearts in prayer. Come and join us for this important worship.

During the Holy Week, we will have Wednesday Devotion. This year we decided not to have Maundy Thursday worship. We will come together on Good Friday at 10 am for worship service. Please mark this important worship service on your calendar. Join us for this worship.
Sunday, March 31 is Easter Sunday. We will be participating in many ways to praise and worship our risen Lord. Please invite friends and family as we celebrate this joyful resurrection day.

Every Wednesday afternoon the prayer time begins at 3:30 pm. Please join us or take time to pray wherever you are.

Every Saturday at 1 pm, we gather for a time of exercise, devotion and workshop learning about living in Canada followed by volunteer work of many kinds. Please come and join us.

Please note that times and dates of other activities which will be sent out by email.

Hymn: Guide me, O Great Redeemer