Worship at Home for Sunday March 14 2021

The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Call to Turning Towards God (Psalm 107)

One: God redeems us and saves us from trouble.
All: Give thanks for God’s steadfast love endures forever.
One: God hears our cries and heals us.

All: Give thanks for God’s steadfast love endures forever.
One: God saves us, heals us and loves us.
All: Let us give God thanks and praise!

Passing of the Peace (Smile and wave to those around you.)

Hymn: “Lord I Lift Your Name on High”

Children’s Message

Scriptures for the

Numbers 21:4-9

Psalm 107

Ephesians 2:1-10

John 3:14-21

To listen to the sermon and scriptures click here: 

Sermon: A Sign to Behold

When I read the passage from Numbers describing the Hebrews in the desert complaining about just about everything; the food, the water, the wandering, the leadership, etc. I am not surprised that God gets mad. Whining is just so irritating. Country and Western singer Chris Ladoux even had a song about whining, “There’s a Five Dollar Fine for Whining”. When my kids were small and started to whine, I would start singing that song. Pay up and stop whining.

Well God fined the Hebrews more than five dollars. The poor people were afflicted with poisonous snakes to the point that they begged Moses to pray to God to make it stop. They confessed their sins, and Moses went before God in prayer to request forgiveness for all that whining. God answered Moses’ prayer. Moses was commanded to make a poisonous serpent and set it on a pole. Everyone who beheld the sign of the serpent would be healed. So, Moses made a bronze serpent, put it on a pole and whenever someone was bit by a serpent, they would look at the pole and live.

I am uncertain just how that worked, and to my modern-day mind it sounds implausible that staring at a bronze snake could heal anybody, but who am I to question God’s ways. In the passage from John, Jesus has been teaching Nicodemus about some incompressible things. In John 3:3-13, Jesus explains the meaning of being born again and more. Nicodemus struggles with the concept of being born again as I do with the idea of being healed from snake bite by gazing at a bronze serpent on a pole. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Jesus informs Nicodemus that he is referring to a spiritual rebirth rather than a physical one. Jesus illustrates his point this way, that the Son of Man is to be lifted up like that bronze serpent as a sign of eternal life. People would look at Jesus and have eternal life. Jesus would die, rise from the dead and ascend into heaven and be the sign to see and live eternally.

Why? Because God loves us! John 3:16 is arguably the most often quoted verse in the Bible, “For God so loved the world that God gave God’s only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” God wanted the Hebrews in the desert to live even if they were whiners. God wants us to live eternally. Yes, even in our messy imperfection, God loves us and wants us to live.

Jesus continues teaching about choosing light over darkness. There are those who choose to walk in the darkness even when there is a shining light showing a better way. Sometimes it is really hard to come out of the darkness which can have a strong grip on who and what we are. The Indigo Girls in their song “Closer to Fine” phrase it this way,

Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
And I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores

My prayer is the seeker crashes on God’s shores. We need to allow ourselves to leave the places of fear and darkness in our lives. To unwrap those blankets of fear, ignore the hungers of the dark and hear the call of the light. Being born again into a new way of being alive in God, in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

One symbol that we could hold up today would be a flashlight of love. The love of God in Jesus can take away the fears that hold us back from leading full lives of peace, joy and hope. The light is a beacon to guide from dark and stormy seas. God understands our pain and our fears.

On the night in which he was betrayed, the day he was beaten and hung up on the cross to die, Jesus experienced all that you feel. You can tell Jesus about our deepest fears, sorrows and hurts. Jesus on the cross was reborn into a symbol of eternal life when he rose from the dead three days later. The darkness does not overcome the light and love of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus ascended into heaven in a cloud of light. We too will live in the light of heaven.

We need to let the heavenly light shine in our lives. We need to shine God’s light and wrap one another in blankets of love and burn those blankets of fear.

Prayer

Seasons of Reflection by Cheryl Lawrie from the Worship Design Studio

Light of Lights, this is the season for reflection,

and we pray that we might reflect your radiance.

Where there is sorrow,

we pray for your grace to light the darkness.

Where there is despair,

we pray for your hope to light the darkness.

Where there is hatred,

we pray for your forgiveness to light the

darkness.

Where there is war,

we pray for your love to light the darkness.

Where there is confusion,

we pray for your peace to light the darkness.

Where there is injustice,

we pray for your courage to light the darkness.

Where there is fear

we pray for your joy to light the darkness.

It is the season for reflection

and we pray that we might reflect the brilliance of

justice and peace:

Light of lights, may your light shine in and

through us.

Amen.

Let us take time to lift up the joys and concerns of our hearts in prayer.

Silent Prayer followed by the Lord’s Prayer Luke 11:2-5

Prayer list: I’ve removed some of the names that have been on here quite a while. If I removed someone who I shouldn’t have please let me know.

Ahna, Priscilla, Grandpa David, Virginia, Vic, Liz’s sister in law, Butch, Marcie, Anonymous Cancer Patient, Linda, Pat, Laurie Lee, Gail, Brenda, Jeff, Terry, Bev, Mark, Dave, Peggy, youth struggling with mental health issues, Shawn, Lindsey, Sue, Diann, Danna, Janet, Lisa, Joyce, Cheyenne, Katelyn and Michelle.

Special Prayers:

  • For the Missouri Mid-South Conference and the Rev. Dr. Ginny Brown Daniel as we seek to live in new ways.

Goodwill/Offering

  • Please consider giving to the One Great Hour of Sharing this month.
  • Give thanks for God’s promises to us.

Prayer of Dedication

We give thanks for the love that You show us always. Accept and bless these gifts of thanksgiving as signs of our love and commitment to You. Amen.

Going Forth: “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”

Benediction: May the light of God’s love shine in your hearts and lives today and every day. May you see the sign of God’s love and live. May you guide others to the sign of Jesus so that they may live in God’s light and love. Amen.

 

 

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