For Sunday March 18, 2012
Year B, Fourth Sunday in Lent
Fourth Sunday in Lent :: Violet :: Numbers 21:4–9 :: Psalm 107:1–3, 17–22 :: Ephesians 2:1–10 :: John 3:14–21
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 107
L: Give thanks to the LORD, for God is good;
P: God’s steadfast love endures forever.
L: When we cry out to the LORD in times of trouble;
P: The LORD saves us from distress.
L: Let us thank the LORD for God’s wonderful works,
P: And tell of God’s deeds with songs of joy.
Almighty and wondrous God, you gave us your law from Mount Sinai. We have heard it and seek to heed it. Though we know that as a creation people have failed to completely keep your law, our knowledge of it gives us comfort. Your precepts and guidance give our lives structure and strength. As we continue our Lenten Journey, turning our faces to Jerusalem, we ask again for your guidance and blessing. Help us to know in this time of worship your presence, your comfort, and your truth.
Today’s reading from Ephesians speaks of being spiritually dead and finding new life. One of the many ministries we share through Week of Compassion, takes Disciples Seminarians abroad to expand their world view, and to help them gain perspective on rebuilding of lives. After a recent trip to Bosnia Andrew Packman shared these thoughts:
As I look back on Bosnia, now that I’m comfortably back in Baton Rouge, I am filled with a happy heart. I am blessed to have met an incredible group of Bosnians (Bosnian Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and Bosnian Serbs) who all have powerful personal stories and who all have found their own ways of working to bring their country back together. I am blessed to have witnessed both the good and the bad. I have walked across the graveyard in Srebrenica and have broken bread with amputee victims of landmines who have lived without their legs since the sixth grade. But I have also witnessed the beauty of a culture that has survived despite a harrowing attempt to see it erased, wiped clean from the face of the Earth. I am blessed to have heard Pepi sing Bosnian folk songs in his proud, Slavic, baritone voice, the same voice that defiantly sang Mozart’s Requiem in the rubble of the National Library in Sarajevo after a nearly successful attempt to destroy all the oldest records of Bosnian history. I am blessed to have met people like Teo, Atif, and Nemanja (one Croat, one Muslim, and one Serb) who each in their own way have partnered with our churches, churches in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), who through Week of Compassion, have committed to walking with the people of Bosnia as they pick themselves back up, dust themselves off, and repair the breach that has ripped their land apart.
Let us now receive the tithes and offerings which help to support ministries which bring life.
Almighty God, who reigns over all the earth, we can only imagine your sorrow when we rise up against one another. As a nation engaged in war ourselves, we ask your blessing of peace and fervently wish for war no more. As we bring these gifts, we pray you will bless and multiply them, we pray that you will use them that all of the world might find new life in Christ. We offer these gifts in Christ’s name, and by his grace.
Everyone knows John 3:16. It is perhaps the most universally known Bible verse. Yet the verse which follows might be even more valuable. Do you know what John 3:SEVENTEEN says? “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.” Too often we focus on the personal actions in 3:16: “whosoever” and gloss over not only the world actions in 17, but also the reminder. Christ was not sent to CONDEMN, but to save. That is why we gather at this table: to remember that Christ’s blood was shed for FORGIVENESS of sins. Believe in Christ. Believe in God who forgives. Accept Christ’s invitation to grace and wholeness as we break the bread and drink from the cup.
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