Sunday March 6, 2016
Year C, Fourth Sunday in Lent
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 32
L: Happy are those whose sin is forgiven;
P: Those in whose spirit there is no deceit.
L: We have said “We will confess our transgressions to the LORD;
P: And God forgave the guilt of our sin.
L: Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayers to the LORD,
P: And we shall be surrounded with glad cries of deliverance.
L: Steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.
P: Let us be glad in the LORD and rejoice!
As we become more aware of the lengthening of the days; as we draw closer to Spring and the celebration of Easter; help us draw closer to you, O God. Around us there are signs of newness of life, beginning to spring forth. Allow your Spirit to spring forth anew in each of us here assembled. Gather us in your presence, and guide us in your truth. Teach us to know the blessing of your redemption and forgiveness, and help us to accept these gifts with gratitude and praise. We come as your faithful, accept our prayers and praise in Christ’s Holy Name.
In the Book of Joshua, we encounter the end of God’s provision of Manna. Instead the Israelites ate the produce of the land in Gilgal. To many, this seems like the end of God providing for the people. I see it as the beginning of abundance. You see, at Gilgal, the Israelites affirmed their devotion to God, and in doing so were given not Manna, which was “enough”, but the fruit of the land, which was “abundant”. We give our tithes and offerings, as a sign of our devotion to God. Isn’t it logical then we are giving not because we have enough, but because God has already blessed us with abundance? We will now bring the tithes and offerings which are one representation of our devotion to God.
You have blessed us abundantly, O God, and we return a portion to you. Take these tithes and offerings as a sign of our devotion to you, O LORD of plenty. Use these gifts to further your reign. We offer them in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
In the gospel of Luke we encounter the parable of the prodigal son: one of the best known and loved parables of Jesus. Scholars argue over the most important teaching of the parable. Is it God’s constant desire to welcome return from the lost? Or is it our need to confess and accept God’s welcome? Perhaps another teaching like the lesson to the older brother is the most important teaching. I suspect if we engaged the discussion, we would hear many different answers. What I know, is that as Disciples, this is the place we talk about confession and forgiveness. The table is where we encounter our failings and God’s grace. Come to the table, Here waits a welcoming God with a feast laid out for you.
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Scripture Quotations from the New Revised Standard Version. Online Scripture links a service of the Jean and Alexander Heard Divinity Library, of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
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