This week’s worship service just hits “all the right spots” for Lent; it distills the essence of Lent! This worship services focuses on how great God’s self-giving love is for us, in spite of all the rotten choices each of us has made, not through ignorance but “through my fault, my own fault, my own most grievous fault.” Actually, I think this is one of the reasons why I absolutely love Lent! Lent looks squarely at our own heartless choices, shows real contrition for what we have done, and falls into the outstretched, loving, forgiving arms of God. By the time Lent ends, I feel as if my soul has gone through a cleansing “car wash” and had a whole year’s worth of gunk and dirt and sin washed away.
The Processional Hymn is “God of our Life, All-Glorious Lord.” The only copy of this one that I could find on YouTube was this Karaoke version. (But I don’t feel too bad because you KNOW this hymn.) So sing along! (And for those of you who are subscribers to my blog, please remember that to see and hear the YouTube videos of these hymns, you have to click on the title of the blog: “Hymns and Lessons for the 4th Sunday in Lent.”)
The lyrics are: 1) God of our life all glorious Lord, be now and evermore adored! Into the op’ning of this day bring grace and love and peace, we pray. // 2) Make clear our path, that we may see where we must walk to be with thee and ever listen for Thy voice, that we may make Thy way our choice. // 3) Give us Thy help in ev’ry task, nor let us fail of Thee to ask for grace in speech, for love in deed. from wrongful actions to be freed. // 4) At eventide then will we raise a grateful heart in songs of praise, and worship Thee and Thy dear Son with God the Spirit ever one.
The Prayer of the Day is “Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies are new every morning; and though we deserve only punishment, You receive us as Your children and provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”
The Scriptures for this, the Fourth Sunday in Lent, are Numbers 21:4-9: Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; and John 3:14-21.
In Numbers 21:4-9, the Israelites have forgotten all about how God miraculously rescued them at the Red Sea, and they are complaining that all they have to eat is “this lousy manna” — that miraculously appears every morning. So, for their lack of faith (and sheer ingratitude) God sends snakes to bite them. When the people repent, God tells Moses to lift up a bronze serpent on a pole so that everyone who looks at it will be healed. Christians have always seen this story as a foreshadowing of how God would take care of the sin problem that was killing us by lifting Christ on a cross. “Everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” Or, as Ephesians 2:4-8 says, “But God, being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses. made us alive together with Christ — bu grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him … so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Jesus Christ. For by grace you have been saved through faith.”
The Gospel begins: “[Jesus said:] “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This wonderful Gospel reading summarizes all of today’s lessons, and in fact all of Lent.
Of course the Hymn of the Day is “What Wondrous Love is This.”
The Distribution Hymn is “Amazing Grace”.
The Recessional Hymn is “My God, How Wonderful Thou Art.”
This wonderful Sunday’s worship is a microcosm of all of Lent. I hope to share in praising this incredible God with you! See you Sunday.