Grace and Peace to you, siblings in Christ!
I pray this worship finds you safe and well, and speaks some good news into your life. Wherever you need to see God, know that in God’s incredible love, God is already there! I pray the Spirit fills you today and every day.
Peace, Pastor Chris Lee
Order of Worship for Sunday, March 14, 2021: Fourth Sunday in Lent:
The fourth of the Old Testament promises providing a baptismal lens this Lent is the promise God makes to Moses: those who look on the bronze serpent will live. In today’s gospel Jesus says he will be lifted up on the cross like the serpent, so that those who look to him in faith will live. When we receive the sign of the cross in baptism, that cross becomes the sign we can look to in faith for healing, for restored relationship to God, for hope when we are dying.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, the keeper of the covenant, the source of steadfast love, our rock and our redeemer.
God hears us when we cry, and draws us close in Jesus Christ. Let us return to the one who is full of compassion.
Fountain of living water,
pour out your mercy over us. Our sin is heavy, and we long to be free. Rebuild what we have ruined and mend what we have torn. Wash us in your cleansing flood. Make us alive in the Spirit to follow in the way of Jesus, as healers and restorers of the world you so love.
Beloved, God’s word never fails. The promise rests on grace: by the saving love of Jesus Christ, the wisdom and power of God, your sins are ☩ forgiven, and God remembers them no more. Journey in the way of Jesus.
Opening Hymn: ELW 715- “Christ, Be Our Light,” verses 1, 2, & 5.
Prayer of the Day
O God, rich in mercy, by the humiliation of your Son you lifted up this fallen world and rescued us from the hopelessness of death. Lead us into your light, that all our deeds may reflect your love, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Numbers 21:4-9
Though God provides food and water for the Israelites in the wilderness, they whine and grumble. They forget about the salvation they experienced in the exodus. God punishes them for their sin, but when they repent God also provides a means of healing: a bronze serpent lifted up on a pole.
4From Mount Hor, the Israelites set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. 5The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” 6Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. 7The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” 9So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:1-10
While we were dead in our sinfulness, God acted to make us alive as a gift of grace in Christ Jesus. We are saved not by what we do but by grace through faith. Thus our good works are really a reflection of God’s grace at work in our lives.
1You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. 4But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
Gospel: John 3:14-21
To explain the salvation of God to the religious leader, Nicodemus, Jesus refers to the scripture passage quoted in today’s first reading. Just as those who looked upon the bronze serpent were healed, so people will be saved when they behold Christ lifted up on the cross.
Jesus said:14“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17“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. 18Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
Sermon: Pastor Chris Lee
Hymn of the Day: ELW 323- “God Loved the World,” verses 1, 2, & 5.
Prayers of Intercession
Relying on the promises of God, we pray boldly for the church, the world, and all in need.
You sent your Son that the world might be saved through him. Inspire the witness of the church throughout the world. Empower missionaries, Bible translators, and ministries of service in your name. Bless our partners in ministry, our ELCA global partner churches, and Young Adults in Global Mission. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
From east to west your steadfast love is shown. Nourish seas and deserts, wilderness areas and cities. Give water to thirsty lands; nurture spring growth that feeds hungry creatures; bless farmers as they prepare for the growing season. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
You sustained your people in the wilderness. Give courage to all who lead in times of crisis and scarce resources. Prosper the work of those who aid victims of famine and drought. Bring peace in places where scares resources cause violence. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Your mercy endures forever. Deliver all who cry to you, especially those who are hungry or without homes. Give life in places where death seems triumphant; give healing to those who are sick and comfort to those who mourn especially Nancy Johnson, Ryan Raymond; Patrick Esping; Ricky Lindquist; Helen Schubert; Dan Wolever and all those we name before you now. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
By grace we have been saved. Fill this congregation to overflowing with that grace, that we show mercy to others. Nourish any in our midst who are hungry, especially children, and bless our ministries of feeding and shelter. Give us patience and courage when the way seems long. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Your Son was lifted up that whoever believes might have eternal life. We praise you for all who have died in Christ especially Betty Berg, Scott Holtan, Larry Caldwell, and those we name. Bring us with all the saints into the fullness of your promises. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
We entrust ourselves and all our prayers to you, O faithful God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Communion Music: “My Faith Looks Up to Thee,” – Young. Organ Solo performed by Pam Edwards.
Prayer after Communion
God of steadfast love, at this table you gather your people into one body for the sake of the world. Send us in the power of your Spirit, that our lives bear witness to the love that has made us new in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
You are what God made you to be: created in Christ Jesus for good works, chosen as holy and beloved, freed to serve your neighbor. God bless you ☩ that you may be a blessing, in the name of the holy and life-giving Trinity.
Sending Hymn: ELW 593- “Drawn to the Light,” all 3 verses.
Go in peace. Share the good news.
Thanks be to God.
Facebook link to worship service for Sunday, March 14, 2021:
Image credits: Moses bronze serpent Study Blue and Vincent Van Gogh image by David Mark on Pixabay.
Pianist/ Organist: Pam Edwards. Vocalists: Brittany & Miriam Anderson
“Christ, Be Our Light.” Text: Bernadette Farrell, b. 1957. Music: Bernadette Farrell. Text and music copyright 1993 Bernadette Farrell, admin. OCP Publications. All rights reserved. Permission to podcast/stream and print the music in this service obtained from One License with license #A-704843.
“God Loved the World.” Text: Gesangbuch, Bollhagen, 1791; tr. August Crull, 1846 – 1923, alt.. Music: Edward Miller, 1731 – 1807, adapt.. Public domain.
“My Faith Looks Up to Thee.” Arr. Gordon Young.(c) 1994 Hope Publishing Company. Organ Solo (One License #106175). All rights reserved. Permission to podcast/stream and print the music in this service obtained from One License with license #A-704843.
“Drawn to the Light.” Text: John C. Ylvisaker, b. 1937. Music: John C. Ylvisaker. Text and music copyright 1990 John C. Ylvisaker. All rights reserved. Permission to podcast/stream and print the music in this service obtained from One License with license #A-704843.
Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2021 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Reprinted/ streamed with permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS006904. Duplication in any form is prohibited without permission or valid license from the copyright administrator.