Service for March 14, 2021 — Take Stock of Lent
Old Testament Lesson: Numbers 21:4-9:
4They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
6Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
Psalm 38 on Page 81 in Christian Worship
O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
For your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down upon me.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.
All my longings lie open before you, O Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
I wait for you, O Lord;
you will answer, O Lord my God.
Come quickly to help me,
O Lord my Savior.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Gospel Lesson: John 3:14-21:
14“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
Epistle Lesson & Sermon Text: Ephesians 2:4-10:
4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Introduction: Sometimes, in the middle of doing something that is very difficult or enduring something that is very trying, it is always good to step back and consider why you are where you are and where you hope to be someday. I have seen this recently in my children who are going through various stages of higher education. Our older daughter, for example, is going through the rigors of her clinicals right now. That means that she is doing the work that she is preparing to do, except that she is not getting paid and she has to travel a fair amount of miles every day in pursuit of this. I’ve watched her remind herself that this is only going to last so long and, finally, she is going to graduate with a degree. For the past year, we have been living in a world that has been changed significantly from the life that we are used to. Now, with the vaccines being distributed, we can all look forward to getting out of this and returning to normal life. Right now, we are in the middle of the Lenten season. Last Wednesday, I didn’t have to preach so I listened to the sermon that the guest preacher preached. It was all about the brutality of the guards as they bully Dan beat Jesus. Lent Can be a fairly depressing time in the church year. We look at all that our savior suffered and it can have the effect of making us feel sad. That’s why, in the middle of this Lenten season…
Let’s Take Stock of Lent
I. Why are we here?
II. What does it accomplish?