Numbers 21:4-9
The people of Israel complain about being in the desert because there is no food or water and they don’t like the food God has provided. Then a plague of snakes attacks them and they ask for forgiveness and salvation. God instructs Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole so that anyone who is bitten by a snake can look at the bronze snake and be healed.
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
A song of praise for God who punished those who, in their foolishness disobeyed and rebelled, but who forgave and saved them when they called out to God.
Ephesians 2:1-10
Though we once followed the ways of the world and were dead in our sins, deserving judgement like anyone else, God saved us through Christ, as an act of grace that we did not earn. But God has created us to do good works in Christ.
John 3:14-21
As the snake was lifted up on a pole in the desert, so Christ is to be lifted up so that all who seek to be saved may look to him. God sent him into the world to save, not condemn, but those who love darkness rather than light are already condemned, because they want to keep their actions hidden and not have them exposed.
(Summary of readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

COCU22B.Lent4B.Readings (formatted in landscape A4, folded)

Elements of worship

Centering reflections to begin worship

Call to worship

Prayers of confession (words of assurance)

Prayer of confession 
 Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
so must the New Human be lifted up,
that whoever trusts may have eternal life.
— John 3.14-15

You have to look your evil in the face to be healed.
The snakes that plagued the Hebrews in the desert
were their betrayal come back to bite them,
their being Eden’s serpent.
The cure was to gaze at their sin.

So we gaze upon the Crucified One, our victim,
and look our awfulness in the eye
and only there grasp forgiveness,
and only then become truly alive.

On the cross is lifted up
our racism, our violence, our materialism,
our deep seated me-first-ism.
Posted there is our last text to God,
“I’ll let you know when I need you.”
We look at it, look at it hard,
to get free of the lie that we’re just fine,
the lie that keeps us from knowing
how deeply we are forgiven,
how vastly we are blessed,
how infinitely we are loved.                      (Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)
A silence is kept as we reflect upon these words for ourselves.
(Followed by words of assurance)

Prayer of praise and confession
Eternal and ever-blessed God,
We give you thanks that you have gathered us within this place today;
that we can lift our voices in praise,
bring our prayers to you together
and hear your word and respond to your gospel.
So accompany us,
that our minds may be enlightened by your truth, our hearts may be warmed with your love,
our lives may be empowered by your grace;
so that we may go from this place
to love you and our neighbour more.

Forgive us for the broken promises
when we did not count the cost
and it was harder to keep them than we thought.
Forgive us for the promises that we have made
And then forgotten about.
Forgive us for the things we have left half-done because of the lack of perseverance.
Forgive us for the things we have not even attempted, for the things we were afraid to do,
for the things we were too lazy to try ,
for the things we put off from day to day
until we never do them.
Living God, perhaps we should have done so much more
with the talents that you have given to us.
Perhaps we should have worked harder to turn dreams into reality.
Help us to use the time that remains to us well
so that we may be able to say at the end,
“I have finished the work that you have given me.”
Loving God, grant to us
strength to bear our burdens and not to faint or fall,
strength to conquer our temptations and do what is right,
strength to walk with you each day throughout our lives
until we reach our journey’s end.
Hear these prayers, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
(Source: Rev Colin Sinclair, Church of Scotland)

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.
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.
Those 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.
 John 3.16-18

Infinite Love, heart of all life,
you loved this word into being
with such love
as to birth yourself among us,
Love begotten as the Beloved.

Opening ourselves to your love
we live beyond our mortal selves
and join your eternal Oneness.

Your presence does not separate but unites;
love does not push away, but embraces;
you do not condemn, but save.

Trusting this we know
we are loved, never rejected.
When our trust fails we are doomed:
withdrawing into ourselves
we aren’t open to love,
the only source of life.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

A poem: The serpent dies 
(Numbers 21: 4-9; John 3: 14-21)

No need to explain how the serpent’s bite
surfaces (stealthy as the coming of night)
while you’re reading the news; or worried and alone;
or when suffering long; or when a doctor intones
challenging words; or when darkness falls;
or the voice on the end of the telephone call
declares a once-loved relationship done;
when hope seems lost, when joy seems gone.

No need to explain how this serpent hides
next door to our hearts, marks left inside
where poison drips from the tip of its fangs:
in rage, in bitterness, in lonely pangs
of guilt and regret; in the resentments we bear.
And in hurts that we cause we do our own share
of spreading its toxin and resulting grief.
The serpent is death – the fear of it.  Relief

ever seems to elude us; but we may declare
its ultimate defeat; for above its shadow there
rises greater light – see, lifted up,
the one who for us drank the cup
of suffering, whose love even in death
conquered its evil; by whose living breath
we also may thrive. We turn trusting eyes,
snake-bitten, upon Christ, and the serpent dies.
(Source: Andrew King 2015)

Prayer for illumination

Prayers for Others (and words to conclude prayers for others)

Prayer of intercession
Gracious God,
bless those who are looking in the wrong direction,
those who are living in the past,
those for whom all the good days lie far behind,
those who are trapped in nostalgia
and who live simply with their memories.

We pray for those who have allowed some sorrow
to darken their whole horizon
and to let the sun set on their hopes and dreams,
for those who have allowed some disappointment
to sour rather than let them grow,
for those who have allowed some quarrel to create a gulf
that they will not even try to bridge.

We pray for those who are living in the future,
for those who are always putting things off
until a more convenient time,
for those who are waiting and not working,
for those who are hoping but not striving,
for those who have mistaken dreams for deeds.

We pray for those who think of their problems
but who never think to turn to you,
for those who tease at their worries
till they cannot even sleep,
for those who are conscious of their weakness
but have forgotten your all sufficient grace,
for those who think of the things they might lose,
but who never think of the things that cannot be taken from them.

We pray for those who seek their pleasures
in ways that can only bring regret,
for those for whom what they have and own and keep
are the most important things in the world,
for those who think money can buy all that they need
if only they had enough of it,
for those who are driven by ambitions
that will not let them rest.

We pray for those who are such slaves of their work
that their families hardly see anything of them,
for those who drive themselves so hard
that when they are at home
they are so tired they are either irritable or fall asleep,
for those who have not time to rest and relax
and enjoy the people they love,
doing ordinary things
and sometimes, simply doing nothing.

We pray for those who are ill or in pain,
for those in hospitals or receiving care at home
for those for whom the way back to health
is a long hard road,
for those who know that there is no healing for them,
that they may play out their last act with courage and with faith.

We pray for those suffering from memory loss and for their carers,
for all who are suffering from mental health problems;
give them the support that they need
and understanding and compassion from the wider community.

Bless those who are elderly, especially those who live alone
who rarely have a conversation with another,
for those who are not able to easily get out of their homes
and can easily feel that no-one cares.

Bless each one of us, whatever our situation, whatever our need.
Help us to set our hearts on things above where Christ is
and find in him a rock on which we can build our lives.

Hear these, our prayers, through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen
(Source: Rev Colin Sinclair, Church of Scotland)

Lord’s Prayer – various

Prayers of dedication (offering prayers)

Dedication of the offering
O God, accept these offerings
brought in this and other ways
and so take us and use us
that in your service we may find our freedom
and in doing your will, we may find our peace
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
(Source: Rev Colin Sinclair, Church of Scotland)

Words of Mission


Pilgrim midweek HC service 2018 COCU22B.Lent4B.Midweek.2018

Readings (Word and PDF)

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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