Worship Resources for March 10, 2024—Fourth Sunday of Lent

A note on Rev-o-lution:
After seventeen years of blogging, first on an old Blogger site and then for the past thirteen years at this domain, providing worship resources on the Revised Common Lectionary (and for the past ten years on the Narrative Lectionary), it is time to hang up my blogging hat.
I will continue to post new resources through Pentecost (May 19, 2024) and keep the website up through at least November 2024, perhaps longer, for access to the archives.
It has become more difficult to say something new week after week, and also, I’m now writing novels, and it has taken more of my time than I can give.

Thank you for your support of Rev-o-lution over all these years. It has meant a lot to me that my resources are useful to local pastors and that I have been able to provide them for free. But all things come to an end and there are other people blogging on the lectionary currently, with fresher words than mine. I’ll be sharing those sites in the coming weeks.

Revised Common Lectionary: Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21

Narrative Lectionary: Great Commandment, Mark 12:28-44 (Psalm 89:1-4)

The lesson today in the Hebrew Scriptures from Numbers veers from the theme of covenants that we have been following. The lesson is not about a covenant, but that God provides a way to life even when the people disobey God’s ways. The people once again are complaining against Moses for bringing them out of Egypt. They complain there is no food or water, except that they “detest this miserable food.” They were tired of the manna God provided. So poisonous serpents came and bit the people, and many died. The scripture reads that the Lord sent the serpents, but what if the serpents biting the people were really the people “biting” each other with their complaining and slander? The people came to Moses and confessed their sin, and Moses prayed for the people. God told Moses to make a poisonous serpent and set it on a pole, for everyone who looked at the serpent on the pole would live. Moses did so—he made a serpent of bronze, and everyone who was bit lifted their eyes, and upon looking at the serpent, they lived. Once the people stopped looking at the problems right in front of them and lifted their eyes, they were able to find a way to live together.

Psalm 107 is a song of thanksgiving and remembrance for what God has done for the people throughout time. The psalmist begins by addressing “the redeemed of the Lord,” which implies those coming out of exile. Verses 17-22 speaks of a time when the people were “sick through their sinful ways,” and “loathed any kind of food,” and how God healed and delivered them. This psalm pairs well with the story in Numbers, reflecting that God does not desire punishment, but restoration and healing.

In Ephesians 2:1-10, the author (purporting to be Paul) writes about how we live in the world versus God’s intentions for us. We have followed the course of this world which leads to sin and death—worldly measures of success, wealth, notoriety—all those lead to dead ends. None of it will last and all of it leads to supporting systemic sin—oppression, enslavement, cruel workplace practices, racism, marginalization, etc. By grace, however, Christ came for us. By grace we have been saved and shown the immeasurable riches of God. Because of Christ, none of us can boast about what we have or haven’t done. Rather, Christ restores us to God’s intentions, which is for goodness and good works. This was God’s intention from Genesis 1. We have been restored, and God has prepared this to be our way of life.

John 3:14-21 is the second part of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, a Pharisee who has come to see Jesus by night. Verse 14 begins with using the story of Moses and the serpents in Numbers 21:4-9. The people were saved when they looked to the serpent on the pole, when they looked beyond what they could see in front of them—the poisonous grumblings that had infiltrated the camp—and instead looked to God and God’s ways. So the Son of Man must be lifted up, according to John’s account, on a cross. As the people in Moses’ day were saved from poison when they looked up, those who believe will be saved when they believe in Jesus and will have eternal life. While vs. 16 is one many know by heart, it is just as important to know vs. 17, that God did not send the Son to condemn the world, but to save the world. The condemnation comes for those who love the ways of the world more than the ways of God, but those who know the truth know the goodness of God’s created intention for us, and their works reflect that intention.

The Narrative Lectionary focuses on the Greatest Commandment in Mark 12:28-44. These verses contain the content of Jesus’ teaching in the temple, during the days before his betrayal and arrest. A common way of learning in Jewish community in the first century was through health debate, and the rabbis debated each other. When a scribe heard Jesus answering the questions of others well, he asked him which commandment was the greatest. Jesus responded with the Shema, the call to prayer from Deuteronomy 6:4, that everyone present would have known by heart. He also quoted Leviticus 19:18 about loving one’s neighbor as one’s self, which other rabbis of Jesus’ day also linked together. The scribe responded that Jesus was correct, and the scribe offered his own thoughts on living into those commandments, that they meant more than the burnt offerings and sacrifices of the temple worship. Jesus responded that he wasn’t far from the kingdom of God. Jesus then asked those gathered around him about the Messiah and David’s son, quoting Psalm 110, and warned against those scribes that wanted to be looked upon for their position rather than the work they did. Lastly, Jesus observed a poor widow putting all she had into the temple treasury, and taught his disciples that the sacrifice she made was greater than what all the rich gave out of their abundance.

The supplementary verses of Psalm 89:1-4 begin with praising God as the one who chose David as king and made the covenant with David. The psalmist declares that God’s steadfast love endures forever, as David’s reign and descendants will endure forever.

What turns us away from the promises of God? If the theme of the Hebrew scripture lessons has been on covenants, today is a day to remind us that we human beings are the ones who break them, not God. Yet God always provides a pathway to life—and not just life after death, but new life that begins now and lasts through eternity. God has prepared a way for us, for we were created for good works, though we have gone astray. For God so loved the world that Jesus came to show us this way through his life, death, and resurrection. The way to get out of the dead ends of the world is to lift our gaze to Christ, who has shown us that death has no hold on us. Get out of worldly thinking in which we attack and harm one another, in our words and actions, fighting over the things of this world. Remember that we serve a risen Savior. Whoever believes will not die, but have eternal life, a gift that no one can take from us.

Call to Worship (paraphrased from Psalm 107:1-2, 21-22)
O give thanks to the LORD, for God is good;
For God’s steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
For God has redeemed us from trouble.
Let us thank the LORD for God’s steadfast love,
For God’s wonderful works to humankind.
Let us come before God with thanksgiving,
And tell of God’s deeds with songs of joy.

Prayer of Invocation
Everlasting God, we gather together knowing You are present among us. Guide our hearts and minds to listen for Your word: in our hearts, in our movement, in our prayers. Open us to new insights, to be challenged by the scriptures, to be assured by our songs, to be encouraged in prayer, knowing that You are making all things new, including us. May we be open to the Spirit in this time. Amen.

Prayer of Brokenness/Confession
Holy One, we confess that we have failed to live into the covenants You have made with us. We have turned aside from Your ways and sought our own gain. We have ignored those in need among us and fought with our neighbors. We have abandoned our love for You and failed to love one another, loving instead the things of this world: wealth, power, security, notoriety. Forgive us for not living the life You have assured us. Guide us away from the empty promises of the world we have made and into the promise of eternal life in You, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing/Assurance (from Ephesians 2:4-10)
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

You have been created for good works in Christ Jesus. Remember your created intention. Remember your purpose. Go back to your roots, and know God’s love and grace and forgiveness have always—always—been there. Accept it, know it in your heart, and live into the life Christ has promised you, now and through eternity. Share the good news. Amen.

Sojourning God, as we move through the halfway point of Lent, journeying toward the cross at Calvary, we remember where we have gone astray on our own journey of faith. At times we have taken You for granted. We have taken the church for granted. We have assured ourselves that we are good people, and that we do good things. Remind us that the journey is as important as the destination. We are called to help others in this world, not only to know You, but to know Your love through our love of them. Call us to truly love our neighbor, in which we take notice of their needs, understand the systems and structures in place that continue to oppress and harm, and work for justice in this world. For it is this life that matters. It is in this life that we measure ourselves, whether we have lived into Your ways. It is in this life that we have the opportunity to practice hospitality, welcome the stranger, lift up the poor, work for justice, and pursue peace. In the name of Christ, who journeys with us, we pray. Amen.

2 thoughts on “Worship Resources for March 10, 2024—Fourth Sunday of Lent


    Good afternoon, I have rally enjoyed using Rev-O-lution over the years. Thank you , you will be missed.

  2. Redel Morrall Leake

    Praise the Lord! This is my first time using this site. My purpose was to find a lent Scripture for March 10th. I’m am so thankful for the information that I came across. And the heart felt prayer. It is refreshing to be reminded of God’s wonderful love and blessings for His people.


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