Word for the Week and Theme for the Season

Word for the Week

Sunday, March 11, 2018 Fourth Sunday in Lent Introduction

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.

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. Amen.

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.

Psalm: Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

You deliver your people from their distress. (Ps. 107:19)

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.

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.

Theme for the season of Lent

Once for All: Instantly Saved, Gradually Sanctified

Lent is a time for us to turn our hearts and minds back to God, to witness Jesus’ ministry, to walk with him on his path to the cross, and to offer our worship and praise for God’s overwhelming gift of grace.

The price has been paid … Once for All
1 Peter 3:18a – For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. 

Salvation is gifted, not earned … Instantly Saved
The chorus in our Lenten confession song encompasses the depths of the gifts of God’s grace:

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending,
reckless love of God.
Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found,
leaves the ninety-nine.
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it,
still You give Yourself away.
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending,
reckless love of God

Our faith practices put into action … Gradually Sanctified
2 Corinthians 5:21 – For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

May we each walk our Lenten journeys confident in God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.



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