This Week’s Theme
For God So Loved the World
In John chapter 3 we read of the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee of the Sanhedrin. In their conversation about spiritual matters, Jesus asserts the need for one to be born again and born by water and the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Not comprehending Jesus’s allusions, Nicodemus was perplexed and confused about life in the Kingdom. Jesus asserted his unique knowledge of the Father and the things of heaven. Nicodemus’s inability to understand earthly matters, says Jesus, makes it even more difficult to comprehend spiritual things.
Jesus goes further in his explanation of true spiritual matters. He tells Nicodemus that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man would need to be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Then, in perhaps the most quoted text in all the Scriptures, Jesus summarizes the heart of the Gospel message: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus says that God didn’t send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it, through his work.
The Gospel of John 3.16 is the message of the Bible in miniature! The Gospel means to save, not to condemn; it is a message of life, not condemnation. The Good News represents Words of life to all who will hear of God’s offer for salvation, and respond in faith. All the Israelites need to do to be healed of the plague is to simply look at the serpent on the pole. So, to be delivered, we need only see Christ’s work as God’s redeeming act to deliver us, and believe in our hearts that this act relates to us. We receive him as our help and we are delivered by the receiving. This is the simplicity and power of the Gospel.
Preparing Our Hearts
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Eternal God, as you provided salvation to the Israelites from the plague as they looked at the serpent on the pole, so those who look to your Son on the Cross will be healed from the penalty and power of sin. Your provision can save and heal us. Thank you for the cross, in Jesus’s name, amen.
Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, Amen.
Praising Our God
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.
Listening to His Voice
Chronological Reading for the Day
Monday: Luke 1.39-2.40; Matt. 1.18-25
Lectionary Readings for the Day
Reflection: Silence and/or Journaling
Responding in Faith
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).
Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.
Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)
Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Departing to Serve
Lord Jesus, thank you for your statement of the Gospel in John: God loved us so much that he gave you to us that whoever believes in you will never perish but have eternal life. We are not condemned in you, but through faith, we are saved and delivered. Thank you for your sacrifice, and the Gospel message of grace. You alone deserve the praise! In your name, amen!
Affirmation for the Day
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes in him may have eternal life (John 3.14-15).
Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3.16).
Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
The Light of the Gospel
2 Corinthians 4.1-6