Sunday 11 March, 2018

4th Sunday in Lent

For Mothering Sunday suggestions, see below. (You may also wish to draw on All We Can's February 2016 sequence of blog posts about inspirational women from around the world .)

Hymns marked with an asterisk (*) are suggested for more than one reading

Numbers 21: 4-9

Blessed be the name of the Lord (StF 40)
Empty, broken, here I stand, Kyrie Eleison (StF 421)
God grant us words to speak (StF 647)
Here as we kneel (StF 521)
It’s me, it’s me, O Lord (StF 523)
Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us (StF 238)
Let earth and heaven agree (StF 358)
Listening God, you hear us when we cannot speak (StF 524)
Shout for joy! The Lord has let us feast (StF 598)

Psalm 107: 1-3, 17-22

Hymns echoing the psalmist’s theme

Holy breath of God, find me in this place (StF 380)
I cannot tell why he, whom angels worship (StF 350)
Now thank we all our God (StF 81)
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases (StF 66)
When all your mercies, O my God (StF 97)

Ephesians 2: 1-10

All hail the power of Jesu's name! (StF 342)
Amazing grace – how sweet the sound (StF 440)
And can it be that I should gain? (StF 345)
Beneath the cross of Jesus (StF 442)
Bread is blessed and broken (StF 576) (communion hymn)
Come, sinners, to the gospel feast (StF 401) (suitable for communion)
* Father, whose everlasting love (StF 320)
Jesus – the name high over all (StF 357)
Only by grace can we enter (StF 565)
Rock of ages, cleft for me (StF 434)
We do not presume to come to this table (StF 601) (communion hymn)
What kind of love is this (StF 286)
Where shall my wondering soul begin? (StF 454)

John 3: 14-21

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (StF 568)
Eat this bread, drink this cup (StF 583) (communion hymn)
* Father, whose everlasting love (StF 320)
Food to pilgrims given (StF 584) (communion hymn)
Give thanks with a grateful heart (StF 78)
Lord Christ, we praise your sacrifice (StF 359)
Lord, the light of your love is shining (StF 59)
Love divine, all loves excelling (StF 503)
Man of sorrows! (StF 361)
Meet and right it is to sing (StF 32)
The Spirit lives to set us free (StF 397)
To God be the glory, great things he has done! (StF 94)
We trust the mighty love of God (StF 742)
When you prayed beneath the trees (StF 339)

Our suggestions compiler for this week, The Revd Phillip Poyner, writes:

The Hebrews’ protest in the Numbers passage concerns the manna (bread of heaven) that God has provided. Is God’s justifiable wrath revealed in the sending of poisonous snakes? It seems that whatever misfortune comes on the Israelites is perceived, in the Old Testament as punishment from God. Poisonous snakes are common in that region today.

Importantly, God’s love provides an alternative to the consequences of sin. Gordon Wenham ( IVP Numbers commentary ) compares sacrifices to the bronze serpent, “in all these rituals there is an inversion: normally polluting substances or actions may in a ritual context have the opposite effect and serve to purify. . . Those inflamed and dying through the bite of living snakes were restored to life by a dead reddish-coloured snake.” The affected person needs to appropriate the healing power of God through looking at the snake set up on the pole.

In the reading from John, Jesus refers to the bronze serpent as an apt picture of his saving ministry. People dying as a result of sin are saved by an inanimate body not on a pole but on a cross in which they need to place their belief. This necessity of appropriation of God’s grace is repeatedly stressed in the Gospel and in Ephesians 2: 8 : “For by grace you have been saved through faith”. The Psalm states that our saving by God from our troubles is a reason for proclamation and thanksgiving.

Mothering Sunday (also see further Mothering Sunday resources from StF+)

Exodus 2: 1-10

Best of all is God is with us (StF 610)
Eternal God, your love's tremendous glory (StF 3)
* He’s got the whole world in his hand (StF 536)
Pray for a world where every child finds welcome (StF 527)

or 1 Samuel 1: 20-28

God of Eve and God of Mary (StF 119)
I should like to speak to you (StF 522)
Lord, in our lonely hours (StF 616)
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord! (StF 186)
Pray, without ceasing, pray (StF 528)

Psalm 34: 11-20

*Sing praise to God who reigns above (StF 117)

or Psalm 127: 1-4

I cannot tell why he, whom angels worship (StF 350)
Sacred the body God has created (StF 618)

2 Corinthians 1: 3-7

All my hope on God is founded (StF 455)
* He’s got the whole world in his hand (StF 536)
Lord, I come before your throne of grace (StF 58)
May the mind of Christ my Saviour (StF 504)
Sing praise to God who reigns above (StF 117)
We turn to God when we are sorely pressed (StF 640)

or Colossians 3: 12-17

All praise to our redeeming Lord (StF 608)
As we gather in your presence now (StF 609)
* God grant us words to speak (StF 647)
May the mind of Christ my Saviour (StF 504)
Morning glory, starlit sky (StF 12)
Put peace into each other’s hands (StF 712)

Luke 2: 33-35

Birth brings a promise of new life awaking (StF 226)
Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us (StF 504)
Mary and Joseph came to the Temple (StF 229)
* Through long years of watchful waiting (StF 232)

or John 19: 25-27

* God grant us words to speak (StF 647)
Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us (StF 594)
* Through long years of watchful waiting (StF 232)
We gladly celebrate and praise (StF 120)
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