March 12, 2023 - 3rd Sunday in Lent

For the week of March 12 to 18 – 3rd Sunday in Lent

Morning prayer: Almighty God, You go before and await our coming. Only our thirst compels us beyond complaint to conversation, beyond rejection to relationship. Pour Your love into our hearts, that, refreshed and renewed, we may invite others to the living water given to us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn #64 Holy, Holy, Holy

  1. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.
    Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty, God in three persons, blessed Trinity!
  2. Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
    casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
    cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee, which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.
  3. Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
    though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,
    only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee, perfect in power, in love and purity.
  4. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
    All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
    Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty, God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Children’s message Grapes Isaiah 5:1-2

Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.

Children’s Message 

Grapes have always been an indicator of God’s care and abundance. We look at the story in Numbers where Moses sends 12 “spies” out to see what the Promised Land of God looked like and they saw large, really large clusters of grapes. These clusters were so large it took two men to carry them back to where the Israelites were camped.

Grapes also have been used to display our obedience and disobedience to God. When the Israelites were following God, their harvest was overflowing, but when they turned away from God and did their own thing, the grape harvest would be very poor, almost to the point of complete failure.

We see how grapes have been used in Jesus’ story as well. Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine at Cana. He used wine to symbolize the blood of the new covenant at the last supper He ate with His disciples and it was the last bit of nourishment He had on the cross.

We have many ways for us to remember God’s care for us when we look at grapes. My favorite jelly with peanut butter is grape and raisins are a perfect mid day snack.

Grapes also are very adaptable for growing all over the world and we can all enjoy the same snack as our ancient ancestors. Grapes link us to our past and to our future. Plus, Jesus reminds us that every time we enjoy the fruit of the vine, we are to do it in remembrance of Him and we can thank God for all the ways that grapes are available to us.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers for those dear to our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us, not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlightLUMC is blessed with people who use their God-given expertise, skills, interests and time to serve.  We have ministries to teach children and adults about Christ and His discipleship; to feed the hungry; to administer our finances; to welcome visitors; to give back to God for His generous outpouring of skills and talents. Thank you for giving back to God to build up His kingdom on earth.

Offering prayer: God, our provider, in Christ, You give us a spring of pure water that overflows to eternal life. Your love and hope fill our hearts, so we want to worship You in Spirit and truth. Open our eyes to see the places in this neighborhood where our church’s ministries could reach new people. Direct our gifts and offerings for Your purposes, so that our community will become like a field ripe for harvest. We ask this through Christ, our risen Lord. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn: #361 Rock of Ages

  1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee;
    let the water and the blood, from Thy wounded side which flowed,
    be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.
  2. Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy law's commands;
    could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow,
    all for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.
  3. Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling;
    naked, come to Thee for dress; helpless, look to Thee for grace;
    foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.
  4. While I draw this fleeting breath, when mine eyes shall close in death,
    when I soar to worlds unknown, see Thee on Thy judgment throne,
    Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.

Scripture John 4:30-42

They left the city and were on their way to Him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought Him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to complete His work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that city believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

Message               Pastor Becky Cuddeback

Jesus has just had His encounter with the woman at the well. You are familiar with her story. She is coming to the well in the heat of the day, either out of shame or necessity and Jesus asks her for a drink. They have a bit of back and forth about nationality, drinking vessels, and life situations. He knows that she has had 5 husbands and the man she is currently living with isn’t her husband. This is information Jesus offers to her to prove His ability to see and know those He is interacting with. His revelation to her enables the woman to declare that Jesus is a prophet. In the safety of that declaration, she recounts her ancestral religious history.

They (the Samaritans) worship on Mt. Gerizim and the Jews at Jerusalem, both are claiming the same God. Now, the history of Samaria is fascinating, they are truly the model for how you confuse a nation about their identity and religious history. Samaria is in what had been the Northern Kingdom of Israel. They split from the Southern Kingdom of Judah after King Solomon. This left them vulnerable and easy picking for the surrounding nations. Assyria and Persia were particularly cruel to the inhabitants of the areas they conquered. Not only would they take a portion of the population captive and send them to the conquering nation’s homeland, but they would send in captives from other areas to the conquered land. This would lead to thousands of displaced people living together and would make them into nations with no collective identity. We are familiar with exile stories, we know of the Jews sent to Babylon, but they were allowed to return and while in exile, they stayed intact as a people. It was while the Jews were in Babylon they codified their religious life as to not become Babylonians. The Samaritans did not have this advantage. Because of the intermixing of nationalities and religious backgrounds, the Jews of Jerusalem didn’t recognize Samaritans as part of them and this led to the discord between them.

But the woman at the well is claiming Jesus’s God and Jesus tells her soon it won’t matter where they worship, because true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth. She knows Messiah is coming and Jesus declares Himself to be the One.

She runs back to the city and begins to tell anyone who will listen and this is where our scripture reading starts today. Her witness changes everything.

Because she speaks, others come to belief in Jesus. She releases her fear and her declaring statement is “Come and see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done!” They too know all she has done, and they hold her in judgment. She could have kept quiet and not shared, but meeting Jesus, changed her heart. She could have held a grudge against, she could have been stopped by embarrassment, but meeting Jesus urged her to share Jesus.

At the same time she is running back to the city, Jesus is preparing His disciples for the people’s return. The disciples have no idea what this woman’s words are about to do. Jesus tells them to look around, you are about to reap what you haven’t sown, and the people from the city are back to see this man.

All it took was this woman’s testimony and they believed. Jesus was invited to stay for two more days and more believed after hearing Jesus. They declare this is truly the Savior of the world. Jesus certainly saved the woman at the well that day. He reconciled her to her community, restored her humanity and dignity. Their community has been reconciled to themselves and God, their worship is validated. They are included in a visible and tangible way because they are given assurance of who they are worshiping. All of this happens because of the witness of one woman who met Jesus at a well. This is the power of giving our witness. Hers wasn’t long or eloquent, it certainly wasn’t a polished statement. It was the simple truth of meeting Jesus, then telling where she found Him, and then pointing them to where Jesus was.

She spoke three sentences. That is all the longer our testimonies need to be.

  1. what happened when you met Jesus?
  2. where did you find Him?
  3. where is He now?

I’ve asked before what are your Jesus stories or where did you encounter Jesus this week? The woman at the well doesn’t have a dramatic encounter. She met Jesus in the ordinary and for most of us, that’s where we meet Jesus, too. That is not to say or to diminish the BIG made for TV encounters folks have with Jesus, it’s just they aren’t mine or possibly your story. Yet, my story and your stories are important. These are the most important stories we tell. The early church spent most of their time focusing on individual stories of encounters with Jesus. They told their stories and repeated others stories. They spoke of the healings, the miracles and the teachings of Jesus were shared in those stories.

What is your 3 sentence story? These are the three sentences that can and will change the people around you and change the world.

Hymn #127 Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

  1. Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land.
    I am weak, but Thou art mighty; hold me with Thy powerful hand.
    Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more;
    feed me till I want no more.
  2. Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow;
    let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through.
    Strong deliverer, strong deliverer, be Thou still my strength and shield;
    be Thou still my strength and shield.
  3. When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside;
    death of death and hell's destruction, land me safe on Canaan's side.
    Songs of praises, songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee;
    I will ever give to Thee.

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.