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Worship Preview 3.10.23 "Rough Edges and Steadfast Love"

This Weekend: 10:30am – “Rough Edges and Steadfast Love”

 

Scriptures –  Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21

 

Who do you say that I am? This is the question Jesus asked his Disciples in our reading a couple of weeks ago. It is, ultimately, the question of Lent. As we journey with the Gospel writers – this year the lectionary draws from Mark and John – this is the focus.

This week’s lectionary reading comes from John 3, and features perhaps the best known line of Scripture “For God so loved the world…”

 

What does it mean that Jesus is described as God’s only son? How do we understand the sacrifice of the cross? How do we understand the next line, not to judge but to offer salvation?  The lectionary reading from Genesis, which John cites, provides a powerful yet puzzling companion piece. In the wilderness, the people have become impatient and bitter – complaining about everything. The text says that “the Lord sent venomous snakes among them” – interestingly the Hebrew here is the same word translated Seraphim elsewhere. Many of the people are bitten and die – causing the rest to cry out. Moses prays and the Lord’s response is to have him make a bronze serpent and raise it up so all can see. Those who look upon it are healed. This section of Numbers is part of a loose collection of stories that see a transition from the 1st generation wandering to later generations. The stories are often ambiguous and troubling to our sensibilities. How do we seek God’s wisdom, not our own. How do we reconcile differences in the Scriptures? And the different understandings of God presented? One thing I said last week that I’ll reiterate – the inspired authors and councils that wrote and organized the Scriptures were not blind to these “rough edges,” indeed, they are intentional and part of our work. I believe these stories, including their conflicts (such as God telling Moses to create what is clearly a graven image) is part of our journey of discernment. Not to blindly follow but intentionally participate. To see how our ancestors in faith had their own understanding of and relationship with God grow. To guard against our tendency to make idols out of even the Bible itself.  These are not “basic instructions before leaving earth”, as I once heard a fundamentalist describing the Bible, these are stories of a living, growing relationship in which we are expected to both question and follow. How do we read, understand, and apply Scripture. How are we shaped by it. How does our understanding and our resulting actions answer the question “who do you say that I am?” How do we bear the light of Christ in our times of wilderness. For God so loves the world that we are not made puppets, but partners.

 

We invite you to join our Lenten journey, bringing your questions, assurances, and hopes to worship this week. You can learn more about what to expect here at First United Methodist at our website: www.firstumcfortscott.org or our see our Facebook page www.facebook.com/firstumcfortscott for the latest updates.

 

Upcoming Events: 

Sunday we kick off our “March Madness” drive for the Beacon locally and join with United Methodists around the world in UMCOR Sunday, underwriting the administrative costs of the United Methodist Committee on Relief so that all donations made to disaster relief go directly to that. As always, none of us can do everything, but each of us can do something and together our little becomes a lot. We encourage you to donate as you feel led.

 

Wednesday, March 6, 5:30–6:30pm: Feeding Families in His Name – this weekly free meal is available to everyone without obligation. A “to-go” meal is distributed under the portico at 301 S. National. A reminder: Please do not block nearby driveways while waiting. Thank you. If you would like to support this ministry, you can make donations online at www.firstumcfortscott.org/onlinegiving

We are very appreciative to the Elks for the recent grant award and to everyone in Fort Scott and beyond who helps support this ministry.

 

United Women in Faith Potato Bar, Friday, March 17th from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. Baked potatoes with various toppings, along with homemade pie, will be on the menu. Free will donations are appreciated for this fundraiser.

 

Mark Your Calendars! Faith’s Journey Returns! Saturday, March 23rd at 6pm. Join us the Saturday before Holy Week for another great evening of Absolute Country, Definitely Gospel with Faith’s Journey! Branson’s 2021 Gospel Show and Group of the Year will be here for another freewill offering show! If you were here last year, you’ll want to hear them again, and if you missed it here is your chance to see them! Invite your friends and neighbors!

  

Easter Sunday is Sunday, March 31st and our service will be at our usual 10:30am time– during Holy Week prior to that we will celebrate Palm / Passion Sunday on March 24th at 10:30am and hold two special midweek services. Maundy Thursday celebrating the last supper and Good Friday/Tenebrae, a service of darkness reflecting on the crucifixion. These prepare us to truly celebrate the good news of Easter and we hope you’ll plan to join us at each of them!

 

 

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