Lord of the Dance - Video
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own Son for us in this: While we were till sinners, Christ died for us.”
Creator God, our great God and King. You are the Rock of our salvation. May we hear your voice and respond to your message today, so that our hearts are softened and molded to your will, and so our spiritual thirst may be quenched. In Christ’s name. Amen.
*Call to Worship Psalm 95:1-7 (NLT)
Come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
For the Lord is a great God,
a great King above all gods.
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
and the mightiest mountains.
The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
His hands formed the dry land, too.
Come, let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
the flock under his care. Amen.
Gracious Lord, you are the God who loves us, the God who came to us, and the God who chose to die for us. You are the God who remains with us through your Holy Spirit, and will come again someday.
You knew thirst as you were tempted by Satan in the wilderness, and you knew it again on the cross at Calvary. You understood the spiritual thirst of the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, and you understand ours, too. For all these truths, we praise your Holy name.
We thank you for the fountain of goodness you provide for us each and every day. Things we may often take for granted: the warmth of the sun, the life-giving rain, family, friends, and a congregation who share our joys, and our sorrows; those who lift us up in times of loneliness and need.
And we thank you most of all, dear God, for you, Because you are a God who always loves, and who wants to be in communion with us.
Lord, the Bible tells us to come boldly before you and make our requests known. So, we lift up to you all the people who are on our hearts today. We pray that you keep us strong, healthy, and wise throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. Give us patient, peace, and compassion for all.
As we continue our Lenten journey together, in a much different way than we had planned, remain with us as your Church, and continue to strengthen and equip us to do your good will in this community and world. May the work done in Jesus’ name here at Bethel be an oasis of hope and provision for all who thirst for truth, justice, and love.
All this, we pray in the name of our Risen Savior, Jesus. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
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 trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Scripture Reading John 4:5-42 (NIV)
Sermon What Are You Thirsty For?
Last week, in our teen Sunday school class, the subject was Jesus’ teaching on the Beatitudes. These are the “blessed ares” in Matthew 5, a picture of what spiritual happiness looks like in God’s Kingdom.
In particular, the lesson focused on Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
We talked about the idea that God created us in such a way that our spiritual needs often reflect our physical needs, and vice versa.
Today our gospel lesson is about Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, and once again Jesus talks about thirst.
Once again, Jesus compares physical thirst to spiritual thirst, so I want to share a few things we learned last week in Sunday school about physical thirst.
If you’ve ever been really thirsty because you worked outside all day in extreme heat, or you had a hard sports practice, or any other situation in which you didn’t drink enough water, you may have experienced one or all of these symptoms:
- Your mouth gets dry: When your body doesn’t have enough water, you feel it. Literally.
- You get a headache. When your brain doesn’t get enough water, it can start to shrink or contract. That’s what makes your head hurt.
- Your muscles start to cramp. Fluids help your muscles work properly, so they cramp up when you don’t get enough water.
- Or you feel dizzy or light-headed. That’s because when you are severely dehydrated, you brain might not be getting enough oxygen, which will make you dizzy.
Water is essential to life. So, it’s no wonder that Jesus uses it more than once to teach us about our spiritual condition.
Friends, I think it’s pretty safe to say that right now we are living in a time of fear, frustration, and anxiety. No one saw this coming. No one made a New Year’s resolution to get through a global pandemic 2020 with grace and patience. Things are changing by the minute. Grocery stores are running out of everything.
(Side Note: we are currently holding onto out toilet paper supply in the church hallway. Please…. if you get desperate…. call me…. Seriously!)
We are also living in a time when we could get very spiritually dry and thirsty. God created us to live in community with him and each other. When businesses close, work places and schools move to online formats, and we are supposed to practice “social distancing,” we begin to feel isolated and desperate. Anxiety and depression are amplified. These are normal human reactions, so we have to do what we can to stay healthy and protect ourselves.
Some symptoms of spiritual dryness are:
- You feel lonely. This is normal when you can’t connect with family and friends.
- You feel guilty, or regretful. Right now, maybe it’s a simple matter of feeling like you’re not doing enough, not buying enough food, not being cautious enough, etc.
- You feel lost. We are used to connecting with each other, and with God, in a certain way. But worship within our church walls is not an option right now. We have to find new ways to connect, new ways to “be together,” and new ways to connect with God.
I believe we start by staying connected to God. The nourishment Jesus talks about is spiritual nourishment. It includes Bible study, prayer, worship, and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. And, yes, we now have to find new ways to do these things. Guidelines are changing every day, every minute, really. But Jesus is still the head of the Church, and we are still the church together in Him.
Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
This won’t be easy, but I encourage you to try, and I believe God will bless your efforts. If you don’t already, take 10 minutes every day and read the Bible and pray. Use online Christian resources. If you don’t know of any, please ask me.
Also, I encourage everyone to reach out to each other through email, text, and phone. Send cards to our shut-ins. If you think of someone, reach out. Maybe God is nudging you to do so. We’re all dealing with the same things right now.
Until we meet again, together in one place, I encourage you to use these weekly worship plans in your homes, as families. I also ask you to think of those who live alone. Maybe call them and invite them to join you by speaker phone.
And please, please, take care of your physical health! If any of you are in need for anything, tell me. If you need prescriptions picked up, or food, or toilet paper, we will help each other. Oh, and drink lots of water and take a little walk if you can. Our bodies are the temple of God. Let’s not neglect them either.
Take care of yourselves and each other. Know that I am praying for you daily. We will get through this together and come out stronger on the other side because God is our King. Blessings to all!
P.S. I miss all of you very much!
Closing Prayer & Blessings inspired by Romans 5:1 (NIV)
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1 (NIV)
Friends, through Christ we have entered into a place of undeserved privilege with God. Equipped with this good news,
may you be a wellspring of hope to your thirsting neighbors,
may you be an oasis of opportunity to all you encounter
and may his love flow freely from you in both word and deed.
In the name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.