Bradenton-Sarasota Congregation Online Service
March 21, 2021
Welcome to this online worship service where we invite you to spend time in God’s presence.
This is the fifth Sunday in Lent; a time of preparation. A time when we move toward the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. A time to move intently towards God, ridding ourselves of the distance and distractions we have built into relationships. Lent is when we are called to respond with radical generosity and spiritual discipline to God’s covenants that we may draw near to the One we seek.
Hymn 642 – Praise the Lord Together Singing
God where will your spirit lead me today?
Help me be fully awake and ready to respond.
Grant me the courage to risk something new
And become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.
Scripture: Jeremiah 31:31-34 New Revised Standard Version
The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
Focus Moment—Written on My Heart
- What does it mean to know something by heart?
- Is there anything that you know by heart?
- How do you learn something by heart?
- In this scripture God is talking about having God’s law written on the people’s hearts.
To have something written on our heart can influence the way we interact with the World around us.
- Do you have a favorite quote? Something you know by heart? Why is it your favorite? What does it say to you?
- Quote from Mother Teresa: “All works of love are works of peace.” Repeat several times. Say it loudly, say it quietly, say it slowly, say it fast.
Prayer for Peace
Great Mystery, you are far beyond our understanding God, but help us to know you better—know you in our brother and sister; know you in the homeless man we avert our eyes from; in the teen mom that is judged by society without compassion and understanding; in the stranger from another land who we can’t understand as they ask for help. We know that all works of love are works of peace, so help us become peacemakers. Grant us courage to risk the unknown, to show love to the stranger and compassion to the teen mom and hospitality and dignity to the homeless. May we be responsive to your promptings in the pursuit of peace, Lord. Amen.
Disciples Generous Response
Generosity is at the heart of God’s relationship with us. God gives to us fully in the life of Christ and nothing is held back. Lent can be a time for us to reflect on God’s generosity and consider how we can learn to give the best of ourselves to God in a way that will set a pattern for us for the future. Lent is often a time when we make space in our lives, to let go so that we can have empty hands and see what God wishes to place in them. Then, out of deep sense of humility and gratitude, we can respond by sharing God’s generosity with others. Today, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings, we are able to tangibly express our gratitude to God who is the giver of all.
Today’s Message by Elder Charyn Walker
“Know God, Know Peace. No God, No Peace.” I’ve heard this before, but I was reminded of it while preparing for today’s message “Know God”.
Do you remember the Etch A Sketch? Maybe you still have one, or something similar. It had a glass screen with two white knobs and a red frame. If you ever tried one, drawing a picture using straight lines, squares or rectangles was fairly easy. One knob moves the invisible stylus up and down and the other moves it from side to side. Attempting curves was challenging. The beauty of an Etch A Sketch is the ability to turn it upside down, give it a shake and the screen is clear and ready to start over.
In our scripture verse today, the prophet Jeremiah promises Israel a new covenant. “They shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.” It’s as though God turned the Etch A Sketch over, shook it, and erased the bad lines of the people clear.
The people of Israel and Judah were taken into captivity by the Assyrians and then Babylonians. Their daily lives were filled with the loss of identity, family, home, sense of belonging, and wondering why God had abandoned them.
I have had moments of uncertainty and wonder what God’s plan is for my life. I’m not in exile and I thank God for that, but my life has been turned upside down several times. Jeremiah’s message of a new covenant between the people and God is the promise of a special relationship. This time the covenant (promise) is not words written on stone but placed in the hearts of you and me.
God is with us. He reminds us to be still and know that He is God. Amen.
May the God of all hope open your eyes.
May the God of all peace still your anxious mind.
May the God of all love fill your heart to fullness beyond measure.
Go now, in the hope and peace and love of God.
And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
This service was prepared by Charyn Walker.