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Mar 03

4th Sunday in Lent (Year C)

cropsJoshua 5:9-12
  • Common English Bible and NRSV
  • The imagery of God “rolling away” the disgrace could be fun to explore.  Label a large workout/exercise ball or a large beach ball with the word “Disgrace” (or “sin” or “shame”, etc).  Invite people (kids would like this) to help God roll it out of the worship space.
  • As the time in the wilderness comes to a close, the people are finally able to eat the produce of the land (instead of manna).  Are there farmers in your congregation?  Use this opportunity to say a special blessing over them in worship.
  • Collect seeds, plant bulbs, and seedlings that can be planted in community gardens.
  • Decorate your worship space with locally grown produce.  Or, if it is out of season to have any locally grown produce, decorate the worship space with gardening supplies.
Psalm 32
  • Common English Bible and NRSV
  • When the congregation enters the worship space, hand each person a paper that has “sin” written on it.  As the prayer of confession, invite everyone to use various art supplies (markers, paints, cut-out pictures and glue sticks) to “cover” the “sin” that they have, turning the paper into a work of art.
  • Use this text to talk about the purpose of the Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Pardon in the worship service.
  • Borrow a bridle and bit from someone who works with horses to use in your worship display.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
  • Common English Bible and NRSV
  • This passage begins with a reminder that we are to see one another from a different point of view — instead of through human eyes, we are invited to see things through God’s eyes.  Challenge the congregation to change their point of view by daring to sit in a different seat or pew this week.
  • We are called to serve as ambassadors for Christ.  How well do we represent and speak/act on Christ’s behalf?  Would the world know that we are Christ’s ambassadors without our telling them?
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
  • Common English Bible and NRSV
  • This is a familiar story, which is both a good and a bad thing.  While most are familiar with the repentance of the youngest son (and the forgiveness of the father), most will have trouble recalling the actions of the eldest son.  We never learn what happens to him after he is invited to join in the feast (even though he had disgraced the father by leaving the family party).
  • The text can easily be presented in the form of a dramatic reading or other more theatrical production.
  • The father goes way out of his way to reach out to and offer forgiveness to both of his sons.  What does this teach us of God’s forgiveness?  Is it dependent on our saying we’re sorry?  The parable would suggest that it doesn’t, since the father offers forgiveness well before any apologies are ever made.  Even more remarkable is the fact that the father lowers himself to offer this forgiveness – throwing any sort of rules of behavior out the window and reaching out to those who disgrace him (both of his sons).
  • It could be interesting to present a sermon that is entirely 1st person narrative — perhaps from the point of view of one of the sons, the father, or one of the servants at the house or guests at the party.
  • You may want to use a robe, ring, and sandals in your worship display.
  • Decorate your fellowship space for a grand party — balloons, streamers, and the works.  During your sermon, explore what it was like to be outside the party (like the eldest son).  Invite everyone to join the party toward the conclusion of the service.  Dismiss to finish the service in the fellowship space (the party).  You could celebrate communion as you enter the “party”.

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