Service for Sunday 14th March 2021 – Geoffrey Webber

Servicing the Bald Hills and nearby Communities

Service for Sunday 14th March 2021 – Geoffrey Webber


Call to Worship :

(from Ephesians 2: 1 to 10) 

At one time we followed the World’s evil ways,

We were spiritually dead because of our disobedience and sins.

We lived according to the desires of our bodies and minds,

Like everyone else we were destined to suffer God’s anger.

But God’s mercy is so abundant, His love for us is so great,

When we were dead in our sins God brought us to life with Christ Jesus.

He did this to demonstrate for all Time to come the extraordinary greatness of His grace,

In the love He showed us in Christ Jesus.

For it is by God’s grace that we have been saved through faith,

It is not the result of our own efforts, but it is God’s gift.

God has made us what we are, no-one can boast about doing it by themselves,

And, in our union with Christ Jesus, He has created us for a life dedicated to good deeds.

The Apostle Paul is making it clear to his readers the desperate need of each person and the universal sinfulness of each person.  Not only is each person out of harmony with their physical environment and with each other, but they have alienated themselves from the spiritual life of God, because of their failure to live as they could and to live as they ought to.  As such they are needing nothing less than new life from God.  And it is with this understanding that Paul describes God’s love in action, in the exceeding, abounding, overflowing richness of His grace, displayed towards all of Humanity in Christ Jesus. 

(Francis Foulkes in Ephesians p68 to 75) 

Prayer of Praise 

(Leading Intercessions p89, Opening Prayers p26 & 27, Invocations and Benedictions p71 & 72, A Year of Prayer p142 – 144, Prayers for the Seasons of God’s People Year B p79 to 82) 

  Almighty God, we gather here today to offer to you our praise and thanksgiving.  It is only through your steadfast and enduring love that we can come into your presence each day.  It is only through your rich mercy that we can find release from our burdens and cares.  It is only through your empowering Spirit that we can experience renewal of mind and soul. 

  We cannot boast of our own goodness, nor of our personal achievements, nor of our religious enthusiasm, for they are all rubbish in your eyes.  Far surpassing our own abilities is the greatness of Jesus Christ and his righteousness.  Far surpassing our own knowledge is knowing Jesus Christ as lord.

  By faith you have brought us to the place where we can rest, assured in your presence.  By faith we put our trust in the knowledge that you have paid the price for our sins, that you have redeemed us.  By faith you have delivered us from our troubles.  By faith we rest on the promise of the hope of eternal and everlasting peace and fulfillment with you, at the present time and in Heaven.

  We have come to clearly see that, by your love, you have come into the World, not to condemn it, but to deliver it.  It is because of your love for us that, where once we rebelled against your authority, now we accept your sovereign rule in our lives and put our trust in your sovereign will for our lives. 

  May the works of our hands and the words from our lips be the means for you to bring light to a darkened World and relief to those who are troubled.  May we be willing to share the joy of our salvation with those burdened by sin so that they, too, may turn to you in their need. 

  Almighty God, accept the praise that we bring, to your glory and honour.  Amen.

Hymn TiS 164:

“The Great love of God is revealed in the Son”

(note: there is no introduction)

Verse 1 of 4

The Great love of God

Is revealed in the Son,

Who came to this Earth

To redeem everyone.

Verse 2 of 4

That love, like a stream

Flowing clear to the sea,

Makes clean every heart

That from sin would be free.

Verse 3 of 4

It binds the whole World,

Every barrier it breaks,

The hills it lays low,

And the mountains it shakes.

Verse 4 of 4

It’s yours, it is ours,

O how lavishly it’s given!

The pearl of great price,

And the treasure of Heav’n.

Daniel Thambyrajah Niles

Prayer of Confession 

(based on Psalm 107: 1 to 43) 

Merciful God, we acknowledge that we are part of your Creation,

We are descendants of Adam and Eve, with whom you were in a close relationship as you walked with them in the Garden.

We acknowledge that, like them, we have listened to the voice of the tempter and have turned our backs upon you.

We have wandered off your straight pathway for life and have drifted away from your presence.

We have rebelled against your commands and have rejected your instructions.

Merciful God, forgive our sins.

We have become lost in our life, not knowing where to go nor how to get there.

Merciful God, forgive our sins.

We are hungry and thirsty for your companionship and your comfort, yet we do not turn to you.

Merciful God, forgive our sins.

We are troubled and distressed, yet we have neglected to call to you for help.

Merciful God, forgive our sins.

We are beset by the storms of life, yet we put our trust in our own abilities to fix every problem that arises.

Merciful God, forgive our sins.

We find ourselves chained to bad habits and to bad lifestyles, yet we try to make changes by ourselves.

Merciful God, forgive our sins.

Merciful God, we recall your constant love for the whole World.

We remember the great and wonderful things that you have done.

We praise you for your readiness to release us from gloom and darkness, from oppression and suffering.

We rejoice because you save us and you heal us.  Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness:

The Apostle Paul reminds us that it is by God’s grace that we have been saved from the consequences of our sins, that it is God who has brought us new life in Christ Jesus.  (Ephesians 2: 5)  Having confessed our sins before God, and having expressed our faith in the saving work of God through Christ Jesus, we have the assurance that God has listened to our prayers, that God has forgiven us and that we are alive in Christ Jesus.

Thanks be to God.

Prayer of illumination

Holy God, through your Holy Spirit, instruct us that we might rightly understand the Word of Truth, and find ourselves as People who reflect the Living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Bible Readings:

Numbers 21:

4  The Israelites left Mount Hor by the road that leads to the Gulf of Aqaba, in order to go around the territory of Edom.  But on the way the People lost their patience,  5  and spoke against God and against Moses.  They complained, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water?  And we loath this miserable manna.”  6  Then the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died.  7  The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you.  Plead with the Lord to rid us of the snakes.”  So Moses prayed to the Lord for the people.  8  Then the Lord told Moses to make a bronze snake and to put it on a pole, so that anyone who was bitten could look at it and be healed.  9  So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole.  Anyone who had been bitten by a snake would look at the bronze snake and recover.

[Today’s English Version, New English Bible, Revised Standard Version, Authorised Version]

Reader: This is the Word of God.

All: Praise to you Almighty God.

John 3:

14  And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake in the wilderness  [Numbers 21: 9]  , so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  15  so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.  16  For God so loved the World that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.  17  For God sent the Son into the World, not to condemn the World, but that the World might be saved through him.  18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been judged, because they have not believed in God’s only Son.  19  Herein lies the test: the Light has come into the World, and people prefer darkness to light because their deeds are evil.  20  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, lest their deeds are exposed.  21  But those who do what is true come to the Light, so that it may be clearly seen that God is in all that they do.

[Revised Standard Version, Today’s English Version, New English Bible]

Reader: This is the Gospel of our Lord.

All: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

‘Children’s’ Talk

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“Scripture (is) not claiming that it is inspiring in some general way, nor even that it was written by inspired people, but that Scripture itself is ‘breathed out’ by God.”

[from The Bible is Different by Peter Cousins in The Lion Handbook to the Bible 1973 edition p33]

  The Australian Bible Society organises an annual ‘Olivier Beguin Memorial Lecture’, a tribute to Dr Olivier Beguin, who was General Secretary of the United Bible Societies from 1949 to 1972.  The 1976 lecture was delivered by Malcolm Muggeridge, an acclaimed British author and journalist.

  In his lecture Malcolm Muggeridge said, “far from appearing irrelevant, the history of the Children of Israel as recounted in the Old Testament seems more closely related than ever to our own, as the sublime hope of deliverance proclaimed in the New Testament seems more than ever requisite.”  (booklet p3)  In these words Malcolm Muggeridge was arguing his support for the general theme of these lectures, “The Authority and Relevance of the Bible to the Modern World”.

  My personal approach to the Bible is that it was written by real people at real places, about real people and real places.  When I read a passage from the Bible, I seek to have an understanding of the author, the historical context and the geographic context of the passage; real people and real places.  Hence my keenness to do some research on the town Capernaum which I shared with you several weeks ago.

  As an exercise, I thought that we would look at three of the Lectionary readings for today to see what information is given concerning the authors, the people and the places.

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Ephesians1: 1a – “from Paul”

Ephesians 3: 1, 4: 1, 6: 20 – “a prisoner”

Ephesians 1: 1b – “to God’s people in Ephesus”

Ephesians 6: 21 – “Tychicus … will give you all the news about me”

Luke records for us that Paul was under house arrest in Rome for two years, generally accepted as the years 60AD and 61AD  (Acts 28: 16 & 30)  .  During that time he wrote several of his letters, including the one commonly titled the Epistle to the Ephesians.  Some early manuscripts of this Letter do not include the words “to God’s people in Ephesus” at the beginning of the Letter.  That, and the observation that there are no personal greetings included in the Letter, as there are in our Letters such as the ones forwarded to the churches in Philippi and Colossae, seems to indicate that Paul forwarded an identical letter to several Churches in the region around Ephesus.  A person who was well-known to these Churches, Tychicus, would have delivered the individual letters to each of these Churches on behalf of Paul. 

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John 2: 23a – “while Jesus was in Jerusalem”

John 3: 2 – “one night Nicodemus went to Jesus”

John 3: 22 – “after this Jesus and his Disciples went to the province of Judea”

  Scholars deduce that Jesus visited Jerusalem 5 times during his ministry years, from 27AD to 30AD.  The understanding is that the events of John 3 occurred during his first visit to Jerusalem, which took place around 27AD.  (refer to Harmony of the Gospels in Good News Study Bible p1052 and Synopsis of the Gospels ed by Kurt Aland p25 to 27)  After this visit we read that Jesus journeyed through Judea before returning to Galilee via Samaria.  Today’s passage comes immediately after the record of the visit of Nicodemus to Jesus, and the passage reads as John’s Commentary on the words that Jesus said to Nicodemus.

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Numbers 21: 4 – “The Israelites left Mount Hor by the road that leads to the Red Sea (the Gulf of Aqaba), in order to go around the territory of Edom.”  [Good News Bible] 

Where is Mount Hor?

  There is much conjecture regarding the route of the Exodus journey of the People of Israel.  There is a possible southern route around the Sinai Peninsula, [the traditionally accepted route], a possible central route across the Sinai Peninsula, a possible northern route across the top of the Sinai Peninsula, and even a suggestion that they were camped around a mountain in north west Saudi Arabia and not Mount Sinai when they received the 10 commandments.

  There is just as much conjecture as to where Mount Hor is located.

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The Gulf of Aqaba

  Last week I shared with you this photograph of the Gulf of Aqaba.  Unfortunately, we were flying too far to the south to view the region where the events of Numbers 21 took place.

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Numbers 20: 1 – The Israelites are camped at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.

Numbers 20: 16 – Kadesh [or Kadesh Barnea as it is referred to now] is a town on the border of the Territory of Edom.

Numbers 20: 14 to 21 – The King of Edom refuses to permit the Israelites to cross the Territory of Edom so that they could journey up the main route northwards, called ‘The King’s Highway’.

Numbers 20: 22 – The Israelites left Kadesh and arrived at Mount Hor.

Numbers 21: 1 to 3 – The army of the King of Arad attacks the Israelites while they were at Mount Hor, but the army is defeated.

  This is the information that we have from this part of the Book of Numbers that is useful for guiding us as to the location of Kadesh Barnea and of Mount Hor.

Screen 7 – Steve Rudd

  These are two main options for identifying the locations of Kadesh Barnea in the Wilderness of Zin and of Mount Hor. 

  Some scholars locate them in the vicinity of the ancient city of Petra, in present day Jordan, on the east side of the Valley of Arabah, which runs from the southern end of the Dead Sea to Elath on the Gulf of Aqaba.  Petra is just to the west of ‘The King’s Highway’ [mid right hand side of the above map].  This conclusion is partly based on the writings of the Jewish historian, Josephus,  [The Antiquities of the Jews Book 4 chapter 4 paragraph 7(82)]  and because there is a building on the top of a mountain that traditionally has been called The Tomb of Aaron and has been accepted as such by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

  Other scholars conclude that Kadesh Barnea is located further to the west, to the south of Beersheba.  The ‘Ein el Qadeis is Kadesh Barnea.  The Ein el Qudeirat to the north west is Mount Hor.

Screen 8

  This is a map that shows the eastern option for Kadesh Barnea at Petra and the western option for Kadesh Barnea, in the context of the location of Beersheba and Arad to the north, Elath at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba to the south, The King’s Highway to the east, and a trade route to Elath on the west titled ‘The Way to the Red Sea’.

  So, is there a way to choose between these two options?

  This map shows that Petra is located within the Territory of Edom not on the border of the Territory of Edom.  Notice that the mountains to the south are labelled ‘The mountains of Edom’.  How can this be the site of Kadesh Barnea when we read that this town was on the border of the Territory of Edom not inside it?

  To arrive at Petra, the Israelites would have journeyed up The King’s Highway, through the Territory of Edom, something that the King of Edom stopped them from doing, as we read in Numbers 20: 21.  The Kadesh Barnea to the west is the better option for a site on the border of the Territory of Edom, as we read in Numbers 20: 16.

  In Numbers 21: 4 we read that the Israelites “left Mount Hor by the road that leads to the Gulf of Aqaba”.  If they were already at Petra, why would they turn around and go south to the Gulf of Aqaba, back the way they had come?  The Kadesh Barnea to the west is better sited adjacent to trade routes down to the Gulf of Aqaba.

  Lastly, if they were at Petra, then the King of Arad, far to the north west would hardly be concerned by their presence, especially if they were in the Territory of the Edomites.  Whereas, if the Israelites were at the Kadesh Barnea to the west, we can understand the fear of the King of Arad since they would have been close to the vicinity of Arad and, therefore, accessible by the King’s army.

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  This is the option that I think best fits the passage, except that I would not have them journeying to the north from Kadesh Barnea, around the Wilderness of Zin, and then turning to the south to return to the Gulf of Aqaba, since that would have meant entering Edom, which they did not do.  I think they journeyed from the Gulf of Aqaba to Kadesh Barea and then returned to the Gulf along the same route.

  Why is it important to clarify this?  Well, real people at real places at a real time.  If I understand this context better, I find that the passage is more readable.

Screen 10

  Plus, if you are ever touring Jordan, the tour companies will want to convince you to go to the wrong place to visit Mount Hor, as you can see from this website.


“Father whose everlasting love” TiS 213

Verse 1 of 5

Father, whose everlasting love

Your only Son for sinners gave,

Whose guilt to all did freely move,

And sent him down to Earth to save:

Verse 2 of 5

Help us your mercy to extol,

Immense, unfathomed, unconfined;

To praise the Lamb who died for all,

The Saviour of all Humankind.

Verse 3 of 5

Your undistinguishing regard

Was cast on Adam’s fallen race,

For all you have in Christ prepared

Sufficient, sovereign, saving grace.

Verse 4 of 5

The World he suffered to redeem;

For all he has the atonement made;

For those who will not come to him,

The ransom of their life was paid.

Verse 5 of 5

Arise, O God, maintain your cause!

The fullness of the Nations call;

Lift up the standard of your cross,

And all shall own you died for all.

Charles Wesley


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The logo of The Australian Medical Association          The logo of the World Health Organisation                                                                                                 WHO | World Health Organization 

  Two well-known organisations with a common theme to their logos – A snake coiled around a staff.  So, have they taken inspiration from today’s passage from Numbers 21, regarding the staff that God commanded Moses to make?  Well, no, as it turns out.  What they have incorporated into their logos is the Rod of Asclepius.

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  Wikipedia tells us that the Rod of Asclepius, or the Staff of Aesculapius, is a serpent entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine.  The symbol has continued to be used in modern times, where it is associated with medicine and health care.

  Too much of a coincidence between the two, not to view the Rod of Asclepius as a mythical misrepresentation of the Rod of Moses ?  Too right!  Exploring that question, though, will need to wait for a future Children’s Talk.

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the wilderness

  We read in Numbers 20 that the Israelites had camped at Kadesh Barnea, the ruins of which we are all now aware are located in the north eastern part of the Sinai Peninsula, just inside the modern-day border of Egypt.  Then, it was on the border of the territory of the former Kingdom of Edom. There we read that Moses’ sister Miriam died and was buried in the vicinity.  We also read that Moses unsuccessfully asked the King of Edom for his permission for the Israelites to pass eastwards through Edom so as to reach The King’s Highway, which ran north-south along the eastern side of the Dead Sea. 

  We also read that the Israelites complained to Moses.  “Why have you brought us out into the wilderness?” they asked, “Just so we can die here with our animals?”  Why did you bring us out of Egypt into this miserable place where nothing will grow?  …  There is not even any water to drink.”  (Numbers 20: 4 & 5)  And we read of God miraculously providing a spring of water for them, directly from rock. 

  They then moved a short distance to the northwest, to Mount Hor, where Moses’ brother, Aaron, died and was buried.  We also read that the King of Arad, a Canaanite Kingdom to the north, became concerned about the potential intrusion of the Israelites into his Kingdom and attacked them where they were camped, and kidnapped some people and, presumably, some of the livestock as well.  We read that God helped them to defeat the King’s army, to retrieve what had been taken away, and to “completely destroy their cities”.  (Numbers 21: 3 & 4)  And, today’s passage commences by telling us that they then turned to the south and began retracting their journey to the head of the Gulf of Aqaba, so as to journey eastwards from there before then turning northwards to the ‘Promised Land’.

  So, we gain a sense of the feelings of the Israelites at this point in time.  They had been journeying through arid country for several months, a land in which there had found minimal amount of fodder for their livestock, a minimal amount of fruit and vegetables to be gathered for themselves, and a lack of water for themselves or their animals.  Two of their leaders had sadly died, Aaron and Miriam, people who had inspired and encouraged them for so many years.  The Israelites received the disappointing news that they could not travel the quickest and easiest route eastwards but must now retrace their journey through the same arid country through which they had just recently struggled.  And then they had to fight a battle against the small army of a Canaanite King.

  We can readily understand then, when we read, “on the way the People lost their patience and spoke against God and Moses.”  (Numbers 21: 4 & 5)  The Authorised Version puts it so poetically, “and the soul of the People was much discouraged because of the way.”  They complained again about being given false promises when Moses led them out of Egypt, they complained again about the lack of water, and they complained about the manna which had been their daily fare for 40 years.  The Good News Bible reads, “We can’t stand any more of this miserable food.”  (Number 21: 5)  The Authorised Version again puts it so poetically, when we read the people saying, “and our soul loatheth this light bread.”

  We can understand the depth of their feelings and of their frustrations.  We can appreciate that the experiencing of their many disappointments and setbacks had finally reached a point where they could no longer keep in check their emotions and, they ‘let it all out’, so to speak.  We could even be tempted to sympathise with their ‘point of view’, and even be tempted ourselves to ask, “Well, why God?” 

  Except for something crucial.

  The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthian Church writes, “We must not put the Lord to the test, as some of them did, and they were killed by snakes.”  (1 Corinthians 10: 9)  , a direct reference to events recorded in Numbers 21.  Here, Paul is mirroring Jewish traditional understandings, which “unanimously lament” the behaviour of the Israelites during their time in the wilderness, “including their complaining against God’s provision.”  (Craig Keener in The IVP Bible Background commentary on the New Testament p473) 

  The Greek words that Paul uses have the implied meaning of a “severe and prolonged” questioning of God, “to see how far the People could go in defying God’s requirements.  In their grumbling and complaining is an explicit “rebellion against God”.  (Norman Hillyer in 1 Corinthians in New Bible Commentary p1064) 

  So, what was it that, in their complaining, the Israelites were not just forgetting, but were willingly neglecting to consider?

  The Israelites were neglecting the memory of the pain and the misery of their former life in Egypt, from which God had removed them.  God had released them from their bondage under slavery and from the power of Pharoah.  Surely they never seriously considered returning to Egypt knowing that, in doing so, they would be returning to such a horrid state of affairs?

  The Israelites were neglecting God’s provision for them every day for the past 40 years, the manna, the quails, the water, especially the miraculous provision of water of just several weeks previously.  If they had a need, all that they needed to do was to ask God to meet their need.  Why did they not ask God?

  The Israelites were neglecting God’s protection over them.  He had protected them as they walked on dry ground when crossing the “Red Sea”.  God had supported them in their battle against the Amalekites.  (Exodus 17: 8 to 15)  God had supported them in their recent battle against the army of Arad.

  The Israelites were neglecting that it was their parents and grandparents who had refused to enter the Land of Canaan 40 years previously. They were the descendants of those who had refused to obey God, those who were ultimately responsible for their past 40 years of ‘wandering in the wilderness’.

  Most importantly, the Israelites were neglecting the Covenant agreement that God had entered into with the People of Israel at Mount Sinai, a Covenant to be their God and for them to be His People, a People specially chosen by God to be dedicated to Him alone.  (Exodus 19: 5 & 6 and 20: 2)  It was this Covenant, and its accompanying promises of God’s provision for them and careful concern for them, to which they had agreed. 

  In their complaining there was not just a refusal to remember how God had so readily provided for them in the past, but there was a rebellion against the Covenant agreement which they had readily agreed to accept.

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“the Lord sent poisonous snakes”

.  It is on this understanding that we see God invoking His just, divine judgement against them, “the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many Israelites were bitten and died.”  (Numbers 21: 6) 

  The Israelites quickly saw the error of their ways.  They repented and sought forgiveness.  “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you.”, we read the Israelites saying to Moses.  (Numbers 21: 7)  But, what were they going to do about the snakes, the punishment that God had brought upon them?  Trying to exist with the snakes was unthinkable and, indeed, perilous.  It is important to note what they could not do.  They could not get rid of the snakes by themselves, for it was not within their capabilities to do so.  They could not invoke the intervention of another god whose power exceeded that of God’s, for no such god exists.  They needed to turn to God, against whom they had rebelled.  They needed to rely on the love and grace of God to deliver them from the consequences of their actions.

  So, Moses prayed for their deliverance, and was told by God to make a metal snake, to fasten it to a pole, and to erect the pole in such a way that people could see it.  Presumably it was sited in the middle of the Israelite camp or adjacent to where the Tent of the Tabernacle was placed.  It must have been a pole that was high enough so as to be seen by everyone in the camp from wherever they were located, both within and outside of the camp. 

  If someone were bitten by a poisonous snake, they “would look at the snake and be healed”.  (Numbers 21: 9)  There are two Hebrew words used in the passage that are both translated as ‘look’ in the Good News Bible.  The word ‘rawaw’  [Strong’s OT7200]  in verse 8 incorporates the understanding of: to gaze, to perceive or to consider with respect.  The word ‘nawhat’  [Strong’s OT5027]  in verse 9 incorporates the understanding of: to look intently at or to regard with care or with respect.  Therefore, when a person was to look at the snake on the pole, it isn’t just a quick glance or a glimpse, it is an intentional gaze accompanied by the knowledge that through their faith in the very Word of God, He will bring healing and wholeness to them.

Rebellion – Judgement – Repentance – Faith – Healing

  This is the pattern for a renewed relationship with God that we can gather from Numbers 21.  And it is to this that John is referring when he stated, “for in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up”.  (John 3: 14) 

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The Son of Man lifted up

  “the Light has come into the World, but people love the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds are evil”  (John 3: 19)  People rebel against the love of God and His rule in and over our lives.

  Alan Catchpoole, in his book “The Wisdom that founded the Earth”, writes that “An appreciation of God’s Word and of His Creation should lead us to a recognition of God’s sovereign right to govern His creatures, and should lead us to a voluntary and whole-hearted willingness to listen to and to respond with obedience to God’s authoritative Word.”  [Alan Catchpoole in The Wisdom that founded the Earth p68 and p206

  Not to do so is a refusal to accept the reality of God’s sovereign right to govern, a rebelling against His authority, a rebelling against His willingness to display His love and care for His Creation and for each individual.

  “this is how the judgement works”, John writes  (John 3: 19).  People must face the consequences of their rebellion against God.  Just as the Israelites could not escape from the snakes, so, too, we cannot escape from the sin in our lives being highlighted by God.  And, once highlighted, we then must face the judgement of God for our rebellion against Him.

“For God so loved the World”  (John 3: 16a)  .  John explains that the love that God showed to the Israelites, as we saw displayed in the wilderness around Kadesh Barnea and Mount Hor, was but an image of the inexhaustible and expansive love that He has for all of Humanity.

“that He gave His only Son”  (John 3: 16b)  .  John explains the cost required for our reconciliation with God.  In the same manner that the Israelites could not remove the snakes from their camp, we cannot, by our own actions or character or abilities, release ourselves from our bondage to sin nor remove the taint of sin from our souls.  We, too, need to rely on the love and grace of God to deliver us from the consequences of our actions.  We must rely on God to pay the ransom price required to release us from our bondage to sin and death.

“so that everyone who believes in him”  (John 3: 16c)  .  The Israelites, once they were bitten by a poisonous snake, need only look to the metal snake on the pole lifted up before them, trusting in the love of God and in the promise of healing that He had given to Moses.  So, too, we must believe in the healing power of the one lifted up on the cross for us.

“may not die but have eternal life”  (John 3: 16d)  .  Our relationship with God restored and renewed, in this life and in the next.  Our souls cleansed and refreshed.  Our wills realigned to God’s Will and to His coming Kingdom.  Where once there was pain and anguish, now there is healing and wholeness.

  Paul writes in his letter to the Church in Ephesus, “God’s mercy is so abundant, and His love for us is so great”  (Ephesians 2: 4)  .  May these words give us joy as we move forward in life.  May these words give us peace, knowing that God is there with us.  May these words be the anchor to which we fix our hopes.  For these words are His promise to us that He is our God and that we are His chosen People, dedicated to Him alone.  Amen.


“O my Saviour lifted from the Earth for me” TiS 600

Verse 1 of 5

O my Saviour lifted

From the Earth for me,

Draw me, in your mercy,

At your side to be.

Verse 2 of 5

Lift my Earth-bound longings,

Fix them, Lord, above;

Draw me with the magnet

Of your mighty love.

Verse 3 of 5

Lord, your arms are stretching

Ever far and wide

To enfold your children

To your loving side.

Verse 4 of 5

And I come, Lord Jesus:

Dare I turn away?

No, your love has conquered,

And I come today.

Verse 5 of 5

Bringing all my burdens,

Sorrow, sin and care,

At your feet I lay them,

And I leave them there.

William Walsham How


Offering Prayer   

“For the life that you have given” TiS 774  [to be sung to the tune ‘Austria’ – refer to TiS 772]

[disregard the words – only the one verse is needed]

For the life that you have given,

For the love in Christ made known,

With these fruits of time and labour,

With these gifts that are your own:

Here we offer, Lord, our praises;

Heart and mind and strength we bring;

Give us grace to love and serve you,

Living what we pray and sing.

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Prayers for Others

Let us come before God with our cares and our concerns.

Almighty God, we pray for the Church, that we may continue to grow in our relationship with Christ and manifest your unbounded love for the Human family by our deeds.

We pray for the gift of hope, that we may not despair as we encounter violence, greed, and abuse, but by the Holy Spirit may we courageously give witness to your mercy and compassion.

We pray for renewal of Spirit, that we may surrender our desire to save ourselves and allow you to heal us and to raise us to new life.

We pray for all who are experiencing persecution, that you will preserve them from harm, give them strength, and, like Paul, help them to witness to your love and faithfulness.

We pray for healing of the wounds of racism, that you will raise up all who have been wounded by racism and prejudice.  Inspire us with new ways to build a community of justice and cooperation.

We pray for all who are suffering, that your unending love will bring health to the sick, food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, and jobs to the unemployed.

We pray for a renewed spirit of stewardship, that we may efficiently use the natural resources that you entrusted to us and work to share them with those who are in need.

We pray for a just and equitable distribution of the Coronavirus vaccines, that you will give insight to those distributing and administering the vaccines so that those who are most vulnerable may be vaccinated.

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  Merciful God, we bring these prayers to you, trusting in your love and care.  To your glory we pray. 

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name,

  your kingdom come,

  your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.

  Give us today our daily bread.

  Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

  Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil,

  For the Kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.  Amen.


“I need Thee every hour” Alexander’s Hymns No.3 Number 71

Verse 1 of 5

I need Thee every hour,

Most gracious Lord;

No tender voice like Thine,

Can peace afford.


I need Thee, Oh I need Thee;

Every hour I need Thee;

Oh, bless me now my Saviour,

I come to Thee.

Verse 2 of 5

I need Thee every hour,

Stay Thou near by;

Temptations lose their power

When Thou art nigh.


I need Thee, Oh I need Thee;

Every hour I need Thee;

Oh, bless me now my Saviour,

I come to Thee.

Verse 3 of 5

I need Thee every hour,

In joy or pain;

Come quickly and aside,

Or life is vain.


I need Thee, Oh I need Thee;

Every hour I need Thee;

Oh, bless me now my Saviour,

I come to Thee.

Verse 4 of 5

I need Thee every hour;

Teach me Thy will,

And Thy rich promises

In me fulfill.


I need Thee, Oh I need Thee;

Every hour I need Thee;

Oh, bless me now my Saviour,

I come to Thee.

Verse 5 of 5

I need Thee every hour,

Most Holy One:

Oh, make me Thine indeed,

Thou blessed Son.


I need Thee, Oh I need Thee;

Every hour I need Thee;

Oh, bless me now my Saviour,

I come to Thee.

Annie B Hawks and Robert Lowry

Benediction  (from Invocations and Benedictions p72) 

By God’s grace we have been healed from the sickness of our sins.  By God’s grace we have been saved to a new life with Jesus Christ.  By God’s grace we have been assured of reconciliation with God in this life and in the time after Time.  With this assurance then , let us go out into our daily lives with God’s praises on our lips and God’s work to do with our hands.

And, may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon you and remain with you always.  Amen.

Benediction Song

“Now to him who loves us saves us” TiS 771

(only the one verse is needed)

Now to him who loved us, gave us

Every pledge that love could give,

Freely shed his blood to save us,

Gave his life that we might live,

Be the Kingdom

And dominion

And the glory evermore.

Samuel Miller Waring