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CALL TO WORSHIP
Prayer of Approach - Hymns - Prayer of Adoration and Praise - Readings from Old Testament - Epistle - Gospel - A Word with the Young - Prayer of Confession - Sermon - Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession - Offertory Prayer - Benediction
LENT AND EASTER / YEAR A
Exodus 17: 1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-11 John 4:5-42
Additional resources for Lent 3A: Sponge and bowl of water as described below; Eagle’s Wings, Frank Andersen M.S.C., Chevalier Press, Kensington NSW; All Together OK, Openbook Publishers, Adelaide, South Australia, 1996; ALL TOGETHER WHATEVER, Openbook Publishers, Adelaide, South Australia, 2001;
Be our Freedom Lord . Terry C. Falla, Openbook Publishers, Adelaide, South Australia, 1994;
LET US PRAY, Janet Nelson, HarperCollinsReligious, Pymble, 2002.
CALL TO WORSHIP:
Come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to God with songs of praise!
TIS 52/AHB 115: “Let us sing to the God of salvation”
TIS 53: “Come, sing praises to the Lord above”
TIS 101/AHB 5: “Come, you people, come adore him”
TIS 391: “Come, God’s people, sing for joy”
PRAYER OF ADORATION AND PRAISE
We do come with hearts full of thanksgiving to praise you, O God. In times of old you satisfied your people’s thirst with water in the arid wilderness. You still satisfy our thirst, but in ways which have a far lasting effect than mere refreshment. You have quenched the thirst of our spirits with the gift of your Spirit. The gift which flows into our lives, cleansing and renewing us. The living water promised by Jesus and made available to us through his
sacrificial life and death. Life-giving God, accept our prayers and praises for we offer them with hearts not only full, but overflowing with thanksgiving over the depth of your love for us. Love made eternally visible through the sacrificial love of Jesus, your Son and our Saviour. This we pray in his name. Amen
CHILDREN'S TIME: You will need: a dried out sponge and a glass bowl with water in it.
We here in Australia are in the season of summer and it is still very hot in some places - temperatures reaching over 40 degrees Celsius can still be experienced.
Ask the children/young people to imagine the following:
You are driving to an outback town to visit a relative when the car breaks down just out of town and you have to walk the last part of the road - it is a dirt road, dusty and very, very hot. When you get to your relative’s place - the first thing they do is offer you a big glass of icy cold
water. Can’t you just feel it going down!...
We have even greater reassurance of God’s guidance and love for each one of us because in the Gospel reading today - Jesus says that he gives us “living water” - his life in us to refresh us in a way that even icy cold water on a hot day can’t do….
Show the children/young people first how hard and unyielding the sponge is - then submerge it in the water until it is soaked - lift it out and show the difference - how it is soft and pliable – Jesus makes our hearts like that when we let him share his life with us - we are filled to overflowing with his life and his love.
INTRODUCTION TO PRAYER OF CONFESSION
The people led by Moses questioned whether God was with them or not when they encountered a setback. They were all too ready to view the past with rose-coloured glasses because of their uncertainty about the changes God was calling them to make in their lives. We, too, experience changes and setbacks in our lives, and find it all too easy to blame God instead of putting our trust in God to guide and lead us, even into uncertain or changed futures.
Let us pray,
We confess, O God, that we find it difficult to cope with change and there are times when we, like those wanderers in the wilderness, choose to exercise selective memories about the past - remembering only the good things and forgetting the bad.
Forgive us, O God, when we fail to trust your guidance in our lives.
We confess that when we are confronted with crises in our lives, we hunger and thirst for immediate and a quick solutions and often blame you, O God, when this does not happen.
Forgive us, O God, when we forget that you are with us in these crises, suffering
with us and giving us the strength to cope. …
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
The proof of God’s love is this: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (based on Romans 5:8). And so I declare to you: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.
GOSPEL: John 4: 5 - 42
It always astounds me how John, the author of today’s gospel, has arranged his material to emphasise God’s love for the world. Last week we heard about Nicodemus, a person of some importance – today, we hear of a nameless woman – one from the absolute opposite end of the Jewish social scale. It is difficult for us to imagine two people with a greater gulf between them – yet Jesus made himself present to them both and offered to each of them, new life – the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
To better understand the difference between the social standing of each of these people, we need to do a bit of digging into the Samaritan woman’s historical and cultural situation….
The Jews and the Samaritans were long time enemies – the main reason for their hostility towards each other was the belief of each that they had constructed the true and only Temple of God. To the Samaritans the divine sanctuary was built on Mt. Gerizim in Samaria, while to the Jews, the divine sanctuary was of course The Temple in Jerusalem….
The Jews, therefore, believed themselves to be infinitely superior to the Samaritans, as they were the ones whose focus was worship of their one true God in the temple of David in Jerusalem.
Samaritan men were studiously avoided and a Samaritan woman was even further down the social and cultural scale, with no power or rights, almost a non human being whose duty was to bear sons, as are many women locked into tribal and cultural situations today….
Jewish law specified that certain conditions rendered a person unclean and therefore various ritualistic cleansings had to be performed before the unclean person could be considered clean and acceptable before returning to normal social interaction with each other.
Samaritan women however, were considered ‘unclean’ from birth in Jewish eyes, unapproachable, untouchable, and unlovable. They were understood as non-human beings in Jewish eyes. And there was no way that stigma of uncleanness could be changed or reversed.
A cup or a plate or any drinking or eating vessel that such a person used, was considered especially unclean.
Knowing that background – can you see just how radical Jesus’ actions were, when he not only spoke with the Samaritan woman but also asked her for a drink – presumably from the jug that she was carrying. No wonder she said – “You, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” Her astonishment was not just because she was a woman –it was because she was a Samaritan woman….
Jesus told her that everyone who drank the water from the well would be thirsty again, but “whoever drinks the water I give”, he said, “will never thirst”….
TIS 585/AHB 500: “I heard the voice of Jesus say”
TIS 461/AHB 395: “God, your glory we have seen in your Son”
TIS 208: “Jesus has come, and brings joy” verses 1,4,5.
TIS 211/AHB 139: “Jesus, lover of my soul”
OFFERING and OFFERTORY PRAYER:
Accept the offering we bring, O God, in response to the love which you have poured into our hearts. May our lives bear witness to that love in all we say and do. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
TIS 687: “God gives us a future”
TIS 609/AHB 537: “May the mind of Christ my Saviour”
TIS 588/AHB 504: “In heavenly love abiding”
Go into this week
with your lives overflowing with the love of God,
your hearts saturated with the peace of Jesus Christ,
your whole being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.