Sermon - March 14, 2021 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Sermon – March 14, 2021

4th Sunday Lent
Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Ephesians 2:1-10
Gospel John 3:14-21


Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him: who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

You are our strength and salvation, O God.
You are our hope and deliverer.
In midst of fear and uncertainty in our lives and when the powerless of the world are overwhelmed by mighty forces
Recall us to our true source of help. 
Waken us again to your strong presence within us. 
Awaken us again to hope. 

When I read this passage from Numbers, I could only think how impatient the people were, how ungrateful. They are being freed from slavery and going to a new home, the promised land. It reminded me how impatient we have become over the closing of our churches, not to be able to worship as a congregation, the social distancing, how we celebrate Eucharist.

Patience is a rare virtue, I can relate to the Israelites growing restless on their journey, for many of us we also have grown restless during the Covid19 pandemic. But we need to remember God has not lost sight of us, He is on this journey with us, and will not abandon us in the wilderness.

During the season of Lent, we strive to realize our need for repentance and forgiveness. Today’s psalm is of thanksgiving and tells the story of deliverance for Israel by the Lord. The psalm gives thanks to the Lord for his mercy, and the wonders he does for his people. It is at this time we recognize our need for repentance and forgiveness, as  love for us through the gift we look to God, in awe of the abundance of God’s love for us through the gift of Jesus Christ.

Yes, we will stray from God’s ways, but because of his love and mercy for us, we have been promised salvation and eternal life. We thank God for His mercy with thanksgiving and praise.

The letter to the Ephesians is about God’s unfailing love and mercy, even when we are disobedient and are sinners. We are reminded that it is by grace that we are saved. This passage emphasizes that humans do nothing to earn God’s love or grace, at the end of the passage the author states that we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” This does not mean that good works do not matter, the reason we do good works is not in order to earn God’s love or mercy. Our good works have already received the immeasurable riches of God’s grace.

Nicodemus meets with Jesus at night in fear of judgement for his peers: The conversation with Nicodemus is  probably the  most- well known Bible verse of all, “John 3:16: 

God’s love and  promise of eternal life in Jesus is tied by John to the serpents in today’s reading from Numbers 21. The instrument of affliction became the instrument for healing to the people of Israel. Jesus’ death itself becomes the vehicle for imperishability. Death the enemy of life, has become the entrance into eternal life.

Both of these passages we see the people of the Lord have been delivered from death and brought into life. The merciful and salvific actions of God were never to respond to the good works, but rather stem from God’s identity and God’s grace. Christian’s identity is that one saved by grace from the grave, from affliction and desires of the senses. From that identity, we live into the way of life God intended,  doing good and proclaiming  God’s goodness.

Our Father, who sent your blessed Son Jesus Christ to be the true Light of the World, grant us always to live in his Light, as he lives in us, with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.