A Bible Study for Lent 2020 – Tuesdays for 7:00-8:30 p.m.
WEEK 4: I’ve Had Enough!
March 24, 2020
To join the Bible study online, either click on the following link or copy and paste it into your online browser: https://zoom.us/j/7184544317
You can also join by phone by calling: 1-669-900-9128. When prompted, enter the following passcode: 718 454 4317
Introduction to Lenten Practices:
So what is a Lenten practice? A Lenten practice is anything we do during Lent that opens us up and brings us closer into God’s presence. A Lenten practice is like going to the gym for your faith. It may be awkward at first and difficult, but afterwards you feel good; and after doing it for a while, you notice changes and strengths, and it becomes so much a part of your routine that you can’t imagine life without it. Some common Lenten practices include prayer, fasting, generosity, confession, Bible study, hospitality, working for justice, and meditation.
The Lenten discipleship practices that we will explore are each tied to the Christian values of generosity, thankfulness, and stewardship. Each week, not only will we learn about a specific Lenten practice, but you will be given ideas about different ways that you can actually do it. Try it; play with it; see how it opens you up to God. By taking this opportunity and trying each practice, you will be making space in your life to actively live out the Way of Jesus.
Thank you, loving God, for being with us, always,
and helping us to make time in this place.
We ask you to help us remember all the moments of gratitude that have filled this week,
and we ask you to help us look forward to all of the moments of gratitude that are still to come.
Blessed are you, forever and ever.
Witness of the Stewards:
Last week, we were asked to be intentional about worship God either alone or in the company of a few others. Doing that has become more complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet you may have had opportunities to do so by phone or online or with others living in your household. So I invite you now to share a story about how this Lenten disciple worked (or didn’t work) for you this last week to open you up to God.
For the stories we have shared, for the lives we have lived, for the love you have given—
Thank you, God!
May the stories of our friends remind us all that we are on the Way together!
Thank you, God! Amen!
Reading Scripture – Psalm 23:1-6
God is my shepherd, everything I need is taken care of:
Good food to eat, sweet water to drink, safe place to sleep!
When my soul is broken, God restores it.
When my path gets twisted, God returns me to the right ways by the Holy Name!
When I walk in shadowed places, where death is waiting for me, I will not be afraid.
I know that you are with me, God.
I am comforted by your guidance, by your readiness to defend me.
Even in the presence of those who would do me harm, you make sure that I have enough, and more than enough!
You mark me as yours.
I am certain that your goodness and your mercy will always be in my life, and I will be a part of your household forever… a part of your household, forever!
- In lesson 1 of our Lenten Bible study, we explored the practice of saying ‘No!’ to many things based on the values decisions we have made to say ‘Yes!’ to other things. The spiritual practice of consciously basing our Nos and our Yeses on our fundamental values is THE Stewardship and Discipleship question above all others.
- In lesson 2, we looked into being a blessing. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing for others. We looked deeper into THE Stewardship and Discipleship question. As people of faith, it’s up to us to decide how we are going to use everything God has given us.
- In lesson 3, we explored what it means to be stewards of our time… especially as we use our time to worship and follow in the way of God.
- Talk about your experiences of Psalm 23, one of the most familiar and beloved passages of scripture in the whole Bible. Where and when have you heard it? What significance does it hold for you in your life and your practice of faith.
- Psalm 23 is typically seen as a source of comfort, support, and encouragement, especially in times of mourning. The King James version of Psalm 23 – the form by which it’s best known – is commonly read during funerals and memorial services. Some of you may even know that version of it by heart. Let’s recite it together:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
- We could go through this Psalm to identify all the wonderful things that God gives or promises to give to us. But before we do that, let’s look at the opening line one more time: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Think about what it would mean to be in a state of existence without want. What would a world without want actually look like?
- If you haven’t already done so, place that statement into the context of our world where so much of what we see and hear and experience demands, over and over, that we consume, buy, accumulate, hoard, succeed, and want. Faster, stronger, smarter. More, more more!
- Yet this Bible song starts with the revolutionary – and maybe even subversive – idea that “I shall not want.” Not because I can’t afford it. Not because I have three of them. Not because I already have the best and newest. Not because it’s back ordered on Amazon. “I shall not want” because “The Lord is my shepherd.”
- What would it mean to you – to all of us – to make the statement: “I shall not want” because God provides me with everything I need. “I shall not want” because I trust in God, who came in Jesus the Word made flesh; to reconcile and make new.
- Read the following aloud:
Jesus clearly taught and lived that we are inter-connected and inter-related; neighbors to one another; to love and serve each other, sharing what we have and who we are for each other’s good. “I shall not want” because to want is the path to greed and selfishness; which is not Jesus’ Way. To want means never being happy; never being content; always, well… wanting, and always at someone else’s expense.
In what way is want a path to greed and selfishness? In what ways does it keep us from ever being truly happy? In what ways does the spiritual practice of not wanting liberate us to be satisfied, content, happy, and generous?
- A key tool for overcoming our addiction – our slavery – to want is to practice appreciation and contentment. Name a few things in your life for which you have truly experienced appreciation.
- Now think of some moments when you have experienced authentic contentment.
- How can you take these experiences and use them to help you draw closer to God during the coming week?
Prayers of the People and the Prayer that Jesus Taught Us
For our Prayers of the People today, please cup your hands together, and place them close to your mouth.
I invite you not to think about something in your life that makes you smile, something in your life that makes you happy, something in your life for which you are grateful. And, when you’re ready, I’d ask you to whisper it, into your hands.
(A moment of silence)
Now, I’d like to ask you to think about something that’s happened that is causing you pain, right now. Perhaps it is something that you’ve done. Perhaps it is something that has been done to you. Whatever it is, I’d like to ask you if you’re ready to give it to God, that the hurt might be healed and whatever is broken might be made whole. When you’re ready, whisper that into your hands.
(A moment of silence)
Now I’d like to ask you to think about someone, something or some place you know of that is in need of God’s particular attention. It might be something quite personal to you, or it might be something far away. Take a moment to whisper into your hands a little about that person or situation and ask God to help you understand how you might be of help.
(A moment of silence)
Now comes the time to offer the prayers that are in our hands. Open the cup so that your hands are flat and bring them up to your lips. Take a deep breath and… blow!
(Give people a moment to blow their prayers into God’s world)
We pray all of these things, sharing the words that Jesus gave to all of his disciples, including us…
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
Announcements and Assignment for Next Week:
- Read Ezekiel 37:1-14. Spend time praying about how God can help you turn impossible situations into opportunities for new life.
- Do an Appreciation Inventory. Look, touch, smell, remember, and immerse yourself in what you have been given. You may choose to physically walk through your home to do this, or you can do it sitting in your favorite spot and using your mind’s eye. Either way, as you encounter or experience your physical stuff (clothes, car, food, money, toys, and so on), your non-physical stuff (job, memory, learning, faith), and your relationships (family, friends, co-workers, people that support you), pause with each one and appreciate what you have. Afterwards, acknowledge to yourself just how much you have been given. Be content. Be grateful. In these will you find the path to generosity.
- Are there any other announcements?
Benediction and Commissioning
Let’s go into the world as people of gratitude.
Let’s go into the world as people of hope.
Let’s go into the world as people of joyfulness.
Let’s go into the world ready to share Christ’s love!
And let us go knowing this: we are never, ever alone.
The peace of Christ holds us, the love of the Creator enfolds us, and the wings of the Holy Spirit carry us, today and always. Amen!
Based on “Called to Be the Church: Congregational Giving Program,” The United Church of Canada