Hearing and Trusting the Promises of God (9:30am)
This service is built around the theme of what it means to doubt God's promises to us, and the importance of hearing God's promises to us and trusting in them. The lectionary readings focus around Israel doubting God in the desert, after he had freed them from Egypt and God's anger at their faithlessness and mistrust of him.
The Call to Worship calls us into the presence of the great King above all gods, who is also our shepherd. He tells us that when we hear his voice, we should not harden our hearts, like the Israelites did in the desert.
We respond by singing praise to God's power and his creation which proclaims it. The congregation stays standing to speak together our affirmation of faith--of trust in a God who made us for himself, redeemed us, protects us and will sanctify us for life with him in eternity.
Our song of response acknowledges the sweetness of trusting Jesus, but also the doubt and struggle that is part of the Christian life. It is a prayer that the Holy Spirit will continue to build our faith and bring us close to himself (O for a closer walk with God).
We sit for the Call to Confession. Part of trusting God is waiting for him in quiet and resting upon his promises, something we struggle to do in our doubt, or in our desire to fix things for ourselves.
In the corporate confession, we confess our lack of trust and ask God to forgive us and give us faith in his promises to us. This is followed by a time of silent confession, after which we sing prayer asking for mercy and peace. This is followed by the assurance that God has indeed made sure our forgiveness through Jesus' sacrifice for us.
We respond by reminding ourselves and each other of all of the times the Lord has heard our cry and answered us. We can trust him in the future because he has been faithful in the past, and he is a God who keeps his promises.
In the lectionary readings, we see the people of Israel doubting God's faithfulness to them at Meribah, even after he had brought them out of Egypt. They were desperate for water and feared God would not give it to them. God gave them the water they asked for but they were denied the promised land. Jesus gave the Samaritan woman the words of life and water that would quench her thirst forever. As we see in the Romans passage, this gift of thirst-quenching water is not because of her righteousness, but a free gift of God. We can not only trust in God's promises to give us what we need, but we can endure suffering with the knowledge that even that can bring us closer to Jesus and will not be in vain.
We respond by singing of God's unchanging faithfulness to us--we need to cling to him even when we go through suffering and doubt. If we build our hopes on him, they will not be dashed.
The communion song reminds us that Jesus' body broken for us has made us well, made us whole. He is given for us. The final hymn is an invitation to trust in God through all that life brings us, and a reminder that faith in him will be a bulwark for us in evil and dark days. Even in suffering, we can be strengthened by the knowledge that God will never forsake us, and our earthly lives are not the end of our story.
We hope to see you this Sunday!