Opening Prayer We remember the woman at the well – her questions, her truth, her witness. Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, so like her we may ask candidly, reveal ourselves deeply, and share your Good News freely. Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, so we may worship you in spirit and truth. Amen.
Prayer of Confession Jesus, we thirst We thirst for love and belonging We thirst for security and provision We thirst for truth and hope We thirst for healing for our wounds We thirst for mercy for our sin, our guilt, our shame
Time of silent confession
Assurance of Pardon Jesus, you pour yourself out for us and the world so we may be born again of water and the Spirit, so we may never thirst again
We thank you and praise you for your eternal blessing and forgiveness. Help us lead others to the well of your saving love. Amen
**** John 4:5-42 is read on the 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A
God, please help… for many of us, it’s our first prayer, our first time reaching out to God. It comes in the midst of tears or as a whisper in the night or a cry of anguish when we are in way over our heads.
Help, I lost my job
Help, I’m losing my mind
Help my kid to love me again
I’m so lonely, help me
I don’t know what to do, help
Help, I have cancer
Help, she’s going to leave me
This pain is unbearable, help me
Help, I can’t do this
help, I can’t stop doing this
Help, I hate my life
We don’t have to be taught how to ask for help. We’re born knowing how. We know how to cry out for a diaper change, or a bottle, or to be burped. Help! It’s as natural as breathing.
But somewhere along the way we grow up and start taking care of ourselves. We start buying into the myth we can become educated enough, rich enough, powerful enough not to need help.
The truth is we all need help. We will always need help.
Even Jesus asked for help. He often went off alone to pray so we don’t know what he said then. But we do know what he prayed on the Mount of Olives in Gethsemane the night before his death. (Matthew 26) He was vulnerable and honest in asking God for help and asking for help from his companions.
In her wonderful book Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers, Ann Lamott said, “There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It’s exhausting, crazy-making. Help. Help us walk through this. Help us come through. It is the first great prayer.”
The truth is we all need help. We will always need help. When we know this and accept it, asking for help can again become as natural as breathing. In the asking, we realize God is already there, close as breath.
So let’s learn to pray by re-learning to pray.
It’s not important how you say it.
Just say it – real, raw, honest.
It’s as easy as finishing a sentence-
God, please help…
Matthew 6:7-8 Jesus said, “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
You are there in the midst of my prattle
and my hiding
Thank you for your patient presence
Thank you for calling me again to what is deeper and true
Forgive me for defaulting to well-worn words
Empty language borrowed from ritual or even scripture
Help me come to you honest and real
nothing veiled, nothing hidden
Help me come to you present and fresh
new every morning
Matthew 6:9-10 Jesus said, “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Glory to You, Heavenly One
Abba, Maker, Creator
I long for your kingdom, the fullness of your grace and victory
The longing is a sign of you in me
Abide more and more, so I not only long but look and see
Abide forever, so I not only long but pray and speak and act
Full-filling your words
Growing in Resilience
Day 25, Read Isaiah 64
Reflection: As Clay to the Potter, based on Isaiah 64:8, NRSV
Isaiah 64:8, NRSV Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
It is not you that shapes God,
It is God that shapes you.
If you are the work of God,
await the hand of the artist who does all things in due season.
Offer him your heart, soft and tractable,
and keep the form in which the artist has fashioned you.
Let your clay be moist, lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of his fingers. –Attributed to St. Irenaeus
2 Corinthians 4:7, NIV We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
The Eternal One, Our Father, knows
We are seen and we are searched
No need to harden your defenses
No need to hide
It changes nothing
All that is found is loved
The blessings and the brokenness
The wins and the worry
The success and the sin
All is found and all is loved
Rest in this promise and blessing
Rest in God
Release it all
Surrender to your Beloved
As clay to the Potter
As song to the Singer
As seed to the good, dark earth
buried, but made ready
to burst forth with New Life
*********** Click Here for Potter, a powerful prayer by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Oseola McCarty was born in Hattiesburg Mississippi in 1908, the child of rape. She was raised by her grandmother and aunt who were washerwomen. She joined them in the family business at age 8, learning to wash clothes by hand over an open fire. Oseola left school in the 6th grade to care for her beloved aunt and work full time. She never went back to school and served her neighbors as a washerwoman for 74 years. She never married, never had a child, and never owned a car. When it became possible for her to use a washing machine, she tried it and went back to handwashing clothes. The machine didn’t do as good of a job as she could.
As a child, she began putting some of her small earnings into savings. First, in her doll carriage and later in a savings account she opened herself. In time, she decided to establish a scholarship at the University of Southern Mississippi with $150,000 she’d saved. She did this at a school that would not have admitted her in the days of segregation.
When asked why, Oseola said, “I’m too old to get an education but they can. I can’t do everything but I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do. I wish I could do more.”
When asked how she accumulated that much money, she said, “It wasn’t hard. I didn’t buy things I didn’t need. The Lord helped me, and he’ll help you, too.”
“I start each day on my knees, saying the Lord’s Prayer. Then I get busy about my work,” McCarty told one interviewer. “You have to accept God the best way you know how and then He’ll show Himself to you. And the more you serve Him, the more able you are to serve Him.”
Look how powerful it can be for a follower of Jesus to be in right relationship with money. Think of the legacy she’s leaving, for future students and as a witness to faithful living. Oseola valued:
1. Hard, honest work
2. The meaningful connection between work, money, and faith
3. That work and managing money wisely are both a blessing, are good for us, are good for the community we live in, and good for the Kingdom of God
Now, look at our scripture for today, Luke 12:13-21. It is a cautionary tale, an example not to follow. The Rich Farmer/Fool’s relationship with money is a twisted trap, the opposite of Oseola’s relationship.
What do you see? Someone who is self-centered
Notice the repetition of the words I/my: 10 times in 3 verses
Doesn’t think about the common good
Literally has a conversation with himself with no regard for discussing plans with his family, business partners, a wise friend, or God
Doesn’t attribute his success to anyone else, including his employees or God
There are times when what our society values blends easily with the ways of Jesus. There are times when they bump against one another.
Our society values instant gratification
I can have everything I want and I can have it now
More, More, More Mine, Mine Mine
$$, Stuff, Consuming = happiness
This leads to spending as: a means of entertainment, a pick me up for a bad day, a way of self-medicating and denying hard realities, a way to look successful or “normal”
This leads to overspending, living beyond our means
Instead of using healthy debt as a tool, we feel crushed by debt, enslaved to debt
We experience the burden of too much stuff: how do I store it, care for it, protect it
Many live in constant stress because they are one paycheck away, one unexpected expense away from financial disaster. Many are setting aside little to nothing for emergencies, their future, or the work of God. God gets tips, rather than a tithe.
Oseola models a different way of living, a better way. John Wesley and the Bible’s thoughts on Money John Wesley, in his sermon entitled The Use of Money, wrote, “Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can.”
To put it another way, Hard Honest Work partners with Stewardship, the careful, farsighted management of money. The word for that is prudent, like Prudential Insurance.
As followers of Jesus, we believe none of it belongs to us. We are caretakers for God’s belongings to use as God would choose.
Jim Harnish puts it this way, “… everything we are and have is a gift from God. That is, the stuff I have—my money, my possessions, my talents, my body—are not my own. They belong to God, the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17 KJV). They are given to me by the God who trusts me to use everything I am and have in ways that are consistent with the will and way of God.”
2. Careful, Farsighted Money Management (Prudent)
Prudent is not prudish, cheap, stingy, or miserly. It wasn’t wise money management for rich Ebenezer Scrooge to only live in one room of his large house eating gruel every night just as much as it isn’t wise money management to be careless and wasteful like the Prodigal Son.
Be wise and face the facts of your financial situation. Take an honest inventory of what you earn and what you spend.
Chose to be a steward. Manage what God’s entrusted to you. Paying attention to it and direct it’s use making wise choices.
Embrace the good gifts of simplicity and thrift.
Eliminate unhealthy debt
Use the guide to establish a healthy, faithful budget
For followers of Christ, the tithe is an essential practice of faithful stewardship. We acknowledge it all already belongs to God. The tithe is to money what Sabbath is to work. In their practice, our words and actions and beliefs align. God, I trust you to provide. I trust you know what is best for me.
We remember Oseola’s testimony like we remember the widow at the treasure, the little boy giving Jesus his lunch, the woman with the costly jar of perfume anointing Jesus. They saved and used those savings as a lasting legacy. Think how we could be telling your story of faithfulness years from now.
Jim Harnish relates the following: I remember the first time I heard John Ortberg tell a story that later became the title of one of his best-selling books. It’s the story of the day he beat his grandmother in Monopoly. He said it happened at Marvin Gardens, where he wiped her off the board. His grandmother had taught him to play the game, and now he had outplayed her. As he relished his victory, she taught him a far more important lesson with these words: When the game is over, it all goes back in the box.18 All the money, properties, houses, and hotels he had acquired weren’t really his. They had been in the box before he played, and they would be there after he stopped. At the end of the day, it all goes back in the box.
Be a wise, faithful steward. Leave a testimony and a legacy.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.