4th Sunday In Lent
Good morning Siblings of Christ,
“Look Up and Live”
Our Old Testament Reading finds the Israelites still wandering in the dessert. Their frustrations cause them to once again speak out against God and against Moses.
Numbers 21:6 – Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died.
It would be difficult to preach this text from Numbers without making reference to the Gospel Reading of John 3:14-21. It is John’s explanation of this story that fits most neatly into our Lenten journey. John has Jesus reference this story from Numbers as a way of explaining what he, Jesus, was there to do. It is the first reference to being lifted up and goes back to a story with snakes and poison and grumbling people. What could be so uplifting about a story of a snake on a stick?
This is another occasion of Jesus predicting his death and the doorway that it opened for all of us. For underneath it all is a call to commitment. That is what “Look Up and Live” means. “Look Up” is a call to move out of ourselves and to allow someone else to take the lead, to take the center of our beings. “Look Up” means see the hope for your own life and the lives of those you love and indeed the whole world not in yourself, but in the person of Jesus Christ and his redeeming grace.
How will you, disciples of Christ, issue this call to commitment? Who 5th Ave. members and friends, in person or online, are ready to take God’s people who are looking for hope, courage, trust and walk alongside those who are ready, who are eager to take up the call to “Look Up and Live”?
Of the many things we know about how to make disciples, one thing is clear: no one does it on his/her own. What kind of buddy system or group process can we, 5th Ave. UMC, begin to put into place for mutual support and encouragement as we bring souls to Christ? It begins with the understanding that worship is not something we do for an hour or so once a week, but something we do every day of our lives.
“Look Up and Live” It is about surrendering ourselves to that which will save us rather than thinking we can do it ourselves if we just plug away at it long enough. It is admitting that there is poison in our system that will kill us if we don’t do something radical, something desperate.
It isn’t hard to imagine the squeamishness of the Hebrew people to have a bronze snake on a pole in the midst of the camp while they were surrounded by snakes nipping at their heels. And we can be sure that their prayer was that God would move the snakes out of the way and give them a clear path on their journey. But God chose a different way. God left the snakes around them, left them vulnerable to the poison that could kill them. But our on-time God gave them a remedy, a sure solution to the danger that surrounded them. All they needed to do was to “Look Up and Live”.
To God be the glory, amen!
Rev. Clarissa Martinelli
Pastor, Fifth Avenue UMC
323 South Fifth Avenue
West Bend, WI
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful
beyond measure. I am a child of God.” marianne williamison