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Intercessions for Fourth Sunday of Lent Year B: 15 March 2015


The Bronze Serpent: Ms. 363, Université de Liège

The Collect

Merciful Lord, absolve your people from their offences, that through your bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the chains of those sins which by our frailty we have committed; grant this, heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Numbers 21.4-9

The Israelites set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.’ Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.’ So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

Psalm 107.1-3,17-22

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious, *for his steadfast love endures for ever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say this, *those he redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands from the east and from the west, * from the north and from the south.
Some were foolish and took a rebellious way, * and were plagued because of their wrongdoing.
Their soul abhorred all manner of food * and drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, * and he delivered them from their distress.
He sent forth his word and healed them, * and saved them from destruction.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness *  and the wonders he does for his children.
Let them offer him sacrifices of thanksgiving *  and tell of his acts with shouts of joy.

Second Reading: Ephesians 2.1-10

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Gospel Reading: John 3.14-21

Jesus said to Nicodemus: ‘Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’

In ‘The Ministry of the Word’, the Revd Alan Garrow says:

“John portrays a world that is already lost. It lives according to its own ‘lights’, which give no light at all. The situation is parallel to that in [the Old Testament reading], where God acted and provided a focus (the bronze snake on a staff) as a sign of his saving involvement with them. John reuses the image of God entering a situation of chaos to provide a means of escape. He presents Jesus as the snake that is lifted up as a sign to the people of God’s faithful love for them,…John combines this image with that of light coming into darkness. Jesus is like a raised torch that brings order to chaos, hope to despair. As with the bronze serpent, there are two ways of responding to God’s actions in Jesus. We can turn away for shame or we can turn and be forgiven. Unless we are perfect, we will always be embarrassed by the light, but if we allow it to reveal who we really are, then God’s healing work of forgiveness can take place.”

Prayers of Intercession

Let us pray to God that in his light, we also may see light.

¶The Church of Christ

Lord, from the moment of our creation you formed us for your glory. Forgive the discontent and dissension which has arisen in your Church, dividing us one from the other. Let your light so shine before us that all eyes are  lifted to see the salvation of the Cross.  Increase our faith, we pray: Give us hearts to long for you, grace to discern you and courage to proclaim you.*

Lord, shine your light into every corner of our world: in your mercy, hear our prayer


¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord, even as the relentless winds of the universe raged through the silence of the ages, your heart was stirring to bring us to life. You are with us through all our bewilderments, redeeming our wastes and our sorrows. We go astray in the wilderness, lost in the trackless desert, and the mists come down in the mountains. You set our feet on a path we had not seen, and you lead us to a place we can make our own. You break the chains that keep us imprisoned and lead us gently into the sun.

Lord, shine your light into every corner of our world: in your mercy, hear our prayer


¶The local community

Lord, grant us the vision to reach out beyond ourselves and share our lives with others. Stretch our capabilities, our awareness of where we can help. Help us to know that when we give to others we do so from a well deep within ourselves that can never run dry. Truly, what we gave we still have. What we spent without measure, we still have. Only what we kept for ourselves have we lost.

Lord, shine your light into every corner of our world: in your mercy, hear our prayer


¶Those who suffer

Lord, you have chosen to hear our cry and share our poverty. Help us to understand that in this life all of us will suffer pain, and feel the sharpness of the serpent’s tooth. This is as necessary for us as it was for your Son and we cannot hide from these moments. But how we respond to pain and grief, that we can control. Help us to look up in faith that you are always with us, as you have promised us. Light a fire in our hearts and melt our despair, so that with all your creatures we may live in hope.*

Lord, shine your light into every corner of our world: in your mercy, hear our prayer


¶The communion of saints

Lord, in love and through your grace you lead us to your kingdom. We pray for our loved ones departed, and all who have the joy of being closer still to you.

 Merciful Father, accept these prayers…

Prayer after Communion

Lord God,
whose blessed Son our Saviour
gave his back to the smiters
and did not hide his face from shame:
give us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time
with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above): Some material included in this service is copyright: © 1989 National Council of the Churches of christ, USA Some material included in this service is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 Collect (4th of Lent) © The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)


2 comments on this post:

minidvr said...

Thanks Laura

11 March 2015 07:33
juliettemintern said...

Thank you Laura x

13 March 2015 22:23

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