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Resources for the 4th Sunday of Lent
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Prayer for Faithfulness Amid Hardship

(Numbers 21:4-9)
by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

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Sermon Excerpt

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Let the Redeemed of the Lord say so!
based on Psalm 107
by Rev.
Thomas Hall

I grew up in small town, mid-western America at a time when churches still held Sunday evening services. We would let our hair down a bit on Sunday nights and be less rigid in our liturgy. In fact, the only liturgy we had was an oral liturgy. Nothing was written down-we had an idea of the basic flow of the service, but at times we had to just kind of wing it.

I can still recall what happened when we got to "testimony" time. The worship leader would ask, "Does anyone have a testimony for the Lord?" You could hear the crickets praising God. "Let’s not all stand up at once, folks," he would say to relieve some of the tension. "God done anything good in your life this past week? Tell the rest of us." There would be an awkward silence for several more moments before someone would finally bail God out. (We didn’t want to entertain the possibility that God had not been active in our lives during the past week and might have instead been off for some R and R on St. Thomas instead of in Fairmont, Minnesota.)

"I want to thank God for providing for our unexpected bills," an older lady would begin. The testimony might sound like this: "An extra bill came in the mail this past week," she’d say, "and I just didn’t have the money to pay for it. I didn’t know what to do. So I just said, ‘Lord, you’re going to have provide; that’s all there is to it.’ But wouldn’t you know, the very next day a neighbor gave me money that I had lent her a year ago-the exact amount to pay this unexpected bill. God is faithful."

The rest of us would affirm this woman’s testimony with loud Amens and we’d launch right into an upbeat version of, Great is thy Faithfulness. With each verse we’d sing with more feeling, actually beginning to believe what we were singing. Such testimonies and singing inspired us all and would invariably trigger someone else’s memory so that most of us would end up giving a "testimony for the Lord."

I know times have changed. Our services sometimes seem to me to be more scripted, more controlled. Corporate testimonies have replaced "testimonies for the Lord" which can be risky and spontaneous. So in most congregations testimonies have been cut from worship or reserved for small group intimacy. Still I miss them among the community of saints.

Psalm 107 reminds us of the importance of putting testimonies back into the life of the church....Subscribers: Click here for this sermon and all other resources for Lent 4
 

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