The story of Hagar is the story of the terrible jealousy of Sarah and the singular ineffectuality of Abraham and the way Hagar, who knew how to roll with the punches, managed to survive them both. Above and beyond that, however, it is the story of how in the midst of the whole unseemly affair the Lord, half tipsy with compassion, went around making marvelous promises and loving everybody and creating great nations like the last of the big-time spenders handing out hundred-dollar bills. (Frederick Buechner)
This morning as we continued our series, “Story” we explored the Abram, Sarai, and Hagar narrative found in Genesis 16 and 21. I wrapped my message around the theme, “The God Who Sees and Hears.” Did you know that Hagar is the only women in Scripture to name God (“You are the God Who Sees Me”) and the only women to receive the promise that God would increase her descendents through her son (Ishmael).
In light of our “The God Who Sees and Hears” theme, we spent some time with the practice of examen. Pulling together some resources from Scripture, The Verses Project and Re-Worship, we crafted this liturgy:
Leader: Lent is a season of preparing our hearts and minds to experience more fully the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Following the practice of Jesus’ time in the desert where he fasted for 40 days, many people choose to give up something for Lent.
The Lenten season is also a time of reflection and renewal. Lent is an opportunity to take everything that works against God and let it go. Let our sins die as Christ died for our sins, so that we too can come back on Easter renewed.
This morning we are going to take some time to do this as a community.
Join me in reading these words from Psalm 139:
You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you discern my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are acquainted with all my ways. (Psalm 139:1-3)
Leader: 1 John 3:20 states, “God knows everything.” Not only does God know all things generally, God also knows all people personally. Often we can keep truths at a distance through broad generalizations, but never consider how these great truths affect us practically. It’s one thing to say, “God loves the world” but another to declare, “God loves me.” Have you ever wondered if God sees and knows you individually? Does God care about you? Psalm 139 proclaims this truth, “Yes! God knows me.” Not only does the God of the Bible know in general, but God knows you personally. God’s knowledge is not only absolute; it is also personal and intimate. God’s knowledge searches out our path and is acquainted not simply with some of our ways, but with all our ways.
How do you respond to this truth?
One response might be fear, anxiety or even terror. We like our secrecy, and God’s omniscience crashes our dark secretive parties. There is not only a God who knows, but also a perfect Judge who not only can judge us based on our external actions, but one who judges us based on our internal thoughts. If you are at odds with this Judge, this God, then this truth can be terrifying.
Another response to this truth can be one of comfort. Have you ever wondered if anyone knows? Does anyone even care? God does. God’s omniscience is accompanied by great compassion and mercy. We see this compassion primarily in God’s Son Jesus, who came to earth to rescue and redeem a people for Himself. It was precisely because God was acquainted with all our ways and knew how bad off we really were that Jesus left heaven, took on flesh, and died in our place.
Praise the all-knowing God who knew you at your worst and sent God’s Son to lay down His life for you!
Song – Psalm 139
God, you know us better than we know ourselves. You know our thoughts,
our weaknesses, our motivations, our sins. And you love us still.
Forgive us when we don’t believe such love is true or possible; when we wonder how You could love us just as we are, when we forget our intricate construction, the fact that we fearfully, wonderfully made, in Your image!
Remove from our minds every thought that keeps us from you. Break down the walls, push aside the pride, and help us to trust anew. You know our hearts. And you love us still. Amen.
Words of Assurance and Pardon (read together)
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentation 3:22-23)
Song – Great Are You Lord
Here is our complete worship flow:
- Your Grace Is Enough (Matt Maher)
- Whom Shall I Fear (Chris Tomlin)
- A Time of Examen
- Psalm 139 (Robbie Seay)
- Great Are You, Lord (All Sons and Daughters)
- Announcements and Offering
- Message (The God Who Sees and Hears)
You can learn what other communities of faith experienced this weekend in worship at The Worship Community.