Do not, we can’t be more clear, do not put a bronze snake on a pole for this service! OK, kidding aside, how do we create an experience of worship around this odd story in the backwaters of the Torah? Well, as observed in the preaching notes, this story seemed to be important to Jesus, at least according to John’s Gospel. So, maybe we could start there.
This is another occasion of Jesus predicting his death and the doorway that it opened for all of us. And by “another occasion,” we don’t mean how repetitive, but instead we mean we need to pay attention here. This is important. Worship, then, should be centered around the offering that Christ makes to all.
So, the songs should be in praise of Jesus and the power of his sacrifice. The prayers should be prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of life eternal, of forgiveness and grace. There could be witness to the power of a reclaimed life, of a renewed start, of healed relationships and healed bodies.
But underneath it all is a call to commitment. That is what “Look Up and Live” means. “Look up” doesn’t sound like much of a commitment, but it 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 issue the call to commitment? What next steps can be provided so that folks understand that this is more than a moment at the altar rail? What groups, in person or online, are ready to take new attenders and walk alongside those who are ready 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 begin to put into place for mutual support and encouragement? Here again the worship team can partner with others in the life of the congregation to help communicate 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.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.