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The Fourth Sunday in Lent, 14 March 2021

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  The Fourth Sunday in Lent, 14 March 2021   Numbers 21:4-9 Ephesians 2:1-10 John 3:14-21 Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22   The Collect   Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.     Background: The Serpent                The serpent plays a role in two of our readings for today – as a menace to people, as a sign of health and salvation, and finally as a reference in the Gospel. Such various roles befit the serpent who was a significant part of the cultural and religious life of the peoples of Egypt, Israel, Mesopotamia, Canaan, and Greece. In these cultures, the serpent was symbolic of wildly divergent ideas. It was the symbol of healing and fertility as well as chaos and evil. In the story of Adam and Eve, the serpent is an agent of disruption and temptation, while

The Third Sunday in Lent, 7 March 2021

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The Third Sunday in Lent, 7 March 2021   Exodus 20:1-17 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 John 2:13-22 Psalm 19   The Collect   Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.   Background: The Second Temple   With the edict of Cyrus, the Great, and the return of some Jewish peoples to Palestine in the sixth century BCE, a Temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt. The Temple built by Solomon was destroyed 586 BCE by the Neo-Babylonian Empire, thus the necessity to rebuild the Temple after the return. Under Zerubbabel, a modest building was constructed, and later during the reign of Herod the Great (72-4 BCE), the whole complex was completely rebuilt in a lavish an