Fourth Sunday in Lent
SCRIPTURE READINGS: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
When we see clearly, our lives are transformed. But seeing God clearly, recognizing Christ, and perceiving the anointing of God requires the work and light of the Holy Spirit. When we have the light of the Spirit, we see God and understand things more fully, we see others with the eyes of Christ. God does not value us for what we look like. God sees into our hearts and knows what we feel and believe. Anyone can be called by God to achieve greatness. And everyone is cared for by the Good Shepherd, who gives us all that we need. For we are all “children of light,” created by the One who is light, and in whom there is no darkness at all. Yet, we are also all blind and in need of healing so that we might be the sight of God, clear and undistorted by our sin, our hurts, our agendas, and our prejudices. The light of the world shines, and the darkness that is in the world has not overcome it—not in our individual lives, not in our collective lives, not in the history of the world as a whole. The light will not be extinguished. We must let it shine through us!
INVITATION AND GATHERING
Call to Worship (Ephesians 5, John 9)
When the world is dark and full of hate and fear,
when we cannot see God
we will turn on the light.
When we cannot find our way back to love and peace
we will turn on the light.
When our vision dims due to the darkness within
we will turn on the light.
Christ opens our eyes with the gift of sight.
The light of the world is Jesus Christ.
Come and worship the one
who brings sight to the blind.
Hallelujah! Praise God, the light of the world!
Opening Prayer (Ephesians 5, John 9)
Gracious God, who created us in God’s own image,
we are grateful for all that you have done for us,
for all that you are doing in us,
and for all that you will do through us.
Open our eyes to see your presence among us,
moving in powerful ways at all times
and in all places.
Open our ears to hear familiar words in new ways—
ways that will change us and challenge us
to become the people you created us to be.
Grant us the power and the courage
to come out of the darkness
and into the light of Jesus Christ,
that we may serve you by serving others.
We love you with all our heart, soul, mind,
and strength. Amen.
PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE
Prayer of Confession (1 Samuel 16, Ephesians 5, John 9)
Forgiving God, in a world filled with so much pain,
we would rather shut our eyes and be blind
than see things as they really are.
Grant us the courage to face the reality of our world,
and give us the strength to bring your light
to those who walk in darkness.
Help us see others as you see them,
and forgive us when we do not trust you enough
to open our eyes to the possibilities before us.
Heal our self-inflicted blindness, O God,
and lead us in the footsteps
of the Light of the World,
who reveals your glory in his life,
his teachings, and his love.
In his holy name, we pray. Amen.
Words of Assurance (Psalm 23)
Christ came to lead us in paths of righteousness
and to guide us through our lives.
Christ is with us in times of danger and times of peace.
The goodness and mercy of God
are given to us each and every day of our lives.
God forgives us for our failings, upholds us in love,
and leads us to the place
that Christ has prepared for us.
Believe in your heart that God loves you
and forgives you.
We believe! God help our unbelief!
Response to the Word (Ephesians 5, John 9)
In the light of God, all is made clear. We see how much God loves us and how much God loves all people. We see Christ, the Light of the World, in Scripture and in our lives; and although we once were blind, now we see!
THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION
Offering Prayer (Psalm 23)
God of light and love and peace,
we praise your name
for leading us in paths of righteousness,
that we may come into your presence,
forgiven and free.
We give you thanks for guiding us to this place:
where we may rest beside the still waters
of your grace,
where we are filled with the good gifts
of your goodness and mercy.
We worship you with all that we are,
and we bless your name for all that we will be
as we continue on our journey—
a journey that leads us to your kingdom,
where we will dwell with you forever.
We offer you these gifts,
that you might bless them and send them out
into the valley of the shadow of death,
and everywhere in need of your light. Amen.
Benediction (Psalm 23, Ephesians 5)
Go into the world, carrying the light of Christ
into the darkness!
We go, with hearts full and eyes open!
Receive God’s love and care,
and share that love and care with others!
We go, with eyes reflecting God’s light
and hands open to share it!
May you walk in the light of Christ
all the days of your life!
We will follow Christ wherever he leads us! Amen!
Gathering Words (Psalm 23)
Let’s go to some place green and cool!
But we have to go through that industrial area
to get there!
We’ll just take the shortcut by the river.
And let’s take something to eat!
Good idea! We can share it with the people
over on the other side!
They never have enough to eat!
And tonight we can sleep out under the stars!
We are part of God’s creation
and God will take care of us!
God is good, all the time!
And all the time, God is good!
Praise Sentences (Psalm 23)
God gives us what we need!
God shows us how to live!
Praise God for being with us no matter what!
Love the Lord your God,
with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength!
From The Abingdon Worship Annual edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © Abingdon Press. The Abingdon Worship Annual 2017 is now available.