Worship Connection: March 22, 2020

February 8th, 2020

Fourth Sunday in Lent

COLOR: Purple
SCRIPTURE READINGS: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

The theme for Lent: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS AT THE CROSS

Each week a script will be provided, following the gospel lesson, concerning those whom Jesus met.

Fourth Sunday in Lent: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS AT THE CROSS: THE MAN BORN BLIND

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1:

L: Once you lived in darkness.
P: Now the light of God has shone upon us.
L: Find what is pleasing to God and follow God’s ways.
P: The acts of darkness are left behind as we journey to God’s light.
L: Thanks be to God who gives us the light.
P: Open our eyes and our hearts to receive your light of salvation. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:

L: The Lord is our shepherd; we will have all that we need; we are released from fear.
P: The Shepherd guides us in fruitful living, giving us healing and pardon.
L: Even though difficulties and dangers may lie ahead, we do not need to fear.
P: God’s love and strength are as a rod and staff for us.
L: God will give us abundantly from God’s own love.
P: Surely this goodness and mercy will be with us all of our days, and we will dwell in God’s loving care forevermore. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2058, “Shepherd Me, O God,” the refrain only, offer the following call to worship as directed.]
L: The Lord is my shepherd.
P: I am troubled, O Lord, and fearful. I cannot find my way to you.
L: I will give you what you need.
P: But I am weak; my courage has failed.

Soloist: singing the refrain of “Shepherd Me, O God”

L: You are given healing, beloved child.
P: Take me beyond my wants and burdens.
L: You are invited to dwell in the house of peace forever.
P: Lord, I come to you, seeking your healing love and salvation. AMEN.

Soloist: singing the refrain of “Shepherd Me, O God” Call to Worship #4:

L: We are blind to many things.
P: Lord, cure our blindness.
L: The light of God shines for us today.
P: Lord, pour that light on us.
L: Come, worship God who forgives and heals your blindness.
P: Open our eyes, O Lord, that we might see opportunities to serve you. AMEN.

PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer

Source of Light, God of great mercy and love, we come to you this day seeking restoration of our sight. Clear away our blindness, and give us a new vision of all that we can accomplish in your name. Give us strength and confidence to truly witness to your abiding love and faithfulness. For we offer this prayer in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Healing God, we have languished in our blindness. We have chosen to hide in darkness in order to avoid reaching out and risking acceptance. We are afraid of the light, and yet we crave it. In your light, there is healing and hope, restoration and transformation. Forgive our lack of faith and our fearfulness, O Lord. Give us courage to reach out to the light and accept its healing rays. May our lives be transformed by your mercy, for we pray this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Even though you have lived in darkness, God’s light is being poured out for you. Accept the light and love that is freely offered, and be transformed by its healing mercies. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer

Lord of life, we surely are a stubborn people. We wail and whine about the darkness that seems to claim our lives, yet we persist in creating that darkness to cover our mistakes and our misdeeds. You are merciful and will pardon and heal us. But we are afraid because we cannot forgive ourselves for our own transgressions. Help us let go of the need to continually hide and punish ourselves. Free us from the angry spirit that dwells so deeply in us and in our land. Give us courage and confidence to be people of love, hope and peace; for we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Readers’ Theater: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS AT THE CROSS: THE MAN BORN BLIND

[The large rough wooden cross is placed in the front of the chancel/worship area. Place burlap at the base to cover the stand. Have the same person read the part of Jesus each week. It should be someone with a good speaking voice. Each person who encounters Jesus will be wearing/carrying a length of cloth. When their encounter with Jesus is complete, they place the cloth over the arm of the cross and leave. The red fabric, worn last week by the woman at the well, is removed from the cross and draped down the left front of the worship center, slightly overlapping the purple fabric of Nicodemus. The color of the fabric for the man born blind is navy blue.]

Narrator: As Jesus walked with his disciples, they saw a man who had been born blind.

The disciples asked Jesus whether the blindness was the fault of the man or of his parents. Jesus responded that it was the fault of neither the man nor his parents but stated that this would be an opportunity for people to see God’s work in this man.

Jesus: I am the light of the world. See, I have spat on the ground, have made a paste with the soil and saliva and have placed it on your eyes. Now, go and wash yourself in the Pool of Siloam.

Narrator: And the man did as Jesus instructed, and immediately his sight was restored. The people who had seen the man begging at the corner were astonished and asked how this would be possible.

Man: There was this man, Jesus, who made the mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, "Go to Siloam and wash." And I went and washed and received my sight. I do not know where he is right now.

Narrator: Now it was on the Sabbath day when Jesus had performed this miracle; and they brought the previously blind man to the Pharisees to show them what had happened. The man told them about the miracle, but the Pharisees were divided on their understanding. Some thought he might be from God because of the miracle; but others said that he could not be from God, because he had performed the miracle on the Sabbath. The man however was convinced that Jesus was, indeed, a prophet. They went to the parents of the man and asked if he had always been blind. They were afraid of the Pharisees, but answered truthfully that he had always been blind. They did not know how he received his sight or who gave it to him.

Man: I don’t know what else to tell you. I was born blind. I have never had eyesight, and yet this man, this Jesus, made the mud, spread it on my eyes, told me to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. I did. And I received my sight. That’s the honest truth. Perhaps you might want to become his disciples because of the miracle he did. It is an astonishing thing! You do not know where the man comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.

Narrator: The Pharisees were so upset over the man’s words that they drove him out of the Temple.

Jesus: Do you believe in the Son of Man?

Man: And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.

Jesus: You have seen him, and the one who is speaking with you is he.

Man: Lord, I believe.

Jesus: I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.

Narrator: Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and asked him if he thought that they were blind.

Jesus: If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, "We see," your sin remains.

Benediction

Lord, give us such sight, that we may see the many ways of serving you by helping others. Help us bring sight to others who dwell in deep darkness. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional color for today is: Purple; and I have added “character” colors to the worship setting.

SURFACE: There are no risers on the worship center.

FABRIC: Cover the worship center with purple cloth. On the left side of the worship center there should be the black cloth of Satan, the purple cloth of Nicodemus, the red cloth of the Samaritan woman at the well. Those strips of cloth should puddle to the floor. [Note: You may be approaching the middle of the table, which is OK because you will want the fabric to go across the entire worship center by the time we get to Holy Thursday.]

CANDLES: Place two candles on either side of the open Bible.

FLOWERS/PLANTS: Not necessary for this setting.

ROCKS/WOOD: Not necessary for this setting.

OTHER: Place an open Bible on the center of the worship table.

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