Sunday, March 22, 2020       Fourth Sunday in Lent

Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, who is present, who gives life, who calls into existence the things that do not exist. Amen.

If you were to keep watch over sins, O Lord, who could stand? Yet with you is forgiveness, and so we confess.

Silence is kept for reflection.

Gracious God, have mercy on us. We confess that we have turned away from you, knowingly and unknowingly. We have wandered from your resurrection life. We have strayed from your love for all people. Turn us back to you, O God. Give us new hearts and right spirits, that we may find what is pleasing to you and dwell in your house forever. Amen.

Receive good news: God turns to you in love. “I will put my spirit in you, and you shall live,” says our God. All your sin is forgiven in the name of ☩ Jesus Christ, who is the free and abounding gift of God’s grace for you. Amen.

Prayer of the Day
Bend your ear to our prayers, Lord Christ, and come among us. By your gracious life and death for us, bring light into the darkness of our hearts, and anoint us with your Spirit, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Psalm: Psalm 23
1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
2The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
3You restore my soul, O Lord, and guide me along right pathways for your name’s sake.
4Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14
8Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—9for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. 10Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; 13but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Gospel: John 9:1-41
Jesus heals a man born blind, provoking a hostile reaction that he regards as spiritual blindness to the things of God.

Narrator 1As [Jesus] walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him,

Disciples/congregation “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 
Narrator 3Jesus answered,

Jesus “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6

Narrator When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7saying to him,

Jesus “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent).

Narrator Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask,

Neighbors  “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 

Narrator 9Some were saying,

Neighbors  “It is he.”

Narrator Others were saying,

Neighbors  “No, but it is someone like him.”

Narrator He kept saying,

The man born blind “I am the man.” 

Narrator 10But they kept asking him,

Neighbors  “Then how were your eyes opened?” 

Narrator 11He answered,

The man born blind “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” 

Narrator 12They said to him,

Neighbors  “Where is he?”

Narrator He said,

The man born blind  “I do not know.”
Narrator  13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them,

The man born blind  “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” 

Narrator 16Some of the Pharisees said,

Pharisees “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.”

Narrator But others said,

Pharisees “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?”

Narrator And they were divided. 17So they said again to the blind man,

Pharisees “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

Narrator He said,

The man born blind  “He is a prophet.”
Narrator  18The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19and asked them,

Pharisees  “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 

Narrator 20His parents answered,

Parents  “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 

Narrator 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23Therefore his parents said,

Parents   “He is of age; ask him.”
Narrator   24So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him,

Pharisees “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 

Narrator 25He answered,

The man born blind   “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 

Narrator 26They said to him,

Pharisees “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 

Narrator 27He answered them,

The man born blind   “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 

Narrator 28Then they reviled him, saying,

Pharisees “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 

Narrator 30The man answered,

The man born blind  “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 

Narrator 34They answered him,

Pharisees “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?”

Narrator And they drove him out.
  35Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said,

Jesus “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 

Narrator 36He answered,

The man born blind  “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 

Narrator 37Jesus said to him,

Jesus “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 

Narrator 38He said,

The man born blind  “Lord, I believe.”

Narrator And he worshiped him. 39Jesus said,

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 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him,

Pharisees “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 

Narrator 41Jesus said to them,

Jesus “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

Prayers of Intercession

Turning our hearts to God who is gracious and merciful, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

God of insight, open the hearts of the church and the world to all who testify to your deeds of power. Raise up voices in your church that are often silenced or overlooked due to age, gender expression, race, or economic status. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of insight, empower us to care for the land and all living things that dwell in it and beneath it. Provide rich soil for crops to grow. Bring rain to lands suffering drought. Protect hills and shorelines from damage caused by erosion. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of insight, bring peace to all people and nations. Anoint leaders who seek goodness, righteousness, and truth on behalf of all. Frustrate the efforts of those who would seek to cause violence or terror. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of insight, you care for our needs even before we ask. Come quickly to all who seek prayer this day. Accomplish healing through the work of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, nutritionists, and all who tend to human bodies. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of insight, help this assembly lift up the unique gifts of each person who enters, no matter their physical capacity, cognitive ability, or sensory need. Help us to be creative and brave in making our facilities and our ministries accessible to all. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of insight, you call out to those who are asleep and awaken them to new life with you. We give thanks for your saints. Join us together with them as your children in this world and the next. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

According to your steadfast love, O God, hear these and all our prayers as we commend them to you; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing
Now is the acceptable time. Now is the day of salvation. Holy God, speaking, spoken, and inspiring, ☩ bless you, unbind you, and send you in love and in peace. Amen.