The Celebration of the Gospel

 March 26, 2017 —Fourth Sunday in Lent

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

 — John 9.39

  _________ We Gather as the Body of Christ_____

GREETING
PRELUDE   Andante from Sonata No. 1 in C   — Josef Rheinberger

[As we listen to the music we quiet our minds and bodies,
listen for our hearts’ deepest desires,
and become present to the Holy One who is lovingly present for us.
]

* CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader:  Creator God, your glory surrounds us.
All:    Help us to see with eyes of gratitude and wonder.
Loving Christ, you come to us in the humble and needy.
Help us to see with eyes of compassion and mercy.
Holy Spirit, you work among us with power and grace.
Help us to see with eyes of faith. We worship you with praise and thanksgiving. Amen.

* SONG    Open Our Eyes, Lord    Black hymnal # 2086

(10:30) CHILDREN’S TIME

____________We Attend to the Word__________

(10:30) THE WORD IN SONG             Shepherd Me, O God    — Marty Haugen, arr. Mark Hayes

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Pastor:   The grace of God is with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
God of love, help us to see ourselves with the eyes of love,
to see all that is in us that is loving,
and all that is not loving.
By the grace you show us in Christ,
forgive us, heal us, and perfect your love in us.
SILENT PRAYER  …    THE WORD OF GRACE
RESPONSE      Move Me    — Blue hymnal  #471

PRAYER OF THE DAY
God of love, we come to you in need of healing.
Receive us; touch us; make us whole.
We pray in the name and the presence of Jesus,
who even now reaches out for us with grace in his hands.  Amen.

NEW TESTAMENT     Ephesians 5.8-14
[By the grace of Christ we are not just in light, we are  light, and we are to live as children of light, so that God’s love is visible.   The writer quotes an early baptismal pronouncement: “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine upon you.”]

Once you were darkness, but now in Christ you are light.
Live as children of light—
for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.
Try to discern what is pleasing to God.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness,
but instead expose them.
For it is shameful even to mention what some people do secretly;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore it says,
“Sleeper, awake!
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine upon you.”

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GOSPEL          John 9.1-41
[Jesus heals a man who was blind from birth.  The story is full of humorous irony. The blind man sees quite well, while those whose eyes work seem to be blind to what is going on: they can’t recognize the man, or see God’s grace, or witness the miracle, or see themselves clearly.  They keep asking the one who was blind to describe something that they themselves saw.   And only the one who was blind sees who Jesus is.  Jesus has told them, “I am the light of the world,” but blinded by their expectations and their fear of Jesus, they are still “in the dark.”]

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.  We must work the works of the One who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 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, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.

The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “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.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.” The 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 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but 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.” His 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. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “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?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he 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.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.

Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
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SERMON

SONG   Open My Eyes        — Blue hymnal # 454

THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
[Anyone who wishes may share a prayer concern at the microphone.]
SHARING THE PEACE OF CHRIST

__________We Share at Christ’s Table __________

OFFERING OUR GIFTS    Let Us Break Bread Together    — Traditional, arr: Mark Hayes
Including Special  UMCOR Sunday Offering

* COMMUNION SONG

Open our hands, to freely give;
open our hearts with love to live.
May we receive your mercy divine,
so that we all with love may shine.
Silently now, we come to thee, ready, our God, your grace to see.
Open our hearts to feast on thee, Spirit divine.

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is good to give God thanks and praise.

We thank you God, for you create us in the image of your love.
You have delivered us from the power of darkness
and brought us into the realm of your light.
Each of us shines with the light of your glory.
We are being transformed into your image,
from one degree of glory to another.
In love you sent us Jesus, the light of the world.
He is the light on our path and the life in our hearts.

[The  Blessing  and  Covenant…]

As often as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
Remembering these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
Christ has died. Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ.
May we see with eyes of love,
and by your presence in us be light for the world,
in the name and the Spirit of Christ.  Amen.

THE PRAYER OF JESUS
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen

SHARING THE HOLY MEAL          [Everyone is welcome at the table of Christ’s self-giving love.
The bread is wheat-, soy- and dairy free.  We dip the bread in the juice.
]

PRAYER OF BLESSING
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.  Your love has opened our eyes.  Send us into the world to see your beauty, to witness your miracles, to behold your light in each person, to trust your grace in every moment.

_______We Are Sent in Ministry to the World____

THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD

*  SONG    I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light        Blue hymnal #206

*  THE BLESSING AND SENDING FORTH
RESPONSE    We stand and sing to our neighbors:
May the grace and peace of Christ be with you my friends.
Go and share the love of God, love that never ends.

POSTLUDE    Voluntary – Edward Elgar

[During the postlude there are people ready to pray with you at the candles in the corners.]