CALL & RESPONSE: (based on Psalm 89)
ONE: Welcome this day to the fourth step on our Lenten journey.
ALL: We come with great hope and expectation as we walk the way of Christ.
ONE: Today's journey will demand a lot from us. ALL: Lord, make us ready to offer ourselves to you.
ONE: Come, let us begin again the wondrous excursion. ALL: Let us place our lives in God's abiding love.
WELCOME: Today is the fourth Sunday in Lent, and just like the third Sunday of Advent, this Sunday is a break in an otherwise penitential season. It marks the halfway point in our Lenten preparation for Easter. So today we rejoice in anticipation of Easter. We look ahead with joyful hope to what awaits!
Our service this morning will be a little different. We are going to intersperse our readings and hymns with humour, to lighten up and to enjoy God's goodness, as we move with Jesus towards the cross.
PRAYER OF INVOCATION: Loving God, as we share good humour this morning,
bring Your healing power to bear upon our lives. Help us to hear Your Word in both the stories that are told and the scriptures that are read. Touch us by Your Spirit as we rejoice with the gifts You have given us and offer our more solemn prayers to You. Dispel any darkness that may be afflicting us. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
PRAYER & THE LORD'S PRAYER:
Loving God, we thank you for the gift of laughter and for the gift of love. Bless now our study and our worship, our practice and our play. We ask it in the name of Jesus, and in the words He taught us:
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 debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
HUMOUR INTERLUDE: Each Sunday morning as they began class, the fifth graders would line up and recite their one section of the creed in the order that it is written. That teaching method worked well for about four months. Then one Sunday a problem arose. Class began the same way. The first girl as usual recited here line flawlessly: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth." The second, a boy, stood up and said his sentence: "I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord." But then silence descended over the class. Finally, one girl, who felt she had discovered the problem, stood up and loudly said, "I'm sorry, sir, but the boy who believes in the Holy Ghost is absent today!"
The Offertory Prayer:
Together, as a congregation, what we offer You here in love becomes more, not simply added together, but somehow multiplied in its usefulness. We ask you to bless our gifts and pray that with the addition of Your blessing, there will be enough for all. Amen.
ANTHEM: "Give To Us Laughter"
Give to us laughter, O Source of our life.
Laughter can banish so much of our strife.
Laughter and love give us wholeness and health.
Laughter and love are the coin of true wealth.
Give to us laughter as sign of deep joy;
let us in laughing find Christian employ,
joining with stars and with bright northern lights,
laughing and praising and sharing delights.
Why do we worry that we will lose face?
Why act like king for the whole human race?
Often in family, and often with friend,
laughing at pride causes anguish to end.
Even in sorrow and hours of grief,
laughter with tears brings most healing relief.
God, give us laughter, and God, give us peace,
joys of your promise among us increase.
Words Copyright © 1974 by Walter Farquharson
HUMOUR INTERLUDE: A young woman was soaking up the sun's rays on a Florida beach when a little boy in his swimming trunks, carrying a towel, came up to her and asked, "Do you believe in God?" She was surprised by the question but replied, "Why yes, I do." The he asked her, "Do you go to church every Sunday?" Again her answer was, "Yes." Then he asked, "Do you read your Bible and pray every day?" Again she said, "Yes." But by now her curiosity was very much aroused. At last the boy sighed and said with obvious relief, "Will you hold my quarter while I go in swimming?"
HUMOUR INTERLUDE: After the baptism of his baby brother in church one Sunday, little Johnny sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, "That minister said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I want to stay with you guys!" Father got the message, and they began to go to church regularly. Needless to say, the family had a bit a catching up to do. One da3, the Sunday School teacher asked Johnny, "Now, Johnny, tell me, do you say prayers before eating?" "No, ma'am," little Johnny replied. "I don't have to. My Mom is a good cook."
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.
11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”
12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
MUSICAL INTERLUDE: "There Are None So Blind" Nancy & Gard
DRAMA INTERLUDE: "Observing Lint?"
(Need I lint roller & 1 Bible)
1. (enters with lint stop, stopping to roll on peoples' clothes, pews, everything she sees, stopping each time to carefully examine the roller)
2. What are you doing?
1. Observing lint.
2. I see that, but why?
1. (continues rolling) It's that of year when Christians observe Lint for 40 days before Easter.
2. Oh, I see. I'm glad you're trying to be faithful, but you have it all wrong! You're thinking of Lent, L-E-N-T, not lint, L-I-N-T. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter when Jesus' followers remember that he was tempted by Satan in the desert for 40 days. And during that time, Jesus prayed and fasted to defeat Satan. That's why Christians give up something they enjoy doing or eating as a way to remember that Jesus suffered on the cross for sake, He gave His life for ours.
1. So that's why people give up something for Lent! Maybe I'll give up this lint roller!
2. Okaaaay then....I think we need to read God's Word now. (Read Romans 12 1)
This verse reminds us to give our lives to Jesus throughout the year, not just during. This is pleasing to God and the way we worship Him. So, rather than give up something for Lent, maybe we should think about what we can give to Jesus.
1. Hey, I just thought of something! This lint roller really can teach us something about Easter!
2. (doubtful) Do Tell!
1. The lint roller removes lint from my clothes and this reminds me that Jesus removed my sin when He died on the cross!
2. You're right! The season of Lent can help us remember what Jesus did for us focus our attention on obeying and serving God throughout the year!
1. You're a good friend. Thanks for explaining Lent to me. Let's go to the library and read to the kids.
New International Version (NIV)
The Pharisees Investigate the Healing
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath.15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
DRAMA INTERLUDE: "Going On The Journey"
Going On The Journey
1. I love going on trips. The excitement! The exotic places! I can hardly wait to begin!
2. Where are you going?
1. Well, I'm not sure. But I'm travelling with Jesus.
2. Where is Jesus going?
1. I'm not exactly sure, but I think to some towns along the lakeshore and in the countryside. You know, places like this.
2. What's going to happen?
1. Again, I'm not really sure, but I guess the people will be glad to see us and Jesus will probably heal a lot of them.
2. What will you be doing?
1. Oh, I don't know. I hadn't really given it much thought.
2. Well, what do you expect will happen?
1. Like I said, healing and greetings. It should be nice.
2. Maybe you will be able to help some of the people with special needs.
1. Well, I don't have any training in that area. I could learn, I suppose.
2. Maybe you could work with the lepers, those people who are called unclean.
1. I'm not sure Jesus would want me to do that.
2. Maybe you should just trust in Jesus to give you guidance and strength.
1. I guess I'm not as ready as I thought. I expected this was going to be easy.
The journey with Jesus can be difficult at times, but remember that God has promised to be with you. You will be given all the gifts you need to serve God faithfully and effectively. Do not fear.
John 9:24-41New International Version (NIV)
24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
39 Jesus said,[a] “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
HUMOUR INTERLUDE: There were two cats, one was named "one two three" and the other was named "un deux trois." Both cats came to a river and had to cross it. Which one got across first?............................. Ready?..... Sure?....... "One two three" got over first because
"un deux trois quatre cing."
MEDITATION: None So Blind
None So Blind
I think another Humour Interlude is in order before I begin the meditation.
Just before the children went to Sunday School, the minister called them all to the front of the church for children's time. After they had seated themselves, he announced he was going to talk about frogs. He asked the group, "When I say `frog' what's the first thing that comes to your mind?"
Promptly a child answered, "God."
Surprised, the minister asked with obvious puzzlement, "Why do you think about God when I say 'frog'?"
The child replied, "Because I know you didn't bring us up here to talk about frogs."
Alright, now the kids are in Sunday School. The teacher was teaching about how God created everything, including human beings. Little Tommy, a kindergartner, seemed especially intent when he heard how Eve had been created out of one of Adam's ribs.
Later in the week his mother noticed that he was lying down as though he were ill. She asked, "Tommy, what's the matter?"
Tommy responded, "I have a pain in my side. I think I'm gonna have a
What are we to make of the story of the blind man? On the surface, it is about the healing of a man who was blind from birth. The underlying story is about the blindness of those around him and most especially the blindness of the religious leaders. But what is really being discussed is spiritual blindness and what can be done to cure it.
Our blind spots are major obstacles, like road blocks we encounter along our spiritual journey. Don't worry, there are a couple of ways to overcome them. We need to acknowledge that we are blind — that's the first step. Unless we know that we have blind spots, the next step of healing can't begin. Healing may not come right away. The blind man in this morning's story took a long time before he believed Jesus was the Son of Man.
We need to remember the old proverb, "There are none so blind as those who will not see." The Pharisees in the story are such people. They were so committed to their spiritual blindness that they were prepared to call good evil. That kind of blindness is dangerous. Jesus warned us against "the blind leading the blind." Ultimately, the Pharisees were so committed to their particular form of spiritual blindness that they dismissed everyone who didn't follow their view.
Remember how the Pharisees sneered at the blind man, saying, "You are a disciple of His, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses; but as for this fellow, we don't know where He came from." And the blind man answered, "There is something funny about this! You don't know where He came from, and yet He has made me able to see! If this man were not from God. He could do nothing!"
The Pharisees were enraged. "You were born in utter sin and are you trying to teach us?" Then they shut him out of the synagogue. Jesus found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" The blind man replied, "Who is He, sir? Tell me that I may believe in Him." "It is He who s now talking to you," said Jesus. "I believe, Sir!" exclaimed the man. And he fell on his knees before Jesus and worshipped Him.
For those of us who have committed ourselves to the Christian faith, it is to Jesus that we must go to heal our blindness. Four of our hymns today were written by a lady by the name of Fanny Crosby. Fanny could not see. She developed an eye infection at 6 weeks old. Her family doctor was out of town and a man posing as a doctor gave her the wrong treatment. Within a few days she was totally blind.
Fanny never let her affliction get the better of her. When she was only 8 years old, she wrote this poem:
Oh, what a happy child I am, Although I can not see.
I am resolved that in this world, Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy That other people don't,
To weep and sigh
Because I'm blind,
I cannot and I won't.
Instead of being bitter and feeling sorry for herself, instead of blaming the doctor for his "sin" against her and dwelling in darkness all her days, Fanny used the gifts that God had given her to write over 8,000 hymns and poems to praise and glorify God.
Helen Keller, who lost her sight at the age of 19 months, was once asked if blindness was the worst thing that could happen to a person. Her answer was direct; "No, the worst thing is not to lose your sight, but to lose your vision."
Bruce Prewer, an Australian minister, put it this way about man born blind:
"Some people have excellent eyesight, but do not see further than their noses. Some have good vision yet choose to see only a little of the way, the truth and the life. And some have no physical sight, yet who see brilliantly along the path of Christ."
May the story of the healing of the man born blind inspire us to go to Christ and to allow his teaching to heal our blindness and let us walk in the light and bring that vision to others.
Jesus came that we might see clearly. Are you ready to believe that?
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN:
May God the Father prepare your journey, Jesus the Son guide your footsteps, the Spirit of Life strengthen your body and the Three in One watch over you on every road that you may follow.