Lectionary - Lent 4 Year A

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1 Samuel 16:1-13 David is chosen to succeed Saul
Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd
Ephesians 5:8-14 Live as children of light
John 9:1-41 Neither this man nor his parents sinned

Suggested Hymns (From Denis Towner. TIS = Together in Song; AHB = Australian Hymn Book; SA = Sing Alleluia)
lesson Hymns for Lent 4, Yr.A TIS AHB SA
G Amazing grace (how sweet the sound) 129 56
E Awake, my soul, and with the sun 557 469
E Awake, awake, fling off the night 412
G Christ is the world's light, he and none other 246 191
G Christ is the world's true light 238 179
G Christ whose glory fills the skies 212 140
G Come Holy Spirit, our souls inspire 396 [308]
E God be in my head and in my understanding 549 456
O Hail to the Lord's anointed 275 203
G I heard the voice of Jesus say 585 500
E I want to walkj as a child of the light 643
Ps I will sing the wondrous story 233 173
G I'll praise my Maker while I've breath 90 44
G In heavenly love abiding 588 504
E Jesus comes with all his grace 219 149
E Jesus the Lord said,"I am the bread" 239 185
G Just as I am, without one plea 584 497
O Lord let me see, see more and more 681
G Lord the light of your love is shining 675
G Lord we are blind, the world of sight 633 563
O Lord you have searched me and you know 90
G Lord your almighty word 447 61
O Lord, I come to you 685
Ps My God your table now is spread 510 432
G O Christ the healer, we have come 638
s O dearest Jesus, why aren't you acquitted 337 [254]
G O for a thousand tongues to sing 210 141
G O Jesus king most wonderful 125
Ps The king of love my shepherd is 145 81
Ps The Lord is my shepherd and I want to follow 659
Ps The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want 10 16
O This day God gives me 642 570
Ps Thuma mina, somandla 749
G To God be the glory, great things he has done 147 85
E Wake, awake! for night is flying 266 195
What God ordains is always good 109
O Your hand, O God, has guided 456 389

Other Possible Hymns
(Numbers refer to The Australian Hymn Book and Sing Alleluia. TIS = Together in Song)
25 (TIS 107) Sing praise and thanksgiving
144 (TIS 215) Ye servants of God
337 (TIS 430) Your words to me are life and health

Sermon summary | Click here for Complete sermon

Who sinned? Who is blind?

Who sinned? Who is responsible? What can account for this calamity! It is a common enough concern when things go wrong. There must be somebody to blame! There are many subtle ways in which the ancient search for guilt is still with us. What is more, sometimes people are indeed guilty.

However confused we may be, we do have a sense of the question that was put to Jesus about who had sinned that a man was born blind. (John 9:2-3) Main point of it has yet to come, but it does focus our attention on something quite basic in human nature: the sense that our actions have consequences. And we can understand Jesus saying, No, it was not the fault of either the man himself or his parents. In comparison, it is important to see that the moral teachers of the community at the time were of a different opinion, blaming the man. (John 9:34.)

But, yes, there is something else, the awkwardness of the following comment about its being to the glory of God: he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. Is God really like that? We misunderstand when we think in causal scientific ways. It could be understood to say something like: don't worry about who sinned, but rather give thanks that God was able to use this misfortune to reveal the presence of the Messiah. That is brought out in the remainder of the story. It was a question of who could have done such an amazing thing (John 9:30-33), and it was important for the authorities to establish the facts (John 9:20-21,24-25).

But the question of what people will accept about the events remains in our minds. If Jesus was who we and John have believed him to be then it is at least possible that he literally did what John said he did. There is a different account, either of a similar event or the same occasion, in Mark 8:22-26, which has some of the same details. There is an interesting clue in Mark:24 which points to an experience similar to what research in modern times has shown to happen with people who were born blind having to learn to see when their sight is restored through surgery. That they began to believe that he was the Messiah suggests very strongly that they saw in what he did good reason to think that he might be.

We come back to the question of guilt at the end of the story as John tells it. (John 9:38-41). They would not be guilty if they were not equipped to see, but if they were able to see and did not they sinned. Is blindness evidence of sin? The answer is Yes, but not in the way you think!

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Order of Service - Lent 4 Year A

The Gathering of the People of God

The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths for his name's sake. (Psalms 23:1-3)
Lord, lead us now in your ways to worship you
In the name of Christ. Amen

HYMN The Lord's my shepherd TIS 10 AHB 16

Loving and eternal God, we praise you now in the same Spirit who inspired those who worshipped you in psalms long ago. Throughout the ages, you are to be trusted to lead and to care for the people whom you have called to follow as a flock would once have followed a shepherd; and you sent your son Jesus to be a good shepherd to us. We look to him for guidance and we worship you through his example and in his care. All praise and glory to you Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

We confess that we wander away like lost sheep. The confess the pain and suffering caused to you and to those who care for us because of our wilful ways. Lord have mercy up us, and grant us the peace of being restored to right ways of living in your care; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As the Father welcomed home the lost son, and angels rejoiced at the return of the lost sheep, so God is to be trusted to receive again those who return to him.
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Hear then Christ's word of grace, 'Your sins are forgiven'
Thanks be to God

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

Service of the Word

INTRODUCTION OF THEME: Seeing and believing
A word to the children

OLD TESTAMENT 1 Samuel 16:1-13 David is chosen to succeed Saul
[PSALM 23 The Lord in my shepherd]
EPISTLE Ephesians 5:8-14 Live as children of light
GOSPEL John 9:1-41 Neither this man nor his parents sinned

HYMN Your words to me are life and health TIS 430 AHB 337


HYMN Lord, we are blind TIS 633 AHB 563

SHARING TIME [Notices, celebrations, requests for intercessions]
In peace, we pray to you, Lord God.
For all people in their daily life and work;
for our families, friends and neighbours, and for those who are alone.
For this community, our country, and the world;
for all who work for justice, freedom and peace.
For the just and proper use of your creation;
for the victims of hunger, fear, injustice and oppression.
For all who are in danger, sorrow, or any kind of trouble;
for those who minister to the sick, the friendless and the needy.
For the peace and unity of the Church of God;
for all who proclaim the gospel, and for all seek the truth.
For the Uniting Church in Australia,
for James, president of the Assembly,
for ...., Moderator of the Synod,
and for ... , Chairperson of Presbytery, and ...., Presbytery Minister,
for elders and members of the parish council,
and for all who hold office in this congregation;
for all who serve God in the church.
For our own needs, and for others for whom you have called us to pray.
Hear us, Lord
for your mercy is great.
We thank you, Lord, for all the blessings of life.
We exalt you, O God our king;
and praise your name for ever and ever.
We give thanks for all those who have died in the peace of Christ, and for the promise of your eternal kingdom.
In Christ you have called us to eternal glory;
to you be praise for ever and ever. Amen.

Let us pray (that our human weakness may be transformed into God's strength):
Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new: transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Sending Forth of the People of God

HYMN Christ is the world's light TIS 246 AHB 191

For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
Let your light so that even the blind may see.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:
In the name of Christ. Amen.

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