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March 19, 2023 - Seeking: Who sinned?

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Prelude: Psalm 23 – Stuart Townend

Acknowledgement

Welcome


Gathering Hymn: 599 CP Awake! Awake! Fling off the Night

Awake! Awake! Fling off the night, for God has sent a glorious light, and we who live in Christ’s new day must works of darkness put away. Awake and sing, with praises strong, in psalm and hymn and spirit-song. Let love our words and works renew with all that’s good and right and true. Let in the light; all sin expose to Christ, whose life no darkness knows. Before the cross expectant kneel, that Christ may judge, and judging, heal. Then rise as children of the light. Be neither proud, nor hide from sight. Be careful how you live, and wise to sift the truth from cunning lies. Through Christ give thanks to God, and say to other sleepers on the way: “Awake, and rise up from the dead that Christ may shine on you instead!”


Gathering Sentences (Sanctified Art)

Scripture is full of questions…

Where are you?

Am I my brother’s keeper?

Whom shall I send?

Who do you say that I am?

Who sinned?

How many times shall I forgive?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Scripture is full of questions, so just like those in our scriptures, may we bring our full curiosity and wonder into this space.

Let us ask and seek after our merciful God.


Prayer for Illumination

God of Good news, there is reading your Word, there is hearing your Word, and then there is tunneling ourselves into your Word— harvesting your Word, building a home in your Word, laying your Word over us like a blanket, wrapping ourselves in your Word, know your Word like the back of our hand, singing your Word, planting ourselves like a garden in your Word. God, we could listen to scripture like we listen to the news, or we could cocoon ourselves in your Word and it could change us entirely. So bundle us up. Give us the latter. We want to know you. With hopeful hearts we pray, amen.


Lenten Cross Liturgy

Today we continue our journey toward Easter, by reflecting on how fear can cause us to turn away from God. Fear can paralyze our ability to respond and grow. Fear of death, of getting old, of being alone, of growing up, of loving, can rob our lives and our relationship with God of all signs of vitality.


Being afraid can stop us from doing new things, learning new things, and meeting new people. Being afraid can stop us from doing what we know God wants.


Our covenant with God is not like a covenant with people which ends if one party breaks the conditions of the agreement. God keeps the covenant even when we do not. God forgives. Even so, we often live as though we don't really trust God's promises. We are apprehensive, even fearful of the future; we let guilt eat away at us; we mistrust one another; we refuse to take risks because we cannot come to fully trust in the good news of the gospel - God's message of love to the world.


As we put out the fourth candle let us thing of the ways in which we have not trusted God. Let us remember the kind of trust that Jesus showed us by the way he lived. (Pink candle is extinguished.)


Together we pray: You, O God are the ever faithful One. We confess our lack of trust in your promises. O God, break through our fear which separates us from one another. Empower us to respond to your call – like Jesus, with courage and conviction. Amen.


Collect of the Day (together)

Almighty God, through the waters of baptism your Son has made us children of light. May we ever walk in his light and show forth your glory in the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen


The Proclamation of the Word


A Reading from the first book of Samuel 16.1–13

The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.’ Samuel said, ‘How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.’ And the Lord said, ‘Take a heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.’ Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, ‘Do you come peaceably?’ He said, ‘Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.’ And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’ Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’ Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen any of these.’ Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’ And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.’ He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.’ Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

Listen for God’s word coming to us in scripture Our hearts and minds are open


Psalm 23 Refrain The Lord has anointed his servant with oil.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. You make me lie down in green pastures and lead me beside still waters. You revive my soul and guide me along right pathways for your name’s sake.

The Lord has anointed his servant with oil.


Though 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.

The Lord has anointed his servant with oil.


You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The Lord has anointed his servant with oil.


A Reading from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians 5.8–14

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord 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 find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such 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 on you.’

Listen for God’s word coming to us in scripture Our hearts and minds are open


Gradual Hymn: Psalm 23 And I Will Follow

The Lord is my true shepherd; No want nor fear I know;

God leads me by safe paths, And I will follow.


Fresh and green are the pastures where my new home will be;

The waters will be clean and clear: Wherever God leads me.

Through the dark and lonely days, when hope seems gone,

God leads me to the place where peace is found.


Yes, the Lord is my true shepherd; no want nor fear I know;

God leads me by safe paths, and I will follow.

A banquet will be ready when I come home to stay;

My family will gather round on that most joyful day.

Goodness will follow me for all of my days.

I’ll live in the house of the Lord; and there I’ll stay.


For the Lord is my true shepherd; no want nor fear I know;

God leads me by safe paths, And I will follow.


The Lord be with you And also with you The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John 9.1–41

Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ

As he 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 him 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 neighbours 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.’ But 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 worshipped him. Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement 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.


The Gospel of Christ Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ


Homily


An Affirmation of Faith (Sanctified Art)

We believe in a merciful God,

a God who does not keep score,

a God who wants good for us.

We believe in a creative God,

a God who would heal with mud,

a God capable of seeing what we cannot.

We believe in a saving God, a God who heals,

a God who greets our questions with patience,

a God who sends us out with hope in our step.

What wondrous love is this. Amen.


Prayers of Intercession (faithandworship.com)

God of the blessed we praise you, for mercy shown, grace given, living water, Spirit’s power. We ask you for daily strength, hope for tomorrow, your word to guide, strong feet to follow. The Psalmist says: “Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:4-5)

God of the oppressed we bring to you the broken ones, forgotten ones, exploited and abused ones. Bring freedom and release, love and compassion to damaged hearts and souls (silence) God of compassion Hear our prayer


God of the distressed, we bring to you the grieving ones, hurting ones, suffering and wounded ones. Bring wholeness and healing comfort and relief, to broken bodies and minds (silence) God of compassion Hear our prayer


God of the dispossessed we bring to you the lonely ones, the homeless ones, thirsty, tired and penniless ones. Bring hope and sustenance physical and spiritual food, to hungry bodies and souls (silence) God of compassion Hear our prayer

The LORD is good to all; has compassion on all of creation. May the peace, love and compassion of the Lord Be with you now and always Amen


Call to Confession

In today’s text, the disciples ask Jesus, “Who sinned?” They want to know who around them could be blamed for suffering. The disciples want to identify who around them had done wrong. In the prayer of confession, we stop pointing fingers at others. In confession, we turn our attention toward ourselves and invite God into that honest and vulnerable space. Let us pray together using the prayer of confession,


Prayer of Confession and Words of Assurance

Who here has sinned?

We have sinned. We put our heads in the sand. We ignored people in need. We make false assumptions and fail to be kind. We are in need of forgiveness.

Good news! Our God is a merciful God. God does not punish, hold grudges, or keep score. When you suffer, God weeps. When you sin, God forgives. When you lose your way, God comes running.

Thanks be to God for a love like that.


Have you sinned?

I have sinned. I put my head in the sand. I ignore people in need. I make false assumptions and fail to be kind. I, too, am in need of forgiveness.

Good news! Our God is a merciful God. God does not punish, hold grudges, or keep score. When you suffer, God weeps. When you sin, God forgives. When you lose your way, God comes running.

Thanks be to God for a love like that. Amen.


The Peace


Offertory Hymn: 345 CP King of Glory, King of Peace

King of glory, King of peace, I will love thee; and that love may never cease, I will move thee. Thou hast granted my request, thou hast heard me; Thou didst note my working breast, thou has spared me. Wherefore with my utmost art I will sing thee, and the cream of all my heart I will bring thee. Though my sins against me cried, thou didst clear me; and alone, when they replied, thou didst hear me. Seven whole days, not one in seven, I will praise thee; in my heart, though not in heaven, I can raise thee. Small it is, in this poor sort to enrol thee: even eternity’s too short to extol thee.


Prayer over the Gifts

God of light, your Word brings to us a new vision of your glory. Accept our offering of praise and thanksgiving, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


The Great Thanksgiving (“Adapted from a prayer by Rev. Sarah A. Speed | A Sanctified Art LLC)

The Invitation

Friends, if we are honest with ourselves and with God, we are all seeking something. Some of us long for a place to belong. Others seek permission to be who we are made to be.

Some of us are hungry for connection, hungry for justice, or hungry for a glimpse of the Divine.

No matter what it is your soul longs for, there is good news to be found here.

Friends, this is Christ’s table. We are the guests. He is the host. There is a seat here with your name on it. Thanks be to God for a love like that.


Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God. It is right to give God thanks and praise.


God of the lost and the found, surely it is right for us to give our thanks and praise; for day after day we look for you, and day after day we find you: in the laugher of children, in the sun rising over the horizon, in the flowers of spring.

Our seeking does not go unanswered, and for that we are grateful and we lift our voices to sing.


Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might Heaven and Earth of your glory are full Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest. Blessed is one who comes in the name of the Lord

Blessed is one who comes in the name of the Lord

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might Heaven and Earth of your glory are full Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest.


So first and foremost, we come to you in prayer to say thank you, for when we’re seeking beauty, you give us mountains and freckles, green eyes and brown eyes. When we we’re looking for reason to hope, you give us rainbows after the storm, and candles flickering in the window. When we’re seeking peace, you give us three-part harmony and the sound of the rain. And when we’re seeking justice, your life reminds us that everyone is welcome at your Table, and none shall be turned away. For all these reminders we are deeply grateful.

And yet, gracious God, our seeking does not stop. For even though your fingerprints are all over this world, we are not yet at your promised day.


Long before this building was erected in open spaces and hard places, people heard of how on the night of Jesus’ arrest, and aware of what lay ahead of him, Jesus sat at the table with his friends.


During the meal, he took bread, blessed and broke it and saying ‘This is my body, given for you.”

Later in the meal he took a cup of wine, saying, ‘In this cup is the new relationship with God

Made possible because of my death. Drink it all of you.’


And as we see and as we seek, pour out your Spirit on this ordinary bread and cup. May this meal be the nourishment we need to continue seeking you in the world.


So in addition to our gratitude, we also pray today for conviction. Do not let us get comfortable with half-hearted seeking. Do not let us grow numb to the suffering of this world. Make us relentless in our pursuit of justice—relentless in our consoling of the grieving, in our welcoming of the stranger, and in the feeding of the hungry.


Until your promised day, we will pray. Until your promised day, we will seek, singing:


Lord’s Prayer (Cameron)


Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread,

Communion in Christ’s body once broken.


Let your Church be the wheat which bears its fruit in dying.

If we have died with him, we shall live with him; if we hold firm, we shall reign with him.


These are the gifts of God for the people of God

Thanks be to God


The Communion

Hymns during Distribution: Open My Eyes Many are the Lightbeams


Prayer after Communion

God of manna and mustard seeds,

we came to this Table hungry and we leave feeling full— full of hope, full of promise, full of what could be.

For we not only found glimpses of you at this Table,

but we caught a glimpse of the way things could be: in a meal where all are welcomed and all are fed. Is there anything holier than that? So thank you for nourishing our curiosity alongside our spirit and our conviction.

May we always seek you the way you seek after us. With grateful hearts we pray, amen.


Glory to God,

whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation, in the Church and in Christ Jesus, for ever and ever. Amen.


Blessing As you leave this place, may God bless you with seeking. Seek out the hungry. Seek the weary. Seek the good in every person you pass. Seek out the hopeful. Seek the faithful. Seek God in each of us. As you seek and as you wonder, may you find what you are looking for. In the name of our loving God, who is always seeking us. Amen


Announcements


Closing Hymn: 397 CP Praise the One Who Break the Darkness

Praise the one who breaks the darkness with a liberating light. Praise the one who frees the prisoners, turning blindness into sight. Praise the one who preached the gospel, healing every dread disease, calming storms and feeding thousands with the very bread of peace. Praise the one who blessed the children with a strong yet gentle word. Praise the one who drove out demons with a piercing two-edged sword. Praise the one who brings cool water to the desert’s burning sand. From this well comes living water, quenching thirst in every land. Praise the one true love incarnate: Christ who suffered in our place. Jesus died and rose for many that we may know God by grace. Let us sing for joy and gladness, seeing what our God has done. Praise the one redeeming glory, praise the One who makes us one.

Dismissal Go now in peace to love and serve God

Thanks be to God. Amen


Postlude: Instrumental

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