Ideally, we would gather together in worship, catching up on each other’s lives, being encouraged by each other’s smiles, weeping with each other in our tears, joining our voices in songs of faith and hope and praise, lifting up our prayers to God, hearing God’s voice to us through Scripture and story and thoughtful reflection. However, since we cannot gather in person at this time, let us join together virtually in this service of worship.
We continue our Lenten journey with Jesus on this Fourth Sunday of Lent. The theme for this Sunday is “Show Us Our Blindness and Restore Our Sight.”
If you are able, consider lighting three candles to begin this service. These represent our Lenten journey with Christ toward the darkness of the cross. At the end of the service you will extinguish one of these candles. We began Lent with six candles lit, and we have extinguished three of them so far.
Call to Worship
Here is the Call to Worship based on Psalm 23 and led by Esther J. Please read along below as you listen.
Leader: The Lord is our shepherd!
People: We have everything we need.
Leader: God leads us beside peaceful waters and right paths,
comforting us through the valleys of despair,
and preparing for us a rich feast.
People: We have more than we need.
Leader: God anoints us for healing, strengthening, gifting, and blessing.
People: Our cups overflow with goodness and mercy.
All: We will live in the house of the Lord forever.
Listen to Linda P. playing “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” This was a piece that Ruth D. had commented to Linda that she had especially appreciated when Linda played it during a worship service last year.
Our generosity is a reflection of the depth of our experience of God’s grace. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Cor 8:1-2).
If you would like to keep up your church giving by cheque or cash, you can mail your cheque to the church office. You can also drop your offering at the church office this week or contact the church office for someone to pick it up. Also, you can give online if you have an Access Credit Union account—please see the information here.
Confession & Assurance
Here is the Confession & Assurance led by Esther J. Please read along below as you listen.
Leader: The Lenten season calls us to reflection and repentance. Let us confess together.
God, we confess that we are quick to judge others
and not acknowledge our own sins and weaknesses. (Pause)
We confess that we do not always follow your example
because immorality, impurity, and greed are part of our lives,
and obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes come from our lips.
God, we need your light to shine on us
to expose the things we say and do that are not pleasing to you. (Pause)
Forgive us our sins. (Pause)
Though your hearts were once filled with darkness,
now you are full of the light of the Lord.
This light within you produces what is good and right and true.
Let the Holy Spirit fill you and move you.
Walk in the light for now you can see.
All: Thanks be to God!
Community Life & Prayer
For announcements related to our church community, please see the eBulletin emailed to those on the church email list.
This week in our prayers we especially remember:
- Those affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak here and around the world. Pray for the sick and most vulnerable to receive the care and protection they need. Pray for those experiencing secondary effects such as economic hardship, disappointment at canceled plans, lack of child care, loneliness, mental ill health, and more. Pray for wisdom for governments and health authorities as they respond to this outbreak. Pray for our church and community. May God have mercy upon us.
- Our Worship Committee: Tina H. (chair), Lora B., Margie H., Elsie W., and Michael P. Pray for them as they adapt to our changed circumstances with the suspension of in-person worship services.
- Those facing significant personal challenges. Let’s especially remember Jake D., Andrea D., Carri and Steve and Thomas and Sam and Aidan K., and Mike and Jess and Ellis and Ruthie D., as they grieve Ruth’s passing this past week. May they experience God’s sufficient grace, and our compassionate care, over the coming days.
- Those with special reasons to rejoice, even in the midst of difficult times. May they know God’s delight in them. May we all experience bright moments of joy, guilt-free, in these difficult times.
- Us as a church during Lent, that we would be open to new ways of seeing: seeing ourselves, seeing one another, seeing the world, seeing God with fresh eyes. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).
Here is a prayer that seems especially relevant to us in our times. This is HWB 729, read by Loretta L.
Listen to Thomas K. play “Vocalise” by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Although this recording is from an earlier time, Thomas played this yesterday at his beloved Nana’s memorial service – our beloved sister in Christ, Ruth D.
Here is the Scripture Reading from John 9:1-41, adapted from The Voice translation. The Scripture is read by Esther J. (narrator), Joel K. (Jesus), Erin K. (disciple, formerly blind man, blind man’s parent), Milo K. (person, religious leader), and Jude K. (another person, another religious leader).
Note that John’s Gospel speaks negatively of “the Jews” and “the Pharisees.” This is not a reference to all Jews through history and today; the author of John’s Gospel himself was likely a Jew, and of course Jesus was a Jew. Rather, in John’s Gospel “the Jews” and “the Pharisees” are a kind of caricature, highlighting negative characteristics of some religious leaders in Jesus’ day in order to make a point about Jesus.
In lieu of a children’s story, print off this colouring page of Jesus healing the man born blind. If your child colours it, we’d like to see it! Take a picture of your child’s coloured page and send it by text or email to Pastor Michael.
This colouring page has been created by Nata Silina and was downloaded from SuperColoring.com according to Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.
Here is Michael’s meditation on our Scripture texts: “Show Us Our Blindness and Restore Our Sight!”
Moment of Reflection
The Lenten season calls us to reflection and repentance. Spend a few moments in silence, considering these questions:
- Have you ever experienced a time when you felt like, “I once was blind, but now I see”?
- Are you open to God showing you some “blind spots” you might have in your life, where you are not seeing things as they truly are?
- What might you do this week to connect with God and affirm God’s presence in your life?
Extinguishing the Light
During Lent we are extinguishing one candle each Sunday as we follow Jesus toward the cross. Here Esther J. leads us in this. Please read along below as you listen. If you lit three candles at the beginning of the service, you can extinguish one during the pause in Esther’s reading.
People: Jesus is the Light of the World!
Leader: You are the light of the world!
People: We are the light of the world!
Leader: During our Lenten journey with Jesus toward the cross, we walk with Jesus into the shadows of this world. It can often seem as if the night is winning, as if evil and injustice will prevail. Each week during Lent we will extinguish a candle to symbolize this journey with Jesus into darkness. (Pause to extinguish a candle)
Leader: “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,’
All: “Even the darkness is not dark to you, O God,
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.” (Ps 139:11-12)
Listen to this Benediction over us, prayed by Esther J.
Go into this week with this song in your heart and on your lips. This is “Open Our Eyes, Lord,” from Divine Hymns. This song was chosen for us by Loretta T.
In the week ahead feel free to use this prayer guide adapted from the worship material used for this morning’s service. Also, check the church website periodically for resources for staying connected and for spiritual growth during this time. You can also check the church website for updates the church’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Grace and peace to you this week!