CALL TO WORSHIP (Ephesians 5:14, Psalm 118:24)
This is the day that the Lord has made!
Rise from the dead–
Let us rejoice and be glad.
Christ will shine on you.
Let us worship God!
Gracious God, you are the true Shepherd. You care for us and guide us just as you have always cared for and guided all of your people. Help us to find still waters during these turbulent times that we may find comfort in you and the strength to go on. Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION
The Good Shepherd leads us beside the still waters and invites us to let our sins be washed away and be led back to the paths of righteousness. Please join me in the prayer of confession printed in your bulletin, followed by a silent personal confession.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Holy One, you teach us to walk in righteousness, but we often choose our own paths that hurt ourselves and that hurt the people around us. We know better, but we are stubborn and selfish.
Lord, have mercy on us.
You offer us an overflowing abundance of grace, but we don’t have the patience or the love or the willingness to extend grace to others. We know all people are your children, but we choose to believe that some are more beloved than others.
Christ, have mercy on us.
You are with us always, even when it hurts you, even when we make the choices you wish we wouldn’t, even we take part in things that harm your beloved creation. We are sorry. Please lead us back to the paths of righteousness for your name’s sake.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Moment of silent personal confession
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Pastor: Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, is not willing to let any of us go. Jesus Christ will not rest until our souls are restored.
Peoples: In the grace of Jesus Christ, those who repent will be forgiven.
Pastor: May the peace of Christ be with you!
Peoples: And also with you!
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Let us pray: Lord of all creation, speak to us through Your Word and lead us to follow in Your paths all the days of our lives; in the name of Jesus, our savior and Good Shepherd. Amen.
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.
- Why do we seek to blame those who are suffering?
- When have you been on the edge of community? Have there been times when you felt isolated? Times when you could not see Jesus or his love? Did anyone reveal God’s love to you?
- This scripture features characters seeing in new ways. Has your view of God ever changed? What inspired that shift in your understanding? How was God with you in that?
HYMN Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us # 187
1 Savior, like a shepherd lead us, Much we need your tender care;
In your pleasant pastures feed us, For our use your folds prepare:
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus, You have bought us, we are yours;
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus, You have bought us, we are yours.
2 We are yours, in love befriend us, Be the guardian of our way;
Keep your flock: from sin defend us, Seek us when we go astray:
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus, Hear your children when we pray;
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus, Hear your children when we pray.
3 You have promised to receive us, Poor and sinful though we be;
You have mercy to relieve us, Grace to cleanse, and pow’r to free:
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus, Early let us turn to you;
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus, Early let us turn to you.
4 Early let us seek your favor, Early let us do your will;
Blessed Lord and only Savior, With your love our spirits fill:
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus, You have loved us, love us still;
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus, You have loved us, love us still.
SECOND SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth 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.
HYMN My Shepherd Will Supply My Need # 803
1 My Shepherd, you supply my need, most holy is your name;
in pastures fresh you make me feed, beside the living stream.
You bring my wand’ring spirit back. when I forsake your ways;
you lead me, for your mercy’s sake, in paths of truth and grace.
2 When through the shades of death I walk, your presence is my stay;
one word of your supporting breath drives all my fears away.
Your hand in sight of all my foes, does still my table spread;
my cup with blessings overflows, your oil anoints my head.
3 Your sure provisions, gracious God attend me all my days;
oh, may your house be my abode, and all my work be praise.
Here would I find a settled rest, while others go and come;
no more a stranger, nor a guest, but like a child at home.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
With the immortal words of the psalmist David, let us pray to the Lord, the shepherd of our souls.
O Lord, You are my shepherd;
I shall not want.
We will never lack for grace or for God’s love, but we pray that when those around us are in want of hope or compassion or justice or healing, you will guide us towards them and let us share what we have.
You make me lie down in green pastures;
lead me beside still waters;
and restore my soul.
Lord, we beg you to lead us to the peace that surpasses all understanding. We beg you to restore the souls of those who turn to violence to win the upper hand, to restore the souls of those who are in pain, to restore the souls of those who are struggling with addiction, to restore the souls of those who have lost their way.
You lead me in the paths of righteousness
for your name’s sake.
Lead us all in right paths–paths that lead to peace and unity and understanding, paths that lead to compassion, humility, and mercy. We pray that you will guide the footsteps of our politicians, leaders, representatives, diplomats, and military. Lead us all and keep us on paths that will make you proud of what we do in your name.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
Lord, we know that you are with us. We know that you are greater than anything that we could ever be afraid of. We know that through your Son’s crucifixion, you conquered death. We know that you have enough grace to overcome all our sins. Be with us when we are afraid anyway. Assure us when we doubt. Weep with us when we grieve. Comfort us when we are lonely.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup runs over.
We can never understand the vast and all-encompassing love that you have for all of your creation, but we pray that you will help us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, and to carve out channels for mediation and compromise. When we do wrong, we pray that we will be forgiven and we also pray that you will give us the strength and courage to change our ways. The vast overflowing cup of your grace is more than we can imagine, and the depth of your love for every single atom, every single creature, every single plant, every single person is more than we could ever know. Help us to love the earth you created with any fraction of the love you have for it. Help us to treat our water, soil, and air as the precious resources they are. Help us to be good stewards of the incredible gifts you have provided us.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Long ago, we promised to love you with all our hearts, with all our souls, and our minds. We promised to teach your commandments to our children, to seek justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with you. You sent your Son, who promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age. You have been with us since the first moment of our creation and we know that you will be with us even beyond our final breaths. In awe and gratitude for all you have done, we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us:
THE LORD’S PRAYER
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. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
HYMN Be Still, My Soul # 819
1 Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side; bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to thy God to order and provide; who through all changes faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
2 Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake to guide the future surely as the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake; all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know the voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
3 Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
CHARGE AND BENEDICTION
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May God’s countenance be lifted upon you and give you peace.
Even in the wilderness of fear and sickness,
remember that God is with you,
and that God is leading you towards paths of righteousness.
From wherever you are, serve the Lord: Creator, Son, and Holy Spirit.