River of Life Lutheran Church
27400 SE Stark Street
Troutdale, OR  97060
Phone: 503.667.3141

Sunday worship service: 9:00am 

ORDER OF WORSHIP FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT  March 22, 2020


L: We begin in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,

C: AMEN.

CONFESSION 

L: Let’s take time to be honest with ourselves and with God, before joining in our worship celebration:

C: LORD, WE’RE SO OFTEN IN TH DARK, DUE TO OUR OWN SIN AND BROKENNESS. WE DON’T EVEN WANT TO SEE THE TRUTH OF HOW LOST WE ARE. GIVE US THE GLOW OF YOUR SPIRIT, TO HELP US SEE YOUR LOVING HEART AND REFLECT YOUR LOVE TO OTHERS IN OUR DAILY LIVES.

L: God knows we’re sinners more than we, but he loves us so much that he turns a blind eye to our sin, and authorizes us to declare the forgiveness of all our sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

C: AMEN.

Songs: 




PRAYER  

L: We pray:

C: LORD, YOUR SPIRIT HAS ENLIGHTENED OUR DARK SOULS TO SEE THE WONDER OF YOUR LOVE. HELP US TO LIVE AS CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT, AND BRING A LIGHT OF HOPEFULNESS TO THE LIVES OF OTHERS; THROUGH YOUR SON, CHRIST OUR LORD, WHO LIVES AND RULES WITH YOU AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, ONE GOD, NOW AND FOREVER. AMEN.

LESSONS   [those present may share in reading the following lessons from a Bible]   

Isaiah 42:14-21 English Standard Version (ESV)

14 For a long time I have held my peace;
    I have kept still and restrained myself;
now I will cry out like a woman in labor;
    I will gasp and pant.
15 I will lay waste mountains and hills,
    and dry up all their vegetation;
I will turn the rivers into islands,[a]
    and dry up the pools.
16 And I will lead the blind
    in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
    I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
    the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
    and I do not forsake them.
17 They are turned back and utterly put to shame,
    who trust in carved idols,
who say to metal images,
    “You are our gods.”

Israel's Failure to Hear and See

18 Hear, you deaf,
    and look, you blind, that you may see!
19 Who is blind but my servant,
    or deaf as my messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as my dedicated one,[b]
    or blind as the servant of the Lord?
20 He sees many things, but does not observe them;
    his ears are open, but he does not hear.
21 The Lord was pleased, for his righteousness' sake,
    to magnify his law and make it glorious.

Ephesians 5:8-14 English Standard Version (ESV)

for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

John 9:1-7 English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed 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.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

MESSAGE  

A BLIND HEART” Jn 9:1-9

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE KIND OF BLINDNESS…JUST ASK MY WIFE ABOUT HOW WELL I SEE DUST AND COBWEBS! WE CAN ALL HAVE OUR “BLIND SPOTS” IN THE WAY WE LOOK AT LIFE. WE MAY MISS THE “SIGNALS” THAT SOMEONE IS GIVING OFF VISUALLY, SUCH AS “IT’S TIME TO LEAVE NOW” OR “LET’S WRAP UP THE CONVERSATION.”  OR A HUSBAND MAY MISS A VERBAL QUE WHEN HE ASKS HIS WIFE “WHAT’S WRONG” AND SHE SAYS “NOTHING” AND OF COURSE THAT REALLY MEANS “SOMETHING IS DEFINITELY WRONG!” OUR LESSON FROM THE GOSPEL OF JOHN TELLS THE FASCINATING STORY OF A MAN WHO WAS PHYSICALLY BLIND, BUT WHO RECEIVES NOT ONLY HIS PHYSICAL SIGHT, BUT MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY, HIS SPIRITUAL VISION FROM JESUS. ON THE OTHER HAND, THE JEWISH LEADERS WHO OBVIOUSLY HAD THEIR PHYSICAL SIGHT WERE SHOWN TO BE THE MOST SPIRITUALLY BLIND OF ALL THE PEOPLE IN THIS DRAMA.

                JUST TO SET THE SCENE – JESUS AND THE DISCIPLES ARE WALKING ALONG AND WALK PAST A BLIND MAN WHO IS BEGGING ON THE ROADSIDE WHEN THE DISCIPLES ASKED JESUS WHOSE SIN WAS TO BLAME FOR THE MAN’S BEING BORN  BLIND, THEY REFLECTED A LONGSTANDING JEWISH VIEW THAT THOSE WITH DISABILITIES OR ILLNESSES WERE DISPLAYING GOD’S DIRECT PUNISHMENT FOR SIN. THERE HAD TO BE SOMEONE’S SIN TO BLAME FOR THIS TERRIBLY DISABLING CONDITION, AND SINCE THIS MAN WAS BORN BLIND, IT COULD HARDLY HAVE BEEN HIS OWN SIN THAT CAUSED THE BLINDNESS, SO THEY THOUGHT IT COULD BE DUE TO THE PARENTS’ SIN. THE STORY OF JOB ALREADY TAUGHT LONG BEFORE JESUS’ TIME THAT SOMETIMES BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE, AND IT’S NOT A MATTER OF WHO’S AT FAULT. BUT THE JEWS STILL OPERATED WITH THAT GENERAL RULE OF ILLNESS AS PUNISHMENT FOR SIN AND PROSPERITY AS REWARD.DOING GOOD. JESUS’ GOSPEL MESSAGE OF GOD OPERATING BY GRACE RATHER THAN BY PUNISHMENTS AND REWARDS LED HIM TO EXPLAIN THE BLIND MAN’S CIRCUMSTANCE DIFFERENTLY, NAMELY THAT HIS BLINDNESS PROVIDED AN OPPORTUNITY FOR GOD’S HEALING GIFT TO BE DISPLAYED IN HIS LIFE IN A VERY CONCRETE, PHYSICAL WAY. YOU SEE, FOR JESUS, ALL HEALINGS WERE MEANT TO BE SIGNS OF GOD’S ULTIMATE HEALING OF BODY AND SPIRIT IN HIS HEAVENLY KINGDOM. THE FACT IS THAT ALL OF THOSE WHO JESUS HEALED IN THIS LIFE ENDED UP DEAD…BUT THEY WERE SIGNS OF THAT PERSON’S PERMANENT HEALING IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

THE MAN’S NEIGHBORS KNEW THAT THIS MAN WAS A BLIND BEGGAR ALL HIS LIFE, SO WHEN THEY SAW HIM NOW SUDDENLY ABLE TO SEE, THEY COULDN’T BELIEVE THEIR OWN EYES. THEY THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE A MAN WHO LOOKED LIKE THE BLIND MAN, BUT HE ASSURED THEM, NO, IT IS I, I AM THAT BLIND MAN. THEN THEY ASKED HIM HOW HE CAME TO SEE, AND HE TOLD THEM THAT HE WAS HEALED BY JESUS. THE SCENE THEN SHIFTS WITH THE HEALED BLIND MAN’S NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS BRINGING HIM TO THE PHARISEES TO GET THEIR PERSPECTIVE ON THIS MIRACLE, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE LIKELY KNEW THAT THE PHARISEES HATED JESUS AND REJECTED HIM AS MESSIAH – AND YET HERE JESUS HAD CLEARLY DONE THIS AMAZING MIRACLE. THE PHARISEES’  FIRST CONCERN WAS THAT JESUS DID THE WORK OF HEALING THE MAN ON THE SABBATH, AND THEIR STRICT TEACHING WAS THAT NO ONE SHOULD WORK ON THE SABBATH, EVEN TO DO SOMETHING GOOD LIKE THIS HEALING. PLUS JESUS’ MAKING OF MUD TO APPLY TO THE MAN’S EYES WAS CONSIDERED WORK BY THEM.

SOME OF THE PHARISEES THEREFORE DECLARED THAT JESUS WAS NOT FROM GOD IN WORKING ON THE SABBATH. BUT OTHERS AMONG THEM QUESTIONED HOW JESUS COULD DO SUCH MIRACULOUS SIGNS,  IF NOT FROM GOD. THE JEWISH LEADERS STILL COULDN’T BELIEVE IT – THEY ASKED THE BLIND MAN WHO HE THOUGHT JESUS WAS, AND HE SAID THAT JESUS WAS A PROPHET. IN DISBELIEF THEY ASKED THE MAN’S PARENTS, WHO AFFIRMED THAT HE WAS THEIR SON, BUT ADMITTED THEY DIDN’T KNOW HOW HE HAD RECEIVED HIS SIGHT AND WHO DID IT. THEY TOLD THE JEWISH LEADERS TO GO ASK THEIR SON FOR THEMSELVES.  THEY DIDN’T WANT TO UPSET THE PHARISEES  BECAUSE THEY KNEW THE PHARISEES BANNED FROM THE SYNAGOGUE ANYONE WHO CALLED JESUS THE MESSIAH.

SO THE PHARISEES CALLED THE FORMERLY BLIND MEN TO COME BACK AGAIN AND MEET WITH THEM. THEY TRIED TO DISCREDIT JESUS BY SAYING “WE KNOW THIS MAN IS A SINNER.” THE BLIND MAN ANSWERED BY SAYING IN EFFECT – HE MAY BE A SINNER, BUT HE GAVE ME MY SIGHT – YOU TELL ME WHERE THAT CAME FROM?” THEY  ASKED HIM AGAIN “HOW DID HE OPEN YOUR EYES?” HE RESPONDED, “I ALREADY TOLD YOU…DO YOU WANT TO BECOME HIS DISCIPLES, TOO?”  OF COURSE THAT REALLY TICKED THEM OFF, BECAUSE THEY WERE PROUD OF BEING DISCIPLES OF MOSES AND KEEPING ALL OF HIS LAWS. THEY BELIEVED THAT GOD SPOKE TO MOSES, BUT THEY DIDN’T WANT TO ACCEPT THAT JESUS CAME FROM GOD. THE BLIND MAN THEN REALLY PUT THEM ON THE SPOT BY COUNTERING “THAT IS PRETTY AMAZING! YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE HE CAME FROM, THOUGH HE OPENED MY EYES. HE COULDN’T DO THAT IF HE WERE NOT FROM GOD!”  THEY WERE SO ANGRY THEY KICKED HIM OUT!

JESUS HEARD THAT THE MAN HAD BEEN THROWN OUT BY THE PHARISEES, SO HE FOUND THE MAN, AND ASKED HIM “DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE SON OF MAN?” THE BLIND MAN ASKED “WHO IS HE, THAT I MAY BELIEVE IN HIM.” JESUS REPLIED “YOU HAVE NOW SEEN HIM…IT’S ME!” AND THE BLIND MAN BELIEVED IN JESUS. JUST AS PEOPLE COULDN’T BELIEVE THAT THE MAN GIVEN HIS SIGHT WAS THE SAME PERSON AS THE BLIND MAN, SO PEOPLE COULDN’T BELIEVE THAT THE ONE WHO HEALED HIM WAS THE SAME AS THE MESSIAH, THE SON OF MAN WHO CAME TO BRING SALVATION AND HEALING TO THE WORLD.

JESUS THEN EXPLAINED TO HIM, TO ALL HEARERS, AND TO US, THAT HE CAME INTO THE WORLD TO GIVE SIGHT TO THOSE WHO WERE BLIND, PHYSICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY – AND SHOW THAT THOSE WHO THINK THEY CAN SEE GOD CLEARLY BUT REJECT JESUS’ SPIRITUAL SIGHT, ARE REALLY THE BLIND ONES. THE PHARISEES WHO WERE THERE ASKED JESUS POINT BLANK: ARE YOU SAYING WE’RE BLIND, TOO? IF YOU WERE ACTUALLY BLIND PHYSICALLY, LIKE THAT MAN,  YOU WOULDN’T HAVE SEEN WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN MY HEALING THE MAN AND SO  YOU WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN GUILTY OF REJECTING ME. BUT BECAUSE YOU CLAIM TO BE ABLE TO SEE SPIRITUALLY, YET REJECT ME AS YOUR MESSIAH, YOU ARE GUILTY.

SO YES, THERE ARE DIFFERENT WAYS OF SEEING, AND DIFFERENT KINDS OF BLINDNESS.  THOSE WHO THINK THEY HAVE SPIRITUAL VISION BUT REJECT JESUS AND HIS GOSPEL ARE REALLY SPIRITUALLY BLIND, BLIND IN THEIR HEARTS. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES?  IF WE HAVE SPIRITUAL VISION, WE WILL HUMBLY ACCEPT JESUS’ HEALING FOR OUR LIVES, HIS GRACE AND FORGIVENESS AND HOPE  AND IF IT IF IT REALLY GIVES VISION AND HOPE TO OUR LIVES TO SEE HOW WE ARE SAVED, IT WILL ALSO GIVE US VISION TO SEE WITH THE EYES OF OUR HEART S, SEE HOW WE CAN LOOK AT OTHERS WITH VISION OF FORGIVENESS, COMPASSION AND CARING. REMEMBER THAT JESUS EVEN LOOKED AT THOSE WHO WERE CRUCIFYING HIM WITH MERCY, SAYING “FATHER, FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING.” MAY GOD HELP US TO SEE WITH JESUS’ EYES OF LOVE AND CARE, ESPECIALLY IN THESE CRISIS TIMES. AMEN.

 


AFFIRMATION OF FAITH  C: WE BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. WE BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD, WHO WAS CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY, SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, WAS CRUCIFIED, DIED, AND WAS BURIED. HE DESCENDED TO THE DEAD. ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN FROM THE GRAVE, ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT OF GOD THE FATHER. FROM THERE HE WILL COME TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD. WE BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE HOLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH, THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY, AND THE LIFE EVERLASTING. AMEN.

 

PRAYERS OF GOD’S PEOPLE  [here prayers may be shared, including thanks for blessings and requests for particular needs and concerns]

L: Lord in your mercy,

C: HEAR OUR PRAYER.

LORD’S PRAYER 

Our Father, who is in heaven, holy be your name. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, now and forever, amen.


HOLY COMMUNION  If you would like to share Holy Communion in your individual house church settings, I as your pastor remind you of the “priesthood of all believers,” meaning that in principle Christ gives each believer the authority to do all things related to worship, including prayer, confession, Scripture, Affirmation – and the Lord’s Supper. If you/your family or group are comfortable doing so, you (if you are alone) or one of the family or small group, perhaps the one who has been doing the “L” or leader parts of the service, can take some bread and wine/grape juice  and consecrate it as follows:

L: Our Lord Jesus on the night of he was betrayed took some bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave to his disciples saying “Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this to remember me.” In the same way after supper he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to all of them to drink, saying “Take and drink, this is my blood of the new covenant, shed for you and for all people, for the forgiveness of your sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Then share the bread and the wine/grape juice. After all have communed, the leader can say “May this body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ strengthen us in our faith, to life everlasting."


CLOSING BLESSING  L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all.

C: AMEN.

SONG   




DISMISSAL

L: Go in peace! Serve the Lord!   C: THANKS BE TO GOD!.