Year A
The Fourth Sunday in Lent
22 March 2020


Eucharistic Preface

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

It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God,
for you do not judge us by outer appearances,
but make visible the secret places of our hearts
and commission us as children of the light.

Once there was darkness,
but you created the the light.
With your touch the world was begun,
and when you spoke to Moses and the prophets,
you gave guidance to keep us on sure paths.

In your servant, David, the least of his family,
you saw a King who could shepherd your people.
In your child, Jesus Christ,
you gave us one whose light could open blinded eyes
and guide us safely through death’s dark valley.
When he was killed, you awoke him,
raising him from the dead.
Now he spreads a rich table before us,
filling our cup with goodness and love
that we may live forever in your house.

Therefore with .....

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




Short Preface
(for insertion into Eucharistic prayers with fixed prefaces)

We thank you for giving us your Son, Jesus Christ,
whose light opens blinded eyes
and guides us safely through death’s dark valley,
that we may live forever in the light of your house
and feast at the rich table where you fill our cup with goodness and love.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net





General Prayer of Thanksgiving
(Preface reformatted for use apart from communion)

We give you all thanks and praise, O God,
for you do not judge us by outer appearances,
but make visible the secret places of our hearts
and commission us as children of the light.

Once there was darkness,
but you created the the light.
With your touch the world was begun,
and when you spoke to Moses and the prophets,
you gave guidance to keep us on sure paths.

In your servant, David, the least of his family,
you saw a King who could shepherd your people.
In your child, Jesus Christ,
you gave us one whose light could open blinded eyes
and guide us safely through death’s dark valley.
When he was killed, you awoke him,
raising him from the dead.
Now he spreads a rich table before us,
filling our cup with goodness and love
that we may live forever in your house.

Therefore, with our hearts lifted high,
we offer you thanks and praise at all times
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net





Declaration of Grace / Absolution

Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light.
Everything exposed by the light becomes light.
You have brought your sin into the light of Christ.
Your sins are forgiven.
Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net





Commission & Benediction

Go now and live as children of the light.
Seek what is pleasing to the Lord.
Expose the unfruitful works of darkness,
and commit yourselves to the works of God who sends you.

And may the Lord be your shepherd and be all that you need.
May Christ open your eyes and guide you along sure paths.
May the Spirit Holy revive your spirits
and tend you with goodness and love
every day of your life.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
    In the name of Christ. Amen.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net







Paraphrases of the Scripture Lections
for the 4th Sunday in Lent - Year A - 22 March 2020
Lections from The Revised Common Lectionary.
Copyright 1992 by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT)
P. O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, USA. Used with Permission.



* 1 Samuel 16: 1-13

    One day the LORD said to Samuel, “It is time for you to get over your misery about the failure of King Saul. I have had a gutful of him and I am going to end his reign. Fill up your flask with olive oil ready to anoint a new king. Go to Bethlehem and find a man named Jesse there, for I have chosen one of his sons to be my king.”
    Samuel protested, “How can I do that? If Saul gets wind of it he will kill me.”
    But the LORD replied, “Take a calf with you and tell everyone that you have come to a hold a feast offered in honour of me, the LORD. Invite Jesse and his family to join you for the feast, and then I will let you know what to do next. I will pick out one of Jesse’s sons, and you are to pour the oil on his head to mark him out as the next king.”
    Samuel followed the LORD’s instructions and went to Bethlehem. The town officials were unnerved by his arrival, and went out to meet him asking, “What brings you to town? Have we done something wrong, or are you just passing through in peace?”
    Samuel replied, “Nothing’s wrong. I am here to offer a feast to the LORD. Go and prepare yourselves properly and then come and join me for the occasion.”
    Samuel also invited Jesse and his family to the feast and instructed them to prepare themselves properly. When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Jesse’s oldest son, Eliab, and thought to himself, “He has got to be the one the LORD has chosen.”
    But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t be fooled by how big and impressive he looks. He is not the man for me, because I, the LORD, am not impressed by the same things that impress you people. People judge others by their outward appearance, but I look beneath that and see what makes them tick.”
    Then Jesse introduced Samuel to his next son, Abinadab, but Samuel said, “No, this is not the one the LORD sent me to find.”
    Jesse introduced his next son, Shammah, but Samuel said, “This is not the one the LORD sent me to find either.”
    Jesse introduced seven sons to Samuel, but Samuel was convinced that none of them was the one the LORD had chosen. So he asked Jesse, “Are all your sons here?”
    Jesse replied, “My youngest boy is not here. He is out on the farm taking care of some sheep.”
    Samuel said, “Send someone to get him as quickly as possible, for we will not sit down to this meal until he arrives.”
    So Jesse sent someone to get his youngest son, David, and bring him to the feast. David was a good-looking, fresh-faced kid, and his eyes were full of life. As soon as he walked in, the LORD said, “Samuel, get up and anoint him, because this is the one I have chosen.”
    So Samuel took out his flask of oil and poured it on David’s head in full view of his brothers. The Spirit of the LORD took hold of David and was powerfully at work in him from that moment on. With his mission accomplished, Samuel got up and headed back home to Ramah.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




* Psalm 23

You, LORD, are my guide in the wilderness;
........there is nothing more I could need.

You set up camp in places of beauty and shelter;
........you lead the way on secluded tracks
................beside creeks of cool clean water.
I feel my spirit breathing freely again;
........your reputation puts me at ease;
................I leave the navigating to you, and follow.

Even if we hike through a perilous valley,
........where crows keep a menacing watch,
................fear will still not get the better of me.
As long as I stick with you
........I know I’ll make the distance;
with a knife and a bit of rope
........you seem able to tackle any challenge.

You cook up a feast for me,
........as those who wanted to feed on me watch, frustrated.
You pamper me like an honoured guest
........and constantly top up my glass.

My life feels charmed, each and every day.
........Love, mercy and all good things
................keep falling into my lap.

I’m with you for life, LORD,
........where you go, I’ll go;
................where you live, I’ll live.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




* Ephesians 5: 8-14

In the past, the darkness was your natural habitat, because you needed its cover to hide the way you lived. But now you are united to the Lord and are at home in the light. So live lives that reflect the light. Be shining examples of all that naturally grows in the light — goodness, honesty, and integrity. Do your best to discern what will be most pleasing to the Lord, and let that set your agendas. Have nothing to do with the things that people will only do under cover of darkness. Blow their cover instead, for such things produce nothing good. It does no one any credit to even talk about the corrupt activities that people go to such lengths to keep hidden. The truth about everything is seen when it is exposed to the light, and those things that can stand the light are worth seeing. That’s why it is said,

“Wake up, sleepy head!
Rise from your grave,
and Christ will light up your life!”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




* John 9: 1-41

........One day, Jesus and his disciples were heading down the street when they saw a man who had been blind since birth. The disciples asked, “Rabbi, was this man born blind because of his own sins or because of the sins of his parents?”
........Jesus replied, “You can’t blame either him or his parents for his blindness. The important thing to look for is not what caused it, but what God can do about it. The one who sent me has given us work to do, and we had better be on the job as long as it is still day. Night fall will put an end to everyone’s work soon enough, but as long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
........Having said this, he spat on the ground and made a mud ointment from a mixture of dust and saliva. He pasted the mud over the blind man’s eyes and sent him off to wash himself in the Siloam Pool. (The name Siloam actually means ‘sent’.) The man went and washed, and when he came back he could see. It certainly caused a stir. People who knew him or were used to seeing him begging for money on the streets were soon asking, “What’s going on here? Isn’t this the blind bloke who is always rattling his can on the street?”
........Some were saying, “It’s him alright,” but others reckoned it must just be someone who looked like him. He kept insisting that he was indeed the same man, but some took a lot of convincing and kept demanding an explanation for how he could now see. All he could do was repeat the story: “Someone called Jesus spread mud on my eyes and told me to go and wash in the Siloam Pool. So I went and washed it off, and now I can see.”
........Then they wanted to know where Jesus was now, but the man said, “I don’t know.”
........The people then marched him off to the relevant authorities — the leaders of the devoutly religious Pharisee party. The day on which Jesus had made the mud and healed the man’s blindness was a Sabbath day, so there were questions of religious law at stake. The authorities questioned the man about how he had received his sight. He told it to them straight: “The man spread mud on my eyes. I washed it off, and now I can see.”
........Some of the Pharisees were quick to express their opinion: “Obviously this man is not from God, because he doesn’t even stop what he is doing on the Sabbath.”
........But others were not so sure: “How could a man who was against God have the ability to do things which so clearly point to God’s involvement?”
........Since they were divided over the matter, they asked the man what he thought. “It was your eyes he opened. What do you make of him?”
........The man replied, “I think he is God’s messenger!”
........Some of the religious leaders began casting doubts on whether the man who had been given his sight had really been blind in the first place, so his parents were called in for questioning. “Is this man your son?” they were asked. “Are you sure he was blind? How then, is it that he can now see?”
........His parents answered, “This is certainly our son, and we know, without the slightest doubt, that he was born blind. But as to how come he can see now, or who was responsible for opening his eyes, we are completely in the dark. Why don’t you ask him? He’s a grown man and can speak for himself.”
........His parents were playing it safe because they didn’t want to get on the wrong side of the Jewish authorities. The authorities had already made up their minds that any one who expressed the belief that Jesus was the Messiah would be stripped of their membership of the Synagogue. With that threat hanging over their heads, his parents hand-passed the question back to their son.
........So the authorities called in the man who had been blind and questioned him for a second time. They said to him, “Swear by God to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. We know that the man who did this to you is opposed to God!”
........He replied, “I wouldn’t know anything about that, one way or the other. The one thing I know for sure is this: I was born blind, but now I can see.”
........“So what did he do to you?” they demanded to know. “How did he open your eyes?”
........He answered, “I have already told you all I can about that, but you didn’t want to believe me. Why do you need to hear it over and over again? Are you planning to sign up as his followers?”
........At that, they went off their heads at him, saying, “You are obviously following him, but we are followers of Moses. We can know for sure that God spoke to Moses, but this Jesus is a no-one. We don’t even know where he comes from.”
........“Well what a bizarre situation this is,” said the man. “You lot don’t know the first thing about him, and yet he gave sight to my blind eyes. Everybody knows that God doesn’t team up with liars and crooks. It is only the person who worships and obeys God that God is going to take sides with. Never before in the whole history of the world has anybody heard of someone opening the eyes of a person who had been blind from birth. So surely if this man were not from God he wouldn’t be able to do such a thing.”
........With that, they wrote him off. “You are nothing but the scum of the earth, and you always have been. How dare you talk to us like that!”
........And they threw him out into the street. Word reached Jesus that they had thrown the man out, so he went and found him. “Do you believe in the New Human?” Jesus asked him.
........The man answered, “I don’t know who he is, mister, but if you will introduce me to him, I will believe in him.”
........“Jesus replied, “You have seen him, sure enough. You are talking to him right now!”
........The man said, “Lord, I believe in you!” and fell to his knees at Jesus’s feet.
........Jesus said, “I came into the world to sort out who was who. I came so that those who have been kept in the dark might see, and so that the blindness of those who see might be exposed.”
........Some members of the Pharisee party overheard this, and stopped to question him. “You are not suggesting that we are blind, are you?”
........But Jesus replied, “If you were blind, you would not be held guilty. But since you claim that the way you see things is the only way they can be seen, you’ve got blood all over your hands.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net