We Will Live as Children of Light: A 21st Century Resource for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A
Call to Worship
(From Ephesians 5.8-14)
Leader: Saint Paul reminds us that "once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light."
People: We will live as children of light -- for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.
Leader: With prayer and fasting, discover what is pleasing to the Lord.
People: We will take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead will expose them.
Leader: Remember that everything exposed by the light becomes visible. Remember what the Scripture says, "Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
People: May Christ come and shine upon us! Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Invitation to Confession
We love the Twenty-Third Psalm. We say it prayerfully in seasons of sorrow; recite its comforting words in periods of uncertainty; rehearse the assurance it offers for times of trial; and claim its promises as the very structural support of our faith and life. -- At least we claim to so do. But maybe its words can also guide us in a moment of confession. Let us join together in silent confession, guided by the words and thoughts of the Twenty-Third Psalm.
Prayer of Confession
Leader: "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want." With these words I am saying that God provides me with everything I need, but do I really believe that?
Leader: "He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul." If God is restoring my soul, why do I feel so tired, so exhausted, so "run thin," so overwhelmed?
Leader: "He leads me in right paths for his name's sake." Am I really living my life on the right path in every aspect of my life? Would I be comfortable and even proud to have God along with me everywhere I go?
Leader: "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff -- they comfort me." Then why am I always looking elsewhere for comfort and protection? Why do I have so many fears?
Leader: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." I wonder what my life would look like if I really did trust God. I wonder how I would view others, including enemies, if I really believed God to be beside me.
Leader: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long." Am I confident that God goes with me? Am I confident that I will live with God forever?
Words of Assurrance
The words are sure and true: the Lord is our Shepherd and provides for us everything we need. Know that God is with you now, forgiving you, rejoicing to be in your presence and willing to transform you by the power of the Holy Spirit into true and full disciples of the Son, Jesus, the Crucified and Resurrected One. Amen.
Invitation to the Offering
Indeed, the Lord provides us with everything we need, as is evidenced by the many blessings we enjoy. Though we know that God's blessings upon us are far more than material, we gladly offer some of the material wealth God has given to us back to God that others might be blessed. With prayers of thanks and prayers for those in need, we offer our tithes and gifts.
Prayer of Dedication/Thanksgiving
Receive these gifts, O Lord our Shepherd, and bless them that they might be the source of blessing for others. Bless us, too, we pray, that we might be true disciples sharing the good news by word and deed with all. Amen.
Having been in the presence of God, go forth knowing that the Lord is your shepherd. Having been in the presence of Christ, go forth knowing that his light shines upon you. Having been in the presence of the Holy Spirit, go forth knowing that there is nothing to fear. Now, in the grace and peace of Creator, Savior, and Holy Spirit, go and share what you have experienced with others. Amen.