Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Holy Communion on the Fourth Sunday in Lent, 10:30 a.m.

  The livestream may be found here.



The color purple, used for the vestments and paraments in Lent, symbolizes somberness and solemnity. Crosses and images of our Lord and the saints are veiled with purple cloth during Lent.


FIRST READING (1 Samuel 16:1-13): ‘The LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but God judges the heart.’ Therefore Samuel waits upon the word of the Lord to tell him which son of Jesse he is to anoint as future king. David is ‘a man after God’s own heart,’ though he would appear to be last of all because he is the youngest. Like David, the man born blind in the Gospel lesson appears unlikely to amount to much, but Jesus sees in him a person of faith and makes him so by anointing him with his touch and word. 


SECOND READING (Ephesians 5:8-14): The letter to the Ephesians is written to new Christians who are not far removed from their days as pagans. They are encouraged to let their new faith guide their conduct. Darkness and light are metaphors describing life without Christ and life with Christ. Those who live in darkness perform the ‘unfruitful works’ of darkness – those who are live in light bear ‘fruit of the light’ – all that is good and right and true. It is instructive that while bearing fruit is a natural, living, and gradual process, a ‘work’ can be artificial, imitative, and instant.  


GOSPEL (John 9:1-41): The man born blind receives his sight – and comes out of darkness into the light of faith. But those who are ‘supposed’ to be able to see religious truths are blind: they judge by appearances (assuming physical ailments are punishments for sin) and refuse to hear the man’s testimony to Jesus. The contrast between the healed one and those who refuse to acknowledge their own need for spiritual sight is both revealing and frightening. 

OPENING MUSIC                     God, Whose Almighty Word – Richard Proulx

Word of God, Come Down on Earth – I. J. G. Walther

II. David Cherwien



Blessed be God: Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit,

  And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever. Amen


Hear the commandments of God to his people:

I am the LORD your God,

who brought you out of the house of slavery.

You shall have no other gods.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not make wrongful use

of the name of the LORD your God.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


Honor your father and your mother.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not murder.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not commit adultery.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not steal.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,

or his male or female slave, or his ox, or his donkey,

or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

  Amen. Lord, have mercy.


These are the commandments of the LORD our God.

  Lord, have mercy on us sinners,

  and incline our hearts to keep your law.


Let us pray together the prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian:

  O Lord and Master of my life,

  take from me a spirit of laziness, despair,

  love of power, and idle talk.

  But give your servant a spirit of chastity,

  humility, patience, and love.

  Yes, O Lord and King,

  grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my neighbor.

  For You are blessed forever and ever. Amen   


WHymn             Word of God, Come Down on Earth                    Blue WOV 716


1 Word of God, come down on earth,

living rain from heav'n descending;

touch our hearts and bring to birth

faith and hope and love unending.

Word almighty, we revere you;

Word made flesh, we long to hear you.

2 Word eternal, throned on high,

Word that brought to life creation,

Word that came from heav'n to die,

crucified for our salvation,

saving Word, the world restoring,

speak to us, your love outpouring.

3 Word that speaks God's tender love,

one with God beyond all telling,

Word that sends us from above

God the Spirit, with us dwelling,

Word of truth, to all truth lead us;

Word of life, with one bread feed us.


The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,

and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

  And also with you.                                                                             2 Corinthians 13:13


In peace, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the Church of God, 
and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For this holy house, and for all who offer here their worship and praise, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

Help, save, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord.






Everything exposed by the light becomes visible,

for everything that becomes visible is light.

  Let us hear the Word of the Lord.                                          Ephesians 5:13-14



FIRST READING:          1 Samuel 16:1-13


1The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” 4Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” 7But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 8Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” 13Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.


The Word of the Lord.                                                  

  Thanks be to God.


PSALM 23          Shepherd Me, O God – Arranged/ Marty Haugen                      



Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants,

beyond my fears, from death into life. 

1God is my Shepherd, so nothing shall I want;

I rest in the meadows of faithfulness and love;

I walk by the quiet waters of peace.                                          Antiphon


2Gently you raise me and heal my weary soul;

you lead me by pathways of righteousness and truth,

my spirit shall sing the music of your Name.                         Antiphon


3Though I should wander the valley of death,

I fear no evil, for you are at my side;

your rod and your staff, my comfort and my hope.               Antiphon


4You have set me a banquet of love in the face of hatred,

crowning me with love beyond my power to hold.              Antiphon


5Surely your kindness and mercy follow me all the days of my life;

I will dwell in the house of my God forevermore.                     


SECOND READING                                                    Ephesians 5:8-14


8Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—9for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. 10Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; 13but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”


The Word of the Lord.                  

  Thanks be to God.



VERSE   John 3:14-15                                              Setting by John W. Becker

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whosoever believes in him may have eternal life.


Gospel                                                                                             John 9:1-41


The Holy Gospel according to St. John.

  Glory to you, O Lord.


1As [Jesus] walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.8The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11He 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.” 12They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15Then 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.” 16Some 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. 17So 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.”

18The 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 19and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21but 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.” 22His 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. 23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24So 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.” 25He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27He 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?” 28Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

35Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”


The Gospel of the Lord.

  Praise to you, O Christ.






W Hymn of the DaY    

God, Whose Almighty Word                        Green LBW 400

1 God, whose almighty word

chaos and darkness heard

and took their flight:

hear us, we humbly pray,

and where the gospel day

sheds not its glorious ray,

let there be light!

2 Lord, who once came to bring,

on your redeeming wing,

healing and sight,

health to the sick in mind,

sight to the inly blind:

oh, now to humankind

let there be light!

3 Spirit of truth and love,

life-giving, holy dove,

speed forth your flight;

move on the water’s face

bearing the lamp of grace,

and in earth’s darkest place

let there be light!

4 Holy and blessed three,

glorious Trinity,

wisdom, love, might!

Boundless as ocean’s tide,

rolling in fullest pride,

through the earth, far and wide,

let there be light!

Text: John Marriott, 1780-1825, alt.

CONFESSION OF FAITH                                                         Nicene Creed


X At the words ‘For us and for our salvation,’ and continuing through ‘and was made man,’ a solemn bow is appropriate to praise the incarnation of our Lord.


We believe in one God,

                the Father, the Almighty,            

                                maker of heaven and earth,

                                of all that is, seen and unseen.


We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

                the only Son of God,

                eternally begotten of the Father,

                God from God, Light from Light,

                true God from true God,

                begotten, not made,

                of one Being with the Father.

                Through him all things were made.

                X For us and for our salvation

                                he came down from heaven;

                                by the power of the Holy Spirit

                                he became incarnate from the virgin Mary,                                                       and was made man. X

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

                                he suffered death and was buried.

                On the third day he rose again

                                in accordance with the Scriptures;

                                he ascended into heaven

                                and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

                He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

                                and his kingdom will have no end.


We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

                who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

                With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.

                He has spoken through the prophets.

                We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

                We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

                We look for the resurrection of the dead,

                                and the life of the world to come. Amen




Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs.


Silence is kept.


For the renewal of the Spirit of baptismal birth in the whole Church; Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


For all those who search for you, that with the eyes of their hearts enlightened, they may know the immeasurable greatness of your power for those who believe. Lord, in your mercy:

  hear our prayer.


For those who preach, teach, and hear the Word of God, that they may also believe and obey it; Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


For our congregation; guide us as individuals, as families, and as a faith family in your right pathways: Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


For the North American Lutheran Seminary: its administration, faculty, staff, and students; Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


For the government, the armed forces, and those who protect and serve our communities: Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


For the nations of the world, refugees and stateless persons, and for those afflicted by war, natural disaster, and plague: Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


That you would shepherd the poor in body, mind, and spirit, and these for whom we pray:


The Pastor reads the names and situations submitted for prayer.

The People may intercede for others aloud or in silence.


Lord, in your mercy,                                                         

  hear our prayer.


In thanksgiving for all who lived in faith, bearing good fruit for your glory; that with them we may rejoice when we behold your unveiled light in the world to come. Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


Into your hands, Father, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your steadfast love, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.




Since we are justified by faith,

we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

who has given us access to his grace.

The peace of the Lord be with you always.   

  And also with you.


The People exchange a sign of peace with the simple words, Peace be with you.


The People are seated as the Lord’s table is prepared.



OFFERTORY  Jeremiah 50:4-5                           Setting by Kevin Norris

Come, let us return to the Lord, for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.



Lord, come to us and cleanse us,

come to us and heal us,

come to us and strengthen us,

 and grant that, having received you,

 we may never be separated from you,

 but continue yours forever.




It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places offer thanks and praise to you, O Lord, holy Father, through Christ our Lord; He has banished from our mind the darkness of unbelief and has poured into the human soul the light of truth and grace; so that we, once blind in heart, may acknowledge him as the Son of God and follow him as the source of our salvation. And so, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:



The pastor leads the people in praying the Eucharistic canon:


Blessed are you, O Lord our God.


You created us in your image;

    and in the mystery of your great love for us

    you sent your only Son, Jesus Christ,

    born of Mary by the power of the Spirit. 


Led by that Spirit he was tempted as we are tempted;

                He proclaimed your forgiveness to sinners;

    he loved even his enemies. 


Despised and rejected,

                he bore the alienation of the world

    as he stretched out his arms on the cross;

    and by this all-sufficient sacrifice

    he has drawn all people to himself,

    giving his life as a ransom for many. 


As we gather in his name and celebrate his testament,

    send your Spirit upon us

    and upon these gifts of bread and wine,

    that they may be for us

    the very body and blood of your Son,

    Christ Jesus, redeemer of the world.


In the night in which He was betrayed

                our Lord Jesus took bread and gave thanks,

                broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying:

                        Take and eat; this is my Body, given for you. 

                Do this for the remembrance of me.


Again, after supper, He took the cup, gave thanks,

                and gave it for all to drink, saying:

                This cup is the new covenant in my Blood,

                shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. 

                Do this for the remembrance of me.

Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:

                Christ has died. 

                Christ is risen. 

                Christ will come again.


Blessed are you, O Lord our God. 


By your Son's life-giving passion and death,

                and by His resurrection and ascension into glory,              

                our Lord Jesus continually intercedes for us

                and for all he has claimed as his own. 


As we now share together

                this Bread of Life and this Cup of Salvation,

                unite us with all your faithful people                                                       

                in the forgiveness of sins,

                and bring us, at length, to that eternal celebration of life

                at the Lamb's high feast.




In the presence of Christ, we pray to his Father using the words he gave us.


Christ is in our midst.

                By the power of the Spirit,

                we pray to his Father, saying:


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 trespasses,

                                as we forgive those who trespass against us;

                and lead us not into temptation,

                                but deliver us from evil.

                For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,

                                forever and ever. Amen                                    

Matthew 6:9-15


This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Happy are we who are called to his supper.

  Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,

  but only say the word and I shall be healed.

John 1:29; Revelation 19:9; Matthew 8:8


HYMN                   For Perfect Love So Freely Spent                     stanzas 1 and 2  


                For perfect love so freely spent,

                for fellowship restored,

                we celebrate your sacrament

                and sing your praise, O Lord.


                We come, by sin disquieted,

                and find our lives made whole;

                around this table we are fed

                refreshment for the soul.






Choir Anthem

O Blessed Spring - Text/ Susan Palo Cherwien;

Music/ Robert Buckley Farlee; arr. J. M. Strobel


Please follow the text at Blue WOV 695 as the choir sings.

When all have received, the People stand at the direction of the pastor.


The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you and keep you in his grace.    




                 For Perfect Love So Freely Spent                                      stanza 3


                Abide with us; in all our ways

                your saving love be shown;

                so may our lives be hymns of praise,

                O Christ, to you alone.



O Lord, you have called us to be your witnesses.

Cleanse us from all unbelief and sloth

and fill us with hope and zeal,

  that we may do your work,

  and bear your cross,

  and bide your time,

  and see your glory.



Almighty God, Father, X Son, and Holy Spirit,

bless you now and forever.




                                Blue WOV 776   Be Thou My Vision   

1 Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;

naught be all else to me, save that thou art:

thou my best thought by day and by night,

waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

2 Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;

I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord.

Thou my soul’s shelter, thou my high tower,

raise thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.

3 Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise,

thou mine inheritance, now and always:

thou, and thou only, first in my heart,

great God of heaven, my treasure thou art.

4 Light of my soul, after victory won,

may I reach heaven’s joys, O heaven’s Sun!

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Text: Irish, 8th-10th cent.; tr. Mary E. Byrne, 1880-1931; vers. Eleanor H. Hull, 1860-1935, alt.


Go in peace. Serve the Lord.                

  Thanks be to God!



From Sundays and Copyright 2023 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #20540.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Eucharistic Canon reprinted with permission from A Little Book of Canons by Rod L. Ronneberg, STS, © 1997 and © 2010.

Additional liturgical material from Common Worship: Times and Seasons,

© 2006 The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England,

and Foretaste of the Feast to Come, by Philip Pfatteicher, 1997 Augsburg Publishing House.

Proper Preface from We Give You Thanks and Praise: The Ambrosian Eucharistic Prefaces, ed. Alan Griffiths, Sheed and Ward, 2000.

JESUS MAFA, Jesus cures the man born blind.

Agnus Day appears with the permission of

St Stephen Lutheran Church

55 Forsythe Road, Pittsburgh PA 15220

(412) 279-5868




Saturday Evening Worship – 6:30 pm

Sunday Morning Worship – 10:30 am