Worship Service – March 19, 2023

In worship, we can pray for God to reveal to us our opportunities to share what we have already come to understand as our mission and ministry. We can sing praise to the God who calls and the God who works within us. We can be sent out to declare the goodness and the ongoing presence of God in our living and our working.   Come, let us worship God!
4th Sunday of Lent
Sunday March 19,2023
Scripture; John 9:1-41
Message; “The Blame Game.”
John 9:1-41
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
(1) As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. (2) His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
(3) “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. (4) As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. (5) While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
(6) Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. (7) “Go,” he told him, “Wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
(8) His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” (9) Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
(10) “How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded.
(11) He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”
(12) “Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said.
(13) They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. (14) Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. (15) Therefore, the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
(16) Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided.
(17) Finally, they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
(18) The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. (19) “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
(20) “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. (21) But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” (22) His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. (23) That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
(24) A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God, ” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
(25) He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
(26) Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
(27) He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
(28) Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! (29) We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
(30) The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. (31) We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. (32) Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. (33) If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
(34) To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
(35) Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
(36) “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
(37) Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
(38) Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
(39) Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
(40) Some Pharisees, who were with him, heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” (41) Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

Our scripture today reminds us of the dangers of casting misguided blame.
People blaming others because of their misguided beliefs. Don’t we all have a tendency to play, “The Blame Game”. This the 4th Sunday of Lent we all need to recognize that our Lord and Savior was sent to the cross because of the blame cast on Him, by the misguided beliefs of the people of His day. And we still today send Christ to the cross placing the blame on Him for our misguided beliefs.
Aren’t we all many times like the little girl who was riding along on her bike when she bumped her head on a low hanging branch of a tree. She ran into the house crying, “Mommy! Mommy, Joey hurt me!” Her mom looked up from what she was doing. She said patiently, “Sissy, Joey didn’t hurt you. Joey’s not even here. He went to the grocery store with your dad.”
The little girl got a startled look on her face. Then in a bewildered voice the little girl asked, “Does that mean stuff like this can happen on its own at any time, with no one being at fault?” Then she added, “Whoa, bummer!”
Well, it is a bummer. Bad things can happen at any time to anyone and sometimes there’s no one to blame.
In today’s text from John’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples encounter a man blind from birth. The disciples ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (9:2)
There it is. That question: who is to blame for this man’s misfortune? Somehow if we can just affix blame, we think it will make the situation better. There will at least be some meaning to the event maybe even a solution. If there’s somebody to blame, it means there is a way of gaining control over life. If bad things just happen, with no one to blame, then there’s no control, and that’s scary.
“The Blame Game”. It’s been around since the Garden of Eden. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The disciples asked. In reality, it’s an absurd question, of course. How could a man born blind be responsible for his predicament? Did he sin in his mother’s womb? Kick his mother a little too hard perhaps?
If you follow that line of thinking, you’re left with only one viable conclusion it must be his parent’s fault. Can you imagine how hurtful this explanation would be to this man’s parents? Not only would their precious son never be able to see, but it was somehow their fault. They had offended God sometime in the past maybe without even realizing it and this was their punishment.
For most of us, this is an absurd line of thinking. It really makes God look like a second-rate deity. And yet, there are many sincere Christian people who, when something tragic happens in their life ask, “Did I somehow cause this? Is God punishing me for some transgression of which I am not even aware? Does God make little children suffer because their parents have somehow offended Him? Well, that may have been the disciples thought process when they questioned Jesus about it.
Jesus’ answer to his disciples’ question is intriguing: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (9:3) What does that mean? How can an affliction particularly one as debilitating as blindness display the work of God? Well, let’s look for a few moments at the story.
First of all, we see Christ heal this man born blind. That’s important. It is not God’s will that this man or any man or woman whoever they may be, be blind.
Blindness comes from many sources. It might be the result of trauma or disease. In a man born blind, maybe damage to a gene was responsible. We don’t know. However, we do know this: if you are blind, physically blind, you are not that way because God willed it. If you have cancer, or some other adverse condition, it is not because God willed it. If you are going through a devastating time financially, it is not because God willed it. God’s will is always for wholeness and health. God’s will be for your needs to be met. That is why Christ healed this man. Healing is God’s will.
And that fact is so important for us to understand. If, when we are going through a time of extreme heartache and we insist on playing, “The Blame Game”, we may be cutting ourselves off from the very power that can heal us.
Notice how Christ heals this man. According to our text, he spits on the ground, makes some mud with the saliva, and puts it on the man’s eyes. Then he tells the blind man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam.
Now the blind man might have responded to Jesus’ actions in many ways. He could have said, “This is dumb. How in the world could putting mud on my eyes heal me? I’m not going to move one inch. It’s ridiculous.” Thats how many of us might have responded, particularly if we had let our blindness defeat us, make us bitter, cause us to give up on God. That’s how this man could have responded.
I can’t help but believe that this man’s healing was connected to the positive way he responded to Jesus’ command. John indicates to us that the man immediately went to the pool, washed in the pool, and came home seeing. He responded in faith and his faith was rewarded.
We don’t know why Jesus used this particular method of healing on this man. I have no doubt Jesus could have simply spoken and the same result would have been accomplished. Maybe it was important to Jesus, to see this man do his part by washing in the pool.
However, here’s what the man’s healing says to me. If you have some tragedy in your life, or in the life of someone you love, believe that God’s will is for healing. Look for that healing. Work for that healing. Never give up hope. Just as Christ healed the man blind from birth, God’s will be for all God’s children to be well, to be strong.
Isn’t that true of all of life. If you have a hurt of any kind, or a need of any kind, whether it is physical or mental or emotional or financial or whatever it may be don’t sit around wondering who is to blame. Don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Focus on God’s desire for healing. Do what you can to bring healing.
Focus on it, expect it. At, least believe that God wants to heal your heart, your attitude, your feelings about your hurt or need. Put yourself in a frame of mind to receive whatever healing God may have for you.
Remember, God can use even the most adverse circumstances, for our best good. That’s what Paul wrote to the Believer’s in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God can use even the most adverse circumstances to bring a blessing into our life.
“In all things God works for the good of those who love him . . .” That’s a hard thing to remember when you are going through difficult times, but it’s true. God can use any circumstance. When you are going through a difficult time, look for some way this can be used to God’s glory. Let it make you better rather than make you bitter.
Years ago, God led me to write a song titled; “A Door”. Let me share it with you. If you’re in our worship service today, I’ll sing it for you . If not, let me at least share with you the words.

“A Door”

She’s cold and looking for someone.
To be with through lonely nights.
And days alone she walks to an empty church.
She prays to God, be by my side.
For I’m afraid.
Afraid of lonely nights.
A prayer, a prayer that’s worth praying.
Is heard by God and always.
Yes, always opens, A Door.
A Door was left open wide.
He goes to close it tight and sees.
A girl, a girl on her knees in prayer.
She prays to God, be by my side.
For I am afraid.
Afraid of lonely nights.
A prayer, a prayer that’s worth praying.
Is heard by God and always.
Yes, always opens. Eyes
Eyes with tears from lonely years.
Sees him, and he says, “Hi, it’s cold outside.”
The door was left open wide.
Excuse me for disturbing you.
That prayer you prayed.
I’ve often prayed it too.
A prayer, a prayer that’s worth praying.
Is heard by God and always.
Yes, always opens.
A Door.
Whenever I sing that song , I like to remind the hearers of a verse found in Isaiah 65:24. “Before they call, I will answer; while they’re still speaking, I will hear.”
So when you are going through a difficult time, pray like the girl in the song. Pray that it can be used to God’s glory. Let it make you better rather than make you bitter.
And that brings us to the final thing to be said. The most tragic blindness is blindness of the heart. It’s interesting. This should have been the most joyful day in this man’s life. He had been blinded all his life. Then, to this man, Jesus came by and did something quite remarkable. He took some dirt and some of his own saliva and made mud. Then he put the mud on this man’s eyes and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. So, the man did as he was told and then he came home able to see.
That’s an extraordinary miracle. A man who had never seen anything before now had his vision! Shouldn’t someone throw him a party? Well, his neighbors didn’t. Some of them refused to believe this was the same man they had known. It didn’t fit their theology. They had never known a blind man who was healed, and they refused to accept him. Neither did the leaders of the synagogue. In fact, they threatened to throw him out of the synagogue if he didn’t recant his testimony that Jesus had healed him. You see, his neighbors and the leaders in his synagogue were blinder than this man had ever been.
They were blind to who Christ was. They were blind to what God was doing in their midst. They let their own petty interests and experiences blind them to a richer understanding of the blessings God had in store for them. They weren’t bad people. They were simply locked into a certain way of thinking about life and about God. They didn’t see the bigger picture.
You and I need to expand our thinking about our lives to seek God’s perspective on the things that happen to us. Rather than trying to find someone to blame when something bad occurs in our life, we need to affirm that God’s will is always for our best good. God wants us to be well. God wants to see that our needs are provided. In times of suffering, remind yourself, first of all, of that truth: God wants me to be well.
Second, remind yourself that all things work to the good for those who love God. Look for ways that God can use your present adversity for the good. Perhaps this experience will make you stronger. Maybe this experience will make you more compassionate toward the struggles of others. Maybe this experience will draw you closer to God.
And finally, pray that God will help you see the bigger picture. Pray that you will sense God’s will for your life. It may be that up to this point you, too, have been blind. Pray that God will help you see God’s hand, God’s plan, and your place in it.
As the prophet Isaiah recorded in 65:24. “Before they call, I will answer; while they’re still speaking, I will hear.”
And remind yourself of what Paul wrote in, Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Don’t play, “The Blame Game.”
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20230319
Listen To Audio: Service 03192023
Call to Worship:

L:  Welcome pilgrims on the way to the cross.
P:  We are learning to follow Jesus.

L:  On this Lenten journey, where do we find God’s presence among us?
P:  One thing we know: God calls us to witness extraordinary love in ordinary moments.

L:  Pilgrims on the way, come let us worship God!
P:  We come to worship God as we learn to live inside out!


Prayer of Confession:    O God of miracles and mighty deeds, we acknowledge your healing and comforting presence in our lives.  We confess that we have been [drawn in] by materialism and driven by consumerism.  Open our [hearts] to a new way of being. Send your anointing and grant us fresh insight for spiritual breakthroughs.  Shine the light of your truth into our relationships and grant us victory over every secret and shame.  We thank you in advance for healings and renewals in our lives.  In the name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.




Pastor Joe will be available at the church on Thursday afternoon from 11 to 1.  If you need to speak to him, contact Pastor Joe at570-267-4570 (cell) or Email: joe.s.travis@gmail.com

One great hour of sharing continues during lent.

Loose change goes to Kenya/Rev. Malaho

Sunday School starts at 8:30am

Choir practice will be on Thursday at 1:00! Please come a join us in singing praises to Jesus! 

Newsletter Deadline – Tuesday, March 28th, 2023.

The Easter Egg Hunt will be on Saturday, April 1st, at 11:00 am on the church grounds

Monday, April 3 at 9:00am PW will be cleaning the community building. 

Good Friday service at 7:30pm on April 7th.

PW meeting April 13 at 11:00.

Men’s Breakfast April 19 at 8:00.

Easter Egg Hunt supplies-  small wrapped candies and small (egg sized) trinkets are welcome.  There is a donation basket in the rear of the church. 

Please sign up to host one of the social hours on the Sunday after Communion Service on the first Sunday of the month.  

Listen to WPEL 96.5 for church cancellation if your internet is down during a storm this winter.


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