Lent -- Service Prayers -- 4th Sunday

Sharing the Light
Service Prayers and Holy Communion
for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

1 Samuel 16:1-13;    Psalm 23;   
Ephesians 5:8-14;    John 9:1-41

Call to Worship  (adapted from Psalm 23)

ALL:         The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want.
One Voice:      It is you, Lord who makes me lie down in green pastures;
Second Voice:     It is you who leads me beside the still waters. 
Third Voice:     You restore my soul and guide me in paths of righteousness
for your name’s sake. 

ALL:         Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me. 

One:         You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
Second Voice:     You anoint my head with oil;
Third Voice:     My cup runs over. 
ALL:          Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in your house, O Lord, forever.

Invocation           One in Spirit  by MK Levine                                attached     
Sing as a round

Holy Jesus, we confess that we fail to question our own sightlesssness. 
Being so sure that we “see”, we miss the truths you would teach us. 
With the poultice of your love, cure this blindness. 
Open our eyes to our own misunderstandings,
our own failures and our own faults. 
Make our “shadow side” known to us
and help us to diminish it with the light of your grace.
     For it is only when we see ourselves clearly
that we can worship you truly. 
In the name of Jesus, we pray…

Response              Give Me a Clean Heart                 TNCH 188

Words of Assurance
        Holy Jesus, you do lighten our hearts. 
You do come to us where the night is deepest.
You, Holy Shepherd, keep us beside the still waters
and restore our souls, guiding us through all shadows to a higher plane. 
All praise and glory be to your precious name.  Amen.

Response Hymn        Higher Ground (chorus only)         TNCH 442

O Lift me up, and I shall be
By faith in heaven eternally.                                                      
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

Communion Service


    Great Thanksgiving

One:  The Lord be with you                                        
ALL: And also with you.                                  
One:  Lift up your hearts.                                  
ALL: We lift them up to the Lord.                              
One:  Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.                    
ALL:  It is right to give thanks and praise.

One:     Holy, Give-Away God,*
we offer you thanks for the work you have done in our world
to keep us close to you.
We love the light you have given us through time,
and over and over again. 
The light of your love that you have shared with us
shines through each part of the creation,
in all those who have served you and revered you in the past,
from ancient times to now, and also in us and through us. 
We praise you for the gift of your son, the Light of the World,
who came to give sight to the blind and set the prisoners free. 
We offer you thanks for all of our ancestors in Christ –
people who have seen the light in their hearts
and shared it with each other and with strangers. 
Glory to You for the light we share. 
May it shine on forever and ever,
blessing each one of us with faith, hope and love.

Because you have shared with us,
and in communion with the saints before our time and
after our time, we glorify you, O Great Spirit, Most High.

ALL:  Holy, Holy, Holy God of love and majesty,
the whole universe speaks of your glory,
O Great Spirit, Most High. 
Blessed be the one who comes in the name of our God! 
Hosanna in the highest!

    Words of Institution

On the night he was betrayed,
the Light of the World took bread and blessed it. 
Then he thanked God for it and broke it, saying:
“This is my body which is broken for you. 
Whenever you eat it, remember me.”  
And likewise at the end of the meal, Jesus took the cup,
blessed it and thanked God for it. 
Pouring out the red wine, he said:
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you. 
When you drink this cup ever after this night, remember me.” 

Great is the mystery of faith.                                
ALL:      Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Gracious God, we ask you to bless this bread and this cup and all of us with the outpouring of your Holy Spirit.  Through this meal, make us the body of Christ, the church, your servant people, that we may be salt and light and leaven for the furtherance of your will in all the world.   (From UCC Book of Worship:  Word and Sacrament II)
Lord’s Prayer

    The Breaking of Bread and Pouring of the Cup

One:      The bread which we break is the communion of the body of Christ.            
The cup of blessing which we bless is the communion
of the blood of Christ.
Lamb of God

All:    Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world. 
Have mercy on us.    
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world. 
Have mercy on us.           
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world. 
Grant us your peace.

    Sharing the Elements

(Please come to the Communion Table and accept a piece of bread and a cup of juice and wait until all have received the elements before you eat and drink.) 

And Jesus said: Eat this bread in remembrance of me. 
(All partake of the bread.)
And drink ye all of it. (All partake of the cup.)  

Then they sang a hymn
and went out to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. 

    Communion Hymn    Glorious is Your Name, O Jesus                             TNCH 53
Passing the Peace

Offertory Prayer

    O Jesus, light of life,
we offer to you a little portion of our great blessing. 
Let us give to honor your love in the world,
to honor your truth,
to honor your forgiveness. 
In this     One Great Hour, let us share our treasure
so that many more of your children may see the city on the hill
–    a city which cannot be hidden by the world’s gloom.

Offertory Dedication

    One Great Hour of Sharing, O Lord God,
is our song and our hope. 
Bless these gifts to the     service of Jesus
who shines in our hearts and illuminates every  corner of this world.

Benediction (adapted from Matthew 5)

    One:      Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. 
A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”   
ALL:   Let us shine, Lord.    

 One:      Jesus said again:
“Neither do you put your light under a bushel, where it cannot be seen.”
And they answered:                                                                                                              
ALL:      No, Lord, we will put our light on a stand
where it can give light to everyone in the house.                                             
One:  “Let your light shine before all people”
that they may come into the light.       
ALL:   We are shining, Lord Jesus. 
May all who see our good works glorify God in heaven!  Amen!

* Author’s note on “Give-Away God”: In native culture here in Ft. Berthold, every honoring ceremony is ended with a "give-away" of household goods, especially star quilts and Pendleton blankets to any and all who have served the honoree during his/her life. This is to demonstrate the love in each family and its promotion as the appropriate spirit of this community. Generosity and humility are the virtues being passed on by demonstration.   It is a kenotic (self-emptying) psychic attitude which for me is also defined and taught by the life and death and resurrection of Jesus (as in Philippians 2:6:11). My theology and my preaching have always been based in God's great kenosis in the giving of the Son, and Christ's equally stunning kenotic, "give-away" life.  The metaphors match on a deep level and resonate here like a clear bell. They're beautifully parallel.  A children’s Christmas book called The Give-Away  by Ray Buckley, a Methodist Native American pastor, explores this theme.    

Hymn Suggestions
“Shine, Jesus, Shine” -- Maranatha Praise; “There are Some Things”-- TNCH 405; “The Light of the World is Jesus”-- P. Bliss from The Baptist Hymnal [1956] 88; “I Am the Light of the World” --TNCH 584; “O Grant Us Light” -- TNCH 469; “Open My Eyes” -- The Hymnal 381;  “Open Our Eyes, Lord” --  The Hymnal 383; “Be Now my Vision” TNCH 451;  “Carry the Light” -- Sing! Prayer and Praise 192; “Shine!” – Sing! Prayer and Praise 166.


Sharing the Light: Service Prayers and Holy Communion for the Fourth Sunday of Lent was written and arranged by The Rev. Marilyn Kennedy Levine, a United Church of Christ pastor, ministering to New Town United Church of Christ and Parshall Memorial Congregational Church on the Fort Berthold Reservation at Lake Sakakawea in northwest North Dakota.

Copyright 2011 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved. 


Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115