Hymns and Lessons for the 4th Sunday in Lent (Cycle A)

The Prayer of the Day for this week thanks God for His mercies that are new every morning and asks that God would make us grateful and obedient in response to this chance to start again.

All of the readings for this week have to do with walking in the light.  In Isaiah 42:14 – 21, God promises “I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, on paths that they have not known I will guide them.  I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them … look, you blind, that you may see.”  In Ephesians 5:8-14 we are urged: “Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found is all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” And in the Gospel of John 9:1-39, we see how a blind man is healed of his blindness and comes to faith in Jesus Christ, the light of the world. We also hear Jesus say: “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

The Processional Hymn is the Lenten favorite: Beneath the Cross of Jesus.  This beloved hymn always reminds me that Lent really is the way Lutherans do revivals. (In order to see the YouTube videos of the hymns, some subscribers to my blog will need to click the title.)

The Hymn of the Day is God Whose Almighty Word, a beloved hymn of praise to the Triune One for bringing light into the world — both at the time of creation and every time a soul is brought out of spiritual darkness.

The Distribution Hymn for this 4th Sunday in Lent, is the well-loved spiritual  There is A Balm in Gilead.
 With Lenten hymns like this, you can see why Lent is such a real time of spiritual revival for Lutherans: By the time Lent rolls around, we are absolutely as sick of being so sinful as most years we are sick of winter. We’ve honestly been trying to do better, but we have fallen short in so many ways, over and over again,  for an entire year –even so, there is a balm in Gilead. Jesus is your friend: He died for you because He cherishes you. Of course “sometimes [we]feel discouraged” … but then we go to the cross, repent, receive forgiveness and are revived by the Holy Spirit.

The Recessional Hymn is one that I have really come to appreciate: Whatever God Ordains is Right.  For me, this appreciation has come through great anguish, bitter tears, unrelenting sorrow, and many years of persistent prayers. I always affirmed what this hymn says — sadly, unwillingly, and with what I thought was humble resignation. But I never told myself that what I was enduring might be a cross God had given me to bear as bravely as I could that He might be glorified as he worked in the lives of other people.  Never ever.  I held open that God might be punishing me for something even as I reminded myself not to make my pain the central issue in this situation, that what I was going through might really be all my fault — but I never ever thought to just relax and trust God to bring good out of even this terrible thing.  I never thought that The Potter might be molding me into something new to be more useful to Him. But now, many years later I can honestly affirm with this hymn Whatever God ordains IS right; His will IS just and holy.  He holds us in His perfect might; in Him our lives are godly.  He is our God and all we need, the Father who preserves us still; to Him we bend each heart and will. // Whatever God ordains is right; He guides our joy and sadness.  He is our life and blessed light; in Him alone is gladness.  We see His face, the way of grace; He holds us in His mighty arm and keeps us safe from ev’ry harm.  It really is true.  Whatever God ordains IS right. (And did you catch the “light” tie-in with the readings?)

I hope to see you at worship this week.

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