From: Rev. Betsy Jay


Date: March 22, 2020


Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ.


    Below are readings, prayers, and a link to hymns for this Fourth Sunday in Lent as you might wish to use them. Please feel free to share with others as well. Today is also known as Laetare Sunday, a day of celebration in the middle of Lent. Though the temperature is very cold (17 degrees at my house this morning) and we are “sheltering” in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and trees are in bud. Spring is upon us. Easter is only three weeks away.


    Today is also known in parts of the world (especially the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth) as Mothering Sunday. Originally, it was a time to return to the church in which one was baptized and later for servants to have time to return home for a day. Think for a few moments about the church in which you grew up and how it shaped you. Give thanks for the faith and faithful you knew and who helped guide you in growing up as disciples of Christ.

    One of my favorite websites for hymns that follow the lectionary is Sing for Joy from St Olaf College. The webcast is posted on Fridays. Since the gospel reading for today is John 9:1-41, the healing of a man blind from birth, you might look to sing Amazing Grace or Be Thou My Vision. Versions of these hymns can also be found on YouTube.


Before reading the Scripture for today, consider this prayer by St Jerome:

    O Lord, you have given us your word for a light to shine upon our path; grant us so to meditate on that word, and to follow its teaching, that we may find in it the light that shines more and more until the perfect day; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The readings for today are:

    First Samuel 16:1-13.  The anointing of David as future king by Samuel


Psalm 23.                     

    The great psalm of David. We will read it again the fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday. As you recite it or read it today, which lines leap out at you? What similarities and what differences do you find between the King James reading, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” and the alternate reading “Even though I walk through the darkest valley”? 


    Why do you think Psalm 23 is so important to so many and how important is it to you?


    There are many musical settings of Psalm 23. One, My Shepherd Will Supply My Need, was sung by the choir at my ordination. My sister sang it at the funeral for our mother. This is a psalm that embraces God’s presence in every moment of our lives, in times of trial and sadness, in times of joy and renewal. We never cease being under God’s protection, “like a child at home.”


Ephesians 5:8-14

    Paul picks up on this concept that we are indeed God’s children. The reading also leads us towards the gospel for today. In answer to his disciples question about whether the blind man was blind as the result of his sin or that of his parents, Jesus leaves no doubt. “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”


Here is the entire reading from Ephesians:         

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


    Finally, the gospel for today is John 9:1-41. A very long and rich reading about sin, light, fear, courage. “As Christ shines upon us, may we learn what pleases you, and live in all goodness and truth.”


A prayer for the day:

    O God whose face we long to see, in Christ you come n search of us, judging not by outward appearance but gazing into our hearts at the light you have kindled. As once you gave Samuel insight to see young David as your shepherd-king, as once you led the man born blind to look on Christ and behold the face of your Anointed, so now clear our vision and focus our sight that all of us may acknowledge Christ as the Light of the world. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.


    Peace be to each of you.  And may the steadfast love of God, the abundant grace of Jesus Christ, and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit be with you this day and always. Amen.


    Consider making a donation to the Dolgeville Food Pantry, Lutheran World Relief, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, or some other organization for those in greatest need right now during the coronavirus pandemic. Then, make a phone call to someone you do not regularly speak with, shedding the light of the world.


Blessings to you all.

Rev. Betsy Jay