Sixth Midweek Lent Evening Worship Service

March 24, 2021

Our 2021 Lenten Services Theme:

 “Our Spiritual Vision Problems and How To Correct Them”

God’s Remedy for Spiritual Cataracts


            Astigmatism. Far-sightedness. Near-sightedness. Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma.    Those are both the physical and the Spiritual vision problems we’ve considered so far this 2021 Lenten season.  Tonight, we’ll consider the malady of physical and Spiritual cataracts, and what God’s remedy for them is.

            When our vision becomes curved in on ourselves and we don’t focus outside of ourselves, on God and on others…that’s Spiritual Astigmatism.   We gave Astigmatism our attention on Ash Wednesday – how we sometimes get too self-absorbed, too self-focused.  The following week we considered the Spiritual Far-sightedness of Jesus’  disciples and how they (and we) at times can focus on heaven and eternity so thoroughly that we fail to pay attention to our Spiritual responsibilities in the here on earth.  During week three we say the opposite of that in the person of Jesus’ betrayer, Judas.   Judas focused too much on “the moment” (particularly on his selfish interests, and later at his guilt in handing Jesus over to His enemies.)  Judas needed to see the “bigger picture” – that God’s plan was definitely being carried out through his betrayal of Christ….a plan that included Christ dying to secure Judas’ salvation, and our own.      In our worship during our fourth midweek Lenten service, we looked at the very suspect character of the Jewish religious leadership.  The matters immediately before them (driven by their suspicions and hatred of Jesus) kept them from recognizing Jesus as their Promised Messiah.   They suffered from Spiritual Macular Degeneration.   That can also easily happen in our lives, if we spend our energies and attention on all the  things that are  swirling around us,  so that we miss out on seeing Christ right in front of us, supporting, blessing and saving us..   Instead, let’s let God’s Word help us keep our focus on Christ, regardless of the earthly chaos and distractions all around us. 

            Last week the spiritual vision problem that was before us was Glaucoma.   Physical glaucoma occurs when there’s too much pressure building up in a person’s eye.   If left unchecked, it will cause a person to become blind.   Life’s varied “pressures” and “stresses” – if wickedly  utilized by our sinful nature, and also left uncorrected by God’s Word – can cause Spiritual Glaucoma.   We can end up focusing so much on our pains and problems that we fail to see our Lord Jesus Christ is always there with us to support us and guard us, ever turning our problems into blessings.

            Tonight, we come to our final “Spiritual Vision” problem in this series of Lenten services and sermons:   “Spiritual Cataracts.”  Physical cataracts are caused by a gradual deterioration of one’s eye lens.   Sometimes cataracts are caused by heredity or life-circumstances.   Often they’re simply the result of aging….of the lens losing its elasticity.  A progressive (though not exactly predictable, as it varies from individual to individual, as well as from eye to eye) clouding a person’s vision occurs so that he/she can no longer see clearly.   As cataracts worsen, they can even – if uncorrected – lead to blindness (although surgery can usually remedy that blindness).   Spiritually-speaking, “Spiritual Cataracts” come upon us in ways similar to what occurred in Solomon’s life.   God blessed him with so many good things:  Israel’s kingship, wisdom, wealth, power, the enjoyment of life’s many pleasures, fame, and more.   Sadly, what happened was that Solomon’s focus moved away from his real purpose:  to glorify God in every aspect of his life……and into a series of selfish pursuits and purposes that – with the “damaging aid” of his many foreign wives, turned Solomon’s heart away from what should have been single-minded devotion to….and service for the LORD.    Solomon became a self-worshiper and also an idol-worshiper.   The book of Ecclesiastes seems to give us the indication that by, by God’s grace, in Solomon’s later years he was brought back to a more faithful relationship with His Lord and Savior-God.    And so, Solomon writes to us this evening in Ecclesiastes 2 under Divine inspiration, warning us not to have our vision clouded by the “Spiritual Cataracts” of life’s pleasures and priorities such that our view of God becomes cloudy…..and, perhaps, we become blind to Him altogether.



Scripture quotations in this flyer are from the EVANGELICAL HERITAGE VERSION of the Bible.  

Copyright 2019 by the Wartburg Bible Society.



Pre-service prayer                                                                                                                 Pre-service music


We Approach The Lord With Praise And Prayer


Greeting and Introduction to Worship


at the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise for


The Invocation


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


Opening Prayer


In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.   Amen.

            I thank You, my heavenly Father,   +     through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son,   +    That You have graciously kept me through this day.   +     Forgive me all my sins,    +    and graciously keep me this night.    +   Into Your hands I commend my body    and soul     and all things.   +    Let Your holy angel be with me,   +    That the Wicked Foe may have no power over me.   +    Amen.


after which, the Congregation will be seated for


Opening Hymn:                                                                   Hymn 123   “Lord Jesus Christ, You Set Us Free”


1 Lord Jesus Christ, You set us free–

Accept our thanks eternally!

Forgiven through Your precious blood,

We now are reconciled to God.


2 By virtue of the wounds You bore,

True God and Man, our hope restore.

Give courage when we yield our breath;

Deliver us from hell and death.


3 Defend us, Lord, from sin and shame; 

Help us by Your almighty name

To bear our crosses patiently,

Consoled by Your great agony.


4 For thus the certainty we gain  

That You will always true remain

And not forsake us in our strife  

But lead us out of death to life.   Amen


at the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise as


We Join in the Confession of Our Sins


Pastor: As we approach the Lord in worship this evening, let us all confess our sins and seek God’s forgiving mercy:


Congregation: O Lord, hear my prayer,   +    Listen to my cry for mercy   + and in Your faithfulness, come to my relief.    +    Do not bring Your servant into judgment,   +   for no one living is righteous before You.  

+   Answer me quickly, O Lord;    +    my spirit fails.   +     Do not hide Your face from me,   +    For I have put my trust in You.    +     Show me the way I should go,   +  for to You I lift up my soul.   +    Teach me to do Your will,   +   for You are my God.


Almighty God, merciful Father,   +    I, a troubled and repentant sinner    + confess that I have sinned against You  in my actions, thoughts and words.    +    I have not loved You with all my heart;   +    I have not loved others the way I should.   +    I have not been a faithful steward  of the time, abilities, opportunities and resources    +    which You have entrusted to my care.    +   I have not always been eager and willing to worship You, serve You, or learn from You as I ought.   +     My transgressions,  whether deliberate or done out of ignorance    +    are too numerous for me to recall.   +   I know that because of them   +    I deserve Your punishment  both now and eternally.    +    But I truly am distressed by   +   and deeply sorry for my sins.    +   And so I implore You,  for Jesus’ sake,   +   to have mercy upon me   +   and to forgive me,   +   a poor, sinful being.


Pastor: Jesus says to His followers:    “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.”    Do you believe this word and promise of your Savior?


Congregation: Yes, I believe.


Pastor: Then according to the command and promise of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and in His place, I forgive you all

your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.    Amen.    


Be at peace once more with your God, assured that you are a dear child of God and an heir of eternal life in heaven through faith in Christ Jesus.


Congregation: O Lord, my God    +   I called to You for help   +   and You answered me.   +   I thank You for the love You have shown me  in Jesus Christ, my Savior.    +   Through Him You have rescued me from the

guilt and curse of my sin.   +   Renew me now, through Your Holy Spirit    +   that I might faithfully fight against all temptation,   +   correct whatever wrongs I can,   +   and live in the peace of Your forgiveness.   +    Let my life be filled with Your love and praise.   +   Now and forever.   +    Amen.



The Order of Vespers

P:         O Lord, open my lips.


C:        (Sung)    And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.



P:         Hasten, O God, to deliver me.


C:         (sung)    Hasten to help me, O Lord.


            Glory be to the Father and to the Son

            And to the Holy Ghost.

            As it was in the beginning

            Is now and ever shall be.

            World without end.   Amen.


after which, the Congregation will be seated for


We Meditate On God’s Word


The Scripture Reading:        


The account of Jesus’ Passion as it is recorded through a harmony of the Gospels of St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John.


Tonight’s Reading:    The Death of our Savior


Two other men, who were criminals, were led away with Jesus to be executed. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means, “The place of a skull.” They offered Him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when He tasted it, He would not drink it. They crucified Him there with the criminals, one on His right and the other on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Now it was the third hour when they crucified Him. Pilate also had a notice written and fastened on the cross. It read, “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this notice, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that ‘this Man said, “I am the King of the Jews.”   Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

            When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into  four parts, one part for each soldier. They also took His tunic, which was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it. Instead, let’s cast lots to see who gets it.” This was so that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: They divided My garments among them and cast lots for My clothing.   So the soldiers did these things. Then they sat down and were keeping watch over Him there.

            People who passed by kept insulting Him, shaking their heads and saying, “You Who were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” Those who were crucified with Him also insulted Him. In the same way the chief priests, experts in the law, and elders kept mocking Him. They said, “He saved others, but He cannot save Himself. If he’s the King of Israel, let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now, if he wants Him, because He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”  One of the criminals hanging there was blaspheming Him, saying, “Aren’t You the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same condemnation? We are punished justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for what we have done, but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” Jesus said to him, “Amen I tell you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”

            Jesus’ mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene were standing near the cross. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother!” And from that time this disciple took her into his own home.

            It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun was darkened. At the ninth hour Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken  Me?”   When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “Listen, He’s calling Elijah!”  

            After this, knowing that everything had now been finished, and to fulfill the Scripture, Jesus said, “I thirst.”   A jar full of sour wine was sitting there. Immediately one of them ran, took a sponge, and soaked it with sour wine. Then he put it on a stick and gave Him a drink. When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!”

            Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit!”  When He had said this, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.   Suddenly the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and rocks were split. Tombs were opened, and many bodies of saints who had fallen asleep were raised to life. Those who came out of the tombs went into the holy city after Jesus’ resurrection and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those who were guarding Jesus with him saw the earthquake and how He cried out with a loud voice and breathed His last, they were terrified and began to glorify God, saying, “This Man really was righteous. Truly This was the Son of God.”

            When all the groups of people who had gathered to see this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their chests. All those who knew Jesus, and many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and who had served Him, were there, watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, Salome, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.  

            Since it was the Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses over the Sabbath (because that Sabbath was a particularly important day). They asked Pilate to have the men’s legs broken and the bodies taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who was crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other man.  But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear. Immediately blood and water came out. The one who saw it has testified, and his testimony is true. He knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. Indeed, these things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones will be broken.” Again another Scripture says, “They will look at the One they pierced.”

            When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathaea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews. Joseph of Arimathaea,  prominent member of the council, was a good and righteous man. He had not agreed with their plan and action. He was looking forward to the kingdom of God. He boldly went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.   Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead. He summoned the centurion and asked him if Jesus had been dead for a long time. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he granted the body to Joseph. Joseph bought a linen cloth, came, and took Jesus’ body away. Nicodemus, who earlier had come to Jesus at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-two pounds.   They took Jesus’ body and bound It with linen strips along with the spices, in accord with Jewish burial customs.

            There was a garden at the place where Jesus was crucified. And in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. So they laid Jesus there, because it was the Jewish Preparation Day, and the tomb was near. Joseph took the body and laid it in his own new tomb that he had cut in the rock. He rolled a large stone over the tomb’s

entrance and left.

            The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed after  Joseph, and they observed the tomb and how Jesus’ body was laid there. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were watching where the body was laid. 56Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.  

            On the next day, which was the day after the Preparation Day, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered in the presence of Pilate and said, “Sir, we remembered what that Deceiver said while He was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give a command that the tomb be made secure until the third day. Otherwise His disciples might steal His body and tell the people, ‘He is risen from the dead.’ And this last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard. Go, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and posting a guard.


The Sermon Hymn:                                                                   Hymn 129  “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed”


1 Alas! and did my Savior bleed, And did my Sov’reign die?

Would He devote that sacred head For sinners such as I?


2 Was it for crimes that I had done He groaned upon the tree?

Amazing pity, grace unknown, And love beyond degree!


3 Well might the sun in darkness hide And shut its glories in

When God, the mighty Maker, died For His own creatures’ sin.


4 Thus might I hide my blushing face

While His dear cross appears,

Dissolve my heart in thankfulness, And melt my eyes to tears.


5 But drops of grief can ne’er repay The debt of love I owe;

Here, Lord, I give myself away – ‘Tis all that I can do.   Amen



The Evening’s Meditation                                                                                   Based on Ecclesiastes 2:1-15


I thought in my heart, “Go ahead, test yourself with pleasure to see what is good.” But, oh, that too is vapor.   2 About laughter, I said, “Madness!” About pleasure, “What good is it?”  3 As my heart kept guiding me with wisdom, I put it to work researching how to relax my body with wine and how to grasp why people do stupid things.  My goal was to see what was good for people to do under the sky, during the few days of their lives.

            4 I undertook great projects. I built houses for myself. I planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made gardens and parks for myself, and I planted every kind of fruit tree in them. 6 I made reservoirs of water for myself to irrigate a forest of sprouting trees. 7 I acquired male and female servants. I also had slaves that were born in my own house. Livestock too! I had more herds and flocks than anyone before me in Jerusalem. 8 I piled up silver and gold for myself, as well as treasures from kings and provinces. I acquired male singers and female singers for myself, and what gives great pleasure to men—one concubine after another.

            9 So I became great, and I surpassed all who were in Jerusalem before me. Nevertheless, my wisdom still stayed with me. 10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not withhold from them. I did not hold my heart back from any pleasure. My heart even took pleasure in all my hard work. This was what I got from all my hard work.

            11 But when I turned my attention to everything that my hands had done and to how hard I had worked for it—note this—it was all vapor, all chasing the wind. There was no benefit under the sun.

            12 I turned my attention to consider wisdom, madness, and stupidity—for what will the man do who will succeed the king? Only what has already been done. 13 I saw wisdom is better than stupidity, as light is better than darkness. 14 The wise man has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. Yet I also knew that one fate meets[f] them all. 15 So I said in my heart, “The same fate that meets the fool will also meet me. So why then have I been overly wise?” So I said in my heart, “This too is just vapor.”


God’s Remedy for Spiritual Cataracts



We bring our Offerings and Prayers to our Lord


Because we aren’t able to pass an offering plate during tonight’s worship service those in attendance may leave their offerings in the offering plate by the exit door at the close of our service this evening.

For those watching this service online, we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your offerings through our ministry:  

1) You can send a check (no cash) in the mail to our church address

(415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745);   OR

2) You can go online to our website (

and use the giving option there

This Evening’s Prayer   &    Special Prayer Requests


P:         Hear us, O Lord, as we also bring you our silent, personal petitions:


A Few Moments For Silent Prayer


P:         Finally, Lord, help us run with perseverance the race which You have marked out for us.   Keep us faithful            even to the point of death, that we may receive, by Your grace, the crown of eternal life, through faith in          Christ Jesus our Lord, Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit as the One True God, for ever and           ever, in Whose name we have offered this prayer and in Whose name we also join now in praying:


C:         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.


We Leave With God’s Blessing


The Benediction


May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.   Amen.


Closing Hymn:                                                                Hymn 594  “The Day You Gave Us, Lord, Is Ended”


1 The day You gave us, Lord, is ended;  

The darkness falls at Your request.

To You our morning hymns ascended;

Your praise shall sanctify our rest.


2 We thank You that Your Church, unsleeping

While earth rolls onward into light,

Through all the world her watch is keeping

And never rests by day or night.


3 As over continent and island

Each dawn leads to another day,

The voice of prayer is never silent,

Nor do the praises die away.


4 So be it, Lord; Your throne shall never,

Like earth’s proud kingdoms, pass away.

Your kingdom stands and grows forever

Until there dawns your glorious day.   Amen


Silent prayer, Announcements

Post-service Music






Easter Invitation – Brochure Distribution NEXT SUNDAY  After our normal activities this coming Sunday, (March 28th), could you please offer an hour’s worth of your time to help us distribute Easter brochure/invitations.?   We are planning to deliver invitations to worship with us to about 1500 homes in the area immediately around our church.  We need many volunteers to do this.  We hope you’ll be able to join us this Sunday afternoon (or later in the week, if you can distribute them then), for some exercise, Christian fellowship, and outreach.   For more information about this, please speak with Pastor.


Special Holy Week Worship Services Reminder  –  In just over one week, we’ll have two special opportunities to gather together here for worship.  We urge all of you to make your preparations and plans now so that you will be able to join us for our Maundy Thursday (April 1st)  worship service with the Lord’s Supper at 7:00 p.m., and also our April 2nd Good Friday worship service, which will begin at 7:00 p.m.


Please Bring Your Easter Lilies to Church on Easter…. as we’d like to adorn the front of our worship area with Easter lilies.   You can e help us do that by bringing a lily (or lilies) to church.  Please remember, too, to write your name (on masking tape??) on the bottom of your lily.

Easter Brunch-Dinner Planned    Our Church Council recently decided that we would hold an Easter dinner following our Easter Sunday worship service.  We determined this after inquiring of the State Health Department if a dinner was possible.  We were told that it is possible, as long as we function like a normal restaurant and maintain proper spacing (which we already do on Sunday mornings for worship).   We will NOT have a pot-luck meal this year, but instead will provide all the food items through our fellowship fund and donations.   Please plan now to join us, and bring some guests too.  This is going to be the first time in an entire year that we’ve had an opportunity to enjoy this kind of fellowship.   We’d really like all of you to be a part of it.  


Whom will you bring to worship this Easter Sunday?   Yourself  (and your spouse) of course.   But how about inviting and bringing your son or daughter?  Your Grandchildren?    Your parents?  An unchurched neighbor?   Someone with whom you work?    How about a stranger that you’ve yet to meet….but whom you will meet between now and Easter Sunday?    Maybe even a member of Grace who hasn’t been in church with us for a very long time…..? 

            Many people we know haven’t been in church to worship our Lord in a very long time.   And for far too many of them, the reason for their absence isn’t due exclusively to their concern over contracting the Covid virus from being around people in church.   Because of a prolonged absence from the practice of regularly attending church services, often people simply “lose interest” in church….and worse, some end up losing interest in Christ.   

            God has put each of us in the lives of these people because He wants us to be examples of faith in Christ to them.   He’s also called us all to verbally witness to them about how essential faith in the crucified and risen Christ is for us…and for them.   After all, all of us are Christ’s “ambassadors” whose privilege it is to present the Gospel to people so the Holy Spirit can either establish, or strengthen, saving faith in their hearts.  

            There’s no better opportunity to do that than this time leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter.   So, please be a witness for Jesus…..and please invite (and bring) some of the non-churched people you know and meet to worship Him with us on Easter morning.