Anna's Hosannas!
Free Worship Resources for Use with the Lectionary
Lesson for Fourth Sunday of Lent 
Scripture Reference: John 9: 1-41
Theme Song for April: "What You See"
First Thoughts:  This passage plays with the concepts of sight and blindness.  It is funny and ironic that the person who seems to be blind in the story, the man with physical blindness, is actually the one who recognizes most quickly the truth of the situation - that Jesus is an agent of God. The religious leaders, the ones who are supposedly enlightened by great learning and a life committed to worship, still miss the truth.

Props You Will Need:  This lesson uses some popular optical illusions.  If your worship service uses a screen, you can project them as jpegs.  Otherwise you can simply print out the illusions for the kids to view.  Some that I found easily online were Rubins vase, the young girl/old lady illusion, and the horse/frog illusion.  A quick internet search will yield downloadable images of these, or other illusions you choose.  You will also need the popular “Jesus” optical illusion, in which the negative space spells the word.  Many people have little plaques of  this in their homes, but you can also find the image online.  Another popular “Jesus” optical illusion is an image of Jesus’ face.  Either of these is fine to use, although the picture of Jesus would obviously work better  for an age group that can’t read yet.

Teaching as a Team:
Leader 1: Hey, (name) - I have a question for you.  How’s your eyesight?
Leader 2: My eyesight?  It’s great!
Leader 1: Wonderful.  If you don’t mind then, I’m going to do a little test with you, find out how well you can see.
Leader 2: Go for it.
(Leader 1 shows Leader 2 and the kids each optical illusion in turn, except for the “Jesus’ one.  With each one, Leader 2 can only see one of the images; with Leader 1 - and the kids, naturally - having to work hard to show him the other image.)
Leader 1: I thought you said you were good at seeing things.
Leader 2: I thought I was.  
Leader 1:   That’s because in order to see the hidden image you not only have to work hard at looking, you have to change the way you’re looking.  And that can be hard.  Kinda like our story today - about a blind man.
Leader 2: Are you saying I’m blind?
Leader 1: Actually, no.  In our story the blind man was the one who could really see.  When he met Jesus, and Jesus healed him, he knew that Jesus was God’s servant, and that Jesus was a holy man.  But the religious leaders, who were supposed to be so smart, couldn’t see the truth right in front of them.
Leader 2: Kinda like me with the pictures.
Leader 1: That’s what Jesus does for us - helps us see the world in a different way.  With Jesus’ help we can see the truth in the world around us.  Others might see the world as hopeless and broken, but we know that the world is just full of God’s love.  Others might look at other people and see an enemy,  but we see someone who needs to be loved.
Leader 2: It’s all in the way you look at it.
Leader 1: One more optical illusion - I’ve saved the best for last.  (hold up “Jesus” image)  What do you see?
Leader 2: Just a bunch of lines.  But if I look closer…
Leader 1: If you look with new eyes…
Leader 2: I see Jesus!
Leader 1: Now we’re on the right track!

Teaching on Your Own:  Who here has really good eyesight?  OK, well, I’m going to check you out on that.  I have some pictures and I want you to tell me what you see. (Show each optical illusion, giving kids plenty of time to respond,  showing them the hidden images.  Save “Jesus” illusion until later.)    These are called optical illusions, because if you look at them one way you see one thing, and if you look at them another way you see something completely different.  Being able to see is more complicated than we thought, isn’t it?  Just because our eyes are working doesn’t mean we are seeing everything.  Like our story today, about a blind man.  Jesus meets the blind man and restores his sight.  The blind man immediately sees the truth, that Jesus is working for God, that Jesus is a holy man.  But the religious leaders, the ones who are supposed to be so smart, they think Jesus is a bad guy, trying to cause problems.  They can’t see the truth.  So who’s the really blind person in the story - the blind man or the religious leaders?  When we live as Christians, we’re inviting Christ to change the way we see things, to see the truth that is hidden from other people‘s eyes.  Some people might see the world as hopeless and broken, but we know that the world is just full of God’s love.  Some people might look at someone they don’t like and see an enemy,  but we see someone who needs to be loved and forgiven.  Ok, I have one more optical illusion to show you.  (Show “Jesus” illusion, coach the kids into seeing the words or image of Jesus.)   Being a Christian means looking for Jesus even in what seems to be a mess - knowing that we’ll find him.

Closing Prayer: Thank you, God, for being with us today, and for teaching us to see your face in the world.  Open our eyes to your truth, so we can follow your path faithfully day by day.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Follow-Up Lesson: A great way to follow up this children‘s sermon in a classroom or home setting, is to retell the other lectionary passage for this Sunday, the choosing of David as king (1 Samuel 16: 1-13): “for the Lord does not see as mortals see.”