Monday, April 4, 2011!

This past weekend's sermon....again, probably not word for word what you heard if you were with us this weekend...but the message is the same.

I believe the message was inhanced by the skit during the children's sermon, so I give great thanks to the four youth who acted out the withholding and the sharing of God's love.  (woo hoo!)

April 3, 2011
4th Sunday in Lent

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

Please pray with me,
 As you led the Israelites through the wilderness, as you were with Joseph and Mary as they journeyed to Bethlehem, and as you journeyed with Jesus to the cross….you journey with us now.  Guide our hearts, minds and bodies on this Lenten journey.  Continue to turn us toward you, our light and our path, guiding us every step of the way.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

As our Lenten journey continues, we are invited into another encounter with Jesus.  Another one on one interaction with the Messiah.  Last week it was at the well with the Samaritan woman, this week it is a man who has been blind since birth. 

It was brought to my attention this week at our weekly clergy Bible study that these encounters are a little bit different than our expectation of Lenten passages.  We enter this season, a season of repentance, of turning – away from sin, away from ourselves…and back to God…and God’s mission in our lives.  These passages, however, these intimate and personal encounters shape us in a different way this Lent, don’t they?

We are moved away from thinking about the traditional Lenten disciplines…of prayer, fasting (which I think is nearly impossible at Berks county, let alone at Trinity) and giving of alms.  Instead, this Lent, we are being turned and shaped by ways that Jesus interacts not only with people throughout scripture, but also looking at ways Jesus meets us here and now. 

Both last week and this week, we have these individuals encountering Jesus.  Neither one of these people were seeking Jesus…Jesus came to each of them.  Jesus came to the woman at the well.  Jesus sought out this Blind Man, well, now formerly blind man not just once…but twice. 

Jesus comes to the blind man, puts mud on his eyes and sends him away….to wash and that’s when his sight is recovered. 

After this miracle this man begins to share this story…because people see a difference in him…now he can see!  But some people don’t believe that he used to be blind…they say this guy just looks like the blind man.  Neighbors, people in the community, even the Pharisees want to know who did this to him.  Well, really people, how is he to know who did this…he was blind…and had not seen Jesus. 

How quickly the doubts and the questions and the disbelief overpower the miracle. 

Yet each time this formerly blind man is asked about the healing…how it happened does not change, but the description of who did it, does change.  We see change and growth in the way that the blind man comes to know and describe Jesus. 

It is through his telling of the story, that he learns more about who Jesus is … and what the good news is that Jesus brings.   

I think some of the frustration that may come from this story is that this man…recently healed…tells this story over and over to disbelieving crowds.  It’s as if the miracle is too great to believe.  Who could do such a thing?  How can someone who does work on the Sabbath actually do such a thing?  The people who hear this story, who see a man who had been blind all of his life, seem to keep the blinders on themselves from being able to see Jesus for who he is, the Son of God, the Messiah. 

Hearing this story, here and now, we may be tempted to say, how could you ignore such a miracle, how could you not believe?  But if we saw such a miracle today, how many of us would be in disbelief? 

I think the Pharisees capture our thoughts exactly when they ask, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 

Surely, we are not blind, are we? 

Why is it so hard for the others in our passage this day to see…to really see Jesus for who he is, for the message he brings, through the acts he does? 

Surely, we are not blind, are we? 

The Pharisees are blinded by their adherence to the rules and the laws.  The Sabbath was for them a day of rest.  No work was to be done on that day…even a healing miracle.  They probably thought, well, this man has been blind from birth, what difference would one more day make.  Since the healing was done on the Sabbath, it must be a sinner who has done this, because he has not honored the Sabbath. 
They are unable to see Jesus for who he is…for the message he brings…and for the grace of God that he extends to the world. 

Surely, we are not blind, are we?

What keeps us from seeing God in the world around us?  What keeps us from seeing miracles every day?  What keeps us from feeling that wonderful feeling that the Samaritan woman had at the well?  What keeps us from having our eyes opened like the man in our text today? 

Okay, maybe that’s one question too many…but seriously…so often we are blind to the grace of God in our lives.  It’s as if we go through our lives with blinders on…focused on living our lives, just trying to get by day to day…hoping and praying that God will enter into our world…with a moment of grace, love and hope.  Yet we are blind to the ways that God breaks into our hearts and our lives every single day. 

I truly hope that you are taking advantage of the Lenten Devotional.  Each day, someone shares an example of how God has broken into their hearts and their lives.  Each devotion is a distinct “kingdom moment”: an example of a time and place where God has extended grace, mercy and presence to different people within the congregation. 

In each of these devotions…Jesus comes to us here and now…as we share in this kingdom moment. 

And while some of these readings may speak to you, and others may not, the writers have been changed through the sharing of their stories…these seemingly simple, yet profound and precious moments continue to shape each person who experienced it. 

We may be blind to all the wonderful things that God is doing in our world and in our lives just because we are looking in the wrong place, or because we are looking for something huge and spectacular like a blind person receiving sight. 

Surely, we are not blind, are we? 

In seeing the simple moments around us, and in sharing them, we are transformed.  Our lives are changed…our faith grows as it is shared with others. 

Look at how the formerly blind man’s faith changes as he continually tells others how he was given the gift of sight.  His final words in this passage are, “Lord, I believe.” 

He has been given sight in more ways than one…he can now see the world around him, and also see who Jesus is, the Messiah. 

As we continue our journey, may we share in these God moments.  Take time to look for where God is at work in your life, in your job, in your family and community.  Then take a moment to share that with someone…post it on the church facebook page, tell a friend about it, share it with someone at work, or someone at the gym…not only are more seeds planted when we do that…but we are changed, too.  Our eyes are opened…our faith is deepened and the community in which we worship and live grows as well. 

And now may the peace, which passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and let all God’s people say, amen. 

No comments:

Post a Comment