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Lent 4A RCL March 30, 2014

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

Our opening lesson today is the reading from the First Book of Samuel about the calling of David, a young shepherd, to be the King of Judah. David is the son of Jesse of Bethlehem. David is the shepherd-king, who takes care of the people as a shepherd tends the flock. The theme of the shepherd-king is very powerful, both in the history of God’s people and in literature in general.

Our psalm for today builds on this theme. This is one of the most comforting, strengthening psalms in the Bible. The Lord is our shepherd. He leads us beside the still waters; he leads us to good pasture. He takes care of us. He is with us in everything we face.

Our epistle brings up the theme of light and darkness. We are called to walk as children of the light.

In today’s gospel, Jesus us walking along and he sees a man who has been blind from birth.

Note what the disciples do. They try to find a reason why the man was born blind. As my beloved mentor, David Brown, former Rector of Christ Church, Montpelier, and now retired, says, “We live in a fallen creation.” This means that the world does not operate as God would want it to. Bad things happen to good people. Things happen which are not God’s will. Children are born blind or with other terrible things wrong with them. Fortunately, medical science has reached the point where skilled physicians and surgeons can correct many of these conditions. This medical knowledge and skill is, of course, part of God’s gift of healing. God gives us brains to figure out ways to help and heal people.

But back to our gospel. It is very human to try to find explanations for things. Unfortunately, the disciples immediately go to the blame game. Aha! Someone must have sinned. That’s why this man was blind from birth, It must have been either the man or his parents. This is what I call Bad Theology. Something goes wrong, so someone must have sinned. First, remember, we live in a fallen creation. Second, there is no way a baby can sin. Thirdly, sin is not the issue here.

Jesus tells us that this situation is an opportunity for God to work to bring health and wholeness. He speaks in terms of light and darkness. Every situation of darkness is an opportunity for God to bring light and healing.

Jesus then does a totally earthy thing. He makes a poultice of saliva and mud and puts it on the man’s eyes. The he tells the man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam, meaning “sent.” and the man is healed.

Then we have the doubters. Well, this couldn’t be the same man we have seen all these years. This must be a hoax. Then we have the Pharisees, who can’t simply accept the healing with the great joy it deserves, They gave to get into all the intricacies of the law and begin a full investigation. Throughout it all, we have this man who has been healed, And he keeps saying, over and over, “I was blind. Now I can see. Jesus did this for me.”

Finally, the Pharisees drive the man out. They see him as a sinner who is not qualified to teach them. Jesus hears about this, and he takes the time to go and find the man. He lets the man know who he is, but the man has already become a follower of Jesus.

Sometimes the people who think they have a corner on truth and wisdom don’t really have much grasp on truth and wisdom. Sometimes the most humble people among us are the most wise. Good Lord, give us the gift of humility.

Saul of Tarsus thought he had a hold on truth, and he was killing followers of Jesus, He was filled with hate. On the road to Damascus, Jesus spoke to him. He was blinded by the light, and his whole life was turned around. He shared the good new about Jesus and planted churches around the Mediterranean. John Newton was a slave trader, but, when he met Jesus, he stopped all that. He wrote those immortal words which stir our hearts. “I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

Our first reading reminds us that God does not see as we see. The Lord is our shepherd, even today. God can heal us of all kinds of things. God can lead us from darkness to light, from brokenness to wholeness. God walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death and gives us courage and strength to face anything we have to face.

When Jesus sees this blind man, he does not get hung up on details or technicalities, He sees this as an opportunity to help this man and heal him. That’s how Jesus looks at us. If we have something that is hurting us or weighing us down, f we are sick, or if we need help, Jesus is there for us just as he was for this man.

So, if something is bothering you, or if something is weighing you down, please ask Jesus to help you with it. As the old song says, “Take it to the Lord in prayer.” Ask Jesus for help. He will and does help us. These gospel stories are not just for days of old. Let’s take another look at Psalm 23, page 612 in the Prayer Book.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 

You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me. In the presence of those who trouble me. The older translation read “in the presence of my enemies.” God is making a safe place for you and putting on a feast for you in the face of those who are giving you grief.

You have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over. God is showering us with abundance. Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. God is surrounding you with God’s goodness and mercy and healing and love at this very moment and every moment.

God is walking with each of us and all of us every moment, guiding us, protecting us, healing us. I would suggest that we say this psalm every day this week and that we pray for a deeper awareness of God’s constant presence and healing. Amen.

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