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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
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Lent 4A March 26, 2017

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

Our opening reading today tells the story of how God led Samuel to anoint David as King. David, the youngest, the shepherd, had to be called in from the fields. But he was the one God had called. For me this Lent, the key thought in this passage is, “…for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Our psalm for today is one of the most powerful and inspiring and beloved of all the psalms. Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and he will lead us to still waters and nourishing pastures. We have nothing to fear. He will lead us every step of the way into eternal life.

In our reading from Ephesians, we are encouraged to live as people of the light.

Once again, I would like to focus on today’s gospel because it has so much to teach us. Jesus is walking along with the disciples, and they meet a man who has been blind from birth. Immediately they ask Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”

It is so human that when something bad happens, we want to find someone to blame. Who sinned, this man or his parents. First of all, there is no way that a baby can sin. Secondly, we live in a fallen creation. Bad things happen to good people. So the disciples are asking the wrong question. Sometimes, in our effort to understand something, we do that. We ask the wrong question. We want to find an answer because that gives us some sense of control. We want to be able to say, “That’s what caused it.”

With the state of science in the time of Jesus, even if there was a cause for this man’s blindness, the people of that time probably would not have been able to find it. Perhaps it was some genetic problem. Perhaps it was something that happened during birth which would have been a tragic accident, but with the state of medicine and surgery at that time, nothing could have been done. Sometimes asking why something tragic has happened can lead us down into a pit of hopeless futility.

As Christians, we are called to focus on the attitude of our Lord. What does he say? Neither the man nor his parents sinned. This is an opportunity for us to work with God and bring light and hope into this man’s life. We are not going to dither and worry about why it happened. We are going to make this man whole.

What does Jesus do? He makes a poultice. He spits on the ground and makes a little mud pie with the dirt and spreads the mud on the man’s eyes. Then he tells him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. The man follows the directions to the letter and comes back able to see.

In times gone by, people would make poultices to heal all kinds of things. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “poultice” in this way: “A soft, usually heated and sometimes medicated mass, spread on cloth and applied to sores or other lesions.” In the fourteenth century, an anonymous mystic and spiritual guide wrote, “Take the good gracious God just as he is, as plain as a common poultice, and lay him to your sick self just as you are.”

What a wonderful thought—take the Good gracious God and lay God on our human and limited and hurting self like a common poultice.

Jesus puts a poultice on the man and cures him. The man can see. But the people around him are not convinced. They interrogate him. Then they take him to the ultimate authorities, the Pharisees, who interrogate him some more. Then they question his parents. On and on it goes. For this man, it is very simple; he was blind and now he can see. We hear these words in that wonderful hymn, “Amazing Grace” by John Newton, who wrote, “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” He left the slave trade, a man transformed. The man in our gospel, who was blind from the day he was born, can now see, thanks to Jesus. But many people do not want to believe this good news. They even accuse Jesus of being a sinner.

All during these interrogations and the continuing harassment from the Pharisees, who are in positions of great power, this unnamed man shows great courage. He never stops stating the facts—“The man put mud on my eyes, then I washed, and now I see.” Finally,  after demeaning and insulting him, they actually chase the man out of town.

Jesus hears about this and goes back to see this man he has healed.

They have a conversation. The man realizes that Jesus is the Savior and becomes one of his disciples. This humble and courageous man who has a disability which has put him on the margins of society, can see who Jesus is. But the learned and respected Pharisees, who have so much power, abuse the man and his parents, and fail to see the reality of Jesus.

Once again, our Lord has a healing encounter with a humble and courageous person who is open to Jesus’ transforming power.

Once again, we see the healing and transforming power of Jesus’ love.

“Take the good gracious God, just as he is, as plain as a common poultice and lay him to your sick self, just as you are….Nothing matters now except that you willingly offer to God that blind awareness of your naked being in joyful love, so that grace can bind you and make you spiritually one with the precious being of God, simply as he is in himself.” (The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counseling, Trans. William Johnston, Image Books, p. 153.)

Amen.

 

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