1 Samuel 16: 1-13
Ephesians: 5:8 -14
John 9: 1-41
The gospel lesson got this coming Sunday is John 9, the story of Jesus and the man who was born blind. You have probably heard this story many times through the years, as I have, along with numerous sermons on it and many repetitions of this beloved hymn based upon it:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.
That last line comes from the part of the story when the religious leaders were badgering the man whom Jesus healed. Those leaders were trying to make trouble for Jesus, trying to get the man to say something that would make Jesus look bad. But what he told them was, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (25)
Try reading John 9 through the perspective of the man who was born blind. His life must have been full of problems. Try and imagine all the different troubles. Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come....
In John 9:2, Jesus’ disciples were speculating about whose sin led to the man being born blind. We may be sure that they were not the first people who noticed the man’s blindness and jumped to the conclusion that somebody had done something wrong. In our world today, we can still be too quick to play the “blame game.”
But Jesus was having none of it. He insisted that this man’s blindness was an opportunity to do the works of God. And he healed the man.
‘Tis grace that’s led me safe, thus far,
And grace will lead me home.”
† † †
Our congregation’s Moderator, Doris Viands received this item through FaceBook and felt that all of us should bear it in mind:
When you hear about “COVID 19,” remember this:
“Christ over viruses & infectious diseases”
And when you think of “19,” think of Joshua 1:9
[The LORD said to Joshua, ]
Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Our Central Atlantic Conference Minister and Associate Conference Ministers have reached out to us with offers of spiritual, personal, and technical support during this time. They sent me a letter (via email) expressing support for my ministry among you, and also support for our church leaders. They fully recognize that each of our congregations holds its own autonomy, but they also remind us that we find strength in our solidarity together. We are not alone. Far from it.
The National Officers of the United Church of Christ, the Rev. John C. Dorhauer, who is General Minister and President, and Associate General Ministers the Rev. Traci Blackmon and the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson published a very thoughtful and loving general letter to the churches about coping and overcoming in the time of coronavirus. Here are two excerpts from it:
“Even as churches are cancelling worship and moving to online services, the time to be present in our communities is upon us. Recommended practices of social distancing offer new opportunities for us to be the church that is needed in this time.” ....
“One of the challenges of social distancing is isolation. How do we exercise more care for one another? This is a time to consider the ways we can show love for our neighbors within the context of this current health crisis. Let's pray for each other. Let's look out for one another, demonstrate care for one another, and simply check in on one another. A phone call has great meaning and provides a lifeline for those who are alone.
“In closing, please join us in prayer.
Holy God, ever present with us, we are mindful of these times in which we live. Uncertainty, anxiety, and fear are present among us as we listen to and care for one another in these days. We ask that Your peace and healing presence be with us, as we pray for and hold each other in love. We ask Your guidance and direction as we live out Your command to love one another as we are called to love You. In the name of the one who has called us and prepared us for these challenging days, we pray. Amen.”
Let’s rise to this strange occasion and BE THE CHURCH despite everything, for God’s sake.