I Was Blind And Now I See

John 9:1-41The Fourth Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, March 26, 2017

“As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who was blind from birth.” (John 9:1)

So many people are crammed into John’s detailed account of the “man blind from birth.”

Please, study the passage for yourself, but make sure to set aside enough time to read it all! And if the entirety of this story is read during worship, be prepared to forgive some in the congregation. Long before the conclusion, they will nod off, scan websites on their phone, or jot a shopping list on an offering envelope.

There is Jesus (our hero), and the disciples (with their incessant questions), the unsuspecting blind fellow (who was the object of the disciples’ first question), the grumbling, bumbling Pharisees, and the parents of the blind man. Am I missing anyone? Maybe bystanders that observed the events, frowning and smirking, pointing fingers or feigning disinterest. Oops, let’s not forget the blind fellow’s neighbors and why not toss in “Jewish leaders” who weren’t Pharisees (but were still eager to voice their opinions). Wasn’t there, if only in the shadowy background, a bored Roman soldier or two? I would even think a few merchants, inspired by the circus-like events, would’ve quickly organized a first-century version of T-shirts to hawk before the crowd dispersed. By the next day, perhaps many of the formerly blind lad’s neighbors sported shirts with, I was blind and now I see!

What other verses in the Gospels appear as 21st century as this scene? Just like now, there was the buzz of crowds, twitter-like questions and answers, an innocent rube becoming the center of attention, and (though the list could expand), the incessant debating and pontificating of the “experts.”

With my faith, I read. With my faith, I wonder. With my faith, I pay attention to the man who is the center of attention, but who also seemed cast aside in the frenzy. Continue reading →

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Reading Between the Lines

Artist He Qi’s Samaritan Woman at the Well . . .

John 4:5-42The Third Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, March 19, 2017

“Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done. Could this man be the Christ?” (John 4:29)

I wonder if she cried?

I wonder if she lied?

For me, the second is easier to answer since the Samaritan woman’s (John 4:5-42) “lie” about Jesus felt more like an exaggeration. When telling her fellow villagers, “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done,” didn’t her enthusiasm stretch the facts?

Everything? Really?

On this third Sunday of Lent, and within the lengthy, meandering thirty-seven verses of John’s Gospel lesson for the lectionary, what did Jesus likely know about her?

  • She was a Samaritan.
  • She was a woman.
  • She came alone, around noon, to the well that supplied her village’s water.
  • She courageously—or foolishly, or brazenly—answered Jesus’ first question and kept conversing with the “enemy.” (After all, Jews and Samaritans were way low on the friendliness scale.)
  • She and Jesus bantered about theology.

My bullet points are obvious information. That Jesus—or any current reader or past local water-gatherer—knew that this person was a Samaritan and a woman and obtaining water at a well isn’t much more impressive than revealing the Statue of Liberty grasps a torch or the Grand Canyon is deep.

Of course, I didn’t list what Jesus said about her husband . . . nor about what he said regarding her prior handful of husbands and that the current fellow in her life wasn’t really her husband. And while Jesus’ rejoinder about her husbands’ tally may be impressive (or not impressive if your take on Jesus is that, as the Son of God, he already knew every detail about every person), was it enough for her to proclaim his all-encompassing knowledge about her?

Well . . . it was for her!

Really? Continue reading →

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Two Words

John 3:1-17The Second Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, March 12, 2017

“Nicodemus said, ‘How are these things possible?’” (John 3:9)

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. He came to Jesus and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God . . .”

So began a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, between a “Jewish leader” and the upstart from Galilee. The established order and the disrupter meet. The one with questions on how to live seeks to learn from the One asking questions that lead to living now.

For this second Sunday of Lent, did you notice that two words were absent from the verse quoted in the opening sentence?

Just two.

He came to Jesus at night and said to him . . .

Do those two words make a difference?

It was at night, while making dinner, when I asked my wife to marry me.

It was at night, in a phone call with a frightened voice, when a church member once called me. He wanted me to be with him after his house was burglarized.

It was at night when my older sister phoned and told me Dad had died.

It was at night that a nurse called, informing me that Mom had died.

It was at night . . . Continue reading →

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