Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lent 4A

painting by Carl Bloch

The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.    

In the story of the anointing of David the cast of characters shows proof of this.  We see Samuel who is worried not about the task God has called him to but instead about what the king will do when he finds out about his mission.  He is full of fear and doubt and looks to himself in spite of God giving him clear step by step instructions.

We see Jesse swelling with pride knowing that God is calling one of his sons.  As each of his sons is passed over, imagine his struggle.  He cannot believe it would be his youngest son that God would want.   Jesse sees him as the youngest, the sheepherder and the son of least value, this David whose heart is one of tenderness and humility.  He looks at the world with trust and is unafraid of the future.

In the story of the blind man we find people trying to look for a cause, for excuses, and to find fault.  The disciples are trying to find a reason for why the man is blind.  And perhaps they really did want to know for in those days they believed that blindness was the result of sin.  Imagine their surprise when Jesus tells them the man was born blind to glorify God. 

After he is healed and cleansed in the pool, people don’t think it is him, but someone who looks like him.  They cannot see God’s work.  Even when the man explains, they cannot see that he has been healed.  So they take him to the Pharisees.

And of course the Pharisees don’t want to see Jesus as a prophet.  They get hung up on him working on the Sabbath.  See when he spit into the dirt, Jesus had to knead it, and kneading is one of the tasks prohibited on the Sabbath.  So the Pharisees are looking to the details of the law to keep from looking at the works of God.

Even the man’s parents don’t want to see.  Is it their fear?  Perhaps.  They tell the Pharisees to ask their son as he is of age.  They do not want to see anything.

The Pharisees return to the man a second time and tell him to give glory to God while not seeing the work God has done.  The man then, perhaps in jest, asks if they want to become a disciple of Jesus.  Rather than admit they might want to, they point to their heritage in Moses and continue to refuse to see clearly what has happened.  They then drive the man away.

Jesus finds the man and asks if he believes in the Son of Man.  He says he wants to know who the Son of Man is so that that he may believe in him.  Jesus tells him that he has seen him and that he is speaking to him.  In this story it is only the blind man who sees and accepts Jesus as the Son of Man.  Even then it is only when his blindness has been healed he is able to truly see Jesus.   

Both of these stories show us that God sees differently than we do.  We are often blind.  Blind to God in our world and blind to God’s hand in our own lives.

God does not look at outward appearances, what we have, or what we own.  God looks at our heart and sees us in a way we never can.  He sees the good, the seeds of trust and faith.  He sees the ability when we see the lack.  He sees beyond what is on the outside to our hearts.  He loves us and wants for us to trust him, to love him and to follow him.  He loves us enough that he sent his son to show us the way to his heart. 

Paul’s words remind us that we are called to live as children of light.  That the fruit of light is found in those things that are good and right and true. He challenges us to find what is pleasing to the Lord.  

So during the days ahead rather than ignoring the needs around us, let us see as God sees.  Let us look beyond appearances, may we quit trying to condemn unhealthy choices people make, and let go of judgment.  We are called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, visit the prisoner, rather than focus on those things that bring worldly status to us.  Help me to find how we do that here in our church, in our community, and in our world.  Let us be salt as we share the good news of God in Christ  and give generously of the living water that pours so freely into our lives.

As we act as the hands and heart of Christ around us, may we see as God sees and find Christ in others and may others see Christ in us for that is indeed what is good and right and true.

Let us pray:
We give you all thanks and praise, O God,
for you do not judge us by outer appearances,
but make visible the secret places of our hearts
and commission us as children of the light.

Once there was darkness,

but you created the light.
With your touch the world was begun,
and when you spoke to Moses and the prophets,
you gave guidance to keep us on sure paths.

In your servant, David, the least of his family,

you saw a King who could shepherd your people.
In your child, Jesus Christ,
you gave us one whose light could open blinded eyes
and guide us safely through death’s dark valley.
When he was killed, you awoke him,
raising him from the dead.
Now he spreads a rich table before us,
filling our cup with goodness and love
that we may live forever in your house.

Therefore, with our hearts lifted high,

we offer you thanks and praise at all times
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer ©2002 Nathan Nettleton

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