There is so much about our daily living that demands from us compliance. We are surrounded on all sides by spoken and unspoken rules, contracts, guidelines,
As I reflected on the three beautiful readings from this weekend, I kept coming back to the word faith. Faith in your community. Faith in your home and family. Faith within yourself. Faith in God.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,
He leadeth me to lie down in green pastures.
Arguably the most well-known of the psalms, a musical setting of Psalm 23 was used as the theme song to one of my all-time favorite sitcoms, The Vicar of Dibley, and the text has been set to music by many composers, from Duke Ellington to Bobby McFerrin. Its peaceful and powerful words have touched centuries of Christians throughout the world, and its gentle and hopeful images have lent themselves to many a funeral.
We've all been down at one time or another. From the simple to the complex; we are often burdened with the many crosses in life. Hopes dashed, disappointment, disillusionment and feelings of alienation have afflicted everyone at one time. There are many times when we all have said the words “I was hoping” only to find out that our hopes and beliefs were not going to come true. This may make us feel deceived and out of control of our lives and world. We become skeptical, cynical and afraid.
Have you ever been afraid to “face” God or felt unworthy of his love? Perhaps because you think your sin is unforgivable or maybe because you don’t think you’ve done enough to share Him with others? You aren’t alone.
There's a song called “Love Song” by the Christian band Third Day that I always think of at this time of year. The opening verse of the song says:
LIKE SO MANY, I struggle with the concept of mortality. Yet as I sat down to reflect and write upon this Sunday’s Gospel from John, I was surprised how deeply it affected me. Initially, one of the parts that struck me most is how “deeply troubled” Jesus is over the death of his friend Lazarus, “…the one you love…” as Martha described. We hear Jesus is “perturbed.” Most notable to me, that Jesus wept. A man who felt, as we feel. A man who loved, as we love. A man who grieved, as we grieve.
Today's Gospel version by John, the man born blind, starts with disciples and Jesus encountering him. The disciples wanted to know who sinned (resulting in his blindness), him or his parents. Jesus told them neither. In Jesus’ time, illness and handicap was looked upon as being from God as a punishment for sin, either personal sin or the sin of ancestors. We see remnants of this in today’s society. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard “Why is God doing this to me, why is God punishing me?”
Over the next three Sundays, we will hear particularly captivating gospel stories of encounters with Jesus. These “greatest hits” from the Gospel of John are touching accounts of people who not only encounter Jesus, but are forever changed as a result. In these stories, we are invited to find our own story and to identify our own need for Christ. I’d like to suggest a few potential parallels for reflection below:
Sometime ago on a plane from Italy to Chicago, I was fascinated to see the snowcapped Swiss Alps in all their splendor and majesty. In the Bible, mountains and hills are frequently mentioned and have their significance. They are often places where God’s presence is manifested and experienced. In the Old Testament, Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai that contained the Law. It is on Mount Sinai that God enters into a covenant with the people of Israel.