Sermons

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A

    Mar 22, 2020

    Preacher: The Rev. Jo Roberts Craig

    Series: Lent

    Detail:

    The Fourth Sunday in Lent 

    Year A RCL 

    I am delighted to be with you this morning during this difficult time of confinement. It delights me to realize how deeply we love each other and how we desire to be together every Sunday morning ...to pray together; to share the Eucharistic feast, and to share our lives... 

    The Collect this morning asks our Gracious Father to give us the bread of life in Jesus Christ Christ who is the true bread...Gathering and praying with each other indeed gives us the opportunity to receive that true bread...our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ... 

    PAUSE 

    The Gospel of John never ceases to delight me...John tells us in the very beginning verses that we are about to hear the greatest of all stories 

    And that those stories are about the Word; the one who brings both light and life...He is light in the darkness and the the darkness cannot and does not overcome it... 

    Then the Gospels unfolds with story after story of this light; of this man, Jesus...the Word 

    Near the end of the Gospel, John writes that he told us of the signs that Jesus did so that we might come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God , and that in believing we might have life 

    I think the sign or story that we heard today is indeed life giving... especially in this time of Lent and of confinement 

    We are a people who have so many ideas about the nature of sin...In fact, I think our sin is ever before us... 

    It causes us great confusion and we wrestle with guilt and shame because of what we perceive to be sin 

    We have not moved from far from what we consider to be sin since the times of the Pharisees 

    Folks like Brene Brown have helped us along as we struggle with shame, but we still wrestle with the whole concept 

    The story of Jesus and the blind man propel us into questioning our definition of sin and our responses to others and to ourselves 

    Most of us, if pushed, would say that sin is behavior...we are taught that very early and it is very hard to shake 

    But Jesus tells the disciples that the blindness in the young man has nothing to do with his parents behavior...the blindness in their son is not their fault 

    PAUSE 

    Sin is separation from God and the darkness of sin is far deeper than we or the scribes and the Pharisees can imagine 

    Sin is that dreadful estrangement from God who is the source of all well being 

    Apart from God, we as humans are lost and unable to either find ourselves or find true happiness 

    Behavior is an easy description of sin...But our behavior is simply a manifestation of that separation or abyss 

    PAUSE 

    God’s works being revealed in the blind man is not because God made him blind as an example of either sin or for the purpose of Jesus’ healing him 

    God’s works are revealed in the man because the man’s spiritual history gives the man a foundation so that he and Jesus can work together for His healing 

    It gives him the strength to respond to Jesus and the Pharisees 

    The healing is the very image of creation...the mud and the water or the spittle and the spirit of God bring healing and sight to the man 

    Then begins the delicious irony of the reaction that the religious authorities have to the healing itself... 

    The pronouncements of the authorities and the responses of the healed man are classic... 

    It is the Sabbath and the authorities are quick to point out that one cannot both observe the Sabbath and heal... 

    So Jesus could not be from God... 

    Then if that won’t work...this young man never was blind... so the parents who are afraid of the authorities and afraid of being expelled from the synagogue ... 

    Are called into the fracas... They know it is their son; they acknowledge that he was blind; but HEY ask him about the rest...he is of age... 

    Then begins the last confrontation between the authorities and the young man who was born blind and who can now see 

    The conclusion the young man comes to is that God listens to those who worship Him and obeys His will... 

    THAT conclusion gets him driven out and expelled from the synagogue... 

    Then He sees Jesus for the first time with his sighted eyes and following their conversation worships our Lord 

    Perhaps the final sentence of the story is the most revealing about how people will defend their own ideas even in the face of a healing sign from God... 

    Surely, say the Pharisees, “we are not blind, are we?” 

    We are created by a loving, forgiving and giving God... yet we do the strangest things in our lives 

    Condemning ourselves and others; often like the Pharisees and scribes...with absolute statements about sin and our own and others behavior 

    We play very dangerous games within society...deciding who is “in” and who is “out” 

    And yet we often fail to realize that our own heart keeps us estranged from God...our own need to be accepted gives us permission to separate from the light; from the love of God 

    Behavior can be very difficult to change at times but separation from God which is truly sin will defile us the most 

    During this Lenten period, perhaps giving ourselves a loving break from self criticism and accepting a call to be joined with the Creator God 

    And seeking a loving, tender relationship with Jesus Christ will free us from the depths of sin and suffering 

    Unfortunate behavior is the outward and visible sign of our estrangement from God.... 

    But the estrangement presents itself in our loneliness, our fear, our criticism of ourselves, our lack of confidence in who God made... 

    John tells us very clearly that the light of the world; the Word made Flesh; Jesus the Christ reaches out to us...even across the abyss... 

    Amen