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Lent Day 27

Man Healed of Blindness, John 9:1-25

This passage is an exceptional example of storytelling. The conversations and interaction between the characters are so believable. The neighbors’ comments (Is that him? No, just someone who looks like him); the Pharisees’ questions (One more time, how did you get your sight back?); his parents refusal to get caught in the middle (He is of age; ask him); and the poor blind man’s frustration (I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again?). Many of us have heard this type of discussion before or been involved it ourselves.

I love the way the devotion speaks to the man’s blindness. Because he couldn’t ‘look’ at others, he was always over ‘looked’. We often forget that those with disabilities have emotions and intellect that are fully functional even though one aspect of their physical being is not. His blindness gave him the super power of being invisible, but he could never turn it off.

The big question that started this whole discussion gets lost in all the details of this conversation. Who sinned? How did this unfortunate situation come about? As humans, we are curious to figure out the cause when we see the effect. There should be a reason, and the greater the effect that we can see, the greater the cause must be. Yet here Jesus basically replies, the only cause may be so that God’s works will be revealed.

That answer is usually not good enough when we or someone we love goes has a permanent disability or goes through painful situations (let God use someone else so that God’s works may be revealed, not me or those I love). Christianity is a revealed religion, not a reasoned religion. You cannot reason your way into understanding God’s plan because on the surface, it does not make sense. If we must have a reason for everything that happens in life, then the Christian walk will be very frustrating for us. That is why faith is so important — faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Faith cannot be reasoned, it can only be offered and when faith is offered, revelations (revealed wisdom) comes.

May each of us have the sight to see the Spirit working in our lives so that God’s works and wonders may be revealed.

Lent Day 26

John, Luke 9:28-36

This reflection is just for fun. Nothing too serious or heavy, because Sunday is a feast day not a fast day, especially during Lent.

30 “Suddenly the disciples saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to Jesus.”
Let me ask you a question – how did those three disciples know that the two men talking to Jesus were Elijah and Moses? Did Moses and Elijah have on name tags? Was it their accents or their old-fashioned clothes that gave them away? To the best of my knowledge there were no cameras in 1200 BCE when Moses was leading the people out of Egypt, and no cell phones snapped pictures of Elijah whipping up on the 400 prophets of Baal. If the Israelites looked and dressed so much alike that the only way to identify Jesus in a crowd was by giving him a kiss, then how could Peter, John or James have known who the two men in the vision were?

The scriptures reveal God’s plan for the world but also God’s sense of humor too. Smile & Laugh, God loves you.

Lent Day 25

Peter, Matthew 16:13 – 28

A pivotal moment, a pivotal statement. Peter and Jesus have grown so close. When Jesus asks the million-dollar question (who do you say I am?), Peter is the first to speak up and he gets it right. All the time they have spent together has finally paid off. Peter gets it; he gets the whole ‘God with us’ thing. This is going to be good! This is what they all have been waiting for. But when Jesus talks about the rest of his mission, Peter says No! He is not about to lose his friend now, and this is not what the whole ‘God with us’ thing is supposed to be about.

We don’t want those we love to suffer, do we? We only want their future filled with opportunities and accomplishments, hope and possibilities. But sometimes life doesn’t work out that way. Jesus chose the life of a soldier, someone who put himself in complete obedience to God’s will. Where God said go, Jesus went. What God said do, Jesus did. We all know there’s a price for following our convictions even if it’s nothing more than standing up for our political candidate on the internet. Choices have consequences.

To put ourselves under God’s authority, to choose to follow Jesus all the way to the cross has consequences, as Peter found out all too well. Like Peter, we will falter and deny Jesus at some point along the path but that does not have to mean that our faith journey is ‘Game Over’. Not by a long shot. The important thing is to do what Peter did — get up and get back on path.

We do not want those we love to suffer but both Jesus and Peter show us that suffering and blessing can coexist together. As long we are on this side of heaven, they always will.

Lent Day 24

Canaanite Woman, Matthew 15:21 – 28

This passage bothers me and it bothers a lot of people. There isn’t another passage like this in the gospels. A woman comes to Jesus and pleads for the life of her sick child. This is not a new request – we have seen many like this but here Jesus acts as if he doesn’t even see this woman. He hasn’t ignored anyone in any other story, yet there she is, a desperate mother who is treated as if she is invisible to ‘Emmanuel’ – God with us. (OK, who are you and what have you done with our Jesus?!?)

As a woman and a parent, this touches my deepest fears because there is no way to explain away this slight. We can’t say it was because she was not a Jew or that it went against social customs; Jesus has crossed all kinds of social boundaries and healed plenty of folks who weren’t Jewish. Is God fickle? Are there limits to God’s mercy and who gets them? When will I, or someone I love, move onto God’s black list as this woman apparently has?

We all know what it is like to feel invisible; to be treated as if we are not important and don’t count. I cannot explain why this woman is treated so badly but the Canaanite woman is undeterred. She does not object to God’s having mercy on other people, in fact it gives her hope. Mercy may begin with the ‘chosen’ people, but this woman truly believes it cannot end there. She is smartest enough to know that there is no end to commodities like hope, love, joy and mercy, regardless of how it may appear on the surface. This woman comes to Jesus with the unshakable faith that there is enough of God’s mercy for her daughter and for herself, even if it is just a scrap that someone else rejected. Wow.

Holy One, when I feel invisible, even to you, increase my faith and multiply my persistence.

Lent Day 23

Young Boy, John 6:1-14

I have been fighting with this devotion all day. I did not want to give in and seem like I was a ‘there aren’t any miracles that can’t’ be explained’ groupie. The feeding of the 5,000 is only miracle story that happens in all four Gospels so it is too important to dismiss. I believe in miracles, and mystery, and awe but God wanted this devotion to go a different way. So here we go.

Obviously, we have a tough situation. Jesus has been teaching and the crowd hasn’t moved; they are willing to keep listening as long as he will keep talking. But the human condition kicks in and they want more than just spiritual food. Jesus has filled their minds with words and wisdom, but these folks desperately need something in their stomachs. After checking one available resource, that of the young boy, Andrew states unequivocally that there is no way that this is going to work. Too much of a need; too few resources. End of sentence.

Boy, we know that feeling all too well. We probably feel that way about many of the situations in our lives and our world today. Much like the 2 fishes and 5 loaves, we don’t have enough to meet our own needs, much less tackle the needs of 4,999 others. Once again, we need to be reminded that in the hands of Jesus, little becomes much, and a few can become the many. And when Jesus is involved, there is usually extra to spare (think water to wine with tons left over). But to make the overflow happen, we all must play our part. We may have to be the first to step up but when we do, we will not find ourselves standing solo for long.

Maybe that is how this miracle occurred; that after the young boy offered his meager meal, that others had the confidence to offer their meager portions as well. When everyone pulled their resources together, there was plenty for all and even some to spare. And that’s OK. Take confidence that God is still working miracles – through us!