Date: March 22, 2020
Bible Text: Psalm 23:1-6, John 9:1-41 | Rev. David A. Douthett
Series: Lent 2020 - Withstanding
We are still working out some technical issues as we meet virtually for worship during the COVID19 pandemic, so please excuse things like poor lighting, awkward transitions, feedback, and echo, among others. We are working on it and even getting better at it. The texts for this week are the comforting Psalm 23 and a long story from John about Jesus healing a man born blind. I've shortened the reading for our purposes and will summarize the long bits in the sermon, so I encourage you to read the whole of John 9:1-41, and even beyond that. While these texts don't directly address our needs in the pandemic, they do have lessons to teach us that can be helpful. If nothing else, reread Psalm 23, visualizing the contentment and protection the author finds in God's presence.
Notes from the Preacher
This virtual worship is both challenging and rewarding. The tech makes things awkward, but it is so good to be connected as the Body of Christ! It was lovely to start the service with a prelude from our music director Don Burgess and our organist Mark Fletcher. Thanks, guys! It makes it feel all the more like proper worship.
The spark for this week's sermon was, oddly enough, grammar. A colleague working on the John text, Alicia Carla Simpson, Coordinator of Adult Education at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Glenside, PA, was troubled by the idea that the man was born blind so God's glory could be shown. That would make God the author of his suffering, which, while within God's sovereignty, seems ungracious. It may depend on how you punctuate your translation. It can be read as it is usually translated:
It wasn't anyone's sin that cause his blindness, but in order that God's power can be shown in him. We must be about the work of the one who sent me. (not exact quote)
That's the troublesome way. But it can equally well be translated:
It wasn't anyone's sin that caused his blindness. In order that God's power can be shown in him, we must be about the work of the one who sent me! (not exact quote)
(I put all this in the sermon and you can see it in the video.) What this meant for me was that regardless of the circumstance in which we find ourselves, we need to be about the work of the one who sends us, not focusing on fault or blame.
The other bit in this passage is that while Jesus has done a miraculous healing, the only one (out of many) in the story who seems to understand the implications is the one who received it. Everyone else is too busy arguing to give glory to God or to put their faith in Jesus. Let that not be said of us.
Wishing you good health, trust and peace in Christ, and courage to do the works that give glory to God.
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