Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sermon: March 2

Isaiah 55:6-8

Seek the Lord while he wills to be found; *
call upon him when he draws near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways *
and the evil ones their thoughts;
And let them turn to the Lord, and he will have compassion,
and to our God, for he will richly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, *
nor your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, *
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

These words from the book of the prophet Isaiah remind us that God will not be put into our little box, nor act in ways that we expect. The perfect example of this is from our first reading.

God had warned the people of Israel that wanting a king like the other countries around them would fit the ol’ adage, be careful what you wish for. King Saul had lost his favour with God because he did not listen to God and did what was evil… now the Lord was sending the prophet Samuel to find a new king. Samuel sought out Jesse and his sons in Bethlehem to find a new king, behind King Saul’s back, of course, so as to remain alive. As Jesse brought his sons before Samuel, the Lord kept saying no, even as Samuel though surely God will pick this one.

When they all passed by, Samuel asked if there were any other. Jesse said, yes, the youngest with the sheep. David came forward and we are told he was ruddy and handsome and the Lord picked David. He was anointed in front of everyone and the Spirit came upon David mightily. The son left with the sheep, surely God wouldn’t pick him…and God chose what he saw in David’s heart, beyond what we do, looking upon human appearance.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor your ways my ways, says the Lord.

During their travels, Jesus and his disciples run into a man born blind. What did he do? Did he or his parents sin? The disciples question was certainly part of that day’s understanding, if you suffered, there was a reason. But Jesus tells the disciples, that this is not about sin. He was born blind that God's works might be revealed in him. In other words, hold on, God is at work here, don’t assign this man to the sinners category, don’t push him away…

Jesus spits, creates mud, puts it on the man’s eyes, and tells him wash in the pool of Siloam. Siloam means sent, and the blind man was sent by the one whom God sent to us, his only son. He washes, in almost baptismal fashion and he rises from the waters and he can see. All are astonished! Some aren’t sure if it is him even when he says so. They send him to the religious authorities, who question him at length. When he tells them about Jesus, they scoff at him because Jesus did not observe the Sabbath and healed on that day.

The Pharisees then asks his parents if he was born blind, and they bring the man born blind back again to talk, when he mentions Jesus, they scoff saying Jesus is a sinner. And then the man born blind gives his statement of faith: Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.

He sees what the Pharisees refuse to see and they throw him out, saying he was born in sin! Jesus finds the man after he is thrown out (and just like last week with the Samaritan woman at the well), asks do you believe – the formerly blind man says, “Lord, I believe.” Again, God goes to work and some are unable and unwilling to see it. The one born blind, though, does see, he gets it and he believes.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor your ways my ways, says the Lord.

The great thing about this is that we are given a glimpse into the mystery of God, of God working in the world to bring people to freedom, to hope, to the light of Christ! Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians:

Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light-- for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.

We have been given a great gift with the Bible in how God has acted throughout history, with our faith, and with this Church, but we must always remember to use them, love them knowing that God still works beyond what we know or can even imagine today. We need to be open to God’s work in the world about us. We need to have hearts enfleshed with our faith but not hardened by our world that wants to dictate life on its terms, to dictate how God should be or act today.

In our lives, we must be open to God, open to what God might be asking of us, what God might be doing in our lives. It is so easy to think we know what God will do. Samuel thought so. So did Jesus’s disciples. And so did the Pharisees. And yet our God refuses to stay in our little boxes; God continues to work in ways that we don’t always see.

As one author put it, “Some people have excellent eyesight but do not see further than their noses. Some have good vision yet choose to see only a little of the way, the truth and the life. And some have no physical sight yet who see brilliantly along the path of Christ.” (Bruce Prewer)

May we come to see that brilliant path of Christ and follows his ways, being open to what God might yet have in store for us as God’s mysterious ways unfold. Let us be open, not closed in our hearts or our minds in what God might do today. Praying in the words of William Penn: "O Lord, help me not to despise or oppose what I do not [yet] understand." Amen.

No comments: