|Easter Sunday, Year A||April 16, 2017||Easter Sunday, Year A||Matthew 28:1-10|
|Good Friday, Year A||April 14, 2017||Good Friday, Year A||John 18:11, 9:28-30|
|Maundy Thursday, Year A||April 13, 2017||Maundy Thursday, Year A||John 13:1-7, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year A||April 9, 2017||Palm Sunday, Year A||Matthew 26:36-46|
|Lent 5||April 2, 2017||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A, Baptism||John 11:1-45|
|➤Lent 4||March 26, 2017||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A||Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41|
|Lent 3||March 19, 2017||Third Sunday in Lent, Year A||Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42|
|Lent 2||March 12, 2017||Second Sunday in Lent, Year A||Genesis 12:1-4a, Psalm 121, John 3:1-17|
|Lent 1||March 5, 2017||First Sunday in Lent, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11|
|Ash Wednesday||March 1, 2017||Ash Wednesday, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany||February 26, 2017||Last Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 17:1-9|
|Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany||February 19, 2017||Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Leviticus 19:1-2, I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 12, 2017||Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 5, 2017||Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20|
|Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany – Reflections on Annual Convention, Susan Tilt||January 29, 2017||4th Sunday after the Epiphany||Matthew 5:1-12|
Sermon Date:March 26, 2017
Scripture: Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41
Liturgy Calendar: Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A
"Christ Healing the Blind" – El Greco ca. 1570
Now in the Lord you are light! Live as children of the light!
Everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.
Christ will shine on you.
Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Light pulses through today’s lectionary readings.
And light pulsed through Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors, an exhibition currently at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which I had the joy of seeing this past Thursday.
Yayoi Kusama, an 88 year old Japanese artist, has spent years exploring the themes of mortality, eternity, creation, love, and most of all, light!
The exhibit included six infinity rooms that contained amazing configurations of light that seemed to stretch into infinity, thanks to the artist’s clever use of mirrors. Maybe you’ve taken a hand mirror and looking at yourself in a second mirror behind you—this is the same idea on a cosmic level. Getting to interact with the infinite light of this exhibit with my whole body and with other people, took sight and the act of seeing to a whole new level for me.
And I was going through today’s exhibit, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ comment at the beginning of today’s gospel. When Jesus sees the man who has been blind from birth, his disciples ask him—“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
And Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
These comments on the part of Jesus do not mean that God caused this person to be born blind just so that Jesus could come along and show off his healing powers.
Rather, here, like so many places in the Bible, the reality of evil is a given, with no explanation of where it came from (think back to the Garden of Eden—where did the serpent come from?)
But the fact that this man is blind does give Jesus an opportunity to do God’s work in the world by healing the man and giving him sight.
And by giving the man sight, Jesus is going to not only let him see light, but to give this man an opportunity to take his seeing to a whole new level.
Once the man goes to the pool of Siloam and washes away the mud that Jesus has placed on his eyes, this man can see, and that’s a miraculous thing.
But not only does this man gain his physical sight, but he also goes through a process of gaining his spiritual sight.
Do any of you have those new light bulbs that take a while to gain their full brightness? You flip the switch, and the light comes on, but at first it’s sort of dim, and then as the seconds go by, the light gets brighter and brighter until at last the bulb is shining with its full intensity.
This man’s awareness of who Jesus is works like that. After Jesus touches him, he can see. And at first, all he knows about his healing is that a man named Jesus put mud on his eyes.
Then, when the Pharisees question him, he realizes and says that Jesus is a prophet.
And then, when the Pharisees question him again, the magnitude of what has happened to him is coming more and more into focus, getting brighter and brighter. “I was blind but now I see…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.”
And then when Jesus finds the man, Jesus asks him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (And for John, the Son of Man is Christ, the Son of God.) And the man says, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus says to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.”
In other words, “It’s me—you’re looking at me, and hearing my voice!”
Now this man’s understanding reaches full intensity. He is seeing at a whole new level. “Lord, I believe.”
This man’s inner world is flooded with light because Jesus is shining on him.
We can take this story further in the light of today’s Ephesians passage.
This man born blind in the gospel has in a sense risen from the dead. He has been baptized in the light of Christ. Christ is shining on him. Now he is living in the light.
And that means that his joy now is to live as a child of the light.
As Christians, we are all children of the light—we live in the perpetual daylight of Christ’s light and love for each one of us who are God’s beloved children.
So our first longing and pleasure, as children of the light, is to try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord–
and then to do those things—good and right and true things.
Broadly, those things will be all about loving God with all our hearts, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Remember, Jesus said to the disciples, “We must work the works of him who sent me.”
Jesus passed through the dark night of his crucifixion and death and God lifted him up into the light of resurrection.
And that light is still shining in the world and the darkness cannot overcome it.
That light is in us right now.
As Christians, we get the joy of being God’s light in the world. And we don’t want to be those light bulbs that have just been turned on and aren’t yet up to their brightest intensity.
The world needs for us to be light! Bright light!
And we are at our brightest when we know who we are and whose we are.
We are the children of light, and we belong to Christ, who is the light of the world. And we get to go be the light!
As much as I loved Kusama’s infinity rooms, I loved the last room of the exhibit even more, because it’s such a great illustration of acting on the fact that we are children of the light.
The last room of the exhibit was set up like a small furnished apartment. There was a coat rack with a coat, a piano, a sitting area, a kitchen table set for dinner with lights hanging above the table, a clock on the wall, and shelving with mugs and glasses. On the floor were even two bowls for the pets to use.
And everything in this room was painted white. When the exhibit first opened, the room was completely white. When we came to the entrance of this room, the museum staff person waiting there gave each one of us a small page of five circles of varying sizes and primary colors. Each sheet contained various configurations of these circles.
Our job while in the room was to take each circle on our sheet and place it somewhere in the room—the idea being that each person was contributing to the color and brightness in the room, making marks of color on the walls or on any object in the room.
Everyone in this room was having a wonderful time trying to decide where to put their circles. Some people actually sat down and played the piano, with its formerly white and now colorful circle studded keys.
For me, this was the perfect, joyful ending to an amazing exhibit. I got to leave my own tiny artistic touch and add some color to those white walls. I was creating color and light with everyone else in the room.
And that’s what we get to do out in the world as children of the light.
We have the honor and the privilege and the JOY of being the light of Christ, spreading the light of Christ, and touching the colorless and dark places in life with light, lighting up the world.
And being the light of the world can be as simple as smiling at someone or as challenging as caring for the dying in the slums of Calcutta as Mother Teresa did.
As Christians, we all get to be light by trying to live into our baptismal vows—and what are the baptismal vows?
(Share in Christian community by worshipping, studying, praying, and breaking bread together; resisting the bad stuff, and when we give into sin, turning back to the Lord; telling the world about Jesus not only in what we say, but through what we do—our actions; to look for Christ in all people by loving our neighbors as ourselves; and to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Page 304 in the BCP)
And God has given each one us special ways to be light in the world, unique to each one of us.
So here’s a little activity, thanks to Yayoi Kusama, that will help us remember what we are to do today when we leave here.
In this basket are lots of circles. I’m going to pass them out.
And here is a box, painted white. Barbara Wisdom had the idea that we should have a prayer box, and that’s a great idea. So in this box are the names of people who need our prayers. You can add people to this box any time. And you can also at any time take a name out of the box and pray for that person, or send them a card, or give them a call. So take one of your circles, and during the peace, come up here and stick that circle on the box. In doing so, you will be adding your own bit of color and Christ’s light and your prayers, bringing joy to the act of praying for someone who needs your prayers. And that’s fulfilling one of your baptismal vows. Now in the box, along with the names are more circles, so every time you take a name and pray for someone, take one of these circles out of the box and stick it on the outside of the box. Let’s see how quickly we can cover this box in color!
Now take the other circle I gave you out with you today. As you go through this coming week, do something intentional to be the light of Christ in the world! And when you do that thing, wherever it is, leave your little circle of light and color, physically placing the light of Christ wherever you happen to share it!
Remember, Jesus Christ shines on us!
So God, give us the longing and the courage and the joy to be your light in the world.