Formation

You Are My Witnesses: A Spiritual Journey for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

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Editor’s Note: Missio Alliance is partnering with eleven:28 Ministries to provide Lenten meditations entitled “You Are My Witnesses: A Spiritual Journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter,” by Amy Bost Henegar. These reflections began on Ash Wednesday, and are available on Sundays starting the second Sunday in Lent, culminating on Easter. We invite you to set aside 10 minutes or so to move through the meditation below. You can listen to the podcast versions here and/or read along with the edited transcription below. We are grateful to eleven:28 for sharing this resource with the Missio Alliance community and pray that it helps you in your Lenten journey this year.


Remind yourself you are in God’s presence.

Notice how God may be speaking to you today.

Let yourself dwell on a word or phrase that catches your attention or moves your heart.

Let your heart respond to God in prayer.

***

Please repeat these words:

Open my heart to you Lord

And my mouth will declare your praise

***

Take a minute to notice your breath.

Notice how God is breathing life into you at this very moment.

You are right now, in this moment, receiving the gift of breath.

As you inhale feel the energy of God lift you up, and as you exhale return to gravity, in grounded vocation of service in this world.

Just rest in this space for a moment. Observing your breath, offering your thoughts and feelings to God without trying to control or change anything.

A Reading from John 9:1-39

As Jesus walked along, he saw someone who had been blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, was it this individual’s sin that caused the blindness, or that of the parents?”

“Neither,” answer Jesus, “it wasn’t because of anyone’s sin—

Not this person’s, nor the parents’.

Rather it was to let God’s work shine forth in this person.

We must do the deeds of the One who sent me while it is still day—

For night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

With that, Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with his saliva and smeared the blind one’s eyes with the mud. Then Jesus said, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam”—”Siloam” means “sent.” So the person went off to wash, and came back able to see.

Neighbors and those who had been accustomed to seeing the blind beggar began to ask, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said yes; others said no—the one who had been healed simply looked like the beggar. But the individual in question said, “No—it was me.” The people then asked, “Then how were your eyes opened?” The answer came, “The one they call Jesus made mud and smeared it on my eyes, and told me to go to Siloam and wash. When I  went and washed, I  was able to see.”

“Where is Jesus?” They asked.

The person replied, “I have no idea.”

They took the one who had been born blind to the Pharisees. It had been on a Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud paste and opened this one’s eyes. The Pharisees asked how the individual could see. They were told, “Jesus put mud on my eyes. I washed it off, and now I can see.”

This prompted some Pharisees to say, “This Jesus cannot be from God, because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath.” Others argued, “But how could a sinner perform signs like these?” They were sharply divided.

Then they addressed the blind person again: “ Since it was your eyes he opened, what do you have to say about this Jesus?”

“He’s a prophet,” came the reply.

The Temple authorities refused to believe that this one had been blind and had begun to see, until they summoned the parents. “Is this your child?” they asked, “and if so, do you attest that your child was blind at birth? How do you account for the fact that now your child can see?”

The parents answered, “We know this is our child, blind from birth. But how our child can see now, or who opened those blind eyes, we have no idea. But don’t ask us—our child is old enough to speak without us!” The parents answered this way because they were afraid of the Temple authorities, who had already agreed among themselves that anyone who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why they said, “Our child is of age and should be asked directly.”

A second time they summoned the one who had been born blind and said, “Give God the glory instead; we know that this Jesus is a sinner.”

“I don’t know whether he is a sinner or not,” the individual answered. “All I know is that I used to be blind, and now I can see.”

They persisted, “Just what did he do to you? how did he open your eyes?”

“I already told you, but you won’t listen to me,” came the answer. “ Why do you want to hear it all over again? Don’t tell me you want to become disciples of Jesus, too!”

They retorted scornfully, “You’re the one who is Jesus’s disciple. We’re disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses, but we have no idea where this Jesus comes from.”

The other retorted: “Well, this is news! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes! We know that God doesn’t hear sinners, but that if people are devout and obey God’s will, God listens to them. It is unheard of that anyone ever gave sight to a person blind from birth. If this one were not from God, he could never have done such a thing!”

“What!” they exclaimed. “You’re steeped in sin from birth, and you’re giving us lectures?” With that, they threw the person out.

When Jesus heard of the expulsion, he sought out the healed one and asked, “Do you believe in the Chosen One?”

The other answered, “Who is this Chosen One, that I may believe?”

“You’re looking at him,” Jesus replied. “The Chosen One is speaking to you now.”

The healed one said, “Yes, I believe,” and worshiped Jesus. And Jesus said, “I came into this world to execute justice—to make the sightless see and the seeing blind.”

Reflection

We long for reasons and we look for blame. It is so hard for us to accept randomness and senseless suffering in our world. If only we can find a reason for the suffering, then we can avoid having the same suffering fall on ourselves. The people were convinced that this individual was blind because of someone’s sin—either his or his parents. And they asked Jesus, interested to see who Jesus will blame. But Jesus won’t blame anyone. Jesus will not agree that the individual is blind because of someone’s sin. Rather Jesus creates meaning in the suffering. He says, “This has happened so that God will be glorified.” And Jesus entered the suffering with the blind person and transformed his reality. Can we see how Jesus does this for us as well? How Jesus joins us in our suffering—not casting blame, when we know deep inside that there is no blame more specific than a broken world. But Jesus stands with us and finds meaning in our suffering. So the blind individual leaves, not only with his physical sight restored, but with the eyes of his heart opened. Can we also have the eyes of our hearts opened to see the beauty God sees all around us?

“Open My Eyes that I May See”
by Clara H. Scott (1895)

Open my eyes, that I may see

Glimpses of truth thou hast for me;

Place in my hands the wonderful key

That shall unclasp and set me free

Silently now I wait for thee

Ready, my God, thy will to see

Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

***

We pray today in the name of Jesus who taught us to pray:

Our Father which art in Heaven,

Eternal God, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,

Source of all that is and that shall be,

Not only Father but Mother of us all,

May the hallowing of your name echo through the universe!

May the way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!

May your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

May your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.

From trials too great to endure, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever.

Amen.1


Benediction

Jesus, you are the light of the world.

Open our eyes that we may see.

Lead us to live according to your teaching and become your disciples

That we may know the truth, and be made free.

Amen.

Until we meet again, Go in peace.


[1] The Lord’s Prayer, adapted from the New Zealand Anglican Book of Common Prayer

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