Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter A. 24 April 2011.

For the audio version, click here and select Easter 2011.


Easter A.  24 April 2011.

The Rev. Alexander D. MacPhail

 

Matthew 28:1-10

 

          It happened after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning.  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James[*] went to see the tomb.  Matthew does not tell us why they went.  In Mark's gospel, we are told that they went with spices to anoint the body.  In John's gospel, as you might recall, Nicodemus provided one hundred pounds of spices for burial.  If Jesus was buried with all those spices, would the women still go to anoint Jesus?  (Pause.)  Well, why not?  This is not act of necessity; this is an act of love.

 

          Love makes you do things—sometimes crazy things.  In love, a woman of the city came to anoint Jesus' feet and kiss them and, wipe them with her hair.  In Matthew's gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that the woman is doing this for his burial.  It's foreshadowing, but still, primarily, it is an act of love.

 

          Love makes you do crazy things.  Love does not just stop when someone dies.  Nor should it.  Love continues despite the jagged edge of tragedy. 

 

          The women came to see the tomb, because that's as close as they can get to Jesus.  It's where he was laid, after his body had been crucified two days before.  Joseph of Arimathea had gone to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus.  He took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid the body in his own tomb—a new tomb, meaning that it had just been hewn out of the rock, it had not been used for burial before.

 

          Then, according to Matthew, Joseph rolled a large stone to the door of the tomb and went away.  Matthew writes, "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.  They watched the burial.  They were there for the whole thing.  They saw the body, dead.  If you ask them, they will tell you, "He was dead."  They know.  Do not suppose that they had any doubts about his death—they saw it all. 

 

          So, two days later, here come those same women.  Just to see the tomb, maybe to bring some more spices.  Love makes you do crazy things.

 

          As they approached the tomb, suddenly there was a great earthquake.  The earthquake is a sign that something of cosmic significance has happened, or is about to happen.  Something has torn at the fabric of space and time, leaving behind life as we knew it, and revealing a new reality. 

 

          And as they looked around, dazzled and frightened by the magnitude of the earthquake, an angel of the Lord in blazing white clothing descended from heaven.  His appearance was like lightning.  Everything about him was powerful and majestic. 

          His movements were sharp and confident, and he came to where Joseph of Arimathea had stood, and reversed the stone, rolling it back so that the first light of day broke in the tight, confined space of the tomb. 

 

          In the rare, sunlit space, where the body of Jesus had been, the air, still charged from the earthquake and spices, carried particles of stone dust and earth in swirls and spins.  Little fragments of stone lay at the entry way to the tomb—little fragments of stone that had come blazing into existence at the sound of the Father's word, "Let there be light." 

 

          There beside the tomb, two guards had been stationed to make sure that no one came to steal the body of Jesus and claim that he had been raised.  The angel's movements were sure and sharp, and for fear of the angel and the earthquake, the guards quaked with fear—almost to the point of death.  They were immobilized as the angel—sharp-eyed, powerful— rolled the stone away from the tomb.  And in one swift movement, like lightning, he sat triumphantly on top of the stone, and leveled his gaze at the two women.

 

          To them he said, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here; he has been raised, as he said.  I have rolled the stone away, so come and see the place where his body once laid.  See for yourselves.  Do not be afraid.  And then go, quickly and tell his disciples, indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee.  He is not among the dead—he is among the living."

 

          So the women left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  Day is dawning.  What had they seen?  An earthquake?  An angel?  An empty tomb that they themselves had watched be filled and sealed?  And what had they heard but the gloriously impossible news that Jesus is no longer dead?

 

          Running, running down the road, running in fear and joy.  Running from the past into the future.  Running from death to life.  Running to get the energy of what they had seen and heard out of their bodies.

 

          Along the way, they found Jesus, and he said to them, "Greetings!"  And the women ran up and took hold of his hands and feet.  Their hands trembled; their voices quivered.  Even the cloth of their dresses, dusty from the road, shook from the fearful shivers of their bodies.

 

          And they worshiped him.  Jesus had not really been worshipped before now.  But now things are different, and love can make you do crazy things. 

 

          This cannot be for real, they think.  This is a dream.  A wonderful, but terrifying dream.  People are not supposed to rise from the dead.  People are not supposed to cause earthquakes and angel visitations.  People who have died are supposed to stay dead, and if they were to rise, the tomb would need to be opened for them to walk out—not for visitors to peer in.  Who is this person named Jesus?

 

          He is the Resurrection and Life.  No one comes to the Father except by him.  He is the vine, and we are the branches.  He is Son of the Living God, the Glorified and Risen Savior, the Messiah.  He is the I AM.

 

          He said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." (Pause.)

 

          He's going back to Galilee; back to where it all started.   Back to the people who know him and love him, back to the poor and the lonely.  Back to the land of Zebulon and Naphtali, on the way to the Sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles! --the people who sit in darkness[†] and the shadow of death.  Their light is dawning today.  There you will see him.  

 

          Love makes you do crazy things.  It led Jesus to a painful and embarrassing death, but love is stronger than death, its passion fierce as the grave.  Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame.[‡]

 

          "What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.[§]"

 

          Alleluia!  Christ is risen! 

 

-o0o-

 

If this sermon was meaningful to you, please consider making a donation to the church where you feel most at home.

 

The churches of Beckford Parish, where this sermon was preached, are:

Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 122 East Court Street, Woodstock, VA 22664, & St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 117, Mt. Jackson, VA 22842.

 



[*] According to Mark, but it could have been Mary of Bethany.  We do not know for sure, but it is unlikely that this Mary was the mother of Jesus.

[†] Matthew 4:15

[‡] Song of Solomon 8:6

[§] John 1:4,5

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Every year I plant some seeds

and this year I planted my little marigold garden with my son, Peter.  Last year, it was daddy's garden.  Peter's garden was planted with seeds that never came up.  He wanted to know why they didn't grow, and I had to "draw my breath in pain" to explain that they were bad seeds.  

This year we planted seeds together--the same seeds.  If they don't come up, the pain will be shared.  But I hope they will grow. 

Seeds are endlessly amazing to me.  Jesus said that unless the seed falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  (John 12:24)  The seeds must be planted.  

This is a parable--a story that arrests the hearer by its strangeness and teases the mind into active thought.  And let there be no mistake that this is a parable.  Seeds do not fall to the earth and die.  Seeds die by growing old in their packages.  When a seed falls to the earth it gets wet.  When the seed soaks up enough moisture, the embryo inside the shell sprouts.  
Jesus playfully refers to planting as dying, when really it is for lack of planting that death occurs.  

Within your soul are countless viable seeds--seeds that are sown by the simple actions of speaking, writing, giving, caring.  Hold on to them, and they will die inside you.  Plant them and they will seem to die, but in time, whether you see them or not, they will sprout.

This week we remember the divine planting of Jesus on the Cross.  The Seed of seeds--the grain scattered on the hilltops which became the Bread of Heaven.  He gave his life to death and lived.  Had he never planted himself, he might have truly died.  

This is the mystery of Jesus: that he lives by dying and dies by living. 

I planted my seeds with Peter.  We are sharing their life-death together.  That too is the mystery of the Father and the Son.

 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Have you ever played musical chairs?

The music plays, and every once in awhile someone takes away a chair.  Then the music stops, and you try to find a seat.  It can be fun when the game begins.  There are a lot of chairs.

But as you go, the longer you play, the fewer chairs are available.  It's not so bad if you're not that competitive.  I was not a competitive child, so I used to be okay with not having a chair.  We played the game in church, as I recall.  And when you were out, you would go sit in a pew.  I sat in the pew a lot.

I came to realize that the pew could not be taken away; so I really didn't mind being out, because I knew I had a nice place to sit when the music stopped.

I'm glad I made friends with the pew before the music stopped.  May I suggest that you make good friends with the pew, too?

Holy Week is a good time to start.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lent 5A. 10 April 2008

For the audio version, click here and select 5th Sunday in Lent.


          Sometimes we come across stories in the Bible that leave us with more questions than answers.  I have always felt that way about the story of Lazarus.  I want to know why Jesus doesn't come to Bethany right away.  I think every clergy person has had that question.* 

 

          When I get a call from a parishioner informing me that someone is sick, and might die, I call right away—make plans to go see them and the family, if that's what is wanted.  I wouldn't sit back and say, "Oh, don't worry about them.  He'll make it.  I'll see them in a couple days."  But that's what Jesus did.  Why?  I don't know.

 

          And then there's this instruction from Jesus about walking during the day because if we walk at night we might stumble.  And I look up on the page and see that I'm reading from John's Gospel, and I mutter to myself, "Of course.  John is so heavenly-minded.  Jesus is speaking metaphorically.  Light good, light holy.  Dark bad, dark evil.  I get it."

 

          And then Jesus says, "Lazarus has fallen asleep."  And the disciples say, "Well, that's good that he sleeps.  He'll wake up refreshed and healthy."  Jesus then says plainly, "Lazarus is dead." 

          If I were a disciple I might have thought, "Well, why didn't you say so?"  But again, I look up and see that we're reading from John's gospel, and I remember: Metaphors.  They're all over the place in John. 

 

          And I keep reading along where Thomas responds to Jesus, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."  What?  Again, John's gospel.  Thomas is being highly spiritual here.  On we go.

 

          At last we get to Bethany where Lazarus has been dead and in a tomb for four days.  And suddenly my brain starts to dart around between this story and the story of Jesus.  Disciples are wringing their hands.  Mary and Martha are there.  Someone's dead and in a tomb that has been sealed with a stone.  Those are some striking similarities. 

 

          Jesus comes to the town, and suddenly we are in the funeral home after the funeral.  You can see it now.  Antique sofas with fraying upholstery set up against long walls with wing back leatherette chairs.  Little end tables sit beside the couches with painted-glass lampshades that go off and on when you touch them.  The rust colored carpet makes everyone's walk sound like fabric rustling, and mutes the wailing, warbling sounds of the organ.  Mrs. Crenshaw, who taught music at the high school for thirty-five years, is playing "I'll fly away" and "Amazing grace."

 

          There are flowers everywhere you look.  Men from the funeral home are standing nearby, all wearing the same patterned tie.  Martha has been receiving guests all day.  

          The ladies' auxiliary from Bethany Methodist Church brought a trays of ham biscuits and fried chicken; everyone's having some of it, but Martha hasn't had much of an appetite.  As Jesus walks up to her, she says, 

 

          "Well, the doctors did everything they could for him.  It's an awful shame.  He was never sick a day in his life, but a couple days ago he got up with a little cough he just couldn't shake and it went downhill from there.  Look, Jesus, I know you've got your reasons, but if you had been here, I have a feeling things would be different.  He might not have died if you had been able to come sooner to lay your hands on him.  But...you know, even now...if you wanted to say a few words...I'm sure you could do something, Lord.  God seems to do whatever you ask of him."

 

          Jesus then says something that sounds very reassuring, "Your brother will rise again."  And Martha responds, "Well, that's what the minister said, Lord.  I know you mean well.  One day we'll be delivered from this veil of tears and we'll all be in heaven.  I believe that."

 

          Jesus responds, "I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me will never die.  Do you believe that?"  "Yes, I believe," says Martha.  And Martha goes back to her house to get Mary.

 

          I have so many questions, don't you?  Why does Jesus talk to Martha like this?  It sounds reassuring, but then again it sounds kind of weak, too, don't you think?  He seems to be promising something, but he doesn't get specific.  He doesn't say, "I've come to raise him from the dead."  Why not?

 

          So Jesus and his disciples come over to the tomb.  Martha has gotten Mary and they run out to the tomb to meet up with Jesus.  Along with Mary and Martha are the people who had been consoling them.  And as Jesus approaches, Mary falls at Jesus' feet and says, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

 

          Now listen closely to this.  Listen very closely.  I'm going to quote directly from John's Gospel, "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was—are you listening?— greatly disturbed in the spirit and deeply moved."  In the Greek, the words come closer to saying, "He was moved to the core of his being."  That's pretty serious.

 

          Jesus asks, "Where have you laid him?"  (Sound familiar?  Those would be the words of Mary Magdalene when she came to Jesus' tomb, "Where have you laid him?")  And they said, "Lord, come and see."  And as Jesus starts heading over to the tomb, we have recorded the shortest verse of scripture in the entire New Testament—actually in the whole Bible.  John 11:35.  In the King James version, it is simply: "Jesus wept."  Here we have it as, "Jesus began to weep."

 

          We know how the story ends right?  Jesus says, "Lazarus come forth," and out he comes.  Do you know follows in John's gospel?  It's like immediate foreshadowing.  Following these events the wheels are set in motion for Jesus' eventual crucifixion. 

 

          But let's back up to Jesus at the tomb.  The big question that hangs out there is why Jesus wept.  It's confusing.  If Jesus knows that when he calls Lazarus he'll come out and be alive again, why is he overcome by emotion?  Was he so caught up in the emotion of the moment?  Everyone else is crying, shouldn't he be crying. too?  I suppose.  It would make sense that he was being appropriate to the situation.  It might seem cold-hearted if he didn't.  But I don't buy that.  I don't think Jesus was bowing to peer pressure. 

 

          Maybe it's because Jesus was sharing their grief.  In other words, even though he knew that Lazarus would be raised, he was still willing to cry with the mourners.  Well, I like that.  I like that Jesus is willing to cry with us when we are mourning.  And I think he does, but I'm not sure that's the whole story.

 

          Again, look at where this comes in John's Gospel!  And remember that we are reading from the most "spiritual" gospel of the four.  After this account, the clock starts ticking on the crucifixion.  Jesus' betrayal and arrest are right around the corner.  I wonder if maybe Jesus wept for two reasons.  I wonder if he was weeping out of sympathy for the mourners, but also out of the knowledge that he was watching the people mourn who would also shortly be mourning his own death. 

 

          I wonder if the emotion that brought Jesus to tears was knowing what was coming next, and seeing everything from this side of the tomb: the rock, the mourners, the hopeless look in their faces.  We can't know for sure, but we can certainly imagine that to be true.

 

          We've got another week of Lent ahead of us, but next Sunday will be the Sunday of the Passion.  We will inaugurate another Holy Week—the week of the Christian year when we draw aside to remember the last days of Jesus' earthly life.  During Holy Week, we will have liturgies on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.  They are the most fulfilling and moving services of the year, and yet many Christians don't come to them.

 

          So let me place them in context.  During Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday: Mary, Martha, Peter, James, and John, Philip, Mary Magdalene, are all going to be sitting in this church.  They will be sitting here in these pews weeping, and praying.  They will be remembering this man who wept with them at the tomb of Lazarus, and who was handed over to a brutal and humiliating death. 

           When I ask you to come to Holy Week services, what I'm asking you to do is to come in here and hold their hands.  Mary will be weeping uncontrollably.  Peter will not know how to tell you how bad he feels about denying Jesus just before the rooster crowed.  Martha will be sitting here in stunned silence, wondering why in the world he couldn't save himself, like he saved Lazarus. 

           I'm not asking for much, folks.  I'm just asking you to come in here and weep with them, and pray with them, and let them know that you love them.  My guess is that if you are willing to spend that time with them, they might show you a thing or two about this man we call "The Savior."  We might learn something about what it means to be an authentic Christian.  But even if we don't feel any differently than we did before, at least we can hold their hands and remember their grief.  It's the least we can do. 

 

          If we can hold their hands at the crucifixion, they'll hold ours.

 

 

-o0o-

 

 

If this sermon was meaningful to you, please consider making a donation to the church where you feel most at home.

 

The churches of Beckford Parish, where this sermon was preached, are:

Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 122 East Court Street, Woodstock, VA 22664, & St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 117, Mt. Jackson, VA 22842.

 



Adapted from Lent 5A. 9 March 2008.

 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lent 4A. 3 April 2011.

For the audio version, click here and select 4th Sunday in Lent.

 

          A couple Sundays ago I was preaching about Nicodemus, and you might recall, that story was found in John's gospel.  On of the parts of that story that I said was interesting is that Nicodemus says to Jesus, "No one can do these signs that you do…"  And Jesus responds, "Truly I tell you, no one can see…"

 

          Much of John's gospel is about signs.  Signs are John's word for miracles.  In fact, Father Raymond Brown, a Roman Catholic New Testament scholar, referred to John's Gospel as two books—he calls them "The Book of Signs," chapters 1-12; and then chapters 13-20 he calls "The Book of Glory."  For John, there seem to be these two categories of Jesus's work, giving signs that God has come among us, and then the glory is the suffering, death, and resurrection.  Actually the crucifixion is the ultimate glorification of Jesus, for John.

 

          But though Lent culminates with the crucifixion in Holy Week, but we are preparing for it with a little time in the Book of Signs.  Before we look more closely at the lesson for today—the healing of the man born blind—I would like to back up just a bit to remind you of the Prologue to John's Gospel.  It is one of the most beautifully written treasures in our Bible.  So often it is enjoyed simply for its beauty, but John is conveying some very important information about his Gospel in these first verses.  (Pew Bible pg. 862)  I want to read starting at verse 10, and the "he" is, of course, Jesus. 

 

"He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.  He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth."

 

          Again, this is the Prologue, the first words—the explanation of what is to follow—and this sheds quite a bit of light on all of the Book of Signs.  That Jesus was in the world and yet the world did not know him.  His own people did not accept him.  But for those who did accept him, and believed, he gave them power to become children of God—like he was.   And by accepting him—or receiving him—we have seen his glory.  Unlike those who did not accept him or receive him, and did not see his glory.  So John is telling us: "Okay, dear readers…this book is about how some people could see and understand, and others were blind and confused. 

 

          Now, with that in mind let us turn our attention to today's lesson.  The story is forty verses long.  Only the first seven verses are about the healing.  Jesus sees a blind man, walks over to him, spits on the ground, makes mud, applies it to the mans eyes, and when the man washes the mud off, he can see.  The rest of the story is about the confusion.

 

 

          The neighbors of the man who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, "Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?"  Some said, "Yes;" others said, "No…that's someone else."  And the man himself kept saying, "I am the guy!  It's me.  You know me."

 

          But they said, "We don't know you.  We know a blind man.  How can you see?"  So the man tells the story about the mud and washing.  So they brought the man to the Pharisees—likely meaning some of the rabbis.  And it's at this point that we learn that this happened on a Sabbath day. 

 

          God spake these words to Moses: "Six days you shall labor, but the seventh day shall be a day of rest."  The Sabbath is to remind us that God is only one who has the ultimate control of things.  We do not lay our hands to work on the Sabbath day.  We are creations, not the Creator. 

 

          Jesus restores the sight of a man on a day of rest.  The sign points to the truth.  Remember the Prologue, "He was in the beginning with God, all things came into being through him and without him, nothing made was made."  The sign points to the fact that Jesus is One with the Creator. 

 

          So the Pharisees ask the man to repeat his story to them, and they were divided.  Some said, "This man is not from God because he violated the Sabbath."  Others said, "Well, now…wait a minute…how could a sinner perform such signs?"  So they asked the man who had been blind what he thought.  The man said, "He's a prophet." 

 

 

          Well, that didn't answer anything.  Prophets are a dime a dozen.  Prophets are human beings.  Prophets tend to color outside the lines anyway.  What can you do?  A man sits in the synagogue and decides he's called of God, and because he's not born to the right family, or he started too late in life, he can't become a rabbi, so out he goes to preach.  You can't stop them.  They're all over the place.

 

          So they go to the man's parents.  "Is this your son, who you say was born blind?"  How then does he now see?"  And they said, "Yeah…well…yeah.  This is our son.  Yes, he was blind from birth.  But..you know, we weren't actually there.  I mean, you know, we didn't actually see who did it.  Uhm…  You know, he's old enough now, he can speak for himself…"

 

          The parents were scared.  They didn't know what to make of it.  And besides that, if they indicate Jesus, they could be put out of their synagogue.  Getting thrown out of the synagogue is not like getting thrown out of church.  If you get thrown out of church, you go to another church, but if you get thrown out of the synagogue, that will stay with you.  If you go to another synagogue, they will want to know where you are from and it doesn't take long to find out what happened.

 

 

 

          So they started talking to the man again, "You need to give glory to God for this, because we know….  Five will get you ten… this man who did this to you….  I mean, sure it's nice to be able to see, but you've got to understand…the man who did this is, you know…a sinner."

 

          The man said, "I don't know if he is a sinner or a prophet or a what.  The only thing I know is this:  I was born blind, and now I can see."

 

 

          So they said, "All right, all right.  Let's just back this up a little bit and start again.  Just take it nice and slow, and tell us again, what did he do to you?"   The man said, "Look, I have told you twice now.  Do you want to become his disciples?"

 

          And that really got them riled.  "Uhhh!  You're the disciple!  You're the one who is talking about him!  We're just trying to figure out what's going on here!  Get a load of this nut-job.  Disciples!  Phffft!  We are disciples of Moses and the Torah.  Moses we know.  This guy?  Who is he?  Where does he come from?"  (Pause.)

 

          "Jesus was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.  He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him."

 

          The man said to the Pharisees, "This is truly amazing.  You don't know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.  We know that God doesn't do signs through sinners, but God does listen to the faithful.  Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.  If the man who healed me were not from God, he could not have done what he did."

 

          And they got hopping mad.  And they drove him out.  And Jesus heard that the man had been driven out and he came to him and said, "Do you believe in me?"  And the man said, "Yes."  And Jesus said, "I came into this world for a judgment so that those who do not see, may see; and those who think they can see may become blind."

 

          The Pharisees overheard Jesus say this, and they said, "Surely we are not the blind ones, are we?"  Jesus responded, "You think you can see, so you're blind.  But if you would only open your eyes to what is going on here… If you could only look at what the sign points to you would be able to see that God is in your midst."  (Pause.)

 

          The inability of the Pharisees to see is not really that surprising.  It's a recurring theme in the Gospels.  So much of their inability is born of their desire to keep control of the things of God, and in their society, that would have been very understandable.  Religion has always had a tricky relationship with politics and government.  The Pharisees are trying to preserve an orderly and devout society.  But that spills over far too easily into attempts to hold on to power for its own sake.

 

          They want to know "how it works," partly because they want to make it work for them.  The healing benefits the man, but it doesn't benefit the healer—which is also part of the point of this story. 

 

          The real power here is the ability of Jesus to care for that man.  And before you shake that thought aside and say, "Oh, sure…care is great.  I care about people too…"  Well now, wait a minute.  Why do you care?  Do you care because it's the right thing to do?  Do you care because you've been taught to care?  Do you care because when the person sees you caring, they will care for you, too?  Or…  Follow me here… Or do you care simply because you care?

 

          It is a very rare and beautiful thing to find someone caring for no reason other than the purest concern for someone else.  What Jesus called, "Loving your neighbor as yourself," but even further than that: loving them simply because you just do.

 

          When the motivation to heal and reconcile and redeem comes from a place of deep, authentic love...  Well…now we're approaching something that is very very powerful.  Because when you give or receive that kind of love, it will transform you.  It is that righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees.

 

          If the Pharisees had heard of the man's sight being restored and had simply delighted in the man's recovery—recognizing the joy of that moment, the restoration of life, and the presence of God's grace moving among them—they would have seen who Jesus is. 

 

          The man's sight was restored because God became flesh and dwelt among us.  Pitched his tent beside us.  Spat in the dirt, made mud, and breathed into his nostrils a new creation. 

 

          That's how it works.  You simply lay aside every reason other than the purest reason of all—that someone who cannot see or eat or live should see and eat and live. 

 

          You can also spit in the dirt and make mud and get yourself all over messy with humanity—just trying to bring a little redemption to a fallen world.  And people will—through you, if your motives are pure—receive their sight.  The lame will walk.  The deaf will hear.  Lepers will be cleansed.  The poor will have hope.  All because the Word became flesh—the Torah, the teachings, of Jesus Christ became alive in your flesh and your bones. 

 

          You won't be able to explain it any better than that.  No one can. 

 

 

-o0o-

 

 

If your heart was moved by this sermon, then let the Word become flesh.  Please give with generosity to those in need, and to those churches where the Gospel is faithfully preached.

 

Episcopal Relief and Development Fund

Er-d.org

 

The churches of Beckford Parish, where this sermon was preached, are:

Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 122 East Court Street, Woodstock, VA 22664, & St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 117, Mt. Jackson, VA 22842.