Lent 4—Mothering Sunday 26-3-2017 Bridgewater 1 Sam 16 1-13 Ps 23 Eph 5 8-14 Jn 9 1-41
For the third week in a row, we’ve read an extended story from John’s Gospel. Each one has been a story of someone meeting Jesus. And for each of them, it’s a life-changing encounter: so important that they go and tell others about it. It’s as if we can hear them say, “I’ve met Jesus; he’s changed my life, and no matter what people say, I will share this. Everyone needs a chance to meet Jesus, and I’m helping you to do just that.”
Two weeks ago, it was a leader of the Jewish religious establishment; a man called Nicodemus. He visited Jesus secretly at midnight (Jn 3.1-17). Remember how baffled he was by Jesus? Jesus told Nicodemus that if he wanted to see the kingdom of God, he must be born again—born from above. Nicodemus didn’t get it then, but later on, he was re-born. Later we’d see him abandon his prestige and security and become one of Jesus’ disciples. (Jn 7 & 19)
Last week, it was a Samaritan woman. Perhaps a dubious personality in her own community, she met Jesus at Jacob’s well. This meeting happened at midday. As they talked, she came to see her own life through Jesus’ eyes. She was utterly transformed by the experience. She left her bucket at the well and hurried off to call everyone in her village to come and meet Jesus too.
Today, it’s the turn of a man who’s been blind from birth. We just heard how Jesus gave him his sight. The religious authorities feared Jesus. So they said they’d expel this man from his faith community unless he denounced Jesus as they did. But he refused to lie down and be walked over. And later, when he met Jesus again—and this second time, he could see him—he declared his belief in Jesus, and worshipped him.
So three people meet Jesus; three people who go out from that first meeting and tell others about Jesus—three people who try to help others meet Jesus – even when they’re under pressure to reject him. Nicodemus stuck up for Jesus in the face of his brother Pharisees (Jn 7). The Samaritan woman ran to the community she’d seemed to avoid and called them to meet Jesus (Jn 4). And today, the man born blind willingly accepts the life of an outcast if that’s what it’ll cost him to follow Jesus.
Each story challenges you and me to do the same – to say, “I’ve met Jesus; he’s changed my life, and no matter what people say, I will share this. Everyone needs a chance to meet Jesus, and I’m helping you to do just that.”
Someone must have done that for you – maybe your parents or brothers or sisters or friends. They must have thought, “I’ve met Jesus; he’s changed my life, and no matter what people say, I will share this. Everyone needs a chance to meet Jesus, and I’m helping you to do just that.” And then they made sure you did meet Jesus, just like they had.
It’s really important that we do this too – that we help people meet Jesus. Because people are shy. People who don’t know Jesus don’t often come here and ask us to introduce them to Jesus. Not with all the things people are saying and thinking about Jesus’ followers today.
You must have noticed how we’re called God botherers, flat-earthers and fanatics. Apparently everyone knows how we ram religion down unsuspecting people’s throats; how we all want to interfere with other people’s personal relationships, tell them who they can and can’t marry. We’re obsessed, apparently. So why would anyone bother to come here?
But don’t you wish they’d give it a try? I mean, for the third week in a row, we’ve seen Jesus meet someone and he hasn’t judged them or forced scripture down their throats. He’s simply given them his attention, his time and his love, and it’s turned peoples’ lives around – then, and ever since.
We’ve seen him do it: John has given us a ringside seat each time – really close so we can feel the peace and joy as his love prises open the chains of legalism and exclusion they’ve lived with all their lives. We’ve seen all this. So how will we respond? Isn’t it obvious? Is there anything to hold us back from sharing these stories with people we know?
People live with extraordinary stresses: people carry terrible burdens. We know Jesus sets people free from the tyranny of those burdens. He’s given us faith, hope and love – just like he did for Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman and the man born blind. We’ve heard from people in this parish who’ve shared their stories with us – and Jesus has transformed our lives too. If we know all that and we see another person struggle under burdens, don’t we invite them to meet Jesus? The Samaritan woman did it after knowing Jesus for five minutes. The man born blind did it before he even knew what Jesus looked like.
They met Jesus, and they invited other people to get to know him. We’ve met Jesus, so it’s obvious what we do next. Bring people here: fill this Church with people who have questions. We’ll discuss those questions. Fill this church with people who are burdened with fear or loneliness. We’ll spend time with them and leave off talking with close friends to some other time. Let’s help people meet Jesus, and let his love do it’s healing, freeing work in their lives.
“I’ve met Jesus; he’s changed my life, and no matter what people say, I will share this. Everyone needs a chance to meet Jesus, and I’m helping you to do just that.” Amen
Mothering Sunday Cake and Posy Blessing
God, giver of all joy:
We ask that you bless this cake and these posies,
that they may be to us
symbols of our communion with you and with each other.
As they were once scattered over our land
as blossoms and blooms, grasses, vines, trees and cane
yet are now one,
so let us in our diversity
be your one redeemed people,
and your delight. Amen.