A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.

Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Prayers of the People: Un-Blinded By His Light ~ 4th Sunday in Lent '23 Yr A

For Sunday, March 19, 2023 ~ Readings: Samuel 16:1-13Psalm 23Ephesians 5:8-14John 9:1-41

  But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance of on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." [1 Samuel 16:7] 

    Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. [Psalm 23:6]

    Once you were in 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. [Ephesians 5:8-14]

  "...As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." When [Jesus] said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the [blind] man's eyes saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. [John 9:5-6]

    Did you ever wonder why if Jesus knew he could make the blind man see, he didn’t just snap his fingers or simply say "you can see now"? But then, symbolism ~ when recognized or at least intuited ~ is important even if not always understood completely. Spittle in ancient times was deemed to have medicinal properties. The mud he made with his saliva became a healing agent, and in turn, Jesus became a known healer. (Have you also ever wondered if any of the Pharisees tried this mud idea later?) 
     Jesus explains that this man had not sinned as the Pharisees who, by tradition and their interpretation of The Law, attributed all misfortune to sin. The man’s eyes were opened to sight after he washed clean ~ perhaps as in the waters of Baptism washing us spiritually clean? We are told in the passage that the name Siloam translates as sent, as Jesus was and is sent by God to open our eyes to see the light, to believe and follow the life to which God calls us. None of us is perfect but we are forgiven ~ as is David who, as we know from his later story, was far from perfect (and in that there is hope for us all!).
     The choosing of David by God, in the passage from 1 Samuel, is merely the beginning of the compelling story of this man. The "blind man" is unnamed and his story is brief, yet important, but David begins his reign fresh from his pastures as a young shepherd and has a long and chaotic life.
     The Psalm appointed for this week is attributed by some traditions to David himself, and surely, he or whoever authored it, thoroughly understood the nature of sheep and shepherding. The symbolism comes through the depth of each line that refers back to how to work with real-life sheep.* For example, sheep are inherently nervous creatures and are frightened to stampede by an apple simply dropping from a tree. The shepherd massages ~ anoints ~ each and every sheep with oil to keep burrowing insects from infecting their eyes and to comfort them. They are terrified by fast flowing water and can only drink from water that appears to be still. The psalmist asks the Lord to lead him beside still waters and the lectionary’s timing for this could not be any better given the turbulent times in which we live.
    Paul speaks to the Ephesians, and ultimately to us, exhorting us to awaken from the sleep of the darkness of sin to live as children of light, and to discover what is pleasing to the Lord. Things are always easier to see in the light though not necessarily more clearly. The Pharisees used a different lens to "see" what Jesus what trying to tell them ~ they didn't seem to get, or want to get the whole picture. God tells Samuel that the Lord does not see as mortals see...the Lord looks on each heart
    This is a good week to try to see what is in my heart, what blinders are on my eyes, and what darkness I invite into my life. I can use this Psalm as a personal prayer and plea as I speak the "my, and the I, and the me" for myself, and then I can take those personal pronouns and replace them with the name of someone else as a prayer for her or him or them any time and particularly for those currently in fear, desperately ill, or grieving: The Lord is their shepherd; they shall not be in want. He makes her lie down in green pastures and leads him beside still waters…
    I know that I have often been figuratively blinded to the true Light of Christ by the temptations and distractions in this mortal existence. I still am, at times, when it is easier to turn to the sleep of the dark than to wake and answer Christ’s call. O Jesus, massage the blindness from my eyes. It is past time for this Sleeper to awake again! I will sit at the table You set before me, be anointed by Your Presence within me, and be un-blinded by Your Radiant Light. 

*I commend to you a little book titled, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23  by W. Phillip Keller who once was a true contemporary shepherd. He unpacks all that the psalm speaks of in relation to how a shepherd cares for sheep as God cares and (tries to) lead us.


Leader:  ~ Eternal Shepherd, Merciful and Just, You chose David in his youth and us from the womb, knowing our full potential. As You look into our hearts, lead us from the blindness of pride and earthly temptation, to the clarity of eyes opened to the fullness of life in You.               

                                              O God of Truth and Light
         RESPONSE:           Let us awake!                             

~  Eternal Shepherd, Merciful and Just, arouse and kindle the inner vision of those who lead us in this World, this Country, and this Community, so they will see themselves as You see them, and begin to shepherd their own flocks with integrity, principle, and compassion. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O God of Truth and Light
                                                Let us awake!

~ Eternal Shepherd, Merciful and Just, comfort all who suffer with physical illness, fear of sickness, or economic anxiety, and impart Your calming Spirit to those who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                O God of Truth and Light
                                                Let us awake!          

~ Eternal Shepherd, Merciful and Just, soothe the hearts of all who grieve, as our loved ones now live again in the delight of endless green pastures, dwelling in Your House forever. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                O God of Truth and Light
                                                Let us awake!

~ Eternal Shepherd, Merciful and Just, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                O God of Truth and Light
                                                Let us awake!                    

~ Eternal Shepherd, Merciful and Just, amplify Your Spirit already within those who are anointed to guide Your Church along right pathways, as we walk together seeking the fruit of the light of Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O God of Truth and Light
                                                Let us awake!

The Celebrant adds:  O Lord our God, still the turbulent waters of our times and release us from the darkness we make for ourselves. Draw us to the table that You spread before us, where the cup of Your goodness and mercy overflows in this life and anoints us for the next. We ask this through Jesus our Christ, True Light from True Light; and the Guiding Spirit of all that is Holy; who live and reign with You, one God, forever and ever. Amen. 

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