Sunday, March 22, 2020

Elementary #4, Light, 2020-0322

The message starts about 15:48. The entire service is included in the video.

Praying the Scripture, Psalm 23
Message/Kids, 1 Samuel 16.1-13, John 9.1-41
Mission Moment, UMCOR Sunday video

Theme Introduction (at the beginning of the service):
Light shows up throughout today’s Scripture passages. In the psalm, we travel through the valley of the shadow of death, and we need light. In 1 Samuel, we get a delightful story about the prophet Samuel, called a “seer” in the story. Even though he is called a “seer,” he can’t “see straight.” He needs the word of God to guide him. And, yes, the word play is in the original Hebrew text. In John’s gospel, Jesus opens the eyes of a blind man who actually “sees” – more clearly than those who have always had sight – who Jesus is.

So, this week, I encourage all you kids, and all you kids at heart, to play with light and sight:
       Make silly or scary faces with the flashlight in the dark
       Make shadow puppets on the wall
       Use mirrors to move light around a corner in your home
       Take turns wearing a blindfold and guiding each other around an obstacle course in your yard or living room
       Align two distant object, like table legs or trees, with one eye, then switch eyes
       Get the laser pointer out and play with the cat

I also want to introduce you to a prayer, a way to pray the first line of the 23rd psalm: “The LORD is my shepherd.” These five words are a huge claim to make in anxious and uncertain times. When I was a kid, both of my older siblings had to have surgery for broken eardrums. Our pastor taught them to pray that line by counting out the words on their fingers, saying them as they go, and clasping the pointer finger on the word “my.” [Demonstrate.]

Uncertainty in our world – fear, anxiety
       Stores are still out of toilet paper
Pursuing a false certainty
       Better the devil you know … we say
       Last week, Israel in the wilderness – want to go back to Egypt
       This week,
             Samuel – how long will you mourn for Saul?
             Samuel – Eliab looked the part, like the current king
             Disciples – who sinned, this man or his parents?

False certainty is sometimes about nostalgia for a past, sometimes about condemnation and fault-finding. But it is always false. It is much more difficult to stay in the uncertainty, to explore the opportunities within it, and to find a way forward that is, on the one hand, consistent with the tradition or the past, and on the other hand, an entirely new expression of that tradition.

Move forward through trial and error
       Samuel working successively through the sons
       Blind man finding his way to Siloam

Move forward by talking it out
       Blind man’s progressive witness
             The man called Jesus
             He is a prophet
             Become his disciple
             He is from God
             I believe
       “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith
       so that you will have a full understanding
       of every good thing we have in Christ” (Philemon 6, NIV).

       Samuel’s internal conversation with God
             How can I go? Saul will kill me
             He’s gotta be the guy!
             The LORD looks on the heart
       “Everyone who asks, receives;
       And everyone who seeks, finds;
       And to everyone who knocks the door will be opened”
             Matthew 7.8

Move forward together
Did the blind man go to Siloam alone? Guide? Ask for directions?
       Meets Jesus and becomes a disciple, a follower
Samuel’s legacy was now bound up in David
We never get anywhere important alone
So, in this crisis moment, reach out to others and reach out to God

Join me again in reading this text from Lamentations 3 that we shared on Ash Wednesday:

21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."

Dick Woodward: “The Lord is my shepherd” (holding finger)

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