1 Samuel 16: 1-13, Ephesians 5: 8-14, John 9: 1-41
The closing words from today’s readings from Ephesians and Psalm 23 “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” and “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever”
Christ has told us that “He came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind”
A four year old boy was woken in the night and told to run through the paddocks to the neighbour’s house four kilometres away and he can always remember leaving, but never arriving. That night a little light inside of him went out and though time passes, he still runs through those paddocks, leaving but never arriving and wonders of that goodness and mercy that was meant to follow him all the days of his life.
A mother hears the news that her son was found in a dead end road where the only sound was the birds chirping and the echo of a rifle bullet and that morning a little light inside of her was lost.
We stand by the bedside as our loved ones suffer in silence and a little light goes out. We see the atrocities of this world, the wars, the hunger and the injustice. We see the homeless, the abused and a body lying on a park bench next to an empty bottle and that light inside of us flickers perilously as we wonder of where their goodness and mercy was to be found.
And then one of those running from but never arriving stumbles towards those in the house of God only to meet with ridicule, judgement and accusation and to find that for them, there is no light to be found.
During the height of Communism’s campaign against religion in Russia, Easter sunrise services of the church were replaced with Sunrise Communist Rallies, which all people of a community were requested to attend. At one such meeting, as the rally was drawing to a close, a Communist leader asked the crowd of 10,000 if there was anything else anybody wanted to say. Nobody moved during a long silence. But then a teenage boy came forward to speak at the microphone. The leader warned the boy, “You must only tell the truth (meaning the communist truth-the theme of the rally). If you don’t, you will be shot on the spot.” As the boy stood on the podium he was flanked by soldiers, some with rifles pointed at his head. After a moment of silence he stood tall, and taking a deep breath shouted loud and clear, “Christ is risen.” Exploding rifles shattered the silence of the early morning and as the boy collapsed the crowd responded with 10,000 voices, “Christ is risen indeed”.
In tragedy, injustice and judgement from self and others a little light inside of us goes out as we wonder of that goodness and mercy that was to follow us all the days of our life, until we close our eyes.
That boy still running through the paddocks closes his eyes and sees the Lord Jesus by his side that night, and by his side now saying you don’t have to run any longer.
A mother closes her eyes and does not hear the echo of a gunshot at the end of a lonely dead end road, but the joyous sound of peace as another has been brought through the great tribulation and taken home.
We close our eyes and see that standing by the bedside of our loved ones suffering in silence is our Lord and Saviour still holding their hand tight as he has always done.
We see those that can run from no longer and have given up on arriving as they make their home on a lonely park bench with only an empty bottle as a friend until we close our eyes and see a man with the scars of nails on his wrists not pass by them in judgment of the wounds they carry, but take those wounds on himself as though they can run from, nor too any longer, that goodness and mercy that has been with them through the eye of the storm does not pass by, but reaches down and carries them with Him.
And as we open our eyes and see one of those running from but never arriving stumble towards the church, we see not a person in need of ridicule, judgement and accusation. But see a person born in the image of God and as they draw closer and the lines of their skin from their journey become clearer, our eyes are opened and we see that they are we, and like a boy confessing the truth as the gun shots rang out, we see that goodness and mercy has been with us all the days of our lives that as we fall we hear not 10,000 people, but an endless army of angels in joyous in song that another shall forever dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
While we ran in the night through the paddocks and though we could only remember leaving, and never arriving, our Lord has shown Himself to us that we who were blind now see Christ shining in the darkness that as He lead us on our journey home, He leads us before those that who are still running in the night and driving towards that lonely dead dirt end road see next to them a man carrying His own scars of this world look toward them with knowing eyes not of judgement, but with eyes of love and hear Him say, that it is too you for whom I have come. Amen.