Fourth Sunday of Lent
Reading 1SAMUELThe LORD said to Samuel:
“Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice,
Samuel looked at Eliab and thought,
“Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.”
But the LORD said to Samuel:
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because man sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”
In the same way, Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
“The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
“Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
“Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
“There—anoint him, for this is the one!”
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed David in the presence of his brothers;
and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.
Reading 2 EphesiansBrothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness
and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness;
rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention
the things are done by them in secret;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore, it says:
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”
Verse Before The GospelI am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
Gospel according to JohnAs Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, “
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him, and
the one speaking with you is he.”
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.My friends,I hope everyone is healthy and taking precautionary measures to avoid getting the virus.The experience of this Corona virus is almost surreal in today’s world. Especially during Spring, we are noticing a change in behavior, empty streets, empty parks, closed restaurants, and darkened churches.So I got to thinking about what is God trying to tell us. This is not local, it’s worldwide. What do you think God would want us to do during this period of uncertainty? What is His message to today’s world? Right here. Right now.To me, it’s very simple.Get back to your family, get back to prayer, and get back to helping and caring for one another.Today, He has provided an “opportunity” to reconnect with Him and with those close to you. He is limiting everything that we have taken for granted and has put it on the line. He has forced us to look inward.Many married couples may have had poor relationships, some may have had disputes with a family member/friend, and some may have even limited time they have spent with their own children. This may provide an opportunity to call and forgive.I have heard that businesses are “retooling” for when the economy comes back they will be in full swing for success. Maybe this is something we need to do.By removing bad habits, harmful addictions, unpure thoughts or intentions, we are setting ourselves up for a positive upswing. Because that’s what God is looking for. He is looking for us to change from living in the flesh to living in the spirit. It’s that simple.It also may be a good time to pick up a Bible. Dive into one of the books and see what scripture can do for you. (Peter 5:7 Casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.)But if we live day-to-day in worry, we will make our own selves become weak and distressed.It’s all about faith and His promise. Let it fall on God’s shoulders. It is here and then will you find solitude and strength to move through this issue.(Matthew 11:30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”).Isn’t this why we have attended Church for all these years? He knows us very, very well. He may even be directing us to lead others during this darkened period.
Help them by offering some of the suggestions I have provided here. Lead them into reading scripture and talking about its meaning. Most importantly lead them into the very thing that has to lead you to Christ. Faith.The beach of time is strewed with wrecked reputations and forgotten glories. And I am not ashamed to say that I believe that, as the ages grow, and world gets further away in time from the Cross upon Calvary, more and more everything else will sink beneath the horizon, and Christ alone be left to fill the past as He fills the present, the future, and you here at United Riverside Congregational Church.We may make that picture a scene from our own very lives. Distractions and temptations that lie all around us are ever seeking to drag us away. There is no peace anywhere but in having Christ only– my only pattern, my only hope, my only salvation, my only guide, my only aim, and my only true Friend.,Take him as your only true Friend and you need no other.Then at death there may be a brief spasm of darkness, a momentary fear, perchance, but then the touch of a Brother’s hand will upon us as we lie there prone in the dust and we shall lift up our eyes, and lo, life’s illusions are gone, and life’s useless noises are fallen dumb, and we “see no many any more, except Jesus, with ourselves.In closing, I’m offering a simple prayer of hope for all of us at United Riverside Congregational Church. There have been many many worldly and social issues and diseases in our Church’s past and Our Church is still together. It still stands. And that’s because of folks like you. Your dedication and love for everyone and being that light in the darkness will allow Jesus Christ to continue to bless you with His grace, His love, and His presence. We will all get through this. And we may even be a bit better than we were before the Corona Virus arrived.Prayer:Help us endure the pain of chronic conditions, some of which will not find healing in this broken and sinful world. We know that You work all things for good, but in those moments of chronic pain and suffering, it can be impossible to understand Your perfect and just hand in it all.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.If there is anything that anyone needs please let me know. I love connecting with all of you by text, email, and phone. Feel free to call me just to say “hello”.May God bless all of you and your families. Stay positive and humble as we near the greatest victory of our Lord Jesus Christ.Best,BD