Sunday, March 22 at 10:00 am
To view a recording of the service, click here: https://www.facebook.com/oslcwarrenton
We had a little technical difficulty half way through the service, so note that there are two separate links. The first half of the service is just below the second half.
Click here for this weekend’s worship bulletin.
There IS a Lesson in Everything
Sermon for the 4th Sunday in Lent, Year A, during a time of social distancing; March 22, 2020
1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
Our Saviour Lutheran Church of Warrenton, VA; The Reverend Terri Luper Church
“There is a lesson in everything.” That’s what our choir director, Dean Kolb, said in an email to the adult choir last Wednesday. Here it is in context:
This is just plain weird. It’s Wednesday and there’s no choir, no soup, and I won’t be able to sit with you during the Holden Evening Prayer service. I hope you are all doing well and have everything you need to hunker down for a bit.
My father would tell me endlessly that there is a lesson in everything. I knew he was right, even though I NEVER wanted to admit it. The older I get, I realize the lesson is usually never evident at the beginning, but it becomes clearer as I make my way through it. I’m sure we are all thinking of this as the days go by and we hear new information, hear new stories, agree and disagree with people and opinions, and continue to pray … continue to pray … It reminds me of the scene with Jesus in the garden before his betrayal, praying with such intensity that the drops of sweat became like blood.
I think Dean Kolb—both senior and junior—are correct. There IS a lesson in everything. I know I am learning a LOT of lessons! How to hold worship to remind us we are together even though we are apart is high on that list. Thank you for joining us today! I’m learning how to have Youth Group via Zoom, like we will tonight. More lessons, like how to support working parents who aren’t used to having children home, how to teach non-techy people how to use all of this, how to wash my hands and my phone the RIGHT WAY, how to manage my anxiety so I can be a calm presence for others … Well, I’m sure you have your own list of lessons. What are some things you are learning now? Feel free to post them to Facebook in the Live video comments, or just think on them. Is it overwhelming? Perhaps. But you are not alone; we’re all learning here.
That’s what we’re learning or need to learn now. However, Dean also said that the lessons we learn aren’t always clear in the moment. Some of what we’re learning will last beyond this moment, and some we won’t even be aware of until months or even years down the road. And for those of us who like information NOW, that’s challenge all on its own. Please go easy on each other and be patient as we attempt to stay in contact with updates. Making plans in response to Covid-19 has been a bit like chasing butterflies! We do care, we will mess us and get it wrong sometimes, but God will help us. Please pray for all those in the information-sharing business!
However difficult waiting can be, isn’t it also a promise? This word that a deeper meaning will come in time? As much as we might appreciate the “opportunity” to learn all these things, we also desire for them to have a deeper meaning, a greater impact on our lives, our souls, our world.
Unsurprisingly, the Bible has a lot to say about that. It’s funny how it works out—these lessons we read this weekend were set up many years ago, and yet, aren’t they perfect? Look at the call of King David in that Old Testament reading from 1st Samuel: God sees beyond what we expect, and calls people from different places and to different roles than we might imagine. What could God be calling us to do that we can’t even imagine right now?
And the 23rd Psalm? This week?! How perfect is that! How many of you would list that as a favorite passage in the entire Bible? It gives us comfort in troubled times, and a reminder of the constant care of God, our Good Shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. … Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me … Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!”
The first lesson from Psalm 23 may is obvious—God is with us, always. But deeper lessons also come alive. Does anyone else instinctively draw a deep breath as you hear, “the Lord makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters”? We all need our connection to nature. If we can, we should get outside, or at least open our windows, and appreciate the beauty of nature and our place in it. And oh, the birds. Have you had a moment to enjoy the birdsong? Take a moment to breathe, to listen, to look. God is with us! The Earth may even experience long-term learning in response to all the world’s social distancing. I saw the best video about the clearing waters in Venice, with dolphins swimming in shipping lanes and a wild boar running down the cobblestone streets!!
And the Bible keeps giving! The letter to the Ephesians reminds us to live in the light of God, for Christ shines on us in our darkness, in our fear, in our pain, in our sin and brokenness, and guides us to what is right and true.
In the Gospel, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” Here’s a shout out to scientists and all the engineers who followed God’s call to work with light and power! Thank you for building and maintaining an amazing power grid and cable system so we can connect across distances!
Jesus is the Great Physician, healing a man who was born blind, even though he wasn’t asking to be healed, just to show that God’s power is at work in the world right now. Thank you to all the physicians, medical personnel, and mental health workers for the care you are giving to people infected by and afraid of the coronavirus now. May you know God’s healing power that flows through you! (However, I think we would all prefer you don’t spit into the dirt and place it on us right now!)
The man born blind is the star of this story, as we watch him learn lessons bit by bit. People kept asking him to talk about what Jesus did, so he answered. Did you see how his answers grew in depth? Telling his story changed him. His faith grew, right up to the moment Jesus reveals that he is more than a healer, but the Son of Man, God With Us. Faith grows as we talk about our encounters with God.
Tell your story; if necessary, use words. Some of us respond to a crisis by wanting to be useful. If that’s you, look for an email from us this week with a needs list. Help us call people to show them we care about them. Some of our nurses may ask if we anyone can sew medical masks at home. We could certainly use some technical help. And of course, your financial offerings help us work together. But the most important thing is how we started: Pray Always and Pray All Ways.
Finally, perhaps the biggest lesson isn’t a lesson at all—it’s a truth. God loves you, always, through Jesus Christ, our Great Physician and the Light of the world. Amen.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen. Philippians 4:7
Liturgical material © 2017 Augsburg Fortress; used by permission of Augsburg Fortress, #SAS009239. Copyright Acknowledgments (CCLI License # 2800659 and One License # 710443-A) for print and broadcast.