Sunday, 30 March 2014

More Than Meets the Eye and Visiting the Sick

…with reference to 1 Sam 16:1–13; Eph 5:8–14; Jn 9:1–41 for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A. 

Jesus is always helping is to look for more than meets our merely physical eyes. Look at 1 Samuel 16:7—"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or 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.'”

There’s often more than meets our eyes where God is involved. The Lord does not see as we see. We see externals, like Samuel. “This one looks the part!” he thought when he saw the tall, dark and handsome Eliab. He must be the one. But Eliab wasn’t. David was.

Not being able to see beyond outward appearance—the more than meets our eyes when God is involved—has been a theme over the past few weeks. In John, chapter 3, two weeks ago, like Samuel, Nicodemus had difficulty seeing beyond outward appearances when he couldn’t get his mind around what Jesus meant by born again or born from above. And the woman at the well from John, chapter 4, last Sunday when she told Jesus, “Sir, you have no bucket and the well is deep.” In all three situations God’s message went beyond outward, seemingly obvious, common-sense, appearance to the heart. There was much more than met Samuel’s, Nicodemus’ and the woman’s eyes.

In a few weeks, you folks are about to embark on a season in which you will be without a priest of your own for a while. It will be tempting to think you, too, will be bucket-less without a priest. In one sense, according to outward appearance and in a limited fashion, that will be true. In another, it will not. I am retiring, but Jesus, our great High Priest, is not and never will, so here are some things you can do.

Be like the ex-blind man in this morning’s gospel when (John 9:38) "He said, 'Lord, I believe.' And he worshiped Jesus.” You can all do that. You don’t need a priest to do that. Sometimes it might help to have one, but it is not necessary. After all, as the ex-blind guy also says in (John 9:31) "We know that God…listens to those who worship him and obey his will."

So believe, worship, obey his will and "Live as children of light." (Eph 5:8)

Having a priest, or a bucket, is good and helpful, but not having one can be a great opportunity to see beyond obvious, outward appearances and to live as the children of light The Lord has made you through the waters of baptism, as we prayed in today's collect, by exercising the gifts God has given each of you which may have been lying dormant or underused because you’ve been relying on me.

Consider visiting the sick, for example. You have an excellent nursing homes and shut-ins visiting team—Marjory Saunderson, Liz Crabb, Moreen Hides, Jill Gloin, Shirley Westergreen, Gillian Sandham and Jude (to the end of April)—all the nursing homes except one are covered. But there will be those who fall ill and are at home or in hospital.

Every one of you is qualified to visit them. We’re Anglican. We even have a book which shows us what to say.

Go through the rites: 830—BCP p576, 1030—BAS p554

Some rules for visiting the sick:
  1. Ask if they feel up to a visit
  2. Just listen
  3. Never give advice
  4. Don’t tell them how they ought to feel
  5. Resist the temptation to trump their story with yours: “If you think that’s bad!…”
Remember, all you have to do is believe and show up. You will be the outward and visible sign—the one holding the hand and saying the words—but know that the one who will be listening, sympathizing, dispensing the mercy and the inward and spiritual grace and the healing will be Jesus.