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Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Lectionary Scriptures: I Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23:1-5, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41

Reading the lectionary readings for the coming Sunday brought to mind a Christmas song. I know it’s Lent, but sometimes scripture and the mind play tricks on us. I couldn’t remember much of the song but a single phrase, “Do you see what I see?” I looked it up and was surprised. I had forgotten that the context of that phrase is sheep and shepherds. I was having difficulty connecting Psalm 23 with the other readings, and now here it was in the lyrics of this song. Reflect on them and these lyrics and see where they take you.

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
do you see what I see?

A star, a star, dancing in the night.
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite.

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
do you hear what I hear?

A song, a song, high above the trees,
With a voice as big as the sea,
With a voice as big as the sea.

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king,
do you know what I know?

A Child, a Child shivers in the cold,
Let us bring Him silver and gold,
Let us bring Him silver and gold.

Said the king to the people everywhere,
listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people everywhere!
Listen to what I say !

The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night,
He will bring us goodness and light;
He will bring us goodness and light.

The title of this blog changes the question to read, “Do we see what God sees?” The Hebrew scripture reading from I Samuel, Chapter 16, tells about the selection of a king to succeed Saul. We’ll ignore the back story and simply ask, “What do you look for when selecting a king?” God tells Samuel to go check out Jesse’s sons. Samuel goes. Note that he is asked if he comes “peaceably,” to which he responds affirmatively. (vss. 4-5) Would that all our seeking for leadership began with agreement that the context is our desire for peace.

Do we see what God sees? “Pray for peace, people everywhere! Listen to what I say! The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night, He will bring us goodness and light; He will bring us goodness and light.”

Jesse’s first son appears. Samuel thinks, “Surely this is the one.” (vs. 6) God says, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature . . . for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (vs. 7) Do we see what God sees, noticing people’s true inner being rather than their “outward appearance”?

Ironically, when the last son, David, is called in from looking after the sheep, he is described as “ruddy” with “beautiful eyes, and . . . handsome.” (vs. 12) I guess even a good-looking guy can have a heart of gold. We need to look beyond both beauty and ugliness. I’ve heard that gorgeous women sometimes resent it when people don’t notice the real person beyond all that beauty. Do we see what God sees when we look at and interact with those around us, perhaps even when we look at ourselves?

The Gospel lesson is about blindness and sight and who really sees. Why is this man blind? Who sinned? (John 9:2) Jesus brushes the question aside, saying the man was born that way and blind or not, God dwells in him. Look for God in him. If you didn’t receive an e-mail from Kathy Jones about a blind quilter, you may want to type this link into your browser (sorry I can't seem to get it in so you can just click on it). http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=7lfaSmDxVZQ I’m betting at least some of you see God revealed in this blind quilter, who is not “handicapped,” but sometimes “inconvenienced.”

When the man is healed of his blindness the Pharisees ask, “How did this happen—and on the Sabbath, at that?” They looks to the man’s parents to explain, but they say, “Why don’t you talk to him? He’s old enough to speak for himself.” (vs. 23, with the entire conversation beginning in verse 13) The conversation continues, now with the man himself, who forthrightly tells the Pharisees what happened, declaring, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (vs. 25, with the conversation running from vs. 24-34) The question has become, “Who is really blind here?” The man finds it “astonishing” how little the Pharisees know and see and understand.” (vss. 30-34) In the end Jesus says, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” (vs. 38) The Pharisees, religious leaders of that day, take offense: “Are you calling us blind?”

Do we see what God sees?—the blindness, perhaps, of our leaders, our own blindness? Do we see what God sees?—the value of people just as they are, however they were born? Do we see the power of God shining through those who are different? Do we see what God is doing beyond the limits of propriety we humans are prone to set (like Sabbath laws in this case)?

Notice that, early in this conversation, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” One cannot see without light, a topic addressed in the epistle reading from Ephesians. We are called to be light, to let light shine through us, and to live with the light of Christ shining on us, because “everything exposed by the light becomes visible.” (See Ephesians 5:8-9 & 13-14) Do we see what God sees, i.e., a world in which all is illumined by the light of Christ? Is that the light we shine on things, the light we use when we look at people and events, perhaps when we feel trapped in darkness?

That brings us to Psalm 23, familiar to most, often quoted, used at funerals—the one I had difficulty connecting with the larger theme of seeing. The Christmas song I began with perhaps suggests that sheep and shepherds, on a quiet, clear, night, are able to see a peace which easily eludes us in the hustle and bustle of life. The song calls us to see peace and goodness and light in an unexpected place. Yet the life described in Psalm 23 is not an easy peace. The sheep encounter danger, walk through dark valleys, have enemies. Do we see what God sees? Where we might look and see enemies, do we find a table where we can all sit down and talk and perhaps overcome our enmity? We live in a day when enemies need such tables. Do we see the peace that God sees?


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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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