Year A, Fourth Sunday in Lent
As I did last week, I want to honor our Lenten topic: Seeing beyond difference: Jesus’ Kingship of Kinship. As it has the past two weeks, the gospel reading dovetails nicely with our topic—this week, interfaith relations.
The gospel is the story of a man born blind, to whom Jesus restores sight.
There are many ways we are like that. Our blindness to our common humanity is so deep it seems as though we were born blind to it.
But Jesus, the light of the world, opens our eyes.
Jesus opening the eyes of the man born blind, by Duccio di Buoninsegna (c. 1255 - c. 1318)
In our deepest struggles, greatest joys, common needs, we are alike and we are all in this together.
Yes, we are wired to see difference, but it is our choice what to make of that difference. Do we create barriers and injustice based on apparent differences, or do we celebrate the richness of perception, experience and capability that difference offers and join together in our shared essential humanity?
Today we would have heard from Herb Brockman, Rabbi Emeritus at Congregation Mishkan Israel. I’m am sure he would have made at least these two points:
Diverse faith and spiritual traditions have much to learn from each other;
Diverse faith and spiritual communities have much great work that we can do together.
It is a strange irony that a situation like coronavirus also teaches us of our shared humanity. To a virus there is no skin color, religion or country of origin.
And it teaches us of the need for us all to join together to find common solutions.
Fortunately, along the way to that common solution, along the way of all the challenges we will face in the coming days and weeks, we as people of faith can take comfort in knowing that we have a creator who cares for us, surrounds us with love and wants only what is best for us.
We can take comfort in the psalmist’s words that we sang this morning. God protects us as a shepherd protects his or her sheep. God is benevolent and generous towards us even in the most difficult of circumstances.
And as our epistle author writes, we now, filled with Jesus’ light, have ourselves become light, called to shed light on others, to do what is “good, right and true”, to care for each other just as God cares for us.
Here’s my challenge to us: In the midst of our current difficulties, let’s give ourselves the task of reaching out to one another, of praying for each other, of helping each other with acts of loving service. Let’s take this immensely challenging situation and turn it into a catalyst for community building and mutual care and support.
To that end, as many of you know, we have started a phone and email bank to keep in touch with all of you, to make sure you are okay and to find out if you have any needs. Don’t hesitate to say yes if you do.
We are going to try to establish a weekly fireside chat on zoom this week. We will continue to record or live stream Sunday services. Tell us your ideas.
In closing, I read a slightly edited version of a text by Lauren Kelly Fanucci, that has made its rounds on Facebook:
When this is over
May we never take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors
A crowded theater
A Friday night out
The taste of Communion
A routine checkup
A school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
A stadium roaring
Each deep breath
A boring Tuesday
When this ends, may we find that we have become
More like the people we wanted to be
We were called to be, we hoped to be
And may we stay that way
Better for each other
Because of what we have been through together.