22 November 2017



2012
> Have You Not heard? Commissioning and Baptism
> Papatoetoe district 150 years opening service

2010
> Pentecost - The Genesis Experiment
> Freedom and human trafficking
> The Corinthian Puzzle - Resurrection Body
> [Waitangi Weekend]. Hope for a Future
> Being a Healing Community
> Turbans and Prophets in Manurewa
> Light to the Nations -O Surely Not the Samaritans!
> Jesus the real human - not Avatar

2009
> Prophet at Copenhagen Needed
> CLIMATE CHANGE - Revisiting the Creation stories
> Love Lived
> Questions of God
> Tsunami.and Job, God in disaster
> Reconciling Cultures
> John the Baptist - A reminder of reality
> Do not follow the advice of the wicked

2008
> If only You would sort it God!
> Invited and rejected - Texts of terror
> Saying Yes! but its really No!
> Thanksgiving
> Claiming God is on our side - Dangerous and Unwise
> Let your Love be genuine
> Bible and Qu'ran Ishmael and Isaac
> Fruitpickers wanted
> Faith Changing Culture
> Easter greeting - Peace be with you
> Freed For Seeing
> Temptations of Leadership - Dedication of leaders
> Let There be no Divisions Among You

2007
> How many husbands in Heaven?
> The Dishonest Manager
> The Prayer which Changes the World
> What are we getting them into? Succession planning
> Faith there is a future
> Forgiven - the one who loves much
> THE SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE, SIGNS AND WONDERS
> Temptation
> Free flowing wine, Free flowing grace

2006
> The Birth Stories of Jesus - whom do we serve
> Sexuality Working out our Faith
> What is Wisdom?
> Stilling the Voices of the Storm
> THE GROWING SEED
> Pentcost - Facing the Darkness
> Moving on from Betrayal
> Friends my Mother Warned me About
> Ethiopian Eunchs Are In - Good News For theChurch
> St Patrick and Mission today, Potatoes and Rice
> Family is a Cultural word

2005
> Christmas Day Reflection - Power of Hope
> Subverting the System - The Talents Revisited
> Living God! Joshua Leadership with Wet Feet
> Futurechurch conference and the Presence of God
> The Golden Calf is not the Name of a Pub
> Who?
> Induction Sermon - Pukekohe Who Is Your Neighbour
> What is Fair and What is Just?
> Confrontation at Hunters Corner
> Food in the Wilderness
> Bombers in London, Weeds among the Wheat
> The Gospel is already Sowen for us to Find
> Human sacrifice. God's Demand or Our Desire
> Marriage - From Contract to Promise
> Who is he?
> Seeing the Light
> The Man at the Well
> East of Eden- Our Story
> Dingwall 75th - Charity or Justice
> Doing Justice - An Induction Sermon
> Light in the world
> Tsunami - World in Turmoil

2004
> Promises Kept
> Christ The King - We don't have Kings anymore!
> What is Our Mission : Connecting with Other Faiths
> The Word of God is not Chained
> Descent into Hell
> What does the Lord Require - Assembly report
> 150th service Rev Sharon Ensor's sermon
> The neighbour who comes from God..
> Driving out Demons - Fears Of Mental Illness
> Flowing Waters 2 Spirit of Peace
> Flowing Waters 1 - Reflections in Japan
> Putting it On The Line
> Go Fishing- Youth Leaders Dedication
> Waitangi Day Celebration
> God's Love is Wider than We Want
> The Best Wine
> Dancing Stars - Science and Theology

2003
> First Sunday of Christmas
> Church culture to Mission Culture
> Be Wise
> Trinity - Beyond Miracles
> Sir Ed Hilary- Ascension Sunday
> Culture challenged by Love
> On the Road to Gaza
> Whose Voice? - Mother's Day
> Rows of White Crosses. [Anzac]
> Easter Day - Go , Jesus is Waiting for You.


Sermons
Sermon - 2 March 2008
Bible Verses: John 9:1-41 & Psalm 23
(click the verses above to read the passages online)

Freed For Seeing

Life is not fair. There is never any guarantee that something else will not cut across all our careful planning. And through the ages humans have some up with all sorts of answers to try to appear as though we have some control over the unexpected.

In the story from John's gospel today we find an illustration of those who shut their eyes in case they were challenged by a new way of seeing and a lone man who knows who has healed him and will not be shaken from saying so. One who sees the light and those who see but are blind.. And we are invited to see where we stand in the story.

In those times people thought that you could see because light shone from within out of our eyes like a sort of searchlight to see the world around you. Its not surprising that John takes the incident of the blind man to illustrate the one who is the source of all light. Jesus is the light of the world. I am - the name of God- the light of the world - Let there be light!

First the disciples get jolted out of their prejudices. The blind beggar was born blind. Why?
The conventional answer was that someone had sinned. The parents had not only the disappointment and fears for their child's welfare but were also landed with the blame for producing the blindness. It still happens - think about it. Usually it’s the mother who gets blamed for not doing whatever is the latest theory .

The disciples of Jesus took for granted that the prevailing belief was correct.? They ask who had sinned?
.
Jesus slams through it all - his blindness has got nothing to do with sin. In fact quite opposite because right now in front of your eyes, this man is going to be used to show God at work.
Jesus took some earth, mixed it up and placed it on the man's eyes and sent him off to the pool of Siloam to wash it off.
The man could see.
The story of the cure takes two verses; the controversy surrounding the cure, 39 verses. Jesus had worked you see, on the Sabbath. He had taken earth and kneaded it like bread and that was not allowed. Everything is being questioned. Who is this man? Good or bad? Can we make the facts fit God into our understanding rather than allow God to change our boundaries?
Richard Lischer of Duke divinity school reflects that we can sympathize with the Pharisees. They were only trying to observe, describe and explain the phenomena. Haven't you ever listened to the testimony of someone who has been "healed" at Lourdes, who's thrown away the crutches? And haven't you wanted to ask a few follow-up questions?
The question of Where's He from is through all the Gospel of John. The authorities sink to the oldest of all debate tactics: attack the source of your opponent's argument. Poison the well. Where is this Jesus from? What rabbinical school did he attend? Where did he learn to break God's law? The formerly blind man replies, "He restored my sight. Where do you think he's from?"
The formerly blind man doesn't know all the correct religious phrases with which to interpret his salvation. He isn't pious in the traditional sense. What he knew for sure was that once upon a time he sat in darkness, and now the whole world was drenched in sunlight. And he acknowledges that.
"One thing I know," he said.. "One thing I know," one of us might say is that when I was going through a bad time I hurt so much I couldn't sleep or eat, or I was so filled with hate I couldn't think, but somehow I got through it, and I've come to recognize that the somehow was Jesus. "One thing I know." he says. We start with acknowledgment. Of who is your shepherd, of whom is the healer, the light of the world.
The man's statement has a terrible consequence for him and for all of us. He is cast out of the synagogue. He is cut off from Torah, family, the sweet--smelling incense of the Sabbath, the certainity of the Law -- all because he looked deeply and directly into the Light.
If some scholars are right, this story reflects the historic parting of the ways between the synagogue and the Jews who believed in Jesus. We were once so close. Just how close we still are can be seen in those moments when we acknowledge our dependence on God, and place no limits on who and how God saves in Jesus Christ. Hidden in the joy of new beginnings is also a tragic ending -. Where does Jesus have the conversation with the man? Outside the synagogue?
Those who had known the man as a blind beggar, find the change unsettling. They ask questions, first of one another, Is this not the man who used to sit and beg then of the man. Then how were your eyes opened?
They take him to the Pharisees, who ask questions of their own. Where is he [Jesus]? How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs? What do you say about him?
Then they bring in the man’s parents and ask questions of them; Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?
they, in turn, direct the questioning back to the man.? What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?
The questioners get more and more angry each time the man responds. He is telling them nothing they want to hear, nothing that fits into the beliefs and experiences that they carry. The newly-sighted man answers from his own experience. “One thing I do know,” he says, “that though I was blind, now I see.”
He finally asks a question of his own. “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” that’s too much for them and they send him away: “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?”
These questioners aren't wanting to know. Their questions are designed to reinforce the boundaries of what these people already know, and to keep their belief, safely contained.
These questioners are arrogant. and it would be easy to dismiss them as the bad guys in this story. But they are within us too. I know the times, when I have been defensive of what I think I know, when I have asked a question—of someone else or of myself—that built a wall rather than opening a door.
Let us this Lent ask the questions, of others and ourselves, that expand our vision rather than confining it. Good rinse our eyes. They help us practice seeing. They widen and deepen our vision. They clarify our perception of what is present in our lives and of what is possible.
John wants to make sure that we know that Siloam, the name of the pool in which the man washed his eyes, means Sent.
We are all being sent. Sometimes we are sent beyond the boundaries of what others find acceptable or comfortable or convenient. Sometimes we are sent beyond the limits of our own vision. Whether or not we know where we are going—and sometimes especially when we think we know where God means for us to go—we always need to learn how to see. Like Jesus with the blind man, God calls us to claim the vision that God gives us, so that, as Jesus says, God’s works might be revealed in us. In order to know where and how and by whom we are being sent, we need to keep visiting Siloam to do the washing that will keep our eyes clear.
John closes this story with questions that are good eye-clearing questions. Jesus, John tells us, finds the seeing man and asks him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answers Jesus’ question with a question: “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” His question leads, not to a wall, or to a law, but to worship.
The Pharisees who have the final line. Overhearing the exchange between the sighted man and Jesus, they ask, “Surely we are not blind, are we?”
How well is your spirit seeing these days? What questions will help keep your eyes clear so that you can see, and be sent?
Reference
Richard Lischer - Christian Century, March 3, l999

Rev. Margaret Anne Low

 

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