Northfield

United Methodist Parish

Sunday, March 22, 2020 Blind – the Darkest Valley

Sunday, March 22, 2020 Blind – the Darkest Valley

Blind – the Darkest Valley

Read Lectionary Readings – Samuel 16,:1-13 Psalm 23, Ephesians 5: 8-14, John 9: -41

Another week of stress, uncertainty, fear of the unknown, waiting for a storm that lurks but doesn’t strike at once. We worry for loved ones, for our communities, nation, and the world. We want to get it over with so we can move on. We don’t like the darkness of this valley.

Sometimes we cannot see because of physical darkness such as when the sun has gone down and there is not enough natural light to see and no other lights are turned on. Imagine that you are outside on a pleasant summer night in a safe place. The moon isn’t up, and it is dark out. Perhaps you can see the stars, but they don’t give enough light for you to see well. Imagine just being there in the dark. What do you hear, crickets, the rustle of leaves, a car in the distance? Is there a breeze? Is it warm or cool on your face? Has the dew fallen? Can you smell freshly cut grass or hay or fragrant flowers? Darkness isn’t such a scary place when you know you are safe.

But as soon as something happens outside our comfort zones, we go into fright or flight mode. A sudden noise breaks the peace – is it a bear, a skunk, a cat? Do I need to run inside? Suddenly the darkness has changed from pleasant to scary. It’s the same darkness but different sensations bring about different responses in us. A dark valley may be a pleasant place to be on a starry night. There might be a breeze coming up from a creek and random creatures making their night sounds, but as soon as we are startled, we are gripped with fear and anxiety about all sorts of “evils” and wonder where is safety? Perhaps this is what we are feeling in our current situation.

Sometimes we cannot see because of a different kind of darkness, a spiritual darkness. This can be a safe place where God is gently drawing us closer, and the darkness is not God’s absence but perhaps simply God’s shadow because the Light would be too much for our eyes. Other times, the darkness is not God’s darkness but the darkness within us like that of the Pharisees who said, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” after wrangling on and on over the man who had been healed of blindness on the Sabbath by Jesus. Their darkness so overpowered them that they could not see that healing was what Sabbath is really about. It’s not just about obeying laws about rest, it’s about the healing and shalom that God seeks in our world for everyone. When all is healed, there will be Sabbath rest as God intends for all.

Jesus was a light shining into the darkness, into a dark valley. Results were mixed. Some could see it. Others could not. Still today this Light is shining. It is shining in our dark valley – if these times aren’t a dark valley, what is? Are we trying to find our way blindly in the dark? Have we given into hopelessness and despair? Do we want to run and hide? Or do we confidently believe that our Shepherd’s rod and staff will guide us through this valley? We are not alone. Our eyes have seen. We are children of Light. Do not be afraid, Jesus’ rod and staff will comfort you. Fear no evil.

Go back to that pleasant summer evening and invite Jesus to sit with you. In his safety tell him what’s on your heart. Let him guide you.

Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus, to reach out and touch him and say that we love him.

Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen, open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus. –Robert Cull FWS  2086

Amen.

Evie Doyon March 2020