<![CDATA[Eagle's Landing Christian Church - Along the Journey]]>Sun, 18 Feb 2018 01:25:06 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Remembering the Saints...And Trying to Be One]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 11:07:23 GMThttp://eagleslandingdisciples.org/along-the-journey/remembering-the-saintsand-trying-to-be-oneA few years ago, I was in Paris for All Saints Day.  In honor of this day, we took a walk through the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery.  Here, we joined numerous others who had come out on this day to honor the dead.  In France, as in many other parts of the world, November 1st is a holiday.  Families spend the day together - the way we do in America to celebrate a holiday like Memorial Day or Labor Day - and a visit to the cemetery to place fresh flowers on the resting places of their loved ones is a key part of the day’s events.  I was struck by this practice then, and I am still struck by it today.  
Having visited parts of Southeast Asia this year and seen the family altars with which Asian families honor their deceased loved ones, I am perhaps more keenly aware that the practice of honoring those we love who have left us in this life is a practice worth thinking about.  While most of us may not engage in ancestral worship or the veneration of saints, I do think there is something to be gained through the remembrance and appreciation of those who have died.   
I spent some of the day yesterday, All Saints Day, reflecting on the “saints” in my life - both those I have personally known and those I have not.  Perhaps the biggest saint in my life is my grandmother, Vera.  Mamaw is what we call her.  Mamaw lived right next door to me growing up, and so she was instrumental in raising me and my siblings.  She was the one who had goodies for us to eat, popped us popcorn (the old-fashioned way), and made perfect peanut brittle.  Mamaw was also the person who allowed me to read to her when I learned to read and just couldn’t get enough of it.  And she was the one who picked me up after school when I had a million things going on and needed to stay later.   More importantly, Mamaw was a strong Christian presence in my life.  I witnessed her involvement in her church as she taught Sunday school, sang in the choir, and was an active participant in the ladies group.  When I began to minister and preach, Mamaw was the only elder in my family who supported me in that and came to hear me preach when she could. 
It occurs to me that we don’t always realize the impact of saints like Mamaw until we take the time to remember them - how they lived and what they did for us and others.  The writer of Hebrews, in remembering and listing the ancestors of the Hebraic faith, challenges believers to “run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us.” (Hebrews 12:1, CEB)  I am grateful to have my Mamaw among those in my own cloud of witnesses, and as I strive to continue in this “race” as it were, I know that the best way to honor her and the numerous other saints in my life is to live my own life according to the values they have instilled in me.
Who has touched your life?  And how will you remember and honor them - not just on All Saints Day, but EVERY day?

<![CDATA[Mindfulness and Compassion: Lent Day 36]]>Tue, 11 Apr 2017 15:16:35 GMThttp://eagleslandingdisciples.org/along-the-journey/mindfulness-and-compassion-lent-day-36Quotes for the Day from Shadows, Darkness, and Dawn: 
“There were essentially three crowns casting their shadows around Jesus during Holy Week. The first crowd was made up of the users, those who just wanted something from Jesus, whether a personal miracle or political transformation – consider theirs the shadow selfishness.  …

A second crowd around Jesus comprised the abusers. Theirs is the shadow of malevolence. They hated Jesus and his message, wanted him gone and good riddance. …

The third and by far the largest of the crowds was made up of those who were – unaware. Dwelling in the shadow of oblivion, they did not attend the parade on Sunday.  They were not at the temple for the ‘cleansing’ or the debates” (Steagald, 132-133).

Scripture: John 12:20-26 (GNT)
“Some Greeks were among those who had gone to Jerusalem to worship during the festival. They went to Philip (he was from Bethsaida in Galilee) and said, ‘Sir, we want to see Jesus.’

Philip went and told Andrew, and the two of them went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has now come for the Son of Man to receive great glory. I am telling you the truth: a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many grains. Those who love their own life will lose it; those who hate their own life in this world will keep it for life eternal. Whoever wants to serve me must follow me, so that my servant will be with me where I am. And my Father will honor anyone who serves me.’”

I have to ask myself where do I find myself during this Holy Week? Do I find myself with in one of these three crowds mentioned in today’s reading, living under the shadow of selfishness or malevolence or even oblivion?  Easter is often a very busy time for ministers and all of us. But this particular Easter is especially busy because we add to the regular events of this week in the celebration of Easter the closing of the sale of our church and the beginning of a sabbatical in just a few of short weeks. That's a lot to do, a lot to prepare for. So I guess I do see something of the shadow of selfishness and oblivion. Caught up in my own life and all the things that I need to do, it is so easy to miss the people around me, the things that Jesus would have me to see and learn in this week. This is why it has been so helpful for me to be reading about Buddhism, especially with its emphasis on meditation. Buddhism teaches about mindfulness and compassion through meditation. I find myself repeating those words in order to remind myself that this is especially the time to be filled with compassion, to be at peace, and to be mindful of the world around me.

May God's grace enable us to come to Jesus, much like the Greeks in John's text for today, to seek the Christ and be mindful that his love and compassion is what drives our life of faith.
<![CDATA[Making Room for the Holy: Lent Day 35]]>Mon, 10 Apr 2017 14:12:26 GMThttp://eagleslandingdisciples.org/along-the-journey/making-room-for-the-holy-lent-day-35Quote of the Day from Shadows, Darkness, and Dawn:
We are likewise guilty, of course. The churches we attend, the temple of our hearts, the architecture of our souls – spaces are carved, built, or emptied, to provide a proper venue, and meeting place, for us to experience God: a space for God alone to fill. Gradually, though, we begin to fill in the emptiness with stuff. The stuff may or may not have religious or historic value, sacramental or sacred worth. In any case, search "things" come between us and God, are "before God," shielding us from the terrible and wonderful intimacy that engenders true epiphanies (Steagald, 131).

Scripture: Matthew 21:12-17 (GNT):
Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, and said to them, “It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it a hideout for thieves!”
The blind and the crippled came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. The chief priests and the teachers of the Law became angry when they saw the wonderful things he was doing and the children shouting in the Temple, “Praise to David's Son!” So they asked Jesus, “Do you hear what they are saying?”
“Indeed I do,” answered Jesus. “Haven't you ever read this scripture? ‘You have trained children and babies to offer perfect praise.’”
Jesus left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

There’s something about a good slap in the face that brings us back to reality. We see this image sometimes on TV and in the movies. A person is in hysterics, freaking out, and someone slaps him or her across the face and suddenly they are calm and ready to deal with the situation at hand. I needed today's devotion to do that to me, to bring me down from my self-righteous high horse and remind me just why it is that I do what I do.

It is a calling. I have always thought of my life in ministry in that way.  But I read a piece of an article just last week that challenged this view, and I failed to heed its warning.  The article cautioned people about not considering one's job a calling because that could be a bad thing. The premise of the article was that when we consider our job a calling, we open ourselves up to much more hurt and frustration, to overworking ourselves for the cause.  There is truth there.  I myself have fallen victim many times to being disappointed and discouraged because either I did not live up to my own expectations of my calling or the people that I serve did not.  But as today's devotion has reminded me, though I am called to serve people, my calling first and foremost is to serve God.  And when I allow myself to be disappointed or discouraged either by myself or the people that I serve, I must admit that means I have lost track of God.  I have put the work and my sense of importance within it before the relationship that is key.

As we make our way into and through this holy week, may we look at our lives to make sure that we are not so busy or so focused on so much stuff that we make no room for the very One who makes us and this week holy.
<![CDATA[Trouble Coming, Lent Day 32]]>Thu, 06 Apr 2017 15:40:49 GMThttp://eagleslandingdisciples.org/along-the-journey/trouble-coming-lent-day-32Picture
Quote of the Day from Shadows, Darkness, and Dawn:
​“It is hard work, the work before us this week.  If Jesus’ first followers found themselves wishing to go back to the good days before the unpleasantness began or, like us, jumping ahead to the glory they might have imagined lay ahead, like them we have to remain here for a while.  For this hour, to this place, this coming trouble - this is where Jesus journeys, and all his disciples, like it or not, must journey with him.

Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11 (GNT)
As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives. There Jesus sent two of the disciples on ahead with these instructions: “Go to the village there ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied up with her colt beside her. Untie them and bring them to me. And if anyone says anything, tell him, ‘The Master needs them’; and then he will let them go at once.”
This happened in order to make come true what the prophet had said:
“Tell the city of Zion,
    Look, your king is coming to you!
He is humble and rides on a donkey
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
So the disciples went and did what Jesus had told them to do: they brought the donkey and the colt, threw their cloaks over them, and Jesus got on. A large crowd of people spread their cloaks on the road while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds walking in front of Jesus and those walking behind began to shout, “Praise to David's Son! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise be to God!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was thrown into an uproar. “Who is he?” the people asked.
“This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee,” the crowds answered.

Today’s devotion reminds us of where we are headed as we approach what we have come to call Holy Week.  It begins with the triumphal entry to Jerusalem and Jesus riding a donkey to the joyous shouts of children and adults alike saying “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  But even in the midst of the parade and the celebration, the shadow of darkness appears to let us know that the joy will be only momentary.  Matthew’s gospel tells us that as Jesus comes, the city is shaken.  Translated variously as “in turmoil,” “thrown into an uproar,” and “stirred up,” we must understand this is not about people being excited.  It’s about people being disturbed, worried, fearful.  And if that’s not enough, according to Matthew’s gospel, Jesus proceeds from the parade to the Temple where he stirs up more trouble by overturning the tables of the money changers.

Most of us often miss what happens in between these two Sundays of Palm Sunday and Easter, between the shouts of “Hosanna” on one end, and “He is risen” on the other.  We miss the fact that there is much trouble for Jesus in between.  We may happily avoid it, but to do so is to miss the deeper meaning of who Jesus is.  Jesus faces the darkness and fear head on, and so must we.  If we are to be his disciples, we must look upon his sacrifice to see the depth of his love.  As we prepare to enter the coming week with Jesus, even as we have entered his journey in Lent, let us not be afraid to go there with him - from the Mount of Olives to the hill called “the skull.”

<![CDATA[Honest Questions: Lent Day 29]]>Mon, 03 Apr 2017 16:02:03 GMThttp://eagleslandingdisciples.org/along-the-journey/honest-questions-lent-day-29Quote of the Day from Shadows, Darkness, and Dawn:
Where were you? That is what she [Martha] saying. We needed you! We called you! Is this the way you treat the people you love? The people who love you? 

It is a question, I would suggest, or series of questions that we have all asked. Or want to. Some are afraid to admit it, that they have barked at heaven in such a way or have bitten their tongues so they wouldn't. And so maybe they kept it in, didn't say it out loud, think it impious irreligious, unfaithful or blasphemous. 

To pray in such a way is none of those things, though, and we are not the first to offer such indictments. Part of faith is honesty, and honestly, lots of us, lots of times, in lots of different ways, have said as much to Jesus as  Martha says here: Where were you?
 (Steagald, 110)

Scripture: John 11:17-21 (CEB)
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was a little less than two miles from Jerusalem. Many Jews had come to comfort Martha and Mary after their brother’s death. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary remained in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 

While I am not personally convinced that Martha and Mary were so angry with Jesus for not coming as soon as he heard of Lazarus's illness, I am in agreement with our Lenten writer that honesty is a part of our faith journey. Of course, I have been told before that one should not question God. But then Jesus himself questioned "why" while hanging on the cross. Our questions about our faith, about where God is at times, come from honest and open hearts. And I believe that God wants to hear these honest questions. We may ask why: Why something happened or did not happen.  We may ask where: where are you when I need you?  Truthfully, we don't always even get the answers to those questions, but hopefully, through our honesty with ourselves and with God, we can find ourselves growing in our faith. Because I believe that when we simply put those questions out there, it enables us to begin the process of healing and finding hope and believing that God sees us in our struggles and will not let them get the better of us.]]>
<![CDATA[Biblical Truth: Lent Day 27]]>Fri, 31 Mar 2017 14:18:13 GMThttp://eagleslandingdisciples.org/along-the-journey/biblical-truth-lent-day-27Quotes of the Day from Shadows, Darkness, and Dawn:
These stories [of the Bible] are not modern. They don't even seem truthful, at least in the ways most of us regard truth: as factual, observable, repeatable. But who among us has ever seen such a miracle as this, a dead person raised from the grave days after the funeral?

The stories can raise more questions than the answer, and sometimes the answers offered to us, spiritual bromides and generalities, do not satisfy. We are realists, after all, most of us, in most ways. …

Others, happily, regard the Bible and its stories differently, offer praise for the abiding blessing they have here: solid, if not always unambiguous counsel; a record of shared memory; the promise of God's faithfulness and enough role models - noble, even admirable folk, who lived and died embracing promises – to get almost anyone through the most difficult of days. These folk give happy thanks for the Psalms and commands, the prayers and petitions, the stories and examples that can buoy the spirit of an individual or family or church, up and over the deepest depths of the world’s tides, keep them afloat in the most dangerous life's rapids (Steagald, 107-108).

Scripture: John 11:1-45 (CEB)
A certain man, Lazarus, was ill. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This was the Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped his feet with her hair. Her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, saying, “Lord, the one whom you love is ill.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This illness isn’t fatal. It’s for the glory of God so that God’s Son can be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. When he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was. After two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s return to Judea again.” The disciples replied, “Rabbi, the Jewish opposition wants to stone you, but you want to go back?” Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours in the day? Whoever walks in the day doesn’t stumble because they see the light of the world. But whoever walks in the night does stumble because the light isn’t in them.” He continued, “Our friend Lazarus is sleeping, but I am going in order to wake him up.” The disciples said, “Lord, if he’s sleeping, he will get well.” They thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was in a deep sleep, but Jesus had spoken about Lazarus’ death. Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died. For your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there so that you can believe. Let’s go to him.” Then Thomas the one called Didymus said to the other disciples, “Let us go too so that we may die with Jesus.” When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was a little less than two miles from Jerusalem. Many Jews had come to comfort Martha and Mary after their brother’s death. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary remained in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now I know that whatever you ask God, God will give you.” Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha replied, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, God’s Son, the one who is coming into the world.” After she said this, she went and spoke privately to her sister Mary, “The teacher is here and he’s calling for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Jesus. He hadn’t entered the village but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were comforting Mary in the house saw her get up quickly and leave, they followed her. They assumed she was going to mourn at the tomb. When Mary arrived where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” When Jesus saw her crying and the Jews who had come with her crying also, he was deeply disturbed and troubled. He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They replied, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to cry. The Jews said, “See how much he loved him!” But some of them said, “He healed the eyes of the man born blind. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” Jesus was deeply disturbed again when he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone covered the entrance. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said, “Lord, the smell will be awful! He’s been dead four days.” Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory?” So they removed the stone. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me. I say this for the benefit of the crowd standing here so that they will believe that you sent me.” Having said this, Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his feet bound and his hands tied, and his face covered with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” Therefore, many of the Jews who came with Mary and saw what Jesus did believed in him. 

​I am a Christian believer. I am a person of “the Book.” The Bible has always been and continues to be for me an authoritative guide for this life as a Christian. Still, I see myself also as a realist. I don't take the stories at face value, I don't take them literally, and I do struggle as others do sometimes to see their validity in the modern world. I wonder how many of us Christians have the same struggles. Our Lenten writer brings up a good point about the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. Quite often the stories are too fantastic for us to except as authoritative or truthful in any sense. But I still believe the truth remains. We may never see another person raised to life, called forth from the grave just days after the body was lowered into the ground. But what we will see is life emerging from death in many different ways. That is the truth of the Bible that keeps me coming back time and again.

<![CDATA[Good Relationships: Lent Day 26]]>Thu, 30 Mar 2017 15:09:03 GMThttp://eagleslandingdisciples.org/along-the-journey/good-relationships-lent-day-26Quote of the Day from Shadows, Darkness, and Dawn:
… In the happiest relationships there are surprises now and then, the occasional mystery and new discovery. Fascination remains in play, proof that as well as they know their mate, there is always more to learn” (Steagald, 106).

Scripture: John 11:38-45 (CEV)
Jesus was still terribly upset. So he went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone rolled against the entrance. Then he told the people to roll the stone away. But Martha said, “Lord, you know that Lazarus has been dead four days, and there will be a bad smell.”

Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you had faith, you would see the glory of God?”

After the stone had been rolled aside, Jesus looked up toward heaven and prayed, “Father, I thank you for answering my prayer. I know that you always answer my prayers. But I said this, so that the people here would believe that you sent me.”

When Jesus had finished praying, he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” The man who had been dead came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with strips of burial cloth, and a cloth covered his face.

Jesus then told the people, “Untie him and let him go.”

Many of the people who had come to visit Mary saw the things that Jesus did, and they put their faith in him.

As a minister, the analogy of a life of faith as a marriage relationship is nothing new to me. We often think of the relationship of a pastor to congregation as one of a marriage. For others of us, though, the idea of the faith relationship being like a marriage may be new, or if we have experienced bad relationships, it may even be a bit uncomfortable. But it is like that, as our Lenten writer points out. And it is true that as we walk this path of faith, as we grow in our relationship with God, there are moments of surprise. There are moments when we learn something about our beloved God. There are moments when we learn something about ourselves through the eyes of our beloved. I think that maybe the longevity of our life of faith depends upon our willingness to invest in the relationship, much like the longevity of our human relationships depends on the same thing. The season of Lent, like many of the seasons of the church year, is a time set aside to meditate and focus on that relationship. It is a time to recognize what it is about our relationship with God, our relationship to Jesus, that surprises us, blesses us, and gives us life.

<![CDATA[Sharing Testimony: Lent Day 25]]>Wed, 29 Mar 2017 17:07:01 GMThttp://eagleslandingdisciples.org/along-the-journey/sharing-testimony-lent-day-25Quote of the Day from Shadows, Darkness, and Dawn:
When testimony is received, everyone is enriched. Acts 11 contains the remarkable story of Peter giving witness in Jerusalem to the leaders of the young church. Peter recounts how the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles at Cornelius's house in Caesarea. The same leaders had been skeptical about Peter's dealings with non-Jews: "Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?"

But when Peter told her the story, "they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, 'Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.'" They received Peter's testimony, in other words, and everyone was enriched– Peter, the leaders of the church, even the Gentiles (Steagald, 96).

Scripture: John 9:30-34 (CEV)
“How strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from. We know that God listens only to people who love and obey him. God doesn’t listen to sinners. And this is the first time in history that anyone has ever given sight to someone born blind. Jesus could not do anything unless he came from God.”
The leaders told the man, “You have been a sinner since the day you were born! Do you think you can teach us anything?” Then they said, “You can never come back into any of our meeting places!”

I am reminded by today's thoughts that testimony, even when it comes to the testimony of Christians, is not just about an encounter with Jesus and a miraculous experience in our own lives and being able to share that with others. Testimony is also about being able to admit to ourselves and to others our own faults and failures and share what we have learned from those experiences. 

When I was in college, I had a friend who tried to commit suicide. After his recovery, I had a conversation with him where he shared with me his depression as well as his disappointment over the way other people had been treating him since the incident. So many other friends had gotten angry and upset with him for what he had done. It was to them such an incredibly selfish act that they struggled to understand and offer forgiveness. I shared with him that I understood where he was coming from, that I, too, had experienced such moments of despair that taking my own life seemed like a viable option. He was surprised to hear me say that. On the outside, I guess I seemed like such a put together person. Indeed, I had moved on from those dark places in my life, but I had not forgotten them. And I recognized in talking with him that I had the opportunity to share a testimony of something I might not be so proud of, but something that would help him to know that he was not alone in his struggles. 

I wonder sometimes how much good we could all do if we are just willing to see the suffering of others around us and to share and admit the faults and failures that we have experienced. Just to simply let others know that they are not alone. In some ways, then, we may not be able to offer the solution or total healing, but we may at least find our own lives being enriched even as we enrich and encourage the lives of others.
<![CDATA[Seeing People: Lent Day 22]]>Sat, 25 Mar 2017 17:26:01 GMThttp://eagleslandingdisciples.org/along-the-journey/seeing-people-lent-day-22Quote of the Day from Shadows, Darkness, and Dawn:
The Pharisees claimed sight, proving only – like Nicodemus before them – that they were blind. Do we not hear the echoes of that claim in the halls of the church, and also on the streets where with self-satisfied benedictions we regard the poor and the unfortunate?” (Steagald, 91-92).

Scripture: John 9:39-41 (CEV)
“Jesus told [the man he had healed of blindness], ‘I came to judge the people of this world. I am here to give sight to the blind and to make blind everyone who can see.’

When the Pharisees heard Jesus say this, they asked, ‘Are we blind?’

Jesus answered, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But now that you claim to see, you will keep on being guilty.’”

It was only recently when I encountered a young man loitering around outside of a local store. As I got out of my car, I noticed that he approached some other people who were walking into the store and asked for money for a bus pass. They did not give any, and I found myself trying to scurry inside the store before he approached me as well. I recognized in my own thinking and response to the man that on the one hand, I simply did not want to be bothered. But on the other hand, if I'm honest, I was being judgmental. People like that have to have done something wrong, or else they are trying to scam people and make a living of begging for money.

The truth that I was reminded of by my own conscience is that I didn’t know this man's story, and that I had failed to see him as a person. I did not have any cash on me, but I did go back to the car and scrounge up some change. By the time I returned, he had already moved on.

How many times do I miss the opportunity to see someone and let them know that they have been seen? How many times do I end up being more like a Pharisee then a follower of Christ?
<![CDATA[My Own Blindness: Lent, Day 21]]>Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:07:24 GMThttp://eagleslandingdisciples.org/along-the-journey/my-own-blindness-lent-day-21Quote of the Day from Shadows, Darkness, and Dawn:
“Perhaps it is part of our fallen human condition to blame victims for their own sad circumstances, perhaps in the unspoken hope of feeling better about ourselves in the process” (Steagald, 89).

Scripture: John 9:1-2 (GNT)
“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been born blind. His disciples asked him, ‘Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents' sin?’”

I think about this story of the healing of a man blind from birth, the skepticism and questioning surrounding his healing, and the overall sense of demonizing him, and I wonder to myself: how often have I been guilty of doing the same thing? I must admit that there are times when I see someone on the street, out in public – a scruffy-looking panhandler at the light, a mother with small children sitting on the corner holding a sign asking for donations, or a young man approaching people as they enter a place of business asking for what little money they have to give for a bus pass and a meal. To be honest with myself, with others, and with God, I must admit that I have looked on these people at times and wondered not just how they got there, but what they did to get there, what mistakes they may have made. All the while I know that sometimes people living in those types of circumstances are there through no fault of their own. I don’t intend to be this way, but I have to acknowledge that looking at them without compassion and with disdain for their own mistakes helps me to feel better about myself. It reinforces my own sense of self-righteousness. 

So this week's text from John 9 serves to slap me in the face and remind me that this is not the kind of response that anyone deserves.  I am reminded today that I have no right to be so judgmental.  And as a follower of Christ, I am called to see such people for who they are, offering healing and release.  We may feel that is not within our power.  But somehow, I think maybe it is.