“The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
[1 Samuel 16:7b]
A few weeks ago, a man walked into a suburban Kansas City bar and opened fire on two men from India, killing one of them and seriously wounding the other. The shooter, a 51-year-old Navy veteran, hoped to kill more dark skinned foreigners.
The two victims were engineers who worked at Garmin, the company that developed the GPS technology. The shooter apparently thought they were of Middle Eastern descent. He yelled, “get out of my country,” before pulling the trigger.
Another 24-year old bar patron intervened, possibly preventing more loss of life. He, too, suffered injuries in the catastrophe. When asked why he stepped into the middle of danger, he responded, ““I just did what I felt was naturally right to do… I was just doing what anyone should have done for another human being. It’s not about where he’s from, or ethnicity. We’re all humans.”
The valiant young man is also a military vet, having served in the Marines. He is Lutheran, by the way; but that has little bearing on this story.
The point is that two men, both created and loved by God, saw two other of God’s creatures in a remarkably different light. For me, the connection between this horrific incident and the themes in the readings for this upcomign Fourth Sunday in Lent was inescapable.
The Old Testament reading tells the account of the selection and anointing of David as king of Israel.
The Gospel narrative is the story of Jesus healing a man who was blind from birth.
There is a lot to “see” in these readings; in particular, the lengthy Gospel narrative. Last week the grace that Christ offers the world was likened to water, and by now you may have gathered that this coming week the thematic link between the readings is that God’s mercy is likened to sight and light. The eyes are more than organs of the body.
We live in a culture that is oriented to image and appearance. And that becomes our downfall. But God sees in us what we cannot see in others and, for that matter, even in ourselves. God loves you for your whole being, not as you outwardly appear. And our challenge as people of faith is to try to view others as God views them. Jesus comes to bring light in the midst of our darkness, to open our eyes and give us sight to both see and honor him as the Savior of the world. And for that we say, “Thanks be to God.”
This is quite an active week for me:
· Wednesday, I travel to Sterling Heights, Michigan, for the funeral of the Rev. Diane Lundgren, at Christ Lutheran Church, the congregation where she was ordained. Pastor Lundgren, who died Monday, March 13, was rostered in our synod, although she had been on medical disability for several years. Please keep the family of Pastor Lundgren in your prayers.
· Sunday morning, March 26, I will be visiting with the people of God at St. John Lutheran Church, Canal Fulton.
· Later that afternoon, I will be in Cleveland at the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Formula of Agreement, which brought the ELCA into full communion partnership with the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Reformed Church in America, and the United Church of Christ. This service of Holy Communion will be held at 3:00pm EST at the Amistad Chapel located at 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115. Our preacher for the service is our own Presiding Bishop, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton.
· Following that service, I will be off to Washington, D.C. for our ELCA Advocacy Convening from March 27-29. We will gather under the theme, “Renewed in Christ to Witness.” ELCA Bishops and other church and community leaders will discuss and implement advocacy priorities and engage with our elected leaders on matters of importance to the ELCA. We will also visit our congressional offices and urge Congress to address urgent needs, including protection of vulnerable migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
May the light of Christ shine brightly within you this day, the remainder of this week and always!
+Bishop Abraham Allende