This is the first post with the Sunday readings and a short reflection. If you have any comments or suggestions on how to improve on this do let me know.
Over this period of shutdown, while our churches are closed I will be producing a reflection on the readings for each Sunday. It will be printed on the reverse of our normal sheets. Copies will be available in church and published on the website at winchelseachurch.co.uk. If you know of anyone who would like to receive copy in any way, please let me know.
Revd Jonathan Meyer Rector Benefice of Winchelsea with Icklesham 01797 226254
Reflection for the fourth Sunday work Lent
The reading for this Sunday is taken from St John’s gospel. It tells the story of the healing of the blind man. There is so much richness in the stories of Jesus’s miracles. In John’s Gospel, we have the constant play on the balance between light and dark. Like the chiaroscuro of the Renaissance painters, it is through the acknowledgement of the dark side that we can look up to the light. This miracle about the healing of the blind man reminds us that sight itself depends on light. The fragile light that shines in the darkness and is not overcome.
Earlier this year the diocese ran a short course on how to avoid anti-Semitism in the way we preach at Easter. This may not seem to be a particular concern for many people but there is no doubt that over the centuries the Jews have been blamed for the death of Jesus. John’s gospel highlights this when he often describes those against Jesus as the Jews. In many parts of the gospel, the use of the word Jews really refers to the Pharisees, although in this passage both words are used. John probably wrote more than a hundred years after the life of Christ and by then a clearer division had developed between those following the traditional religion of Israel and those Christians following Jesus Christ. It is a distinction that has been exploited for evil over the last two millennia.
I thought of this when I noticed that in America there is an attempt to describe coronavirus as the Chinese disease. It reminds us how we compromise our perception, of which sight is so often a metaphor, if we fail to understand that this is a problem that faces humanity as a whole. We cannot seek to blame but we can seek to come together. I see many signs of people coming together and I pray that these new ways of doing things may endure beyond this outbreak.
The message of this Sunday’s gospel is that we are called to see, to reflect on the life and death of Jesus and through faith to be strengthened, to cast aside the works of darkness and to move into the light. If we allow ourselves to be lead astray by labels and convince ourselves that we understand, that we see, then we are mistaken, “there are none so blind as those who are sure they see already”.
In the face of our anxieties during the current crisis let us remember that the message of the gospel is to love one another. Help us to be moved to support and help those around us for whom this crisis is more serious. The appointed psalm for this Sunday is Psalm 23 (which is recorded on the website at Winchelseachurch.co.uk ). Help us to see O Lord and lead us to the green pastures and the still waters. Amen.