Good morning everyone and welcome to our first Sunday Service of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevents us from meeting together physically in church. I hope you find this mixture of prayers, readings, and sermon a meaningful substitute and that you will feel able to worship God in your home knowing that other members of the All Saints’ family will be joining you. I realize not all of us will be worshipping at the same time but at least we will all be following the same service. As I enter my 6th day of total isolation following my return from Australia last Monday, I pray that all of you will be able to feel God’s love and presence as we all go through this period of separation.
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that He may live in us, and we in Him, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
May my words be in the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Amen.
The entire passage in our Gospel this morning deals with blindness – but strangely enough, it is not the blindness of the man born blind that is central to the passage, rather it is the blindness of those around him and, most especially, the blindness of the religious teachers and authorities which forms the focus of the reading. So, what are we to make of the story of the man born blind and what meaning does it have for us being the self-proclaimed religious people of our generation? Well, it is a very rich passage and today we can only look at two things. My thumbs and fingers would ache even more if we looked at everything in the story!
The first thing I would like you to grasp is this – while all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God, not all afflictions, perhaps not even the vast majority of afflictions, can be blamed on the sin of the person who must bear that affliction or – as in the case of a genetic defect or a birth accident like that the man born blind must have had – upon the sin of the parents. GOD DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY. While some afflictions obviously are the result of one kind of sin or another – for example, someone driving drunk may have an accident in which they are crippled for life or in which they cripple someone else for life – for the most part, many other afflictions can’t be blamed on someone, nor should we try to blame them on someone.
This is the second point I want to make. Jesus answers the question about who sinned that the man was born blind by saying, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” He then healed the man with mud and spit and the touch of his precious hand. THIS IS HOW GOD OPERATES. This is what Jesus is about. This is what He wants us to do now in this generation. He has come to give us relief from our afflictions, from our sickness and from our worries. At this time of worry from the Coronavirus all around the world we can do no better than to follow the words of this great revival hymn:
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Saviour,
And life more abundant and free
Look full in his wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
God our Father, in your unfailing love and goodness, hear us as we bring our prayers for the world and for all people to you. In this period of Lent we come to you aware of our unreadiness for the enormity of the Easter message, that Christ suffered and died for us and was yet raised in glorious victory. Grant us healing in our souls, Lord, and in the souls of all those searching for meaning in their lives and for all who are blinded by the sin and darkness of this secular world and can see no way out of their physical and mental suffering.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.
We pray for all those who worry about the Coronavirus crisis and struggle with their loneliness and being forced to stay in isolation. Give them courage and hope and we pray for the future, certain in the knowledge that you will continue to guide us and guard us throughout all things. Support us through these difficult times and through ill health, doubt or trouble, and fulfill your promise to be with us until the end of the age.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.
We pray for all those who are sick and infirm, naming those in hearts who need your love and healing touch at this time. We pray for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Bless them and surround them with you love.
The Lord’s Prayer
May the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, The Love of God and The Fellowship of The Holy Spirit be with us all now and evermore. Amen