Fourth Sunday in Lent 3 April 2011
(Ephesians 5:8-14 Psalm 23 John 4:5-42)
“I Can’t Get Well Alone!”
“I can’t get well alone!” was the voice of a homeless man who wanted us to understand that whatever the reason for being homeless at this point in his life, that whatever the reasons for feeling isolated and disconnected from friends and family, the path to relationship is never travelled alone.
“I can’t get well alone!” was the voice the 8th grade confirmation students heard last Saturday morning from this same person who had lost everything in his life and is now labeled “homeless” by society.
“I can’t get well alone!” are also words of hopeful anticipation from a man saying to the very people who have given him this label, trusting that we offer something more than a label, that we can offer justice, dignity and self-respect.
“I can’t get well alone!” are the words I heard on Friday afternoon from the Bible Study group at the Lutheran Home as we studied this Gospel text. I heard it from nine people in wheelchairs, three persons who don’t want Bibles because they cannot see to read the words, and two people who cannot hear well at all.
“I can’t get well alone!” are the words we hear, yet are never quite spoken in the story of the blind man being healed by Jesus.
“I can’t get well alone!” are the words of grace we hear every time we begin our worship with the “Confession and Forgiveness”: “God, who is rich in mercy, loved us even when we were dead in sin and made us alive together with Christ….”
“I can’t get well alone!” and so, the Son of God shines light on this blind man as Jesus loves him, not looking at him as a sinner, not seeing him with condescending pity, but touching him, getting down in the dirt, lifting him up, healing him.
There are a whole lot of broken lives out there that need lifting up and healed, whole countries of lives: Japan, Libya, Sudan, Syria. And there are many broken lives close by and right here that need picking up and healed, whole communities of lives, whole congregations and families and individuals, that are broken and blind and isolated, and suffering.
“I can’t get well alone!” even when I am irresponsible and sinful, and make wrong decisions, even when I do not notice the healing power of Jesus in our midst.
“I can’t get well alone!” so I need people like you to reach out beyond your fears, beyond your comfort zones and security nets and well-entrenched beliefs, to help me find healing,
“I can’t get well alone!” so I need you to welcome God’s blessings into the blind areas of your lives, offering new Light stirring you into a new, mostly uncomfortable way of knowing God’s healing presence.
A woman blind from birth was asked by a friend, “How do you sing ‘Amazing Grace’ when we sing it in church?” We all remember the words: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” How can you sing that hymn when it is not true for you?
The woman answered, “This is how I sing that hymn. When we get to that verse, I straighten my shoulders and sing with gusto, ‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, and I still can’t see! But . . . praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
You see, no one is outside the healing power of God’s grace. God’s grace is deeper than our brokenness and pain, bigger than our past and more secure than our future.
“I can’t get well alone!” Come, welcome God’s healing presence in the laying on of hands. Come to the table of God love and mercy. Come: be nourished with God’s amazing grace and healing love that holds us together.
“I can’t get well alone.” These are the words not only of a homeless man in Washington, DC. These are the words not only of a blind man in a Gospel story.
”I can’t get well alone”—these are our words, words of each and every one of us. Praise God from whom all blessing flow! Amen.