THE SUNDAY SERMON–A change for good

By Rev. Stephen Baldwin

OT: Psalm 23

NT: John 9.1-41

One day during my first year in the House of Delegates, a lawyer from the governor’s office came to my office.  He was carrying a huge stack of folders.  

Uh oh, I thought.  What have I done? Who did I anger this time? What law have I violated? 

He said, “I need to talk to you about something important.” 

That only deepened my sense of foreboding, but I said sure.  

“You’re a pastor, right?” he asked.  

“Yes sir,” I said to him.  

Thank the Lord, I said to myself.  I’m not in trouble.  He is!  And he needs my help.  

“I’m supposed to preach at my church this week for the first time in my life.” He then proceeded to tell me about every step in his walk of faith, every church he ever went to, who his 8th grade Sunday School teacher was, his favorite hymns, and finally got back around to the sermon. 

He plopped that stack of folders on my desk and said, “Here’s what I’ve got together for the sermon. I don’t think I should write anything down. I think I should take all this info and wing it on Sunday morning.”

I said, “When you go before a judge, do you just wing it? Or do you have a plan?” 

“Oh,” he said, “I always have a plan.” 

“Well, then let’s get a plan together for your sermon.” And we did. 

While I cannot guarantee you this sermon I’m giving will be better or worse than his, I can guarantee it will be shorter! 

Today’s story…is about change. Most people like change about as much as they like sitting in traffic. We are creatures of habit. We like things the way they are.  The way we think they should be. When Kroger moves the aisles, we lose our minds. When Wendy’s changes the flow of the drive-thru, we lament that life will never be the same. 

Change is hard, right? But change…is necessary.  Who experiences change in this passage? 

The blind man.  Once he was blind, but now he sees. The entire community had shunned him for years because they viewed his blindness as punishment for sin that they wanted no part of. So he had been pushed aside his whole life, and suddenly everybody wanted to talk to him.  

His parents experience change. Their son suddenly has a new lease on life.  But with the transformation came attention.  Attention they had not sought or desired. The religious leaders asked questions they didn’t want to answer. So they didn’t deal with change as well. 

The town experienced change. The Pharisees and passers-by and merchants saw a blind beggar become a child of God, in an instant, and it shattered their certainties. Maybe miracles did happen. Maybe the sinful deserved their love and attention too. Maybe Jesus was someone special. 

The most impactful change is that which we never see coming. The blind man never expected to be able to see. His parents never expected him to see. His community never expected him to see. So when he does, it’s almost too much to handle. 

The man we now know as Saint Patrick only became that person because of a change he never saw coming. 

When he was 16, without a care in the world, he was abducted and taken as a slave to Ireland. A change he never saw coming. For six years, he was kept there and tended sheep for his captors. 

When he was 22, he escaped. And made it all the way back to his homeland of Britain. A change he never saw coming. 

Shortly after, he converted to a Christianity and returned to Ireland to spread the good news. A change he never saw coming. 

Sometimes the most important moments of our lives are not part of any plan; they are changes we never see coming. 

The most fascinating part of today’s story for me is who God uses to cause change. It’s the last person anyone would ever expect. The man blind from birth who begged for food. He was the one God chose to change their minds about Jesus. 

God has a way of using ordinary people for extraordinary things. The Samaritan woman at the well. The thief on the cross. The blind beggar. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things! 

This Lent, we give thanks for the people God places in our ordinary, everyday lives. People who change us in ways we never expected…and in the very ways we need. Amen.


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