It’s been quite some time since I’ve written, or anyone on this blog for that matter! There is certainly a lot that has gone on in the past months in this nation in which I am blessed to live and in our world. It is easy at times to feel weighed down by the many difficulties we encounter in life - and as Christians, we should expect many difficulties to come our way. In light of this, sometimes it feels good to just sit down and dish out some thoughts for someone else to hear, or in this case, read. As I sit outside on this beautiful Minnesota evening, I feel a sudden urge to write a few things down, so I hope you enjoy my ramblings!
It is not my intent in this post to pontificate on the evils of our society - oh, there are many, and it would be easy to do so. I just don’t feel like doing that right now, and it would make me depressed. It’s too nice of an evening to be depressed. If you want solid, confessional Christian, relevant commentary on just about anything from world events to next week’s lectionary readings, go over to issuesetc.org and you’ll have everything you need.
Now that I’ve written half a post already, here’s something I’ve been meaning to touch on for quite a while. A couple of years, in fact. About two and a half years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a semi-professional performance of Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah, at a church close to where I go to college. Now, I had attended several performances of this work before, including a number of “sing along” productions, which are very fun to be a part of. However, I came away from this performance feeling a little differently than I had ever before.
I sat down in the church with my friends waiting for the performance to begin. It didn’t take long to notice that the young lady we had sat down next to was actually blind. As the crowd began to file in more and more and the musicians began to ramp up their warm-up exercises, it was neat to watch the anticipation grow on her face and even in her posture. Here I was, just ready to sit through another three hours of music and probably get little more out of it than critiquing how I thought it should have been performed differently, but this young blind lady, clearly with a much greater disadvantage in life than me, was genuinely excited for what was coming. She began almost squirming in her seat with joyful anticipation and finally she nearly shouted, “I’m just so excited!!” That moment has never quite left me, and I have thought about it many times since then as it forces me to think about the many things that I often take for granted.
Vision is an obvious one - I think anyone with decent vision is forced to recognize how much we all take that for granted when we come across someone who is blind. Just last week I was struck by how much I take my hearing for granted when I went swimming and one of my ears got clogged up for just a few days! However, there was something deeper in this young lady’s excitement that struck me in such a way that I still remember it. What was she so excited about? Did she love a decently-mediocre level of orchestral music so much that she was nearly frothing at the mouth to hear the musicians struggle through the tougher passages? I don’t think so. She knew what was coming - she was going to hear the Word of God proclaimed to her that day in law and gospel. (That was another thing I noticed in this production. Handel seems to have had a really good grasp on the whole counsel of God as proclaimed in law and gospel. Follow through the texts of Messiah. The way Handel lays them out and patterns them is quite appropriate and beautiful.) She knew that the story of Messiah was her own story. The story of the fall of mankind and the redemption thereof through the work of Jesus Christ, God and man, who redeemed us, lost and condemned creatures, who purchased and won us from sin, death, and the power of the devil with His own precious blood and innocent suffering and death, who makes us His own through Baptism and gives us His own body and blood in the Lord’s Supper - that is what she was so eager to hear. That is the message of God’s grace for the world, and she knew it was for her. She knew that regardless of her state in life, regardless of her blindness, regardless of anything in this world that may seem evil or wrong, she was living a life that in every breath was a gift from a God who loved her and gave himself for her and who was coming to her that very day with His words of forgiveness, life, and salvation proclaimed through beautiful music. There was no greater gift that she could have received, and she knew that and could not wait to have her ears filled with it.
It struck me that day what a beautiful picture of faith that was, and how much I truly do take for granted. We are blessed to live in a country where we still have God’s Word at our very fingertips whenever we want it. Yet, I saw in that day how complacent I had become in receiving that Word of Truth. It made me realize again what a treasure God’s Word is, and it made me rethink what is important in my life. While I let my aspirations and talents often push God’s Word off to the side, not using them to the glory of God but instead to advance my own purposes, this young blind lady reminded me of my need for God’s Word, and she helped me to receive it that day in the same joy that she approached it with. For where rejection or even neglect of God’s Word show a measure of spiritual blindness, this physically blind lady reminded me that it is the Word of God that is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, illuminating every step as we navigate this broken, darkened world. May the gospel of Jesus Christ for sinners enlighten all of our lives as it teaches us our story - our own brokenness, our spiritual blindness and death, and our Savior who comes to our aid, reaching down into our wretched, sinful lives, drawing us to himself, and nourishing and strengthening us through His Word, through our Baptisms, through His body and blood in the Supper, and through the mutual consolation of the brethren, all of which are further givings out of His Word. What a gracious God we have!
+++ Pax Domini +++