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Bishop's Message

RSS By: Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

The Rev. Dr. Robert Rimbo shares regular thoughts and reflections about our life together.

What is good and right and true

Apr 06, 2014

On Sunday, March 30, the Fourth Sunday in Lent, I heard startling words in worship: "Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light – for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true" (Ephesians 5:8). They were startling for two reasons in particular: they were read in the midst of Lent when I have often felt burdened and not enlightened, and I heard them in worship in Washington, D.C., where I was working for what is good and right and true with other leaders of the ELCA and with elected leaders and their colleagues.

Lent is at least partly about getting us to focus our vision in the right direction. As one of the antiphons prayed in Lent says, "Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; give me life in your ways" (Psalm 119:37). I spend a lot of time thinking about, attending to, the wrong things. I’m often looking in the opposite direction of where I should be looking.

How do I stop that? How do we stop that?

The gospel reading I heard last Sunday, immediately after hearing the Ephesians encouragement, was the story of how Jesus gave sight to a blind man and how that became the occasion of the Pharisees becoming morally and spiritually sightless themselves. The blind man knows is limitations. The Pharisees are blissfully unaware of their own. For St. John, Jesus is the light of the world and the tragic part of the story centers on the increasing inability of the religious and secular authorities to perceive the truth he represents, the truth he is. The Pharisees and the Romans think they see quite clearly. But they judge with human criteria; they do not see as God sees. They are trapped in their own self-congratulatory narrative. They are not open to what God is doing now in the world around them.

What might it look like for us to have life in God’s ways, to see clearly what God wants us to see? If we shift our attention to Jesus, we become both joyous and free. If we keep our eyes on Jesus, we might just become like him. And that is the goal of the Christian life. Jesus shows us the good life which we will never see if we are "watching what is worthless." Jesus is just and loving and compassionate. He cares about the poor. He is a healer. His table fellowship gathers everyone – even the outcast and the disreputable – into a community of wholeness and blessing and love. Jesus lives an abundant life in the midst of scarcity. He knows who he is, what he needs, and how to live creatively with other people in God’s world. What we want to be, when we’re honest with ourselves, is like Jesus – joyously alive in the life God offers and intends for us all. And the best way to be like Jesus is to direct our attention toward him – as he is revealed in the means of grace. Over a lifetime of looking at and listening to Jesus, we will be made into the people God intends us to be.

That’s what Lent is about.

Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

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