To the People of the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church, and to the ends of the earth, Fulfilling our charge to “To guard, transmit, teach, and proclaim … the apostolic faith as it is expressed in Scripture and tradition, and … to interpret that faith evangelically and prophetically” (BOD, 2016, ¶ 414.3), the bishops in the Western Jurisdiction will offer messages of faith each week of Lent, with the prayer that God will strengthen the Church for its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

READ John 9

Jesus spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. – John 9:6-7

One of my favorite stories of Jesus is when he healed the blind man. He told those who gathered around him to not cast blame, but instead to stay alert and on the look-out for what God is doing. He then spit in the dust, and placed the mud on the blind man’s eyes, telling him to wash in the pool of Siloam. As soon as he did this, the man was no longer blind!

I love this story because it reminds me that God works through the mud and muck of life. I have come to learn that as much as I like things neat and orderly, as often as I reach for the hand sanitizer to keep an antiseptic life, this isn’t what God asks of me. I have found that God is most often found in the messy parts of my life.

There’s a lot of messiness in the world right now. People are afraid. People are hurting. Hate and intolerance are on the rise.  Truth seems in short supply. Public discourse has taken on a new, vicious tone.

It would be easy for us to ignore all that is going on in the world right now and instead turn inward—to gather in our churches to sing our hymns and pray our prayers for those sitting in the pews with us. But that isn’t what God asks of us. God asks us, as the Body of Christ, to spill out of our churches and into the streets with the transforming power of Love. We are called to go into the messy world that breaks our heart and allow God’s healing light to permeate our systems, structures, institutions and lives.

God became one of us through Jesus Christ, to take on not just the joys of human existence, but its trials and tragedies as well. We cannot turn a blind eye to the messiness that is in our world right now. Instead, we need to discover the truth that is in John 9: that God will reach in through the mud and muck and create miracles. Are you willing to get dirty, for God’s sake?

Prayer: Gracious God, we often sing “I once was blind, but now I see”. May our eyes and hearts be open to the world’s injustices, pains, and struggles, so that we might rise up and be agents of your Love and Hope. Amen.

– Bishop Karen Oliveto, Mountain Sky Area