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Winter is Coming - John 9

This is what God does, gives the best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. Matthew 5:45b

The Stark family in the TV Show "Game of Thrones" had a saying they used throughout the 8 seasons of the show: "Winter is coming".  The Starks were in charge of guarding the Northern Gates of the kingdom.  Old legends foretold of a deep winter that would bring disaster, and the Starks used this phrase as a reminder of that approaching darkness.  Game of Thrones fans recently blew up the internet with conspiracy theories in response to the Game of Thrones franchise posting these words as a cryptic tweet on Twitter.  "Winter is Coming" would have been a great foreshadowing of this last year in isolation due to the pandemic, but did you know that Jesus had his own version of this saying?

This week we read Chapter 9 of the Gospel of John.  In this story Jesus and his disciples encounter a man that had been born blind.  Some people wondered if he was blind due to some sort of sin, but Jesus broke from traditional thought and explained that sickness and sin were not connected.  Before healing him he said to his disciples "we must do the work of the one who sent me while it is still day, NIGHT IS COMING!". 

Ok, so I totally added the emphasis there, but when I imagine this encounter, I can't help but hear the intensity of the  Stark's warning in the words of Christ.  He went on to heal the man and it caused a lot of political controversy, because it was done on the Sabbath, and because the Pharisees had already announced that any supporter of Jesus would be expelled from the synagogue.  The people were divided.  Some thought that Jesus was evil while others said that the miracles were a sign that God was with him.  All of these parts of the story are important and worth exploring on there own, but for today, let's just focus on "night is coming".  What is Jesus saying?

In context of the question "is this man's blindness the result of his sin?".  I think Jesus is pointing out an ancient truth found in the wisdom of Ecclesiastes as well as the book of Job.  

The wise man has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. Yet I also came to realize that one fate overcomes them both. - Ecclesiastes 2:14

It is all the same, and so I say, 'He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.' But together they lie down in the dust, and worms cover them both. - Job 9:22 & 21:26

I think Jesus is warning his disciples that hard times are coming, life is full of up and down cycles, and you should do good while you can, because a time is coming when you won't be able to do the good that you can do today.  When we find ourselves in the "night" the good work we have to do in that time is what Carl Jung called "shadow work".  

"Every pain, addiction, anguish, longing, depression, anger or fear is an orphaned part of us seeking joy, some disowned shadow wanting to return to the light and home of ourselves.”
― Jacob Nordby

This walk of faith we are on is not about getting the blessings, or avoiding the "night", but about being the blessing and blessing the blesser. 

God, help us to enjoy the sun when it shines upon us.  Help us to receive the nourishing rain when it falls.  Help us to do the good you have given us to do today, and to not put it off for a time when we can no longer do it.  Help us to prepare for the times of darkness, and to do the difficult shadow work we must do in the "night".  Give us strength and patience to persevere.  Let us be a blessing to those around us, and to bless you, the blesser.  Amen.  


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