Skip to main content

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.  


Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   " this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

The Return Threshold

  As we come near the end of our weekly series on the Hero's Journey, today we will cover "The Return Threshold".  In this stage, the Hero has succeeded in their quest and now they are coming back to their old world.  Joseph Campbell calls this the "ordinary world".   The return to the ordinary world usually includes some type of challenge.  Sometimes an enemy must be challenged, but sometimes the enemy is the ordinary world itself.  As we have followed the hero's journey we have seen the hero change, what was once important is no longer important.  While the hero has changed, the ordinary world has not.  The ordinary world holds values that the returning hero has abandoned for something greater.  This can cause tension as the hero tries to return as a changed person. In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, we see the Hobbits finally return to their home in the Shire.  Unfortunately in their absence Saruman and his orcs have taken over the Shire and must be defeat

Master of Two Worlds

  This week we come to the second to last stage of the Hero's Journey.  Campbell called this stage "The Master of Two Worlds".  In this stage, the hero tries to integrate what they learned and gained on their journey with their old "ordinary" world.   Albert Einstein once said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."  This explains the challenge the hero must face in this stage.  All that they learned and gained must be fully mastered and the test of this mastery is being able to use it in the ordinary world.  They must simplify it so that the uninitiated can benefit from it, just as Einstein encouraged the mastery of complex ideas into simple explanations.   In the Star Wars Trilogy, this stage happens off-screen after the film is over, but before the new movie begins.  We learn in the newest trilogy that Luke created a school for Jedi, taking the wisdom he gained from his journey and sharing it with others.  In