Thursday, April 6, 2017

Across the River

Again the Jews were divided because of these words. Many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?’ Others were saying, ‘These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’
 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’
 The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?’ The Jews answered, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.’ Jesus answered, ‘Is it not written in your law, “I said, you are gods”? If those to whom the word of God came were called “gods”—and the scripture cannot be annulled— can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, “I am God’s Son”? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’ Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, ‘John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.’ And many believed in him there.  John 10:19-42

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of my consecration as a bishop. It happened at St. Paul's College, Lawrenceville, Va where the gymnasium had been turned into a sanctuary, and people from across the church gathered. I loved the people of the Diocese of Southern Virginia and loved serving there. Since then, I have served in several dioceses, delighted by the people and their many gifts. Sometimes we hope we can plant roots forever, in one place, but it rarely happens. God called me beyond where I started, through some very rough waters, but always led me through. I look back in thankfulness, even for the hardest of times, because I have learned how I am held and sheltered, even in adversity. And not just me. God takes us to the other side and finds us new places, new peoples and new families.

Jesus is being grilled some more about healing a man born blind. This act seemed to aggravate the religious leaders. They were sorely vexed, wanting to kill him on the spot. Although he held up well in the argument, under horrid scrutiny, he was still in danger the whole time. God got his child to the other side of the river. And God promises that rescue and safety to us all. Despite everything the world can throw at us, we are the children of a living, loving and active God.

Today I ask God to help me look backward and rejoice, as well as looking forward in prayerful hope. May we remember how gently ans completely we are cared for, and give thanks for the promise of the days ahead.

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