Friday, April 11, 2014

How Are We Called to Be a Blessing?


 John 9:1-41                

I never thought 25 years ago when I became a Presbyterian minister (and joined the Army a year later) that I would have conducted 26 memorial ceremonies in Iraq; counseled FEMA workers and firefighters at Ground Zero; and now am visiting dying Veteran soldiers at David Grant Medical Center on Travis Air Force base in Fairfield, California, BUT here I am.


Each day I walk the halls of the hospital praying that God would take me in the right room. I have a list of names, illnesses, religion, military service etc... but which room does God want me to enter? Which room is waiting for a visit from an imperfect, all too human, many times preoccupied Chaplain? And then I am reminded of one verse from our scripture for today - John 9: 4, "as long as it is day, we must do the works of the one who sent me," Jesus says.


Wow...Yikes...what was that???!!!


"As long as it is day, we must do the works of the one who sent me,"


I have my marching orders now!!! But somehow these marching orders are different now. I once was preoccupied, but now am focused. I once was tired, but now have purpose. I once was down and lonely, but realize once again - it is not about me. I am here to do GOD'S ministry.


God has me here to learn something.... God has me here to listen and be present for others who are struggling with end of life choices, pain and sorrow, joy and recovery.


Our scripture today in John is an amazing story of how Jesus, literally and figuratively, opens our eyes. He healed the man born blind from birth and if we pay attention, he opens up our eyes and heals us too.


So this Scripture begs the question, "How and in what ways does God need to open our eyes? What do we have to learn? Who has God put into our lives to teach us?"


This weekend I facilitated three groups of 10 soldiers each who just returned home from downrange in Afghanistan. They were tired. For many of them, this was their sixth or seventh deployment.  I could see in their eyes how drained they were of energy, life and meaning. I was helping them process their experiences during war. I asked them, "How are you different now that you have returned home from war?" Their answers, as you might have guessed, varied, but one thing was sure - they were forever changed by what life, war, people and leaders taught them.

The man born blind in our scripture says, "whether Jesus is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see." (John 9:25)


Pastor Sharon Latour, Ph.D., in her book, Radical Wholeness writes, "Our best intentions won't yield perfect results, but I'm sure it will make us all feel a whole lot better, just by making the effort to try. While we cannot heal the whole world, it seems we can do something about our corner of it." (p. 162)

I encourage you as you journey toward the cross,

                As long as it is day, do the works of the one who sent YOU!!!  



Rev. Joanne Martindale

SFTS D.Min. Student
Chaplain, David Grant Medical Center on Travis Air Force Base