journeying through Lent and hoLy week with gLee: vision

John 9

Some brief remarks on this full, celebratory Sunday, particularly about what struck me as some of the comic touches to our text this morning. If you’ve read the meditations in the bulletin, you know that humor is an integral part of the story of this place and this people! Jesus healed a man born blind, and, afterwards, those who had known him as a blind beggar were trying to figure out if he was, in fact, the same man.

“It was this guy.”
“Yeah, it was me.”
“No, it was someone who looked like him.”
“No, it was me.”
“I mean, look at him. He can see.”
“But I couldn’t. It was me.”
“Oh, come one, how carefully do you look at beggars? Don’t they all look kind of the same?”

The text reads: “He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’”
“Well if it was you, then how were your eyes opened?”
“Heck if I know. The man named Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said go wash, and I did, and I saw.” Very matter of fact.

Well, they brought him to the Pharisees who conducted the same interview all over again. And the man who had formerly been blind (that’s a great phrase, isn’t it?), said again, “I don’t know. He made mud, put it on my eyes, told me to wash. I did and I see.”

And the Pharisees argued about how this could have happened—divided amongst themselves as to whether a sinner could do a miracle—as Jesus had healed the man on a sabbath and was thus obviously a sinner. And they asked the formerly blind man, “Who do you think he is? After all, it was your eyes he opened.” No argument about that.
“He’s a prophet … because I was blind and now I see.”

Then the Pharisees go to the man’s parents! They needed a parent-Pharisee conference to verify what they seem to have accepted—to verify that he had been formerly blind. Maybe it had all been a (you know) thirty year con! “Is this your son whom you say was born blind? How did this happen?” They can’t believe what they see! They struggle to accept what’s obvious, and get all sidetracked in how this could be—sidetracked into explanation.
“Heck if we know. All we know is that he is our son, and he was born blind and now he sees. If you want to know any more than that, ask him. He’s of age.” Of course they had already asked him, hadn’t they? And that was all he knew too, right?

So they go back to the ex-blind man commanding him to give glory to God, simultaneously pronouncing Jesus a sinner.
“Don’t know anything about that. Don’t really care anything about that. I was blind but now I see. That’s what I know. That’s what I care about.”
“Heck if I know. I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Ha! Bet that got their backs up!

“It’s a funny thing. I was blind but now I see. You see but are blind to the miracle right in front of us. I was blind but now I see. What more do you need to know? Why do you need to know how? This doesn’t fall within your control or your understanding. Can you accept the fact you can’t explain?”

I speak this morning on behalf of the staff. I didn’t tell Greg and Heike that, so now they’re wondering! But actually I mean to speak for present and for all past staff, and for the beloved saints who have gone before—that venerated list of names and memories and stories that stretch back in time to our very beginnings 140 years ago. And I speak for you, members of Woodbrook gathered here today, ministers all. I’m preaching to the choir, as they say. But sometimes it’s good to just make sure the choir is all on the same page, right Heike?

So speaking on behalf of Eutaw Place Baptist Church and Woodbrook Baptist Church, speaking for 140 years of experience as a community of faith, 140 years of Bible study and singing and prayer, 140 years of service—speaking on behalf of 140 years worth of relationships and stories—mashing up everyone who’s ever been a part of this people, we are a people who confess, “We were blind, but now we see. Sure we still have our blind spots, and we are all still learning to see. Don’t know how. Just know that. And that Jesus was involved—is involved.”

And so we are a people invested in helping each other, and helping others, to see. We are a people trying to learn from Jesus, walk in the way of Jesus, who consistently take what we have of the divine (the Bible stories we love, the hymns we sing, the testimony we share, the assurance we claim)—we are a people who consistently take what we have of the divine and mix it with the dirt—with the ashes and dust of life, hoping and praying for vision—for a vision.

It’s a funny thing. We were blind but now we see. What more does anyone need to know? It’s nothing that falls within our control or even our understanding. We seek to accept the fact we can’t explain. Such is our 140 year old confession of faith—our 140 year old celebration of faith—one that will keep us going.

Thanks be to God.


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