By The Very Rev. Sherry Crompton
March 2, 2008
Read: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 and John 9:1-41
There’s something here about outside appearances. Samuel would choose a new king based on different ideas about what makes a good king, what makes a good leader, than God would choose. And then, of course, in our story about the blind man…it becomes comical how all those people around him cannot see. They cannot see this blind man in his new role, in his new capacity as a seeing man. Why is that? There is a lesson here for all of us, just as relevant today as it was those many years ago.
A colleague, for part of his Sunday sermon, had the ushers pass out paper bags to every one who came into the main worship service. When he began the sermon he walked into the pulpit, popped his paper bag and put it on his head. He then said through the bag, “Please join me in wearing a paper bag on your head. A lot of giggles were heard from the about 300 plus people who gathered in the rented store front, and then he heard bags popping all over the room. He joked with them about no peeking and then began to ask questions; for example, what’s the color of the blouse, dress, suit, shirt of the person next to you? What’s the color of their eyes? Do they have a Bible with them? What kind of shoes do they have on? Who is missing who is usually here? Who is new? What color tie do I have on?, etc.
After the laughing and responses stopped the pastor removed his paper bag and encouraged others to do the same.
If each of us closed our eyes right now…could we answer those questions about those around us? We all share blindness.
Paradigm is a word that comes to mind. Paradigms describe patterns. Paradigms are the ways we look at life and think about life. And with each new paradigm we face a choice, futurist Joel Barker says. We can either accept the new paradigm, that new way of doing things, or we can resist it. When we resist, he calls it paradigm paralysis, that is, the inability to view life from any other way. Even scientists have been caught altering the data when it conflicted with what they had expected to see. Churches can suffer from paradigm paralysis. All of us can suffer from paradigm paralysis.
That’s a good way to understand this morning’s gospel lesson. Paradigms and paradigm paralysis. A truly extraordinary thing happens in a neighborhood in Jerusalem. A man who suffers from blindness is healed instantly by a passerby. More extraordinary is the unorthodox sort of way the healing occurs. It’s wild really! A mysterious passerby makes a spit wad and rolls it into a glob of mud the size of ping pong balls and then sticks them in this poor man’s eyes. “Go to the pool of Siloam on the other side of town and wash your face,” the stranger says. The man does and is healed. He washes the muck off of his eyes and a new world, a new way of seeing life is before him. He sees everything now!
Think about this too… Animals have interesting ways of seeing. Have you noticed that when light is flashed into cat’s eyes they glow in the dark? Cats have something like mirrors in their eyes that allow them to see things in the dark that we can’t see.
Another creature that sees well at night is the owl. Think about how large the eyes of an owl are. Those large eyes allow them to take in more light so they can see things in the dark.
Penguins have eyes that help them see well underwater and sea stars have “eye cups” inside the tip of each arm.
Honeybees see rays of light that are invisible to us and they are also able to see “secret colors” so they can go deep into a flower and collect pollen.
Many spiders have eight eyes!
What are we to make of all this? We learn that there is more than one way of seeing. Jesus taught us about this idea when he caused a blind man to see. The man had been blind from birth. Others asked the man, “…how were your eyes opened?”
It’s that paradigm paralysis for those around the formerly blind man. They cannot comprehend the creative act of Jesus Christ. How can this be? Those around the blind man are the true blind ones. They are in the dark. They are focused on something other than the light. They are focused on sin. Blindness comes in many forms.
Jesus’ creative act…this really is a creative act…the man was born blind…his sight wasn’t “restored” it was “created”. Creative acts take us back to Genesis when God created us and the world we live in. God created Adam from the earth…mud.
Remember Adam and Eve with the serpent eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge. “Through original sin we all “saw” that we are naked, but we find ways to deflect that sin onto others like the man born blind who couldn’t “see.” He must have sinned or his parents must have sinned for such a terrible thing to have happened.
Jesus changes our “sight.” We “see” ourselves as forgiven, not punished for our sins. Instead of “seeing” ourselves naked before God, God “sees” us clothed in grace and love.
The disciples and the Pharisees wanted to view things through sin-glasses, and as a result their perception of reality was distorted; a child of God was stripped of his humanity, and a miracle of grace was reduced to a theological debate.
Jesus invited the witnesses to this miracle to remove their sin-glasses and “see” things from a radically new perspective – one that didn’t fit neatly into their religious view. A new paradigm.
Like the one formerly known as blind, we are challenged to put on our Son-glasses S-O-N glasses, and see God, not through the darkened eyes of sin, but through the enlightened eyes of grace and love.” (Glen S.)
We give great thanks that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. May we be granted the grace to see the world through Son-glasses…our S-O-N glasses. That we might see our brothers and sisters clothed in God’s mercy and grace. That we might see ourselves in a new light…forgiven and renewed.
May the Spirit of God sneak up on you from behind! Amen.
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