The Man Born Blind, March 30, 2014

Title:The Man Born Blind, March 30, 2014

  Sunday, March 30, 2014  (full size gallery)

A soggy, soggy Sunday! Temperatures were affected by gusty winds along with the rain which was a downpour at times. Attendance wasn’t particularly good – 9 at 9am and only 21 at 11am. Only 1 – Zeke at Godly Play. We did begin collecting for Easter lilies and the organ funds to repair the bellows.

Ken updated us at 11am on the first week of the tutoring program – 26 as students with 13 tutors. 7 students were there on Friday. They are compiling a group of needs. They may move some of the older children to use the library on Wed. evenings. They need some tutors with a background in guidance counselor with those trying to get a GED or to see the vocational options. Ken is also stepping up advertising in town and along Route 17 to cover the neighborhoods. He will revisit those who signed up but haven’t appeared. The schedule for tutoring will have to be modified for Holy Week and Easter vacation the next week 

The sermon began with the story of Bill Irwin, the man who hiked the appalachian trail blind. It used the idea from the Ephesians reading "Live as children of light– for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true." "The writer of Ephesians in today’s reading tells us to “Live as children of the light,” which is what Bill Irwin did, once he became physically blind and gained spiritual and emotional sight." 

So how do we do the same? The sermon pointed to 3 theologians  –  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Smith, and C.S. Lewis.

1  "Bonhoeffer wisely suggests that when we wake up, we set aside the distractions and burdens of the day ahead and instead welcome the light of Christ, and then get up out of bed for the love of God.  

2. "In his chapter called “The Child of Glory” Smith reminds us about “the importance of wonder. Creation is wonderful, the Creator is glorious.” 

3  Hope. "And that thing is to live in hope. That is, as C.S. Lewis points out in his chapter on “Hope” in Mere Christianity, we are to live with a “continual looking forward to the eternal world.” Lewis points out that the people who have done the most for the present world are the ones who had their minds “occupied with heaven.”

The readings are here and the bulletin for 11am and the bulletin for 9am

We’re moving towards the end of Lent. It is helpful to review where we have been over the last 3 weeks. The second Sunday through the fifth has Jesus confronting various characters – a educated Pharisee, a Samaritan Women, a blind man and a man recently deceased. These texts from John are about revelation–the revelation of who Jesus is, the one sent by God, the begotten God, whose offer of life is in his presence and not necessarily delayed until his death.

Except for the beginning and end of the Gospel this week, Jesus is absent in the twists and turn of the plot. Jesus does make himself known in a significant way. It shows the power and glory of Christ and how humans confront it. The blind man gains more than his sight – he gains faith and spiritual maturity.

The other side of the story the Pharisees come off worse according to Canon Lance Ousley of the Diocese of Olympia "In our Gospel lesson this week the Pharisees have a vision problem. They cannot see the vision of God’s Kingdom, nor can they see their own or anyone else’s value separate from their knowledge and possession of the Law. They had lost sight of the understanding that the Law was entrusted to them to be life giving. They had become blind to the reality that their position was to be one of responsibility to the well-being of God’s people and their relationship with God."

Blindness can be more than physical sight. It is part of how we perceive others and how we see ourselves in relationship to them.  Suzanne Guthrie, Episocpal Priest writes the following "In Gospel terms, what is vision? Insight, perceiving purity, humility, discerning the presence of God (meditation two). What blinds me to the uncreated light dwelling within the ordinary around me? What so frightens me that I run from Light? What keeps me from letting my own Light shine? (meditation three). The Last Word offers hope."   It gets back to the old phrase that sometimes we are our own worst enemies. 

She suggests our blindness is perpetuated by our comfort and lack of desire to change. But this passage can help us move beyond that.

"It is a perfect passage for Lent ."Praying this text during Lent adds another nuance. This time of fasting, praying, alms giving – attention to matters outside myself, penance- attention to the matters inside myself, heighten the spiritual senses. Paying attention to what I watch on media, what I listen to, what I eat, wear, what dulls my mind, what arouses my soul, what breaks down my poor body, what strengthens my character, awakens me to what gets in the way of my love of God and neighbor."

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