“Do You Want to See?”
March 26, 2017
Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard
“Hear now the lesson of the Blind Man, as written in the gospel according to John, Chapter Nine, One thru Twelve.”
9 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.
4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.”
10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
“May God blessing our hearing and understanding of this ancient and holy text.”
It was time to go home. I had put my robe away, locked my office and picked up my keys, my wallet, etc. and headed out to the car. As always, as I left, I spoke with one, or two more, of our volunteers who were wrapping up, shutting off lights and such. Lois had gone ahead in her car over two hours earlier, as we had driven to church in separate cars. I was tired and ready to go home and relax. Five minutes down the street I realized I didn’t have my cell phone. I always set my phone on the console next to me. It was not there. I stopped and pulled the car into a parking lot. I searched everywhere for it. I was sure I had picked it up when I got my keys. After looking under the seats, in the back seat and all around I decided I must have left it in my office. I turned around going back to the church, turned off the alarm, opened my office and searched everywhere. I tried calling my phone from the office phone, no luck. I locked up the office, opened-up my car and as I opened the door, there was my cell phone, in obvious and clear sight, sitting on the console of the steering wheel, a place I had never put it before. I had spent over a half an hour looking for that phone.
When have you lost something and then found it right under your nose? Humbling to be sure. It is as if we have been blinded to the very thing that is sitting there right in our view (or standing there right in front of us); we just can’t see it. In our scripture passage from the gospel of John today, we have a story about a blind man that is healed by Jesus and regains his sight. Yet, in the following verses there is an investigation of this occurrence by a number of religious leaders, whom are blind to the significant miracle that has happened right in front of their noses, and totally blind to the impact and importance of its meaning! “They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” For the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” /John 9:13,14,16,24,25,30,33/ The man whom had been born blind saw more clearly than the blinded and unseeing Pharisees! This accounting is more about their blindness than the man born blind. They were the ones who could not see the Son of God standing right there in their very midst performing miracles as signs of who he truly was! The man born blind from his birth had learned to use and see with more than his eyes, he used his other senses to see with. With his grateful heart, he saw, he felt the touch of God as Jesus ministered to him.
When we look upon those we interact with, do we only gaze upon them with our eyes? Or do we go deeper and look-into their heart? Do we see their compassion, their love and devotion, rather than allowing our biases to stunt our ability to truly see the person that is right there in front of us? If we truly want to see the fullness, of the whole person, we shall need to take off the blinders which cause us to be blind to the wonders of another. If you only see ‘black’ or ‘white’ when you view a new neighbor, you only give power to your biases, and possibly fuel that dormant yet ‘bigger than life’ bigotry you and I secretly harbor. Blindness is not limited to the shutting down of the optic nerve, it is the shutting down of all our God given senses; and turning off the multiple channels and powers of awareness we all possess. To truly see, it is also imperative to send and transmit impulses and signals to our spiritual intuitions. We critique and criticize our public servants who profile people as they strive to keep us safe. Yet, don’t we do the same thing when we are seeing only with our eyes and not the full expanse of our own senses, while acknowledging our heartfelt instincts about what is right and what is wrong?
Do you want to see? Do you want to see as clearly as the man born blind? A blind man may stumble and fall when he does not detect that log in front of him, yet, the same man can see past racial biases and see clearly into the heart and mind of those he interacts with! The Blind can see! Many can see far more clearly than someone who has twenty-twenty vision! Can you remember playing a game, perhaps as a child where you were blindfolded? I can and I remember how disconcerting it was. Yet, as the game progressed, I began to use my sense of hearing to try to grasp what was going on around me. One time I was led on what was called a ‘trust walk’ with a youth group. During that experience, I first had to trust the person who was leading me. Yet, just as importantly I found my sense of smell, my sense of awareness grow sharper. I could feel the sun warming my body. The wind from the lake was tossing my hair. I could hear the fisherman just off shore who were casting their lines in hopes of catching a fish or two. Their laughter suggested they were having fun. Yes, my memory of this event and others like it, suggest ‘how’ when we try, or at least when we must, we can see even when our eyesight is blinded.
The world we live in has millions of blind people, and yet the vast-majority can see with their eyes the surroundings and people near them. Yet, they have either become heard-hearted like the religious leaders back in the community Jesus was part of, or they have become too biased with their own needs and wants to notice the plight of others around them; in this manner, they have become blind to the world on all sides of them. There are many types of blindness, physical blindness and spiritual or mental blindness to name a few of the obvious ones. When we become too preoccupied by things other than what we need to be paying attention to – we become emotionally blinded, like I was when I could not see my cell phone right in front of my eyes. When I read the lead stories on Google or Yahoo, or when I turn on the news on my television and go to the main broadcast stations like ABC, NBC, CBS or even FOX news or CNN, when I listen with my ears and look upon what I see on the screen, sometimes I want to reach out to the one being interviewed or the one doing the reporting, and say: “What? Can’t you see what is really happening?!” But alas, I am only hearing with my ears, and seeing with my eyes, it is so easy to shut off the rest of one’s senses when only interacting with an electronic device to learn what is happening in the world. It is so important to remember the lesson from our scripture as we try to ascertain what is going on all around us.
If we want to really see… we need to reach out and fully embrace that which we are trying to see. We need to do this with all our God given gifts that allow us to truly imagine, picture and make certain we honestly know what it is we are seeing. We each need to do this personally, for ourselves.
Let me give you an example: I had lunch with another pastor this past week. We shared about our ministries, we talked about politics and we discussed the problems of the world. Then our meals came and our hunger glans kicked in and we stopped trying to fix the world and began to focus on nourishing our bodies. After a bit, we changed our focus and started discussing things we ‘actually have’ some influence on. We discussed how we had approached our last week’s sermons. We talked about feelings and emotions and how we perceive the people we are serving. We discussed our own biases and began to get into a conversation that had true meaning. We began to listen with our hearts, rather than just with our ears. The sun was partially blocking my view and I needed to use more of my senses to get a feeling for the thoughts the other was expressing, as I could not get a clear view of her facial expressions. Pastor Celeste, was called to serve our sister church in Rockledge and started her ministry there on the 13th of March. Having a likeminded pastor serving our sister church will be good for my vision, and for hers, as we seek to truly ‘see’ the community and the people we serve.
We all want to see. Most folks, do not, deliberately, blind themselves when they gaze upon the people around them. We do not, seek to intentionally, miss the beauty of life as it marches past us. Yet, we are all blind sighted to differing aspects of things around us all the time. If we truly want to see more clearly or at least better than we do now, we need to open ourselves to some new ways of seeing! Perhaps we need to start slow, as this may be a big adjustment for many of us. We might want to stop what we are doing and go back to basics. Like, say a prayer. Keep it simple at first. “Dear Compassionate and Loving God, please help me to be more open to seeing the fullness of what I gaze upon, rather than the narrow-limited way I now do.” We may want to give some thought to how we now see others. Do we judge another without knowing them? Do we condemn someone simply because someone told us we should, or do we take the time to get to know more about someone, before we conclude how we shall interact with them? Last week we discussed story telling. Keeping this in mind, ought we not allow others to tell their own stories before we close the door on them. We may have been blind sighted about who they truly are.
Consider the man born blind in our lesson. Did he not come to see because of the mercy and kindness of the man Jesus? Did he not gain the courage to speak up for Jesus when the Pharisees condemned him? When we use all of our senses to see, not just our eyes, but calling upon the Spirit within us and our own common sense and our training as compassionate, caring and merciful followers of the man they called Jesus; when we do this then we shall see.