Put On Your Faith Glasses
About a year ago, both my husband and my 18 year old son got glasses.
Since it was a new thing for both of them, they had to learn to keep track of this new essential. In the rush of getting out the door, they were forever running back into the house yelling, “Where are my glasses???” They only seemed to notice they weren’t wearing them when they got behind the wheel to start the car. I don’t know about you, but I cannot identify with this phenomenon. I’ve had a pair of these babies since I was in 4th grade,
And as near sighted as I am, there is no way I am going to get to the bathroom without them,Let alone my car. If I misplace my glasses, I know I need to ask for help, because without them I am blind as a bat-without the benefit of echolocation!
Putting on your glasses is a good place to start in considering our Gospel lesson.
This story is all about sight—physical sight, but more importantly, spiritual sight.
The story begins with Jesus healing a blind man. He had been blind since birth—he had no choice in the matter, it was just his reality. But others were not so matter of fact.
People looked at him and wondered, why is he blind? What was the cause? Who is to blame? Jesus’ own disciples asked this question. It was a common conception in those days that if you had an illness, it was punishment for sin. The disciples were trying to connect the dots. Later the Pharisees, who already didn’t like Jesus, complained that he restored the man’s sight on the sabbath, a no-no because the Sabbath is not a work day, and healing is work. Lastly, the leaders of the Jews called in the healed man’s parents,
interrogating them on whether he was really born blind, and how he could have been healed. All of these questions— from the disciples, to Pharisees, to the leaders—were focused in the wrong place. They focused on human things – whether the man sinned and deserved to be blind Whether it was right to do work on the sabbath Whether or not Jesus was a sinner. They didn’t even see that a man was given his sight—healed!
They didn’t see the gift of dignity before their eyes, a man no longer consigned to begging
All these questions were missing the point that something incredible had happened here
Jesus, on the other hand, was clear in his focus.
He rebuffed the theology of blame, saying no one sinned.
He saw a man in need of healing, and acted in compassion.
He invited belief in a time of doubt and skepticism,
and pointed out that even in situations that seem God forsaken,
God is still at work, giving abundant life through Jesus.
As Jesus said, this man “was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”
It’s not lost on me that Jesus performed a miracle right under the noses of his detractors and his disciples, and none of them see it. Frankly it’s easy for us to do the same.
In good times, we can blow by many of God’s gifts without notice. Right now, we are starting to see some of the things we took for granted: Enjoying a concert or sporting event, meals in restaurants, hanging out with friends. Just two weeks ago, we didn’t think about leaving the house or going to the gym as a big thing We didn’t pause to consider what seemed to be givens in our lives—our jobs, our freedom, our health. Now it seems all that is up for grabs.
We spin from one thing to another, trying get a handle on this new normal—
social distancing Remote access virtual everything being couped up with the same people or being isolated by yourself While we are spinning, trying to gain control, all we see is blur.
I was in one of those moments this week. I was calling staff, emailing leaders, trying to figure out what to do first. I had just got off the phone with Dick, our musician, with a whole list of business oriented items, When he called me back and said, “Pastor, we forgot to pray.” I forgot to pray. In my rush to do something, in my confusion and anxiety, I had failed to employ a basic practice of faith- Being in touch with God, the source of all knowledge, goodness and love The One who continues to guide us and keep us, even in the midst of our spinning.
Once we started to pray, I felt myself slow down and calm descend.
When we finished, I could see what to do next—not what I needed to do later in the week, but the one next step. And I was grateful. We could spend a lot time wondering who is to blame for the corona virus and its spread We could expend plenty of energy arguing about responses and why people are buying so much toilet paper. But I find the greatest temptation of this time is to get so wrapped up in my own experience of spinning out of control That I forget to stop and look around me and see the works of God all around me-
The ways that Jesus is calling forth life even in these circumstances: The budding daffodil in this beautiful early spring The small gestures of kindness, people checking in on folks who live alone or thanking the cashier who rings up groceries despite risk
The courage of health care workers, aides, cleaners, and emergency personnel
who show up each day despite the risks The generosity of our congregation through our endowment fund that enabled Grace Lutheran To put in a new kitchen to serve grab and go hot meals to 85 hungry people last Friday night. The comfort of having my children near me,
and being able to call my parents to see how they are doing far away. All of these are gifts of life, offered to us and others, by God. One of the opportunities in this time is to see more clearly the grace of God around us. We can establish a gratitude practice, giving thanks for the blessings large and small Whatsapp and wifi, Instragram and good old fashioned telephones, Pets who greet us no matter the state of humanity. We can cultivate simple pleasures A walk down the street, a conversation with a neighbor from one driveway to another, digging in the dirt. We can research a new interest, read a book, or get to those rainy day projects. Most of all, we can acknowledge the connections that sustain us and our need for each other. We can re-direct our focus away from ourselves and our troubles, to what God is doing.In doing so, we can put on our faith glasses and see a portion of the bigger picture—
That God is working, revealed here and now, in these times and circumstances.