Homily: March 26, 2017 – Now I See – Rev. Phil Boelter

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This gospel reading is full of questions-

Where is Jesus?
How did the blind man get healed?
Who is Jesus?
Why did he heal on the Sabbath?

And then there’s that very first question-
It’s a doozy.
Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

Who sinned?

For some people- 
There always has to be a reason why things happen.

There’s always a cause for every effect.

Very scientific –
Easy to explain and understand.

They have answers to every question.
You sinned-so God punishes you.
A leads to B.

But that’s just not the way life is
Sometimes.

Sometimes, stuff just happens to us.

We re laid off from our job.
We get into a car accident.
We get sick.

At times like these we are tempted to ask
Another unhelpful question:
What did I do to deserve this?

So it was for the man born blind
 His was the misfortune-
But Gods glory was in taking that problem
nd turning it around.

How did God do that?

First,  Christ touched him – and called the blind man out
And gave him a task to do.

Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.

He didn’t ask the man to answer questions,
Or justify himself,
Or do some religious good deed.

Instead, Jesus took spit and dirt,
Made mud and smeared it across the man’s eyes
And told him to go wash it off
In a nearby pool.

Here’s another question- unspoken and unanswered:

Why did Jesus do that?

He gave the man a simple task to do-
Something that was within his power to perform.

When we are confronted with problems and questions-
Especially deep ones-
Like the blind man faces in this story-
One thing we can always ask about-

What is the next thing to do?

Not why did this happen?
Or how can I get away?
But what is the next thing to do?

Sometimes the answer to that question is simple-
Eat a meal,
Take a walk,
Take a long bath,
Go see a friend.

Ask God:

What is the next thing you want me to do?

Second,

Christ placed the man born blind in a new community-
A different community
From his family of origin,
A different faith community from the synagogue in which he was raised.

God placed the healed man there so that he might show compassion.

Notice the behavior of the religious people in this story-
They threw the man out of their synagogue.

In the face of that persecution
Christ sought the healed man out
And spoke with him-
And included him a new community-
The community of those who have faith in God.

Do you believe? Jesus asked the man born blind.

And in the strength of that answer-
Yes lord, I believe
Lay everything the man needed in order to counter the anger and hatred
That surrounded him-
The parents who refused to have much to do with him,
The members of the synagogue who circled the wagons and kicked him out on the street.

Its not directly said-
But the next chapter in this man’s life
Was destined to be showing compassion for those who had hurt and abused him.

The same compassion which
Doesn’t always answer the question
“why did this happen to me?”
But always provides an answer in the form of love.

Maybe its because its Lent-
But I had several different people seek me out this week
And start asking questions about Gethsemane,
About Christianity,
About the meaning of life.

In each case, I kept going back in my mind to this man born blind-
Who once was blind but now he sees.

This is the story which inspired the author of Amazing Grace,

A former slave holding sea captain
John Newton who was converted in the 1760’s
and gave up his seafaring
And the slave trade which it supported.

He became an outspoken advocate for the abolition of slavery
And eventually was ordained an Anglican priest.

He lived to see England abolish the slave trade in 1807,
Not in small part due to his own efforts.

The words he penned could just as easily come from the man born blind:
May they be ours also today.

“Amazing grace How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I am found
Was blind but now I see.”

Amen.