1 Samuel 16:1-13; John 9
Let’s start with the disappointments. Saul showed up disappointed because the man who was supposed to be king was not doing a good job and God was already moving on. Saul, however, was not ready to move on.
Most of us have come here today disappointed. We are disappointed by lost vacations, jobs that have been suspended or lost, normal schedules that have been disrupted back to nothing, worry about ourselves, our health, our supplies. We are disappointed by less concrete things too – the loss of our sense of security, of opportunities and of our sense of normal life.
When Jesus and his disciples came into town, a man born blind – who might have been a disappointment to his parents because he was not what they were expecting – sat by the gate. “Who sinned,” the disciples asked, “that this man was born blind? Him or his parents?”
Note who asked the question. I tend to assume it was the Pharisees but it wasn’t. It was the disciples. Perfectly good, well-intentioned people (not that the Pharisees weren’t) who wanted to understand. Who wanted a neat and tidy theological explanation for what had happened to turn this man’s life away from “normal”.
As we do. Why me? Why us? Why them? Why now? Why here? We ask. Like there is ever a logical reason for things that happen. What can we blame for the exponential spread of this Covid-19?
A hundred years ago at tent revivals we would have said it was to turn people to God, to Jesus, away from sin towards salvation. In the Wilderness years it would have been because the People murmured and disputed against Moses or God or both.
Now – we still want answers but we don’t like that kind.
All Jesus has to say is: you’re asking the wrong question. The Question is not why it already happened, the question is how can God’s mighty works be displayed in him?
And the revealing of God’s mighty works started with a very unsanitary healing – mud and spit and a communal pool. Ick. And it ended with the spiritual transformation whose eyesight was now irrelevant. Along with the strong suggestion that just because you’re religious doesn’t mean you have a stranglehold on God. And just because you know lots of stuff doesn’t mean you have all the answers. Pay attention to the people who do, not the people who don’t even understand the questions. (i.e. Bonnie Henry, not the Hot Yoga Studio)
What is important here – and what was important there – is to see where God’s mighty works are displayed. And it’s not necessarily where you think. What’s more God’s mighty works don’t always work out the way you think.
For a church which prides itself on community and hospitality and radical inclusion it’s mighty hard to be separate, isolated and stuck with ways of communicating that necessarily exclude some people.
This is not going to be easy.
But remember this. David was the 8th son. When Samuel told Jesse to gather his boys, he gathered 7 and forgot David. But God didn’t. And David didn’t stay forgotten.
Don’t underestimate what God can do. And don’t underestimate who God can use to do it. Do not assume that because you don’t know what to do and how to do it that there is nothing you can do.
I can’t tell you the number of people I phoned who said “I have no idea what we can do” who then had GREAT ideas of things to do.
Don’t underestimate you. Your caring, your faithfulness, your commitment, your ability to be God’s mighty work.
And remember that you are not the Light of the World. This is not all on your shoulders. The Light came into the chaos of the world and it shines and nothing and nobody has been able to put it out.
But wash your hands anyways. Even for the man born blind it was a necessary part of the process.
Rev. Shannon Tennant