Wednesday, April 9, 2014

An Elementary Education

I naively waved goodbye as my oldest daughter hopped on the big yellow bus to go to kindergarten. I watched as it seemed to swallow up my baby. As the bus drove away, I could see the sixth grade girls in the back seat with their low rise jeans, eyeshadow and bras. Scary.

Each morning Sarah was excited to get on the bus. Each afternoon, I’d meet the bus, bursting with curiosity and anxious to know what she did in her hours apart from me.

She was barely out the door before I’d start rattling off the questions. “Hi sweetie, what did you do at school? Who did you play with? How was your day?”

“Good,” she’d mumble, heading for the snack drawer. This was not enough of an answer for an inquisitive, hovering mother like me.

"Did you have fun? Did you learn anything new?" I’d ask, thinking that she’d soon be reading novels on her own or doing multiplication or something.

“No,” she’d say and run outside to play. I’d stand there thinking wondering about the blank hours in her life. What did she do? How did she behave? Who are her new friends? Who was she apart from me? Who was I apart from her?

After a week and a half, the exchange was getting routine, monotonous even. One Friday, the breakthrough finally came. "Did you learn anything new?" I asked without much hope. To my surprise she said yes.

I zoomed in closer. My mothering instincts were primed, I was finally going to hear about what happened at school.

“Guess what I learned, Mom. I learned how to make a fart noise,” she announced proudly.
What? Did I hear her right? I stood there dumbfounded.

“Anthony taught me how to make a fart noise. Watch.”

At this point she bent her arm and blew into the crook of her elbow for a fart noise. Sure enough, the most important thing she learned in the first few weeks of school was how to make a fart noise. I can't believe I didn't teach her that before she got on the bus.

A Trophy Life

By the time I got home from the race, the sweat had dried, but my hair was still damp under the ponytail. As soon as I walked in the door, my elementary-aged daughters started demanding answers.

“Did you win mommy? Did you win the Great Race?”

Anyone who has seen me run would understand why I laughed at the question. I am not a runner and even calling me a jogger is stretching it. A 13-minute, knock-kneed, run-walk mile is my best time. But rather than explain just how my pathetic pigeon-toed shuffle could never win anything, I held my head high and in my own kitchen I announced myself a winner.

“You bet I won,” I told the girls, who immediately demanded to see the trophy, ribbon or great prize I had surely brought home. In their world, trophies are de rigueur. By age seven, their shelves were lined with trophies they earned for simply signing up for a sports team.

“I didn’t get a trophy because I didn’t come in first place,” I explained.

“So you didn’t win?”

“Yes, I did.” By now the kids were completely confused. In their elementary minds, I couldn’t be a winner if I didn’t come in first or get a prize. “I’m a winner,” I explained, “because I did it. I started the race, tried my best, and finished it even though I knew I wouldn’t get first place. That makes me a winner.”

My daughters looked puzzled for a minute and then my younger child spoke the eternal question on the lips of all children.

“Can I have a snack?”

My inspired attempt at good parenting was falling on deaf ears. If I didn’t have a trophy or something cool, I might as well go back to just being mom.

A year or so later, my older daughter was pestering me to sign her up for a swimming meet in some far off land. Swimming is one of the good lifetime sports and the weekday practices are flexible. However, the meets are hell. If you haven’t attended a swim meet as a parent, know that it involves driving an hour (or more) to the pool, finding a way to entertain yourself and your children for seven hours in a hot crowded area and watching your kid(s) participate in a couple of races that last about 60 seconds. That’s eight hours of parent time for 120 seconds of potential kid glory. And that’s if you kid is bad. The good ones finish even faster. I said we weren’t going.

“But, mo-o-om,” my then ten-year old daughter whined, “they give big trophies.”

The answer became a definite no.

But, this is what childhood has become—a trophy life—traveling teams and Olympic dreams for the elementary school set. The quest for excellence starts as soon as the baby exits the womb—in sports, arts, language or academia. Infants can take music or movement classes with mom or dad and watch Baby Einstein videos in their free time. Introductory classes start around age three and by ten, kids are practicing or playing five days a week. As my kids enter adolescence, they are expected to be superstars at something.

Last year my oldest daughter started talking about trying gymnastics. Everyone worried. After all, she had developed into a strong swimmer and had quite a trophy collection. She might have been even better if we weren’t such slacker parents. The good parents were paying for private coaching and managed to get their kids to practice more than a mere two or three days a week.

Because she couldn’t do two sports and get her homework done, she had to choose. And so at the ripe age of twelve, she switched from swimming to gymnastics.

“But the Olympic stars are fourteen!” another parent said, as if the Olympics were our goal. A few days later, I found myself repeating those silly words, telling my daughter she was getting a late start and it would be hard to compete, that she might not win competitions or get trophies, and that she’d likely be practicing with seven year olds.

“I don’t care,” she said. “I just want to learn how to fly through the air and do flips and stuff. If I don’t do it now, when will I learn? I can’t do it when I’m old.”

So she switched to gymnastics, but it didn't last long. She can now do a round-off back handspring and front and back flips on the backyard trampoline, none of which ever earned her a trophy. Today, she's back at swimming. Each meet she races against the clock, looking to beat her own best time. Sometimes she gets a trophy, sometimes not. I can only hope that after every race she calls herself a winner.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Stuck in a Bind?

1Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”5Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
7Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
17When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
28When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus began to weep. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

I’ll never forget open house of my sixth grade year. Mr. D was leaning against one of those old school AV carts with a filmstrip projector on it talking to one or both of my parents. Someone asked how I was doing in class and he said fine. But then he thought again and said that I was a procrastinator and something about not working up to my potential. I don’t remember if he actually used the word lazy, but it sure seemed like that's what he was trying to say about me.

I got good enough grades and while I wasn’t the best-behaved student, I didn’t spend too much time on the "nerd herd" bulletin board. (Whenever we got in trouble, we’d have to write a report on our transgression and our research was posted on the nerd herd. One time I had to write about fingernails after leaving marks on a friend's hand after a vigorous bout of thumb wrestling.)  Looking back, homework and being a stellar student were not important to me in sixth grade. I had other things on my agenda, like thumb wrestling and neighborhood whiffle ball games.

As I was thinking about the story of the raising of Lazarus I was struck this time by the fact that Jesus heard Lazarus was ill and then he waited a couple of days before heading out to visit him. Even though he loved the family of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, there were other things on his mind. The disciples were lobbying for him to stay put anyway. Last time they were in Judea they made the authorities very unhappy. The disciples were afraid to go back. But Jesus had another plan. 

The gospel tells us that: Accordingly…he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. That one word…Accordingly…shows us that perhaps Christ has another agenda. He was thinking about things differently than disciples and Mary and Martha.

When Jesus and the disciples finally get to the mourning party, Mary and Martha are disappointed. The both tell him that if only he had been there Lazarus would not have died. They say the exact same thing.

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Jesus could have prevented this family tragedy. 

But he didn’t.

This is a story about people whom Jesus loves, not the random man or woman on the street healings that are so common in the gospels.  This isn’t Jesus as the wandering wonder man or a thirsty stranger or a mud-slinging healer. This is Jesus as a friend. It's also Jesus at his most powerful.

Mary and Martha seem to think that because they are close with Jesus, he had an obligation to come immediately to heal Lazarus. If he could heal strangers than certainly he would heal friends. They wanted Jesus to submit to their agenda. We know from other Bible stories that Martha is a woman who makes things happen—maybe think of her as the Martha Stewart of the Bible. She's organized and efficient. She doesn’t procrastinate nor does she sit around. In her purposefulness, she doesn’t even wait until Jesus gets there to confront him for failing to live up to her standards. When she heard Jesus coming she went and met him.

I picture Jesus walking into town and Martha running out to meet him, stopping right in front of him with her hands on her hips saying, Where have you been? If you’d have been on time none of this would have happened.

How many of us have been like Martha? We have our plans and agendas about the way things should go in our lives and then something wrecks our plans. God where are you? we demand to know. Why aren’t you doing what I want? Didn't you get the email?

You may have heard the saying: We make plans and God laughs.

Martha made plans, but Jesus had his own agenda.

As we make our plans, we need to recognize that God may have a different agenda. Martha wanted to Jesus to heal Lazarus and avoid death. Jesus wanted something more dramatic. He knew Lazarus would be dead and not just sleeping. He tells the disciples that, yes, Lazarus is dead. For their sake it was good that Lazarus died because those who witness what Jesus will do will believe that death need not have the final word.

When Martha meets him on the road, she first says, Where were you? If you had been here this wouldn’t have happened! In other words, you procrastinated and ruined my plan.

But we also need to give Martha some credit. The next thing she says is, I know that God will give you whatever you ask.

Martha has been paying attention to the teaching on resurrection. She knows how powerful Jesus is and she asks him to act—according to his plan. She hopes that Jesus can do something even though Lazarus is in the tomb. Martha hands the reigns over to Jesus saying, I know that God will give you whatever you ask. Go ahead Jesus, you set the agenda. It’s Jesus who says, Your brother will rise.

So they go to the tomb and Jesus commands them to roll away the stone.

And because old habits die hard, our Martha Stewart character says, NO! NO! It will stink! You can’t have a proper mourning party with that awful smell all around. What will the neighbors say? Nobody will want to be here with us if it smells bad! No, Jesus, we don’t want that.

Jesus tells her to ignore the smell and focus on witnessing the glory of God. And so they roll away the stone and Lazarus comes out, alive. This is Jesus ultimate healing, life from death. Lazarus comes out of the tomb and Jesus commands those around him to unbind him and let him go.

Jesus can heal a blind man, raise a dead man but he forgets to take off the bindings? Why? Probably because it's a teachable moment. We are all at some point or another trapped in darkness. But more often than not we are also fully present in the world and find ourselves in bindings. Like Lazarus we are in the world but confined. We find ourselves so wrapped up in having a perfect house or the greatest car or flawless skin or a killer body that we fail to really live. 

Dominique Ponko Owner of Yogaflow
In my Yoga class, the teacher will tell us to do this crazy, twist wrap thingy called a full-bind.

<--- This is a real full bind done by a                          professional. This is NOT me.

 It can take years of practice to be flexible enough get into a full bind like this. Over the years we practice binding and constraining ourselves rather than experiencing the freedom of new life in Christ. Once I'm in my own, less picturesque version this bind, it's hard to do much else--I can't walk or jump. Truth be told it kind of hurts. And while we can breathe deeply and find peace in those constraints, we aren't meant to stay in them.

We are meant to come out of them just as Lazarus came out of his burial cloths to live again.  

Jesus’ command to unbind Lazarus is a command to all of us to let go of our preconceived notions that hold us down. It’s Jesus' call let go of our own agendas and be open to what God has in store.

Maybe he was looking at Martha when he said this—if so, maybe he really meant don’t try to bind me to your agenda, to your plan for the way things should be. I'm setting the agenda. Go with it. How often are you submitting to someone else's idea of what is good or right? 

Maybe he was looking at his disciples as he said it—If so, maybe he meant, don’t let your fear hold you back. Don’t be afraid to follow where I’m leading. Trust me. How often does fear hold you back from trying something new?

Maybe he was looking at Lazarus as he said it—If so maybe he meant be free from the bonds of death. Don't let the cave hold you back. Drop the burial cloths and embrace life once again. How often do you let your past interrupt your future? 

Are we so used to the darkness of the cave that we are afraid to come out blinking in bewilderment at being truly alive?

It is through the life, death and resurrection of Christ we can break loose the chains of anxiety that hold us back. We can rest assured that God’s agenda is enough for our lives. We don’t have to make everything perfect.

The things that are essential to the eternal will be accomplished. 

Maybe not according to our timetable, but God will see to it.

Sometimes when we break free of our bindings we no longer meet the expectations of the Marthas in our lives. When we aren't constrained by the things of this world, the frantic, manic, get-it-perfect lifestyle suddenly seems unimportant. We may even be called procrastinators or lazy or misguided or naïve.

Like Lazarus we have to let that stone be rolled away and have the bindings removed so that we can get out of that dark, dank cave and into the light, not once but over and over again in our lifetimes. We are awfully good at putting the bindings back on each other and ourselves. But, each time we loosen the bindings, we can catch a glimpse of the eternal. We can come face-to-face with Christ-- a friend, a savior--who weeps with us, cries for us and calls us out of the tomb and into the light of new life.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Seeing is Not Always Believing

Listen here

1As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes,7saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8The 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?” 9Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11He 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.” 12They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” 16Some 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?” And they were divided. 17So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”
18The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24So 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.” 25He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”27He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
35Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.39Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

I was blind but now I see.

Most of us who encounter those words hear them in song. Those words bring to mind the hymn Amazing Grace. We don’t so much hear the words as we do everything that surrounds them—the melody, the sound of an organ, or maybe the voice of the congregation singing as one body in the church. 

Those words also carry with them memories. Maybe it’s fancy gloves or itchy tights. Maybe it’s the sunlight on the sanctuary or the smell of grandma’s perfume.  Many of us who have been in the church for a while could create a sensory mosaic around those words. If we think of it like a picture, the words are the main subject and the memories are the background.

None of us exist in isolation. There are always people and events in our background. What impacts us, impacts them as well.  In our reading today, we have a blind man who learns to see. And while this is the main focus of the story, there are important things that are happening in his background.

While the blind man experiences a miracle, it doesn’t happen just to him. It has an impact on the people around him—his family, his neighbors and the Pharisees. Exploring the reactions to these people, we discover that change is not always easy. Even if that change is for the better. Even if that change is miraculous. Even when the change is God-given.

Our families and communities are as delicately balanced as a mobile that hangs above a baby’s crib. When everyone is hooked in and hanging the right way we spin happily round and round—perhaps with a cheerful song playing as we go.

But if we unhook ourselves, if we change, if decide we want more freedom or space or if we begin to engage the world in a whole new way, the other people on the mobile are suddenly forced into a new and unfamiliar space. It’s out of balance. This happens even when the change is for the good.

The same thing can happen when bad things happen. When the heaviness of  job loss, depression, or illness weigh us down, things get out of balance, forcing our families or friends or church family into a different place.  Change is hard.

The call of Christ is participate in what God is doing in the world. We are to be part of the change Christ brings by changing ourselves according to his teachings—We are to love more, to give more, to let go of what we are comfortable with, to repent.  Being a follower of Christ means we are often challenging and changing ourselves AND the groups we are part of—our families, our communities and even our church.

We can learn a lot about the changes our faith walk may bring if we look closely at what happens in the different scenes of this story.

In the first scene, the blind man is sitting there, likely begging. In our story though he doesn’t say anything. He probably is hearing the discussion between the disciples and Jesus.

“Why is he blind? Because of his parent’s sin?”

But the blind man doesn’t speak.
He doesn’t ask to be healed.
He doesn’t request a miracle.
He sits there. 

He hears someone spit and some wet, sloppy mixing going on. In the next moment there’s warm mud on his eyes. What was he thinking? Was this just another group of people humiliating him? But then Jesus speaks directly to him, telling him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.  The blind man still hasn’t said a word. Not a mumble. But somehow he goes to the pool and washes.

We can’t control the presence of Christ in our lives. Sometimes God just shows up whether we want it or not. God can come in the form of extreme gratitude when we look at our families. God can also come like a kick in the pants when we make those bad choices over and over again. God comes as clarity, helping us to understand the next step in our lives. 

When God breaks into our lives like this, we change. God changes our hearts and our actions. We become different people. Sometimes the change is as extreme as having blinders take from our eyes. Sometimes it's a complete about face. Sometimes it’s a subtle as learning to say thank you or I’m sorry.  God comes. We change. I was blind but now I see.

The second scene places the once-blind man in the presence of his neighbors. They were so used to thinking of him as the blind man they had trouble recognizing him as someone who could see. They knew he looked familiar but they just couldn't place him. Like seeing the dental receptionist at the grocery store. Or maybe it’s like looking at some of those miracle weight loss photos. You know the ones that show a person with a pudgy belly in one photo and six-pack abs n the other one. I look at those and think really? Is that the same person?

When we change the characteristic that defines who we are it can be hard for the people around us to recognize us. We upset the balance and everyone needs to figure out how to be. The once blind man no longer needed charity, but now would need a job or a wife. He needed new and different things from the people around him. 

We do this in our families and communities as well. When the alcoholic gets sober, her family has to adjust. When the lazy son decides to come back go to work, the hard-working son is furious. When the obsessive mother decides to stop dictating the way dad handles the baby, he has to discover who he is as a parent. 

Next there are a couple scenes with the Pharisees. In the first, the neighbors take the man to the temple. He tells the Pharisees what happened but the Pharisees think they are being hoodwinked by the neighbors. Can the peasants be trusted? Can they know any better? In their eyes, the healing was not legal since it occurred on the Sabbath. A man of God would not heal on the Sabbath. So they end up fighting amongst themselves.

 In the end, they decide not to see what’s happening. It’s easier to kick the blind man back to the curb than it is to acknowledge the miracle. The blind man who didn’t speak in the first scene now talks in paragraphs and gives a theological defense of Jesus’ actions. He says, Only God performs miracles. God only listens to those who worship him. This man performed a miracle which meant God is listening. Therefore this is a man of God. Some are blind. Some see.

In another scene the Pharisees bring in the parents for questioninglike being brought into the prinicpal's office in school. That big desk separates you and you just know that he or she holds all the cards. Standing before the Pharisees the man’s parents shrug their shoulders and say, we don’t know how it happened. Yes he was born blind but now he sees. The man’s change could get them in trouble. Their blind kid was healed. A miracle happened and they are afraid to talk about. They disconnect and say they don't know anything.

Maybe you have a family member like that. The one that nobody wants to own or the one everyone dreads. The sister with too many shoes. The racist grandfather. They are outside of our norm and we don’t know how to explain it. Oftentimes we judge or disparage it. We shake our heads and disown it. because we are afraid of what might happen if people think we are like them.

After these encounters with his neighbors, his family and the Pharisees, the story winds down and the once blind is on the street. Can you imagine how baffling this would all be? One minute you are yourself doing what you always do, the next minute you can see it all. You can see the shallowness of your neighbors, the confines your family places upon you, and the ridiculousness of the religious rules that do nothing but constrain you.

But that’s what Jesus does best. He changes not just the outside, but the inside, too.  We don’t just see new things. We perceive the old things differently. This is what it means to come to Christ. This is what it means to see the world though Christ. It’s new sight. It’s a vision that makes you feel like you are walking a different direction and it’s hard to explain why.

In the final scene the man is back where he started, on the street. Christ is fully revealed but what has changed? So much is the same and yet so much is different. I was blind but now I see.