In pm's words
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March 27, 2017, 8:09 AM

the one about hearing...


Sermon from March 26, 2017

Text: John 9: 1-41

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Lord Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, like I said, these past few gospel readings and even the next two are all exceptionally long. They are also packed with so much information that we can’t cover everything. In all of this it seems like I – like we – do a disservice to these texts because we can’t cover everything that they speak about. Sometimes that is frustrating, but in other ways it is very freeing as well. Allowing us the opportunity to just focus in on one thing, while opening up our curiosity to dive in further for the others.

This morning we get to look in on something that I think we all assume is about one thing – sight and light. And, that’s true. It is about sight and light. A man who was born blind is healed with regained sight. He was blind, now he sees. Jesus talks at length about sight and blindness. Everyone wants to know how this man can now see. Was he really born blind or was he pulling one over on everybody throughout his life? This text indeed centers a lot around sight, light, and blindness.

But, as I read this text again I started to notice something else too. This text also centers around ‘conversation’ and ‘hearing’. I want to pose a question – does anyone actually hear this newly healed man? To make it easy for you, yes – but, only one person actually listens to him. Our Lord listens and speaks with him.

No one else does.

The disciples talk about him in a way to make sense about their discomfort in his existence. What I mean by that is that they speak about the blind man in front of them and ask Jesus why this man is blind. Is it his fault or the fault of his parents? The man’s ‘sin’ brings them unease because they don’t know how to process his very being among them. His existence is an outlier to what they consider normal or routine. They use him as a seminary discussion topic. They don’t talk to him, they talk about him to figure out what went ‘wrong’.

Yet, when Jesus does speak to him – he doesn’t accuse him or place blame on him. He spits and wipes mud on his eyes and tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.

The neighbors that see him don’t talk to him. They babble among themselves if this is really the guy that they’ve known for so long. Even when the man attempts to tell him that he is in fact that man, they ignore him.

The Pharisees – those in authority within the Jewish society – speak words to this man, but they don’t talk to him. They don’t even really listen to him. They don’t even want to know that he’s been healed; they want to know how and by who. They want to know just the means of his healing and if it was ‘lawful’ to conduct it. Because if he was healed on the sabbath, then obviously, it wasn’t of God because we aren’t supposed to do anything on that day and everyone knows better.

Even the man’s parents don’t talk to or about him. They tell the authorities to just talk to their son. They don’t know what’s going on and they aren’t going to find out.

No one talks. They spout words, accusations, and blame. Nobody talks to this man. He wasn’t ‘worthy’ to talk in his previous state and even now there must be some dubious reason as to why he has been ‘healed’ (if he really ever was blind).

Even today, we don’t do a very good job at talking with one another.

When I walk and journey with couples in premarital conversations leading up to their wedding date, one of the first things we go over is communication. We have a habit as people that when we talk, we talk only to respond and never to hear or listen to the other person. We pay attention just enough in order to respond in some fashion. I listen to hear what I want and I keep that thought in my head until you quit moving your mouth so I can respond. Sometimes we respond to the ‘good’ things another speaks about, but we really practice this ‘non-attentive’ listening when we disagree with something. Especially when it concerns something about us in some way.

This happens among our relationships with our friends and our families. It happens within marriage. We see it on display in almost every conversation we witness on television. Whether people are talking about sports, religion, or politics no one is actually having a conversation, it’s just voices rising above one another.

We fail to listen, because we see what we want to see. We speak to that in order to prove what we perceive in those around us.

Yet, here comes Jesus again throwing our worldview upside down.

He refuses to place blame on this man born blind. Instead he heals him to show God’s glory and power. Jesus speaks with and listens to this man not because he has been healed, but because he is a creation and child of God. He speaks with him because of whose he is.

For me, that’s pretty powerful and speaks directly to us as well. We all – even I many times – have a bad habit of not speaking with others. We love to talk about others. Especially those people who are different from us in some way. When we are afforded the opportunity to develop a potential relationship and conversation with another, we do so in such a way to confirm our own preconceived notions. We don’t listen to them.

This morning we get to be witness to this miraculous sign of a man receiving sight for the first time in his life. All throughout this story we are witness to people who can’t even talk with this man about what has happened. They talk at him, they talk around him, but they don’t talk with him.

He is witness and product of the greatest sign in his entire life – he wants to talk to anyone and everyone about this wonderful gift; yet, no one will talk with him.

The disciples don’t. The neighbors won’t. The Pharisees don’t listen. Even his parents kick the can down the line.

The only one who does listen is our Lord. The only one who will look him in his new filled with life eyes to tell him what this means. He’s the Son of man.

The Son of Man – our Lord – Jesus who is the Christ has come into the world to bring light and life. Our God has opened our eyes through his life, death, and resurrection so that we might see the truth and life around us. In that seeing, we are invited to be in conversation not only with God through prayer and thanksgiving, but we also are invited to be in conversation, relationship, and love with those around us.

Even and especially with those we could not see before – the homeless, the naked, the afraid, the hungry, the hurt.

As the light shines on and in the kingdom of heaven in our midst – we cannot help, but see, hear, and listen to those around us. Inviting them not only to hear the word of God proclaimed through our lips, but to share in our life with them. To hear them. To know them more fully. To be able to better care for them completely.

We can’t bring healing and wholeness – even with the Word of God – if we cannot see or if we refuse to see the hurt and the needs of those around us. Even if we do see, even if we do somehow resist the urge to be ‘blind’ to others hurts and needs, we can’t help unless we talk and listen.

Our Lord shows us the way. Jesus is the light. Let us follow. Amen.

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