22 Mar 2020 10:00am: Being Reliant – Rev. Philip Newman

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4 We[a] must work the works of him who sent me[b] while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8 The 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?” 9 Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He 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.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Then 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.” 16 Some 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. 17 So 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.”

18 The 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 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but 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.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus[c] to be the Messiah[d] would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So 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.” 25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He 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?” 28 Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”[e] 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir?[f] Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord,[g] I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39 Jesus 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.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

A Retelling of John 9:1-41 in the Spirit of “Ubuntu: I Am Because We Are.”

A teacher walks down the road with his students, and they ask questions about the people they pass. They see a man seated by the side of the road, wrapped in a cloak and ob- viously blind.

“Why is this one blind and that one can see perfectly?” They ask their teacher.

The teacher is not the type to waste his student’s time with answers they did not want so he asks for clarification, “Do you ask because you think one man is better than the other? Or do you ask because you want to know how it is that human eyes function?”

After talking among themselves, the students confess that they were taught that anyone born without sight must have done something to deserve this to be disabled... perhaps his parents did something wrong. They believe this man was born blind because he is not good for anything except to remind them of God’s anger.

“We want to know because when we see him we are reminded that if we do something wrong it could cause something bad to happen... couldn’t it?”

The teacher knows they don’t want to be like a blind man; they don’t understand that he has worth, that he is beloved, his heart is good, and his mind is sharp. The students misunderstand. They are slowly learning to confront their fear or bias by seeking guidance from their teacher, but their question shows that they are still afraid and still biased.

The teacher’s heart is open to his students and to the one whose sight is impaired. The teacher stops walking, kneels down and gathers a bit of red dust from the ground. He mixes the dust with his spit until it forms a thin mud. He asks the blind man to close his eyes and covers the eyelids with mud so the man cannot open them – he cannot blink. A speck or two get in through his eyelashes, and his eyes begin to wash with tears. It’s a bit of a strange way for two men to act and a small crowd is gathering to watch.

The teacher says to the man born blind, “Let one of my students guide you to the nearby lake so you may wash this off and when you do your eyes will work just like everyone else’s eyes.” Then he turns to his students and to the crowd of onlookers.

“This man was born blind,” he tells the crowd. “But you are having difficulty seeing who he really is. Your eyes don’t work well; you do not see his value. You do not see the goodness in him. But I do. I see the goodness in him, and I see the goodness in you. You are asking questions because you make mistakes – not because he makes mistakes. He is valuable because you are valuable. He is whole, and he is a part of your community whether or not he can see with his eyes because he can see with his heart.”

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  • Karin Forest (nee Carlson)
    March 22, 2020

    Thank you (from Princeton BC) for the online services each Sunday.
    I grew up within the family of West Van United Church, introduced there as an infant by Neil & Joy Carlson.
    God Bless this ministry, that it may continue well into the future!

    • Welcome home Karin! So glad you were able to join us today. Neil and Joy are lovely! 🙂

      We livestream our worship service every Sunday so feel free to join us again through our website or our Facebook page.

      Thanks for your well wishes for our ministry as we are just starting our second 100 years! Blessings to you too!

  • Sheila Baxter
    March 26, 2020

    Phillip – thank you for a wonderful service. Just watched it in the early hours and it brought me peace✝️ Let there be light And the grace of God be with us all in these challenging days. Grateful for your leadership. Amen.
    Sheila Baxter

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