One of the things we are talking about in our Thursday Noon Bible study is RENEWAL. Prayer can be an aid toward spiritual refreshment. Scripture too can provide a much needed renewal to the grind of daily life.
John’s gospel provided it for me today.
The very lengthy story in John of the blind man receiving sight serves many purposes. As with many of John’s stories, the discourse occurs in a way that twists and turns, is multi-faceted and difficult to follow. As the story continues, he increasingly recognizes the identity of Jesus. This is brought to the Pharisees. He goes back to Jesus. All along there is a second strand of trying to understand who is a sinner.
And so the point seems to be, not to find a cause or a purpose for the man’s blindness, but to use this as an occasion to showcase God’s healing activity in the world – God’s renewal that is offered.
Many do not believe this is happening. Speaking of the blind man, one says, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.” Another, though, said, “It was your eyes he opened. What do you say about him?” “He is a prophet.”
There are many in our country who are struggling to see joy. I have been all over the world, as a missionary and as a traveler, and my take on Americans is that we as a people struggle with joy. We struggle to see God’s grace.
I know for me personally, the daily convulsions of this White House plus the “news” cycle (which is more of a play-by-play of one person’s tweets bringing little news) wreak havoc on my ability to gain the inner joy I am called to as a Christian, and I by and large have turned off all television, listening to 30 minutes of NPR in the morning, and then going on with my busy day. The spectacle of craziness is hardly news. It hardly illuminates God’s grace, or the renewal of our minds that scripture calls us to.
Healing is possible. But it is not going to be found on MSNBC, or FoxNoise. It won’t even be found at the ballot box in November.
In John’s passage I find grace all over. In it, the Light of the World shines grace on even one who has not done anything to deserve this. And when I say that I mean he has not done a series of good works to draw Jesus’ attention. He was simply blind. That was all that caught Jesus’ attention. The blind man asked for nothing. He was being used by the synagogue authorities as a teaching example. Jesus jumped in and healed him.
And so it is with the church. And with my life. I wasn’t looking for Jesus to enter my life in dramatic fashion and give me sight – but in many ways that is what happened. This is my call to ministry. I was happy as a clam, going along in undergrad – and before I knew it, I was doing an independent study abroad in Israel and understanding that God was calling me to a life-changing vocational course.
I know the same is true for others. Many of my fellow Christians, some of you who receive this morning reflection, have shared your stories of calling, of healing, and of grace – times when Jesus showered goodness beyond measure, and changed the course of your life.
There are some that will doubt, not believing that eyes have been opened and sight has been given. There will be some who never believe. But that doesn’t change the fact that in my life I have seen miraculous things.
So let us look for those things in our daily lives. For the promise is there for abundant healing and renewal – daily.