Been musing on this Sunday’s Gospel text, as I think it probably gives us some insight into this whole mess with World Vision.
In the text Jesus uses mud to give this man sight.
Or, as I would say for the modern hearer, this man, in the muddiness of life, feels that Jesus has given him some new sight.
In the text it’s literal sight, but I love the over-arching metaphor, too, of how God, through the muddiness of life, gives us new insight.
Perhaps World Vision felt they had some new insight as they looked at their Christian brothers and sisters from all walks of life who had talent and vision and the ability to do good work, but were barred from employment because they were openly gay and partnered. Perhaps they saw it as a justice issue. Perhaps they saw it as a way to bring diverse parts of the Christian world together under charity.
That’s a Biblical model, by the way.
Remember when Peter and Paul couldn’t agree on whether Gentiles were actually Christian if they didn’t follow Jewish purity codes? Do you remember how that all resolved? You may think that they came to some sort of agreement on the issue…but that’s not exactly true.
Actually, what they agreed to do was disagree, support one another, and feed the poor and needy.
Yeah, you read that correctly: they agreed to disagree but, for the sake of the mission of the Gospel, serve God’s people.
Shame that we can’t be Biblical these days like that…
But, I digress.
So, perhaps World Vision felt that, through the muddiness of meeting gay persons openly partnered who had a calling from God, they had gained new insight into what it means to be Christian in the world.
And then along come these other “Christians” who start pestering them about this new insight. “Tell us, where did you get this from? What happened?” And World Vision gives a response that is unsatisfactory for them.
Notice how in this week’s Gospel lesson the Pharisees say, “Well, this new sight is obviously not Godly! After all, the man was healed on the Sabbath!”
Forget that the man, who had previously been blind now could see, it’s all a big farse, an ungodly hoax, because it happened on the Sabbath, and, well, you know the rules…
Forget that World Vision would continue to do their good work of feeding the poor and needy because now it would all be a big farse, an ungodly hoax, because now it would come from the hands of openly partnered gay persons and, well, you know the rules…
At the end the man born blind sits by himself, an outcast from the people who once embraced him before he had been given sight.
Jesus comes to him and asks him if he believes in the Son of Man.
“Show me who he is,” the man replies, “that I might believe in him.”
It’s ironic, of course. The man who now could see can’t see Jesus anymore. Maybe he’s having a hard time seeing Jesus because the people who were supposed to be waiting for the Messiah, the Pharisees in the text, the ones who were supposed to be the example of what it means to live in such a way that the Son of Man would be made manifest, had screwed it all up with their legalism.
That’s what I think.
To which Jesus says, “I am he.”
Of course it is he. He’s the one who gave the man the insight in the first place.
In too many instances in this world we totally just screw it all up as a Christian community. We’re unBiblical.
Not because we welcome gays and lesbians, but because we let our disagreements stop us from pointing to the Messiah. We should take our cues from Peter and Paul’s behavior. Instead we too often just parrot what we suppose their words were.
But the theologian Groucho Marx has some hope for us. “Blessed are the cracked, for they let the light shine through.”
This last week the Christian community was exposed as cracked, fractured, screwed up beyond belief.
We did not point to the Son of Man. So much so, I think, that World Vision couldn’t recognize the source of their new insight, and went back to being blind…
But grace is the light that can shine through these cracks. A grace that subverts our best efforts to stop it.
And this Sunday, despite our cracked ways, despite the fact that we have a hard time pointing to the Son of Man when we’re so busy trying not to heal on the Sabbath, I’m relying on some grace.