Sermon 3/26/2017 “This is my story”

Preacher: Jo J. Belser
Location: Church of the Resurrection:
Text: John 9:1-41
Day: 4Lent, Year A

“This is my story”

This is my story.” [Singing the start of “Blessed Assurance”]

I was born blind. I didn’t know, for the longest time, that I or my parents must have committed some great evil act for me to have been born blind. All I knew was a world that was dark.

I didn’t even know, for the longest time, that I was blind. I didn’t know that all of THEM, apparently, had an ability to perceive the world in a way that I could not. I didn’t think that way. After all, just WHO needed “adaptive equipment” to see? You know about adaptive equipment, don’t you? Candles, torches, computer monitors—I certainly didn’t need those things. So who was blind?

But they TOLD me often enough that I was blind, that I was despised by God. God must hate me, they said, because I was blind. God wouldn’t listen to ME, they said. They wouldn’t even let me into the Temple. “Love the sinner,” they said, “but hate the sin!” But they wouldn’t let me in; some love!

Some of them felt guilty about that, I guess. I used their guilt to get by in life. I begged near enough to the Temple to remind them of my existence, and they gave me money. Some of them. The rest of them spit on me and told me I was evil. Ha! I begged near enough to the healing pool that I could go there and wash their spit off, but THIS bath offered only a small healing

This WAS my story. But I have a new story now, where justice and mercy wins. Because (as Big Daddy Weave sings) to tell you my story is to tell you of HIM.

I didn’t even know his name, you see. But I heard people ask him the sin question. Whose FAULT was it that I was blind? And then I heard spit. I braced for a face full, but none landed on me. AND I was very surprised to hear the man say that my blindness didn’t have a FAULT, but rather a PURPOSE. A PURPOSE! Not a fault, but a purpose.

I wasn’t used to thinking of my life having a purpose. To think that I might have been born blind for a reason blew me away. The man said I was born blind so that I might become a vehicle of revealing God’s work in the world. I know that this is where many people get angry at God. How dare God make me ill, allow me to get sick, make me blind?

That’s what THEY ask. I was excited to think that I had a purpose, my blindness had a purpose. I saw in a flash that if I—my person, my blind body—could be a means of revealing God to the world, then in a way I could bring sight to an otherwise blind world. I could be the “adaptive equipment” that helped spiritually blind people see. I would have—could have—a God-purpose in life. Why hadn’t I seen this sooner? I must have been VERY blind!

That’s when the man put something wet on my face, on my eyes. The stuff smelled like dirt. I learned later that it was dirt: mud made of dirt and spit. He told me to go wash in the healing pool, so I went. Isn’t that where I always washed off others’ spit? Isn’t that where I always find healing, of a sort? So I went. But I was already healed, a little bit.

But this time something was different, even before I got to the pool. I kept my eyes closed tight, but I could tell that something was going to be very different when I opened them. And so I ran. Can you picture THAT scene: A blind man running! And I was right. Turns out, when I opened my eyes, I could see.

Now I know that you, who live in more …. medical …. times will wonder how my brain could have begun to process coherent mages just like that (snap!). I don’t know how. Question me all you want! All I know is that I had been blind, and suddenly I could see. I was filled with wonder and joy and awe and praise to the very God who supposedly had hated me.

This is my story, this is my song. (Riffing on Fanny Crosby’s famous hymn)
Praising my healer, all the day long. (OK, so something’s not RIGHT about those words!)

Don’t laugh at me. I didn’t know that the man who had healed me was Christ Jesus, sent by God into the world to heal the whole world. Not yet. I thought he was JUST a healer, a doctor. (Isn’t that what people in YOUR day do, give credit to medical people for the physical healing they receive?)

Well, at any rate, after I could see, all hell broke loose. Literally. The people who used to call me a sinner now asked my family and me a zillion questions and called me a fraud. They kept trying to trick me into saying I believed the man to be Christ. I was scared. So I was a bit “dodgy” in my responses. I just wanted to escape the situation with my life, and with my new-found eyesight intact.

“This is my story,” I said. This is what I tell everyone who I meet. “I don’t know how the man healed me. But he did. All I know if this: I once was blind, but now I can see.”

They drove me out of the Temple. Again. Of course. That’s when I realized THEY were truly the blind ones. I didn’t hate them anymore. Instead, I resolved to offer even THEM my “portable sanctuary” whenever and however I could.

In the meantime my function in life is to tell my story. Tell what happened next. Tell you that Jesus came to me and found me and offered me salvation in HIS Temple, in his portable sanctuary, forever. All I had to do is believe in him, believe that he is the Christ, and tell others my story.

This is my story, this is my song. Praising my savior, all the day long. (Sing it with me!)

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