During Lent this year our congregation is seeking the Spirit’s wisdom in three areas. We are doing this individually and corporately. We are:
- Identifying our core values: those things we care about so deeply that they shape who we are;
- Discerning God’s vision: God’s dreams about who we might be if we actually became all God hoped we could be;
- Defining our mission: what we would/should/could do if we actually started living into God’s vision for our lives and our church.
In the story about Jesus healing the man born blind, the result of his healing, of course, changed everything. Through this parable, we are called to understand that Jesus doesn’t really care about the mess we’ve made or who was at fault for where we are. What Jesus cares about is our being able to see life clearly, see ourselves truly, and see our future hopefully.
This vision got the man born blind into trouble with the religious folks. It is amazing how often seeing life through Jesus’ eyes puts us into conflict with the religion we were taught as kids. We want to cling to it because, well, the nostalgia alone brings us comfort and, of course, it connects us to our family, teachers, and past. The man with sight suddenly was in conflict with the religion of his childhood and what he had been taught all his life, and he even was abandoned by his own family.
That takes a lot of courage, which is probably why so few of us change our minds willingly about things. Our blindness has become so normative that the light would hurt.
The reason I call this miracle story a parable is that medical science tells us that people who have been blind all their lives cannot suddenly see. Oh, they can suddenly be healed so that their eyes work again, but, after decades of darkness, the light is just too bright for a long time. Although they have heard all their lives about things like color, the first time they see red they do not know to what color it relates.
It takes a lot to let go of what we always have believed and to admit that we don’t know anymore. Few people can live their entire lives and then have the courage to suddenly see everything differently. At best, we are fortunate to see the light a little at a time. In the meantime, though, we should be very careful about making fun of those people with white canes. If we are honest, we still need ours more often than we’d like to admit.
by Michael Piazza
Center for Progressive Renewal