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Mark 9:38-50

June 2, 2020

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:38-50

For far too many years, my focus on the faith was one of finding all the ways that Christianity was right and good for the world, over against other world religions that were wrong and not good for the world. Such a way of looking at things was a simplistic, over-generalized, setting up of easily knocked down straw men. I wasn’t alone. It seemed that everyone thought that way.

How did we get there?

Jesus had plenty of room in his imagination for people who blessed and served others without checking their tribal identity at the door. How was that so easily left behind in the forward march of the Christian faith from a beleaguered minority dedicated to love of God and love of neighbor to an official apologizer for the Empire?

By the way, that didn’t end in the dusty bins of history. There are still corners of the Christian movement that bask in the glow of official governmental and cultural sanction. Such corners rejoice at the picture of the President of the United States holding a Bible in front of the sign for an Episcopal church. Is there any consideration in that for how a Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or agnostic or atheist American citizen feel in seeing that picture? Not to mention that every religious community is now suffering in an age when we are all cut off from the most meaningful thing we do – gathering together for worship.

People of all faiths and no faiths are suffering the face of the current social unrest. Quite likely people of all faiths and no faith were among those hit with tear gas to clear a path for that picture to be taken. A picture that is about as close as this president gets to actually reading a Bible or entering a church door.

Jesus says that “salt that has lost its saltiness” is no longer good salt. His words of warning are not addressed to an unbelieving world but to disciples who are so inwardly-focused and self-righteous that they are blind to God’s loving movement in the world. They can’t see beyond their own noses and their own privileged status as “Jesus insiders.” A thirsty person receiving a cup of cold water doesn’t care about the tribal identity of the hand that brought it to her.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, bless those who bless others with care, with humble service, with open hearts, open minds, and grace. May we follow in your footsteps of love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 9:30-37

June 1, 2020

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.

He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:30-37

On the way, they were arguing with one another who was the greatest.” Often, if we read the Bible at all, we race through it or we nibble on it. We hear pretty large chunks in church on Sunday that mostly pass without reflection or commentary. Or, in our personal spiritual practice, we read a verse here or a verse there, seeking pithy little nuggets of wisdom that might help us get through life. Or allow us to skip the challenging stuff.

But if we slow down, we might see what we might have otherwise have missed.

It is easy to pick on the disciples for arguing who among them is the greatest. It seems so trivial, so childish, so self-centered. And it is. But slow down and consider the context, consider how Mark frames their argument.

They just left a scene where Jesus healed a young boy after the disciples have proven their own incompetence and inability to do anything for him. They had just heard Jesus describe where his life would lead him – to betrayal, arrest, and death. Not exactly a rosy picture for anyone. And then, after noticing their arguing, Jesus picks up another child and puts her before them as an object lesson of where their concern ought to be. NOT on BEING the greatest BUT on DOING GREAT THINGS for the sake of the most vulnerable, least powerful, people of all.

The world would be a much better place if we took those words to heart. No longer would 25% of American children live in poverty. No longer would 33% of children grow up without a father. No longer would any parent fear a child getting sick when they don’t have the money to pay for their care. No longer would some children be treated differently than others because of the color of their skin or the zip code in which they live.

The world would be a much different place if the first question we ask would always be, “How will this affect children?”

Instead, what do we do? We crow about being the greatest even as we flee from paying the price, and making the sacrifices, that Jesus challenges us to.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, forgive our self-centered and self-interested desires to protect ourselves and our own interests without consideration for the most vulnerable, and least powerful, among us. Keep us ever mindful of children – all children – and what would be best for them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 9:20-29

May 29, 2020

And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.”

Jesus said to him, “If you are able! —All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand.

When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.” Mark 9:20-29

There is good news in the midst of this pandemic. Even as millions get infected and hundreds of thousands die, many more people recover. They get better. For some, the recovery is relatively quick. For others, effects linger for weeks. But they get better too.

The mystery of it is “Why?” Why do some recover and others don’t? Why is Covid 19 mild for some and devastating for others? The best medical minds in the world are chasing down answers to those questions. Answers that may, or may not, come.

In our imaginations, we put ourselves into this father’s sandals. We sense his desperation and heartache in watching his son suffer horribly since he was a little boy. Imagine his joy to see his son restored! Imagine his son, gripped his entire life by a power greater than himself, suddenly released by a power even greater than that. Jesus does his thing and the boy is able to stand.

The father speaks for all of us with his words, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Isn’t that where we all are?

Jesus told his friends, “This kind can come out only through prayer.” Could this be a lesson that they would have done well to spend less time arguing with the scribes and more time in praying for the boy? That idea hits close to home for me.

It isn’t an “either-or” – it is a “both-and.” The old wisdom goes both ways – “Pray as though it were up to God and work as though it was up to you” as well as “Pray as though it was up to you and work as though it was up to God.” In the end, we do both.

We do both even as we are caught in our belief and our unbelief. We trust in God’s healing power, in this life or into the life to come. We strive to doubt our doubts as much as we might doubt our faith. We pray. Then we do what we can to make life better.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, today we pray for all the parents whose children do not get better, whose lives are not restored. Be with them. Surround them with the love that will see them through. And we rejoice with those who are being restored to good health. Help us always, in our belief and our unbelief, to trust you in all things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 9:14-19

May 28, 2020

When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”

Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.”

He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” Mark 9:14-19

Notice that no one answers Jesus’ question. It was obvious that the scribes (experts in religious laws and social culture) were arguing with the disciples (followers of Jesus) who were not included in the hike to the top of the mountain. The argument was strenuous enough to draw a crowd. So Jesus asks them, “What are you arguing about with them?” They don’t answer.

Instead, a man calls out from the crowd that he has a very sick son who needs help. This isn’t a new problem. The man is desperate, and Jesus’ followers weren’t able to help.

Why? Maybe because they spent their time arguing instead.

Then Jesus asks a question of his own. Irritated to see people who ought to have known better wasting their time arguing with one another, he asks, “How much longer must I be among you?” That question doesn’t get answered either.

Instead, Jesus tells the father to bring the boy to him.

Today the number of deaths from Covid 19 will pass 100,000 people. Most of us now personally know someone who has died. On the one hand, there has been a whole lot of arguing going on. Lots of blaming and blame shifting. Lots of “Yeah but whataboutism” going on.

On the other hand, the family and friends of over 100,000 people are grieving the loss of loved ones, many of whom died with no one beside them but the courageous hospital workers who cared for them to the end.

While privileged people like me sat at a computer or used my telephone from home instead of my office, others put their game faces on and went to work in hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations, mailing centers, delivery services, construction sites, police stations, and the list goes on.

Where would Jesus direct his attention? Would he be any less impatient with our incessant arguing?

Let us pray: Lord, direct our attention today to those who are sick and their loved ones who are desperate that they get help. Push us past and through our self-centeredness. Make us far more mindful of WHAT is right rather than WHO is right. For in that, we will more clearly see through your eyes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 9:9-13

May 27, 2020

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.” Mark 9:9-13

I think about writing a daily devotion every morning. I’ve tried to do it again. But the simple fact is that I got stuck here in the 9th chapter of Mark after the story of the transfiguration. I don’t know what to make of the fact that the last time I posted a devotion was also on a Wednesday. In that last one, I called Wednesday – like the Transfiguration itself – a tipping point. Maybe that is what it is. So here we go.

We have been told, our whole lives, that we need to talk about Jesus with other people. Talk about Jesus. Talk about Jesus. Talk about Jesus. Talk about Jesus. You get the point.

So how does that square with Jesus’ words as he leads his friends down from the glory of their mountaintop peak experience into the real broken world in which they lived? “Jesus ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”

What does Jesus know that we forget? Maybe it is this – as important as words are, as important as the Word is, the bottom line is that talk is cheap.

As we will discover later in the story, Jesus’ followers are there, not for the good of the world, but for the prospect of their own privileged position in what they believe to be God’s coming earthly, majestic, all-powerful, glorious, kingdom. Like a corrupt Senator trading on inside information to dump a stock before the market crashes, they are IN baby and they want to stay there.

But Jesus will have none of that. Watch what I DO, because ONLY THEN will you have the slightest understanding of what I have been saying to you all along! This isn’t, by the way, anything new. Have you READ the story of Elijah? Do you REMEMBER how the king and queen – yes, the politicians of the day – sought to kill Elijah?

What will be new? Jesus will rise from the dead. And his disciples will learn not just to talk the talk but to actually walk the walk. That, whenever and wherever it happens, will always be new.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, as we find ourselves today in this surreal experience of a worldwide pandemic, make us mindful of empty words that don’t lead to actual action. Give us the patience and the perseverance that you modeled as you fulfilled your purpose among us. Give us opportunity today, not to talk the talk but to walk the walk. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 9:1-9

December 11, 2019

And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. Mark 9:1-9

I don’t “time” these readings each morning. I don’t even wake up any more feeling obligated to think aloud about the Bible in writing daily devotions. Some days I do. Some days I don’t. So I find it very timely that these verses are the ones that popped up on a Wednesday morning as we slowly walk through Mark.

Wednesday is hump day. The middle of the week. Like a little chronological mountaintop experience as we move through the calendars of our lives. This story, the story of the transfiguration, is like Wednesday in the story of Jesus.

Some scholars suggest that this is a misplaced “post-resurrection” story. Whatever. I personally think that Mark put this exactly where he thought it should go. And even if that wasn’t a conscious decision, I believe the Holy Spirit thought so too.

Immediately after Jesus’ radical call to discipleship and surrender, and immediately before the clamoring crowds wanted another piece of him, Jesus takes his disciples to the top of a mountain. The view was probably beautiful. It usually is. But what they saw wasn’t just once familiar land off in the distance, they saw the history of God’s presence among people. God mediated through God’s mediators – Moses and Elijah – and now God’s only son as well.

Peter wants to stay. But there is no staying. There is only full speed ahead or beating a hasty retreat. It is a tipping point. They were terrified – not an unknown feeling when we reach the edge of our capabilities and understanding. The unknown is always scary along with interesting.

Then thunders, or whispers, the voice: “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

And they do. The story continues. Trembling, they make their way down the mountain. Trembling, we too keep the faith. We keep following. We keep listening. This reminds me of something else Peter has to say in another gospel: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Let us pray: Lord, you give us glimpses of the beauty of your way in the world, often when we can only see the struggle. Still our fears. Speak your encouraging words into our spirits when we falter. You have the words of eternal life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 9:1-9

December 11, 2019

And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. Mark 9:1-9

I don’t “time” these readings each morning. I don’t even wake up any more feeling obligated to think aloud about the Bible in writing daily devotions. Some days I do. Some days I don’t. So I find it very timely that these verses are the ones that popped up on a Wednesday morning as we slowly walk through Mark.

Wednesday is hump day. The middle of the week. Like a little chronological mountaintop experience as we move through the calendars of our lives. This story, the story of the transfiguration, is like Wednesday in the story of Jesus.

Some scholars suggest that this is a misplaced “post-resurrection” story. Whatever. I personally think that Mark put this exactly where he thought it should go. And even if that wasn’t a conscious decision, I believe the Holy Spirit thought so too.

Immediately after Jesus’ radical call to discipleship and surrender, and immediately before the clamoring crowds wanted another piece of him, Jesus takes his disciples to the top of a mountain. The view was probably beautiful. It usually is. But what they saw wasn’t just once familiar land off in the distance, they saw the history of God’s presence among people. God mediated through God’s mediators – Moses and Elijah – and now God’s only son as well.

Peter wants to stay. But there is no staying. There is only full speed ahead or beating a hasty retreat. It is a tipping point. They were terrified – not an unknown feeling when we reach the edge of our capabilities and understanding. The unknown is always scary along with interesting.

Then thunders, or whispers, the voice: “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

And they do. The story continues. Trembling, they make their way down the mountain. Trembling, we too keep the faith. We keep following. We keep listening. This reminds me of something else Peter has to say in another gospel: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Let us pray: Lord, you give us glimpses of the beauty of your way in the world, often when we can only see the struggle. Still our fears. Speak your encouraging words into our spirits when we falter. You have the words of eternal life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 8:34-38

December 10, 2019

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?

Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38

If you want to sell something today, your odds are greatly improved if your widget saves time, saves money, and makes everything easier and more convenient. Even better, give it away free. Everybody loves shortcuts, loopholes, head starts, and getting an edge on everybody else. I don’t think that is a modern invention – in fact, that is precisely the thinking that got us out of caves and into cars and condos. It is the kind of thinking that drives invention and innovation. Like a river, when it stays within its banks it is a blessing.

But it is also the kind of thinking that rings hollow when Jesus shows up with his invitation to a difficult life without shortcuts or an easy way out. “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Yet this is, and always will be, the tension of our lives as we seek to follow Jesus. Most of the time we come to realize that Jesus is far more likely to lead us THROUGH the challenges, difficulties, heartaches, and growth plates of life rather than AROUND them. But then, and only then, do we discover the strangely paradoxical truth that the hard way is not only the right way, it is ultimately the easier way too.

This is also why Christianity is a team sport. We can’t live this life alone. We need help, encouragement, and support. We need a whole lot of reminders that “God is with us” and “we can do it” and “YES, it is worth it!”

As for “gaining the whole world”, it reminds me of that old story about John Rockefeller, then the richest man in the world. When asked how much money he truly wanted and needed, he replied “Just a little bit more.” Great story – I just doubt that Jesus had Rockefeller in mind. Far more likely, at least in my opinion, Jesus puts his finger on how all of us carry in our minds the idea that life will finally be good when we get “this” or when “that happens.” Nothing is ever enough.

Until we take a moment to get quiet. To settle our minds. To truly take stock. To count our blessings. To realize that we are children of God, deployed into the world for good. And then we suddenly realize that it is always enough. That the narrow way is the best way.

Let us pray: Today, dear Lord, we will do the best we can with what we have to be, not only your children, but your witnesses in the world. We will be grateful for your many gifts in our lives and we will be mindful of the opportunities that you give us to be a blessing to others. If that proves difficult, we trust that you will see us through and forgive us when we falter or fail. In Jesus’ name.

December 8, 2019

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Mark 8:27-33.

If you live in Texas, there is no other town quite like Austin. It literally lives “deep in the heart of Texas.” It sits on the edge of the Texas Hill Country. It is naturally beautiful and that beauty only gets better as you head further west. It is the governmental capital of Texas. The economy is strong. It is Austin.

In Jesus’ day, people could say the same things about Caesarea Philippi. It was both an imperial city, a seat of Roman power, and a religious site, with a long history dedicated to the Greek god, Pan. Sitting at the foot of Mount Hermon, the primary source of fresh water in Israel, the headwaters of the River Jordan, it was a very special place. It still is.

That’s where Jesus led his disciples to before asking his million dollar questions. “Who do people say that I am?” “Who do you say that I am?”

As a pastor, I have long learned to be very suspicious when anyone begins a comment with the words, “A lot of people are saying…” Invariably, that needs to be translated into “I am saying…” with the added rhetorical trick of amplifying my own opinion by suggesting it is shared by others. Like that other person in the parking lot who agreed with them…to be polite.

I don’t think that is what Jesus is doing here. There is nothing in the gospels that suggest that Jesus’ intentions were to build a personality cult around himself. Unlike Philip, the local Roman ruler, who built a city in honor of Caesar…and included his own name in its name. And unlike the earlier Greeks, who dedicated the cave out of which the waters from Mount Hermon gushed forth, to the Greek god, Pan. The first question Jesus poses is not a poll or a popularity contest. It is actually a reflection of peoples’ expectations of Jesus.

Was he a fiery populist like John? A miracle worker like Elijah? A social reformer like the prophets? Just who did people expect Jesus to be?

But more importantly, who did his closest followers, his closest friends, understand him to be?

Peter impulsively blurts, “You are the Messiah.” You are the embodiment of God’s promises to Israel. You are the one. The chosen one. Peter has no idea what that means but he has his hopes.

So Jesus tells him. He will suffer. He will be rejected. He will be murdered. He will rise from the dead.

It makes no sense. It seems ludicrous, pointless. You can see the wheels spinning in the minds of the disciples, “Then what is the point of following you? What am I going to get out of this?” Peter takes Jesus aside and maybe asks: “Are you nuts or something?”

Jesus literally puts Peter in his place. Get behind me! Jesus immediately senses that the direction of Peter’s thinking takes him away from the path he wants to walk through life. It will never be about “What do I get out of this?” or “What do I want?” It will only be, and it only remains, “What does following God’s will toward justice and righteousness in the world, always rooted in love, look like?” and “Am I willing to pay the price to doing my part in making that happen?”

Let us pray: Thank you Lord for your courage and love in paving the path for us. Thank you for encouraging us on the journey. Forgive us for the distractions of our self-centeredness and fear and free us to follow willingly. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Mark 8:22-26

December 3, 2019

They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.”

Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.” Mark 8:22-26

There is an old joke (that I can never remember) about how all the people who had been healed by Jesus showed up at a convention. Then began arguing about the correct way to be healed by Jesus since their experiences were each slightly different. The punchline is that this was the beginning of modern denominationalism. Today’s reading features a man who would argue that healing is a two-stage process.

It is a strange reading, isn’t it? The surprise comes when Jesus doesn’t get it right the first time. This is the only time this happens. The rest of the story has all of the elements that we have come to expect – people bringing a friend for healing, Jesus taking time to respond, restoring his sight, sending him home with instructions not to say anything to anyone. But what’s with the two tries before he sees clearly?

I honestly don’t know. But I think the surprise is worth pondering.

The last thing we should do with this story is to get all literal about it. I can well imagine someone in a Bible study asking, “But if the guy was blind, how could he recognize that people look like walking trees, if he had never seen trees or people before?” Then it is off to the speculation races on how the guy might have lost his vision in a childhood accident with an Official Daisy Red Ryder Range Model 1938 Shepherd’s Staff.

Maybe today we should just live with the question. We can ponder ideas like these:

  • There is a difference between looking and seeing, just like the difference between hearing and listening.
  • We don’t always see as clearly as we think we do.
  • No one is as blind as the one who refuses to see.
  • There is always more to learn, more to discover. More meanings emerge over time as we make our way through life.
  • We simply don’t look at things the way we used to…which is a good thing.

Let us pray: Open our eyes, Lord, that we might truly see. Heal the blindness we can’t see. Restore your vision to our eyes. Give us the patience that healing sometimes requires. And thank you for friends who aren’t content to leave us to our struggles but encourage us to get the help we need. In Jesus’ name. Amen.