Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org


March 30:

Call:    Ephesians 5: 8-14
Text:    John 9: 1-41
Prayer:  W&S #15
Psalm:   Psalm 23 (137)


How far back is your earliest memory?

Mine? Sixty five years ago this month

It took place in March of 1949
I had just turned three years old.
   When my mother and my grandfather
took me to Rome City Hospital
for an emergency appendectomy.

I can remember arriving at the hospital
I can remember being in the hospital
I can remember staying at my uncle's for a few days
Immediately after being discharged from the hospital.

I still have those images in my memory.

If my memories were furniture, they would be antiques.

[But, of course, I'm not an antique!]

Now, if I can recall a visit to the hospital
Some six and a half decades after it occurred,
Certainly all of you who heard last Sunday's scripture
   About Jesus' encounter with the woman at the well
   Can recall it even more vividly than I can recall
      The events of March 1949

After all you heard that story only seven days ago
   And last week was undoubtedly not the first time you heard it

In fact, when you heard it last week
   It merely refreshed and reinforced your memory of the story.

Therefore, I am confident  I have no doubt
   that I could call on any one of you
   And that the person called upon
   Could walk right up here to the pulpit
      And tell the story to the congregation.

And if you not only listened to the scripture
   But also paid some attention to our reflection on it
You must likewise be able to remember
   That people thought that Jesus should not be talking with the woman, both because,
      She was a woman   and he was a rabbi
   And   Because she was a Samaritan,
         Looked down upon as ungodly and unclean
         By the Jerusalem Jews of that day.

And we thought about how wrong it is to look down on others
   Using our human standards of ungodly, unclean, and inferior.
   When so clearly Jesus showed respect and care for all.

We didn't actually talk about it last week
   But without looking at others as ungodly and inferior
      We would not have had
         Slavery, the Civil War, and the racial turmoil of the 60s.

Last week's story was from John's gospel
   And the scripture itself (not the message!)
   Was longer than we normally use in our worship.

This morning we return to John.
And admittedly, the scripture is both familiar
   And a bit longer than we normally use in worship.

As we shall see
This story is the flip side of the coin that we examined last week
   They are different sides, but the same entity.

This is how John tells the story of "Jesus Healing The Blind Man"
   [John 9: 1-6]

So far the story is a typical healing miracle.
   Except for the fact that Jesus has said
      The blindness not only did not result from the man's sins or his parents' sins
      But the blindness did provide
an opportunity for God's works to be revealed

Still, the mud, spittle, and washing in the pool of Siloam are typical.

But after those first six verses, others get involved,

First, the man's neighbors [9: 7-12]

They debate whether it is the same man
Until the man says:  "I am the man."

Still, it was such an amazing happening,
that the neighbors took the man to the Pharisees
   those initially well intentioned Jewish leaders
   whose legalistic mindset made it difficult for them
      to appreciate anything but the law
and their interpretation of it.

That sets up a series of almost comedic,
But also quite sad exchanges.

The first exchange   is with the man himself
The second     with his parents
The third         again with the man

[9: 13-34]

This is the "Duh!" part of the story.

The Pharisees asked the man how it happened

He answered in terms that were both simple and clear
      "He put mud on my eyes.
Then I washed, and now I see"

In all fairness to the Pharisees
The story does sound like something a child would make up

But the Pharisees responded not with searching inquiry
   But with a logic born in their legalism
      "He did not observe the Sabbath.
      Therefore he is a sinner.
      Therefore this could not be an act of God.

More reasonably,
   They sent for his parents to see if their son had really been blind

They asked: "Is this your son who was born blind?
      How then does he see?"

His parents knew what their questioners wanted them to say.
   So they responded,
       "We know that this is our son and that he was born blind"
      We do not know    how it is that now he sees
      Nor do we know who opened his eyes
      Ask him, he is of age."

And so, even though they had already spoken with him, they do.

They call the poor guy back to interrogate him some more.

By now, the man must have started to wish that Jesus had left him alone

I picture him thinking to himself,
   "Maybe I was better off blind?  At least then these Pharisees would not keep calling me back to ask the same questions that I have already answered."

[AN ASIDE:  Haven't there been moments when each of us has thought that we would have been better off if Christ had just left us alone instead of calling us to witness to him?]

But the man again went before the Pharisees.

This time those religious leaders told him that Jesus was a sinner
And he responded,
   "I do not know whether he is a sinner.
   One thing I do know is that I was blind but now I see."

And when they again asked what Christ had done to the man
His response was less than tactful.
   "Why do you want to hear it again?
   Do you also want to become his disciples?"

And a few minutes later, the frustrated man let his exasperation out
   "Here is an astonishing thing!
   You do not know where he comes from,
and yet he opened my eyes
   We know that God does not listen to sinners
      but he does listen to one who worships him
and obeys his will ...
   If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."

And this is where we want to exclaim, "Duh!"

It is so simple my five year old granddaughter would get it without batting an eyelash.

But the Pharisees?
They still could not wrap their minds around it
And so they insulted him and drove him out.

The scripture ends with Jesus talking to the man.

But we have already heard the portion of the story
That is the reason we are looking at it today.

For we have seen how the Pharisees would not
   Listen to or process
   Anything that didn't fit into their scheme of things.

They were blind.
   Blinded by their own narrow and arrogant way of thinking

The man had been cured of his blindness
But the Pharisees had not been cured of theirs
   For they could not see what the man saw
   They could not understand how obvious it was

Their legalistic mindset
   Was like a big cataract covering their eyes.

They thought the way they saw things had to be right
They thought they couldn't be wrong
They thought they were extremely godly
   But they could not hear, see, or recognize God.

Last week we learned from the Woman at the Well
   That it is not godly to look down on others
As inferior and ungodly

This week we learn through the experiences of the healed blind man
   That it is just as ungodly
      To think that we are more godly than others.

These stories are two sides of the same coin
   One side dealing with how we think of others
   The other side dealing with how we think about ourselves.

This Lent, let us remember both sides of the coin.