As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to grip our World, the Good News is there is an everlasting light for all of us to look towards.
Our Pastor, Rev. Wendell Taylor, has once again selected the words for this week’s Sermon and is helping us to understand the Good News and to always remember, the Light will always be on for us if allow ourselves to be one with it.
May it be so!
In this week’s Sermon text from the first 34 verses of the 9th chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus is waking along with his disciples and sees a man they know to have been born blind.
Seeing someone with a genetic/inherited abnormality/disability, that has brought the man misfortune throughout his life, caused Jesus’ disciples to ask him: “Who sinned? This man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Before we dismiss the question as callous, and hopelessly ignorant, remember that in Jesus’ day it was widely thought that there was a direct correlation between one’s misfortune and one’s sin.
One’s sin being the cause of one’s punishment, either brought on by immoral behavior or the immoral behavior of their parents. In the latter case the consequences of the parents sins being visited on their children.
Since the man was born blind due to no fault of his own (so called original sin not withstanding), his condition must have been payment or punishment for the sins of his parents.
The view that misfortune is the consequence of sin is not something that was confined to the ancient times in which Jesus lived. Some people today, especially those who call themselves religious, still hold this belief to be true.
They still make a direct correction between sin and misfortune, even inherited misfortune. So, in the case of the Coronavirus and those who have contracted it and even have died from it, the question still is asked: “Who sinned, those people or their parents?”
While we know where the virus originated and how it was spread, namely due to irresponsible and untruthful behavior, people contracted the disease and died from it largely due to no fault of their own. Therefore, their misfortune hardly could be seen as punishment for their sin, whether from God or the Fates.
These questions led me to wonder who the real blind person was? The man born blind and the victims of our pandemic or the the ones asking the ignorant question?
Clearly sin does not cause a man to be born blind anymore than a person’s sin causes him to get sick from the Coronavirus (except in those rare cases when a woman or man’s irresponsible behavior during pregnancy might have resulted in their child’s blindness or a persons carelessness might have contributed to their contracting the Coronavirus. But in neither case this hardly could be considered a consequence of sin).
The Pharisees in John’s story did not believe that Jesus made the man who had been born blind see. They preferred to see the man only as blind because he was born that way, instead of seeing him as someone who could ever be able to see.
Therefore when the man born blind came before them as one who could now see they refused to believe it was the same man or that Jesus was the one who made him see. Even when the once blind man told the Pharisees why Jesus was able to do what he did, namely because he came from God and had the power of God in him, they still refused to see Jesus for who he really was.
Because the Pharisees were unable, and unwilling, to see the true nature of Jesus that had been revealed in his giving sight to a man, it was they were truly blind.
Jesus answered his disciples question by saying, “ It is not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.”
In part Jesus was stating that in his giving a sight to a man born blind, God’s power was be able to be revealed; a blessing of God, so to speak, overcoming an inherited curse of misfortune.
But in part, what Jesus was also referring to was being able, at least potentially, to get others to see who, while not blind by birth, were equally as blind.
So they too could say: “I once was blind, but now I see the miraculous power of God.”
Friends, the Coronavirus is NOT a punishment sent by God against a particular people or people’s of the world. So the question remains, “How can the Coronavirus pandemic help us see when we were once blind?”
- Before the virus, some people were blind to the need for human to human contact and were content to simply be connected on cyberspace.
- Before the virus, some people scoffed at the importance of being in community and becoming part of a community of faith.
- Before the virus, some people were callous instead of empathetic, mean instead of kind, selfish instead of caring.
- Before the virus, some people didn’t see the value in ever being alone, in slowing down or in being reflective.
- Before the virus, some people didn’t see the importance of looking and listening.
Now that the Coronavirus has become a pandemic that is infecting people world wide and even killing them, other questions remain:
- “Will it ironically cause a cure for our blindness that will enable us to see?”
- “Will the cure be temporary or permanent?”
- “After the pandemic is over, will we still see or go back to being blind again?”