Reading and Prayer – November 17

Reading: John 9: 13-39 (abridged)

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath…. Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.  …They turned …to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, …“Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”  …Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” …[And] they threw him out.  Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

Lord, I thank you for “common grace” — anonymous grace — that grace that You put in the world without having to sign Your name to it.  There are many in the world, people who will speak to us a Word of Importance that comes from You, people who will do us an Act of Service that comes from You.  They may or may not be Christian.  They may or may not meet with our ideas of what a “good” person is, a person of “our tribe,” but they nonetheless share the merciful heart of Jesus and convey the common grace of God.  They are the angels with greasy fingernails who know how to fix a car, the nurses with head-to-toe tattooing who know how to give a cup of cold water in Your name.  They are the good Samaritan.  The man born blind has it right: “Whether he is a sinner or not, I do not know….”  Lord, how often do I presume to know — how easily do I judge — where another human being stands with God.  I do not know.  It is not my business to judge.  Lord, forgive me for placing such barriers in the conversations that might have unfolded with the people people I meet, but for my judgment and my presumption that I know them already — conversations in which they might have taught me something that would make me better in my Christian walk or in which they might have shared with me their real spiritual need (different perhaps than what I suppose).  Help me Lord to know the “one thing” that the blind man sees so clearly: that I have received grace, and that God is truly active in whatever means by which grace comes.  Thanks be to God!
Jesus, You have “come into the world” (so you say) “for judgment.”  You divide the sheep from the goats, the seeing from the unseeing.  It is not that judgment doesn’t matter.  It is merely that I have too many specks in my own eye, rendering me blind, to make me a fit judge.  This blind man shows me so much when he turns to himself, to the narrower scope of what he can know, to the experience from which he can speak.  And even there, Lord, I need your help to see myself and my experience clearly.  “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139.23).  Jesus, you have “come into the world…so that the blind will see.”  Make me one of “the seeing ones,” and may You be the thing that fills up my field of vision most of all, so I can say to You with this man, “Lord I believe.” And truly worship you.  Lord Jesus, make it so.

Note: There is nothing wrong with tattooing from a Christian point of view.  However some (older?) Christians struggle with the judgment that rises unbidden when seeing a tattooed person, because its prevalence has greatly increased in the culture since a former day.  At one time it was reserved for “sailors and salty wenches,” to quote my 86 year old mother, who is forever commenting on the tattoo’edness of her care-givers, adding “but they are such nice people” (as if that were a contradiction)! (KW).

-Rev. Karla Wubbenhorst