This is a photo of our dog Tucker. We adopted him nearly two years ago when his owner died suddenly and Tucker needed a new place to live. Despite his size (about 80 lbs.), he is the gentlest, calmest, most compliant pet we’ve ever had. Like most dogs, he is sad when we leave him home alone, but joyful when we return home. When we are eating, he is right nearby hoping something will drop to the floor. He always sleeps in our room with us at night.
And, Tucker was born blind.
But just because Tucker was born blind does not mean he can’t “see” the world around him. He does everything a normal dog would do except run and fetch. While he doesn’t have functioning eyes, his other senses make up where his eyes fail him. Tucker loves life and we love him.
Indeed, we know that seeing is not always done with our eyes. Most of us probably know people that are sight impaired, yet see the world with their eyes of wisdom, much more clearly than those with 20/20 vision. The first pastor I knew as a young boy was David Mc Cracken, who lost his sight due to diabetes. I never knew him when he had his sight, but I remember him reading scripture using a braille bible, teaching us in Sunday School, preaching occasionally on television, and serving not just 1, but 2 parishes in the Bronx.
Pastor Mc Cracken often told a story of a homeless man who knocked on the parsonage door in the middle of the night, not such an unusual occurrence for a Bronx neighborhood church located just north of the end of 2 subway line. Pastor Mc Cracken invited the man in for some food, warmth and conversation, even though he could see not what he looked like, or assess visually if the man may have meant to do him harm. The eyes of wisdom and love were all Pastor Mc Cracken needed to see the need of the man on his doorstep and to extend the hand of kindness to him. As the encounter came to an end, Pastor Mc Cracken gave that man some money and prayed him on his way. That man’s life was changed that night and his eyes were opened by the love and hospitality of one blind minister. Not only was the man inspired to turn his life around, but he too became a pastor of a congregation in Mt. Vernon, NY where he served for many years.
The eyes that Pastor Mc Cracken saw through that night were the eyes of Jesus. The eyes that see the suffering of the world, and the eyes that help us to see what we would never see ourselves. In today’s gospel, we witness an unusual healing, with Jesus spitting in the dirt and rubbing the mud on a blind man’s eyes and making him see. When I read the passage, I wonder if Jesus is poking fun at all the miracle gazers in the world who look for signs of miracles with noticing what truly happens. In this story a man was blind, and then could see. That is the miracle, because that is what happens every time we meet Jesus and we see something in front of us that we never saw before; when we see potential in someone that the world has forsaken; when we see a need to give, instead of defend our selfishness; when we see what we could be instead of avoiding looking at the possibilities.
Blindness may indeed be a disability in more ways than one. But thank God Jesus opens our eyes to see what we cannot see on our own.
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Devotions for Week of March 26, 2017
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Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.