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I grew up in a family of seven: mother, dad, grandpa Miles (mother’s dad), and four children. The oldest was my brother, and I am the middle of three girls. It was a busy household with all the usual duties for the family. One by one we became old enough to run errands. Fish to pick up every Friday, stamps from the Post Office, time for more milk. But you didn’t “go” for stamps or whatever. You were sent. My mother would call you, or come to you, look you in the eyes and gently say, “I am sending you . . .” No gold star Sister glued to my collar, no pin, no ribbon, nothing equaled this recognition. Being “sent” flowed from a relationship, and it meant a new role in the family.

Being “sent” meant:

–you are empowered by instruction–

–you are reliable; you will do your best–

–you represent the one who sent you, the other, the family, mother–

I tingle when I think of the first time I was “sent” on an errand by my mother. She looked in my eyes and softly said, “I am sending you to Mrs. Enderly. This is for her.” She handed a small bag to me. Well, I was sooo excited. I was running an errand for my mother! Now the Mertens lived next door, and Mrs. Enderly lived next to the Mertens. I was going exactly two houses down our block. But, I was running an errand. Me. I remember coming home, just standing in front of her, her smile, her embrace. There was unspoken praise, a lesson singing in my heart about what it meant to be part of my family.

Consider today’s text through the lens of that verb, i.e., to send.

First of all, John’s Gospel begins with a famous prologue: “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God . . .” The whole Gospel is about that “Word” because that is the One who is sent. This Word, this One, brings the Law of Love, the Light of the World, the Kingdom of God, the Reign of God, the New Creation.

Today we pick up the text when Jesus is fleeing from an argument with religious leaders, which he lost. They shouted insults at him while they picked up stones to throw at him. So, we read he is walking along. I would be stomping along, pounding out every syllable of my flawlessly correct point-of-view. Not Jesus. He notices a blind man. Imagine his followers: “He just escaped with his skin, and now he’s going over to a blind man. He’s clueless. ‘Hey, Jesus, is this because of his sins or his parents’?’ NO! ‘that God’s works might be revealed in him.’ ‘God’s works’. Well, this should be clean and regal.”

Have a Genesis flashback. Jesus scoops up the yuck of this world and stirs his very own being, his saliva, into it. Molds two mud pies, and puts them on the blind man’s eyes. This is the New Creation. What does Jesus say to him? Go? Not really. John uses a Greek verb that is much stronger: to send. In the Greek, Jesus says: “I am sending you to Siloam to wash.”

The man is cured; he sees. Heated emotions fill the air: controversy, confusion, rejection, avoidance. Concerns. Pharisees: rank, authority, income, relationship with the Romans. Parents: life depends on your community; you need people helping one another in order to survive; exile is slow death; maybe he could go to his cousins for a long visit.

The sighted man wanders around slowly realizing what has happened.

Again Jesus seeks him. They visit. The sighted man shares his wondering, and his faith ripens gradually. Jesus identifies himself with simple statement: “I am he.” Picture the two of them standing there, eye-to-eye. Imagine the love Jesus brands on the man’s soul. Everything in the man yields to Jesus: “I believe.” This is the main miracle. The cure is secondary to the flow of power. This is a sacramental act that effects, or causes, the truth to be present, grace, divine presence.

And the healing miracle continues. The sighted man says: “I worship you.” Worship. Worshipping Jesus involves going forth in your life to make God’s love known. Now the miracle is complete.

The One Who is Sent now sends the sighted man forth to make God’s works known. 

When we gather around the altar today, wearing the mud pies of our souls, may we believe; may we go forth to make God’s love known.

Amen

Rev. Kay Schmitt

Photo by Gates Foundation on flickr.com

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