Reflection on the Person Born Blind

Two Thoughts Regarding the Story of the Person Born Blind from John 9:1-41 

by Senior Pastor Lori Bievenour


1.  The person was willing to be changed.  That is what strikes me most about this passage.  The person, blind from birth, was willing to experience life in a completely different way than they had experienced it previously.  This is NOT how I approach life, but it is how Jesus approached life, from what I can tell.  Jesus was willing to change and be changed. 


I imagine we could learn a lot from the person born blind and from Jesus amid this COVID-19 crisis.  The question becomes, “Am I willing to be changed?”  or maybe “Am I willing to see my communities differently?”  “Is the church the church if it can’t worship in person?”  (Of course my answer is YES.)  In this time of great uncertainty, we are being asked (forced?) to imagine life differently.  I am actually energized by this aspect of the COVID-19 crisis. 


Things that were difficult to adapt to previously are becoming necessities.  As an example, one wouldn’t call me an “early adopter” of social media or even technology, really.  I have been pretty slow to change, but now that I can no longer go to the homes of the people I love, I’ve embraced video chats as a survival tool.  I’m willing to be changed by this crisis… and some of the changes will undoubtedly benefit me into the future.


A challenge:  What if we embrace the changes that we are being forced into?  How does our response change if we embrace self-distancing, slowing down, reducing fear?  How are our spirits nurtured by allowing the changes to simply be?  Resisting change is an exercise in futility; what change can you live into, even amid such a huge unknown?


2.  The agent of change was messy.  The story of the person born blind causes me to take pause – not because of the miracle but because of how the change happens.  It happens with mud.  Ooozy, gooey, sticky, messy mud.  What is the mud is in our lives?  What messy thing, dirty thing, gross thing might bring healing to us?


Mud.  It’s dirty.  Germy.  Full of yuck.  And yet, it is a key element in this healing story.  The person born blind can see by the end of the story.  That’s pretty amazing, especially considering that Jesus spread mud on the eyes of the person born blind and that person was then able to see.  It wasn’t healing, sparkling water or a potent medicinal charm that was used to heal the person; it was mud.  I wonder what messy things in our lives might actually heal us?


Is there any chance that this messy, out-of-control, invisible yet dirty COVID-19 virus might bring us healing?  I’m not saying that there won’t be pain, suffering, and damage as a result of this experience.  Those are already happening at an alarming rate, and they are real consequences of this global pandemic.  However, COVID-19 is here, and it’s not disappearing quickly.  It’s dirty and gross and causing all of our lives to change.  What if we acknowledged it’s muddiness and then rested with the idea that some parts of our lives might be healed as a result?


I mean, some of us are being forced to slow down.  This is healing.  We are returning to hobbies that our souls have craved but which we haven’t offered enough time to when we aren’t forced to stay home.  This is healing.  We’re nurturing relationships with those closest to us – sometimes in very new ways.  This is healing.  We are seeing that most of us have more than what we need.  This is healing.  We are seeing those who truly don’t have enough even for basic survival.  This is healing. 


This isn’t exactly the way that I want to look at COVID-19.  I want it to just go away. I want the illnesses to stop and the deaths to cease.  I want people to all be on the same page.  I want our front-line workers to hear, without a doubt, that we love them and need them.  I want so much to go back to what I knew before the crisis… and that’s just not going to happen.


And so, what if I look at this crisis like the mud in this scripture?  What if I see it as having healing properties that I never expected?

Perhaps this dish towel will put things into perspective.  I thought of it as Christian kitsch when I received it as a gift a few years back.  It seemed a little goofy, a little tacky, a little too... not me.  But in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, suddenly my silly towel had a bit more to say to me.


It’s true:  Jesus and germs are everywhere.  If this crisis teaches us to get messy in order to find healing, I will learn to embrace that.  Jesus was present in this story with a person who had known life without sight their whole life…  What have I known for my whole life that is now going to change, and how messy will this healing need to be?  COVID-19 is everywhere… what will we see differently – what will be healed – because of this mud?