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Thanksgiving Family Sunday
Based on Mark 8:22-25

2008 November 23
Twenty Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Gretchen L. Elmendorf, Associate Pastor

Seeing Clearly

If Jesus were to approach us, this morning, like he approached the blind person, and touch us and ask, "Do you see anything?" how would we respond? Would we be able to tell Jesus, yes, we see everything clearly? It's hard to see God clearly at work in our lives sometimes, especially these times, when there are so many worries that can cloud our vision. Sometimes, it's hard to see all we can be thankful for when every time we open a paper or turn on the TV we are confronted with images of the Dow taking a cliff dive, or car workers in Detroit looking anguished, or people filled with despair in war-torn countries. I just came back from NYC and couldn't help but stare at the throngs of people rushing around in Grand Central station. I don't think I was imagining this, but I swear I could see hundreds if not thousands of tired faces, signs of worry written across the foreheads of so many. And yet, here we are in church today. Thanksgiving is a few days away. I would bet for many of us, we are not too unlike that blind man in the gospel of Mark, yearning for a healing touch by the holy one, hoping to have our vision restored, yearning for the eyes of faith. For times like these, consider this simple story. I know that children like short stories. So here's one you can share with your friends, other children, youth and wonder about together.

There were two men, both seriously ill, who were staying in the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all of his time flat on his back. Every afternoon, the man by the window would pray, and then sit up, and help pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods when his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the color and activity of the world outside. He would close his eyes and imagine the scenes. The man by the window described a park. The sparkling lake there, the tall evergreens, the sunsets, and the man who fed the ducks gently. The child who climbed the tree laughing. The couple who walked in step, arms linked. The young boy who kissed his grandmother on the cheek. The woman crying as a friend beside her stroked her hair. The parade that marched by one day, where people radiated spirit and camaraderie.

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These visions would prompt the men to talk then for hours on end, sharing what they found meaningful in their own lives. They spoke of their relationships, their questions about God, their failures, their joy, their brokenness, the blessings that punctuated their days, their hopes, their prayers… This went on for days and weeks.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for the men's baths only to find that the man by the window had died peacefully in his sleep. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse made the switch. Slowly, he propped himself up in his bed on one elbow for his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself.

Straining, he turned to look out the window but was shocked to see that it faced a brick wall. The man asked the nurse what would have compelled his deceased roommate to describe such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man had been blind and could not even see the wall. Then she said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.

In this story, there is a sighted man, but he is not the one with the vision -- at least at first. It is the blind person, who leads the sighted man to look out the window metaphorically, beyond his limitations, his pain, beyond the brick wall, to recognize the landscape of God's creation in his midst. He helps the sighted person set his attention on the subtle ways that, from minute to minute, God animates the world we all share, the people we see and encounter, and the meaning of our lives. The blind person left the sighted person with an indelible gift -- the vision of gratitude, the vision of faith.

How ironic, but then again, at this time of Thanksgiving, we must be ready for these kinds of profound surprises in our own lives. We must be ready for surprises that snap us out of our funk. Can we allow then, that even though there's all this mess, so many brick walls to get past, all this gloom in our world, can we allow for our eyes to be opened by God? Can we see the world in the clear way the blind person by the window sees it, the way God wants us to see it, and not in the blurred way the world

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tells us to see it? Where do we start? 

Ask Jesus for the lens of faith. Ask Jesus to make your vision clear. Jesus wants to help us with this -- indeed, scripture tells us so. Consider that in no fewer than 11 instances in the Gospels, Jesus heals people who are blind and restores their sight. If interpreted figuratively, we can imagine that Jesus wants to heal us and help us see God's world more clearly through the eyes of faith. So simply ask, like the blind person in the Gospel of Mark, that Christ help you see the world the way Christ would have you see it. Then wait, watch carefully for Christ's response. It is improbable that He will heal us by laying his hands on our eyes, of course, but it is likely that He will touch us through the kind of revelation that can come to you in the blink of an eye, through surprise and through grace in this blessed time of Thanksgiving. 

Let us pray.

Oh Lord of our Hearts, be thou our vision. Oh Jesus, restorer of our sight, help us to see you more clearly, love you more dearly, and allow ourselves to be touched by you through the hope and love of your faithful people. May we be grateful for you and the countless ways you are at work in our lives. Amen.

Copyright © 2008 Gretchen L. Elmendorf.  Used by permission.

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Parent page ] Sermon "Christmas Eve" ] Sermon "Sacred Vessels" ] Sermon "No System to Save" ] Sermon "Entitled to be Thankful" ] Sermon "Welcome Food" ] Sermon "Waking Devotion" ] Sermon "Sitting at the Welcome Table" ] Sermon "Table Manners" ] Sermon "Speaking of God" ] Sermon "Singing New Songs" ] Sermon "Prepare the Way" ] Sermon "Here-ing God" ] Sermon "The Possibility of Possibility" ] Sermon "Sweet Creations" ] Sermon "Not at All Dead" ] Sermon "March for Life" ] Sermon "Planning, Praising and Pondering Palms" ] Sermon "Imagination, Dreams, and Vision" ] Sermon "Following the Magi" ] Sermon "Pushing Christmas" ] Sermon "Forecasts" ] Sermon "Ready for Christmas" ] Sermon "God in the Middle" ] Sermon "The Days to Come, the One to Come" ] Sermon "Earthly Healing" ] Sermon "Digesting Communion" ] Sermon "The Change of Prayer" ] Sermon "Unbreakable Body" ] [ Sermon "Seeing Clearly" ] Sermon "Right for Present" ] Sermon "In Memory of Hope" ] Sermon "These Baptisms are Killing Us" ] Sermon "Wanting Prayer" ] Sermon "Last Minute Gifts" ] Sermon "Praying Well = Praying Much" ] Sermon "Peace Repent, Peace Remember" ] Sermon "Choosing Church" ] Sermon "A Model Church" ] Sermon "The Empire Struck Back" ] Sermon "Love is Patient and Primary" ] Sermon "Manifestations" ] Sermon "The Green Grace of God" ] Sermon "Signs of Sacred Things" ] Sermon "A Deal with the Future" ] Sermon "With God in Death; with Each Other in Dying" ] Sermon "Facing God's Miracle" ] Sermon "Finding All Three" ] Sermon "God as a Baby" ] Sermon "What Does It Mean" ] Sermon "Controlling Christmas" ] Sermon "Finding Jesus" ] Sermon "Katrina's New Covenant Call" ] Sermon "Elevate your Expectations" ] Sermon "See: the Healing" ] Sermon "Lifeless Chaos and Living Creation" ] Sermon "Rapt Gifts" ] Sermon "Welcome to Reality" ] Sermon "Blue State Blues" ] Sermon "Are we not entitled to thanks?" ] Sermon "Ancient Pieces of Peace" ] Sermon "Noticing Neighbors" ] Sermon "Easter" ] Sermon "Sin: Currently Tense" ] Sermon "Why Are You Angry?" ] Sermon "Anxiety over Sin" ] Sermon "Isn't Marriage Gay?" ] Sermon "A Marriage Grade in Heaven?" ] Sermon "Miracles:  Seeing More in our Midst" ] Sermon "Why are You in Churchl" ] Sermon "Remember your Baptism" ] Sermon "Every Day Spirituality" ] Sermon "The Cross and Joy of Love" ] Sermon "Welcome Back" ] Sermon "Living Together" ] Sermon "Transforming Destruction" ] Sermon "The Work of Healing" ] Sermon "Peace" ] Worship details ]

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