Jason Fisher, Champaign, IL

Warm-up Question

Share a story of someone who pointed out the potential they saw in you. Who is someone you could help to see their own giftedness?

Seeing Possibility

Yvonne Shortt is an artist who uses grasses, clay, moss, and other natural materials to create beautiful sculptures of people’s heads.  Slowly over time Yvonne began losing her eyesight because of a rare genetic disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Her story is part of a documentary called Adapt-Ability by filmmaker James Robinson which highlights how her limitations are really a gift to her art. Not being able to see well heightens her other senses and gives her greater compassion for the people she meets. When working on a project with clay Yvonne says, “I make a face of a little girl, and I make that face for hours until I feel her breathing.”

Discussion Questions

  • When have you experienced loss and how did affect the way you lived?
  • How can our pain or limitations foster greater compassion for others?
  • How can creating art through our struggle breathe life into other people?

Fourth Sunday in Lent

1 Samuel 16:1-13

Ephesians 5:8-14

John 9:1-41

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year A at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

The disciples ask Jesus, “Who sinned?” Their focus is on the sin or what appears to be broken, instead of on the potential hope of healing that God offers. Jesus is quick to point that out: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”  He was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. When meeting those who are struggling, Jesus challenges the disciples away from fault finding and towards a hope that says, “God is still at work and will be revealed through this person.”

The Pharisees and teachers of the law seem to see only broken rules instead of broken people. When the man born blind speaks the truth about what Jesus did, it doesn’t fit with the Pharisees worldview.  So they lash out at him instead of giving praise and glory of God for his healing. They were quick to point out the problem with healing on the sabbath instead of being excited this man could now see. In frustration they respond, “We know this man is a sinner.” 

This becomes a way for them to give up on the man born blind and quickly dismiss  his experience.  Jesus reminds them that God isn’t done with anyone yet and if they are so certain they know this man, then their own sin remains. Jesus teaches the disciples that presuming certainty about a person and their experience isn’t his followers’ mission. Today Jesus still calls his disciples to embrace healing that opens up endless possibilities for God’s work to be revealed in the world.

Discussion Questions

  • When have you been certain of something, only to find out later you were wrong?
  • How would it change your perception of the people you meet if you saw them as being born so that God’s work might be revealed through them?
  • Who needs you to see past their brokenness to the hopeful possibilities God has in store for them?

Activity Suggestions

  • Think of a time of loss or pain in your own life.  Create some artwork based on that experience. Create a poem, a painting, a song, or a dance related to what you felt. Then share that work with others who have had similar struggles.
  • It is easy to assume that someone born blind wants to see, or that someone born unable to walk wants to walk.  That is not always the case. Get to know someone with a disability and ask them what their hopes and dreams are for the future. Then ask them what kinds of justice projects would help them feel more included in their neighborhood and in society in general.

Closing Prayer

God of all healing and wholeness, keep our eyes open to the work you are doing in each person. Keep us blind to what others can’t do and instead allow us to see like Jesus the holy potential in each person we meet. Amen.