03 March 2008

Corrected Vision: A Meditation on John 9:1-41

By RevSisRaedorah©2008

Hinge Text: "If you were blind, you wouldn't be guilty," Jesus replied [to the Pharisees]. "But you remain guilty because you claim you can see." (John 9:41)

Although many family members wear eyeglasses and began wearing corrective lens when they were still in elementary and high schools, it was not until my third year in seminary that I realized that my vision was not as crisp and sharp and defined as it had once been. Tending to all of the old wives' tales of eating carrots, not reading while riding in a moving car, avoiding sitting too close to the television, and reading as much as possible under natural light near a window, I thought the need for corrective lens would not be an experience I would have in this lifetime! Accompanied by dull headaches after evening lectures and unconscious squinting of which others took note, my otherwise clear vision had begun to gradually wane nonetheless.

One spring afternoon, after a morning lecture, I walked the few blocks over from the seminary to a chain eyeglass store with an optometrist on staff. At the conclusion of my examination, he first complemented me that despite my family history of degenerative vision I had beaten the age odds and the rate of eyesight failure to require the very minimal corrective lens to improve my vision immediately! The optometrist wrote me a prescription for lens with a 1.25 strength correction. While handing me the prescription, he also informed me that the only reason to get the corrective lens prescription filled was to get my insurance to pay for a choice of fancy frames the eyeglass store had on sale. The optometrist further suggested that with such a minor correction needed, and that for reading small print only, I would fair better by purchasing the drug store variety reading glasses with the 1.25 strength corrective lenses. As a conscientious consumer, I took the latter route to introducing myself to the world of wearing eyeglasses.

Ever filtering life's serendipitous experiences as homiletic fodder, I see my wearing this corrective lens as a spiritual exercise in protecting my vision; as well as, in correcting my vision. What I learned was that despite our best kept spiritual disciplines, our vision can still gradually; stealthily wane from everyday use, over use, and indifferent use. I learned that attending to my diminishing vision in an expedient manner did very well preserve my current vision acuity, prevent a more rapid declination in vision clarity, and pre-empt painful symptoms associated with poor vision – i.e., headaches, squinting. From that day ten years ago until today – confirmed by annual vision check-ups – I still only need 1.25 strength corrective lens for reading only.

Reading this familiar story of a man born blind being made to see and seeing men charged with spiritual blindness, I saw with spiritual clarity what it is to see Jesus as the Great Ophthalmologist; and the need for His corrective touch in the Church today. Reading through this ocular pedagogue, the Pharisaic heart was found guilty of denouncing the Master, denying a miracle, and dismissing the man. Here the ecclesiastical leadership collectively denounced Jesus to be a sinner while just being Jesus, denied the verity of a miracle only because it was worked on the Sabbath, and dismissed the man's praise and testimony of his ontological encounter with God! What audacity! More emphatically, what skewed vision of the inclusive, holistic, affirming work of Jesus in the life of all who believe -- not just a peer-elected, exclusively elitist group among the believers. Just like the man here, who believed in the Lord and worshipped Him, so do I and the multitude of queer Christians who praise and worship Jesus for correcting our vision to see that we are indeed called, chosen, and elected to be in full fellowship with the Church and equipped with an inclusive, corrective theology with which to lead the Church in this 21st Century.

While reviewing the latest PJC ruling (on Bush) determining that heterosexual behavior to be an essential of our faith, I was momentarily outraged that my essence of being was once again relegated to sexual actions and thereby warranted my exclusion from full fellowship and service at the Lord's Table set by this denomination. More over, since then I have been experiencing lingering feelings of distrust of the persons and distress over the process of adhering to tenets of our faith which have been historically and theologically deemed "essential" and later "necessary" vs. this slightly skewed, yet influential, reinterpretation of being "necessary and essential." I've much to say about why my monogamous intimate erotic expressions would at all be necessary to the functioning and leading of a congregation, but to do so I would regress!

Through the ocular pedagogue in this pericope I better understood where my slightly clouded spiritual vision of a few people and some processes has caused some missteps and mistakes along my life's journey. Comparably, I noted where corrected spiritual vision gave me courage to boldly go where no colored queer clergywoman has dared go before! As I face more faces in ecclesiastical positions of the mainline denominational church positioned to determine the right and realm of my pastoral service to the Body of Christ, I face them with compassion, offering them the healing eye balm of the inclusive theology of Jesus to correct their vision lest He'd speak this indictment to these persons and this process, "If you were blind, you wouldn't be guilty," Jesus replied [to the Pharisees]. "But you remain guilty because you claim you can see." (John 9:41).

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