The gospel passages for most of the season of Lent this year are from John. They are meaningful stories, long, sometimes confusing encounters between Jesus and seekers. Tomorrow the story of a blind man whose sight is restored with "Jesus spit," which apparently is like "mother spit" only higher octane.
The question of course is always where to go homiletically, which is the fancy way of saying "in the sermon." Do we take hold of the metaphor and remind ourselves that everyone has impaired spiritual vision to some degree. We hear of those who are "legally blind," which means they may have limited sight, but not enough to operate a vehicle or function visually in ways that others may deem normal. Often those whose vision is failing don't want to admit that they are now impaired.
And who wants to be declared "spiritually blind," even though we don't have sufficient sight or insight.
It happens that Canada is into the final four-day event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=3 examining the spiritual and cultural genocide of First Nations peoples through the Residential School system. For decades the state and a number of Christian denominations did their best/worst to expunge Native culture from the lives of children taken from their communities and raised in these schools.
The federal government has apologized and so have denominations, with the United Church of Canada leading the way. The TRC has reminded us that the trauma and the multi-generational impact is far from over. I shudder when I read online comments following reports on everything from the TRC to calls for a commission into the hundreds of missing aboriginal women, to resistance by First Nations to pipelines crossing their land. Racism is alive and well in this country, with people readily stating that native peoples should somehow be grateful for systemic subjugation, to just "get over it" and to meekly accept whatever the dominant culture tosses their way.
Is this not blindness which needs to be healed? We need some serious "Jesus spit" in this country, from my perspective. The red cedar box seen above has accepted the testimonies of those who were harmed and other statements from groups and individuals. They are an invitation to open our eyes.
Have you followed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? Do you know that the United Church has been there all along the way? http://www.united-church.ca/aboriginal/schools/trc Are you aware of our attempts at restitution and reconciliation? Is this important?