“Blind Spots”

Luke 24:13-35

Third Sunday of Easter, 26 April 2020, Pandemic Week 8

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

 

Luke 24:13-35

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad.

Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”

He asked them, “What things?”

They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

1

Prayer.

 

From my personal experience and

Observation of others,

I believe we all have blind spots.

On some issues

I can see with intense clarity.

It is easy to develop a deep sense of empathy and understanding towards others if we share a common past.

 

My life has been blessed with personal intersections

With aging and Alzheimer’s disease,

Autism and disabilities,

Alcohol and addictions,

College and campus ministries,

Emergency services and mental health.

 

I say “blessed” because after emotionally working through precipitating incidents,

My faith leads me to question with curiosity

The theological intersection with that particular aspect of life.

Dementia and Theology.

Disability and God’s image and presence.

The intersection of addictions and God.

Life and God’s intentions and plan.

Christ in the storm of crisis.

 

How is God present in caring for an aging love one?

Where is God’s grace expressed in people with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome?

What does Christ offer to those facing unrelenting, merciless temptations?

How does God participate in revealing to college students and young adults their call, their purpose, in life?

Is it possible to be the love of Christ to the medic sitting on the back step of the ambulance crying their eyes out?

 

The intersection between life and theology is a privileged place to be.

There are many opportunities for clarity when

We join with other Christians

Traveling a similar path,

The same road.

 

….

 

There is clarity in the common experience of bread being broken.

 

Hit me with a critical incident not in my playbook

And I’m as helpless and dead in the water as anyone else.

When life connects with me in my blind spot,

I collapse like an unconscious boxer imitating a sack of potatoes.

 

Painful hindsight reveals blind spots

Like light bending around black holes in space.

I can’t fake it when

I’m told to straighten up that my language.

I just don’t understanding.

Or my tone is insensitive and hurtful.

I can tell when my sins of omission cause harm and reveal personal blind spots

When I feel like I want to throw up.

 

Had I only known …

… her ex-husband was a clergyman

… the father of her children would beat her on a regular occasion.

 

Had I only known …

… the treasurer who threw the church checkbook in anger was, at the same time, losing his own business to bankruptcy

… the retired teacher who screamed at me and pointed his finger in my face had been abused by principals like this all his life.

 

Had I only been able to see …

… the son or daughter struggling with gender identity or preference

… the fear in a person of color pulled over by the police.

 

Had I only been able to see …

… combat in a foxhole, in a jungle, or at 20,000 feet

… the effects of a family chronically anxious for their loved one to return home.

 

Had I been able to see …

… the lifetime effects of childhood sexual abuse or exploitation

… the painful scars from prior abusive religious experiences.

 

These are journeys I have not personally traveled.

However, these are journeys that have bloodied me on occasion throughout life.

 

….

 

There is clarity in the common experience of bread being broken.

 

Recognizing our spiritual blind spots

Is the first of many steps the Lord is leading us to take.

For the man born blind to serve God’s purpose,

Jesus healed him and gave him sight.

For the disciples on the road to Emmaus,

Jesus had every intention to open their eyes

And recognize his presence among them.

 

As in physical blindness,

spiritual blindness can make us more attuned to our other spiritual perceptions.

Thinking of the 5th chapter of Galatians and the Fruits of the Spirit,

Our blind spots can contribute to greater love, joy, and peace.

Our spiritual blindness can make us more patient, kind, and good.

We can access deeper faith,

Become more gentle, and

Exercise more self-control.

 

Blindness may serve God’s purpose,

Until, according to God’s time,

We may come to see.

 

Let us be clear:

God doesn’t want us to remain spiritually blind;

Rather, followers of Jesus are invited to change our blind spots into spiritual clarity.

Jesus invites us to his table

To break bread,

And in the breaking of bread,

To be revealed in our midst.

 

….

 

There is clarity in the common experience of bread being broken.

 

Clarity comes in an experience shared with others.

Clarity doesn’t come in isolation,

But in the intimacy of sharing the table with others.

A private spiritual life is starved

Of the bread Jesus offers;

Dying hungry and without recognition of our Lord who breaks it.

 

….

 

Humility is required to recognize and address

Our spiritual blindness.

I don’t know all.

I can’t see everything.

I’m unable to know what I don’t know.

Trusting in myself, my intelligence, experiences, or resources goes out with the morning trash.

Humility places our complete trust in the Lord.

We place ourselves wholly in God’s hands.

 

Humility is required to trust in the Lord and take our place at the table.

 

Humility turns the world upside down.

The disciples had all the news and they were more than happy to proudly inform the unknown, ignorant fellow traveler.

Yet, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.”

 

The disciples were the hosts, inviting the traveler to be their guest.

Yet, when Jesus takes his place at the table

He assumes the role of host,

The disciples become to guests,

And Jesus is revealed in the breaking of bread.

 

Humility is acceptance that God is making all things new.

 

Humility in faith

Is belief that Jesus is with us

Even when we don’t recognize his presence.

Jesus desires more.

He desires to break through our blind spots, to be seen, and

For us to witness to his resurrection and presence to the world.

 

To those who have been hurt by my spiritual blindness, I’m truly sorry.

Don’t give up on me.

I’m try to humble myself, place my trust in the Lord, and

To hold on as Jesus heals me of my blindness.

 

My invitation to you, is to do the same.

Apologize.

Be humble.

Listen.

Learn.

Trust in the Lord.

 

In the breaking of bread Christ is revealed.

Our spiritual blind spots begin to be transformed

From clumsy ignorance to

Empathy and understanding.

The Christ that has always been with us

Is revealed in all his glory.

 

Dearly beloved,

Who are the individuals that we are blind to?

Who do we fail to see or understand?

Perhaps they are God’s gift to you and me,

A part of a larger plan

To bring clarity,

To reveal Christ and his love

for all the world to see.

 

May God heal us of our blindness.

 

Sing with me.

“Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
Ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!”

(Clara H. Scott, 1895)

 

Amen.

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