The Seeing Man

“Here is an astonishing thing,” says the man who was born blind. We’ll call him the Seeing Man.

This poor guy has really been through it.  All his life he had been hearing what a sinner he was because he was blind.  And now, through a miraculous healing, he can see. His cure should make him acceptable. He can meet the requirements for belonging within his community.  He can go to the synagogue and be welcomed there as whole and worthy to worship.  He can take his place within society as a fully-functioning member.  

But that isn’t what happens.  The gatekeepers in his culture still won’t have him.  They don’t understand what has happened to him, and they don’t want to.  They have God all figured out, and they don’t want to make room for the Creator to be bigger, more mysterious, than they thought.  In their book the Seeing Man was a sinner, born into being an outcast and unredeemable.  It’s pure and simple.

When we have created a system in which we can predict how God will respond to the human experience, we are in danger of being like these Pharisees.  And the temptation is closer than you might think.

Imagine this, for instance.  You were born into a body with which you don’t identify.  You know you are a woman, but your body is that of a man.  This wasn’t so bad when you were a child, but with the onset of puberty it has become unbearable.  Society tells you that you must heal from whatever trauma you’ve experienced that makes you “reluctant” to step into adult maleness.  But you know you are not a man, and it’s killing you.

Along comes a healer who shows you that God created you to be just who you are. The Creator gave you both the male body and the female identity, so that “God’s works might be revealed in you.”  He shows you that the Creator wants you to be the woman that you are, transforming the man’s body, stretching the understanding of gender. God yearns for you to grow and live fully in the liminal space of your own being.  You are, just as you are, whole.   For the first time, you celebrate who you are.  You feel like you can participate as a full member of your community, participate as yourself and no one else.

Now switch perspectives.  You are the church community asked to welcome this beautiful trans woman. She says to you, “Here is an astonishing thing.” Do you make room for her to be fully a participant in the life of your congregation?  Do you learn about her experiences, her self-understanding, and her dreams?  Do you walk with her as she explores her nature and her relationship with God? Do you believe that God’s works are being revealed in her as she comes into her own?

Jesus comes and finds the Seeing Man.  I imagine Jesus saying, “They kicked you out, did they?  The fools.  They’re going to lose out on having you among them.”  And he offers the Seeing Man a different community, Christ’s own community.

Well, how about us? Can we be that community for the Seeing Man? Can we worship the Son of Man, the Messiah who teaches that each of us was made exactly as we are to show God’s works being revealed in us? Can we reach out in bumbling love to everyone who comes to us, as we learn and grow into being exactly who we are?

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