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 Mothering Sunday

Bures. 27.3.2022. John 9:1-9.

Well, today is Mothering Sunday. It’s particularly poignant for me. Today, 27th March, was my Mother’s birthday. Many of you will remember her. She spent the last 7 years of her life here in Bures. She was quite a character with a great sense of humour. She certainly needed it with a son like me! Amazingly, she would have been 102 today!

Like all other relationships, the one between mother and child needs tact and understanding on both sides. A 14-year-old boy, called Alex, was quoted as saying, “Never tell your mum that her diet isn’t working!”

And so often the mother/child relationship is the closest relationship in our lives. A month ago, at the beginning of the invasion, a young Russian soldier arrived in Ukraine. (He was probably told he was on a peace-keeping mission!) The first thing he did when he got there was to ask a Ukrainian woman if he could borrow her mobile phone. The reason – to phone home to his mother! It illustrates that strong bond between a mother and her child. (I wonder – would a Ukrainian lend a Russian anything now?) 

Someone has commented: “No gift to your mother can equal her gift to you – life.”

How is, or was, your relationship with your mother? And, Mums, how close is your relationship with your children?

Many years ago, and thousands of miles away, a baby boy was born. The parents were overjoyed. But then they noticed something not right. There was a cloudiness in the baby’s eyes. They called in the midwife. She noticed it too. And with great sadness and regret, she told them that the little boy was blind. He never would be able to see. Their joy instantly turned to despair and fear.  What future would there be for their little boy?

No National Health Service. No government help. His Mum and Dad knew what his life was going to be like. On the street, he would have to beg for a living. There would be no other way to get food.

No schooling for this boy. So, one day his mother takes him to a busy part of town. She whispers to him that he must learn to beg. With that she leaves him at a corner. She walks away for 20 yards. She can’t resist turning round. At first, people rush by ignoring him. But then a kind man reaches down, pats his head and places a couple of pennies into his outstretched hands.

Soon after, a group of boys about his own age, come along. They mock him. “Look at this blind boy. This little sinner boy.”

“I’m no sinner.” He replies.

“Well, you must be. Or your parents are. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be blind.”

They kick dust in his face and spit on him.

From a distance his mother watches all this. Her heart breaks. Tearfully, she trudges home.

Years go by. The blind boy becomes a man. He’s now hardened to the insults, to the dust, to the spit. Then, one morning, he senses a crowd passing by. It stops right beside him. He hears voices.

Look at this blind man, Master. “Did he sin; or was it his parents?”

“Neither,” a kind, gentle voice replies. “He was made blind so that the work of God may be seen in him.”

The blind man is aware of someone bending down and spitting on the ground. “Oh, here we go again,” he thinks.” More dust, more spit”.  But no. This time the dust and spit are squeezed together to make clay. He feels the clay softly placed on his eyes. How cool and soothing it seems. (The very dust and spit that have plagued him all these years, are now to be part of his healing. How ironic is that!)

Then that gentle voice whispers, “Now go and wash in the Pool of Siloam”.

The pool is nearly a mile away but he’s up, tapping his way down to the water.

The water is cold. Up to his ankles, up to his knees, up to his thighs. He stoops down, cups his hands, fills them with water, reaches up and washes away the precious clay from his eyes. A pain strikes him as he opens his eyes. Light! “I can see! I can see!”

He shouts. He splashes. He jumps up and down. “Stop behaving like a child,” fellow-bathers shout. But others…. others have seen him enter the pool blind – they are now staggered.

He jumps out. He throws away his stick. He sprints back home. “Mum, Dad, I can see.” They are open-mouthed but they are beside themselves with joy.

Things happen fast. The neighbours find out. They take him to the Pharisees – the religious leaders, the Rule Enforcers.

Now, everyone despises bullies – from bullies in the playground, to Russia bullying Ukraine. But there are no worse bullies than religious bullies. And these Pharisees are religious bullies.

(I heard recently of a church near here where a group of people were making one hard-working person’s life a misery. The church was being driven apart by these bullies’ obnoxious behaviour. Bullying and church fellowship don’t mix. They are like oil and water.)

The meeting between the Pharisees and the healed man was surely going to be totally one-sided. They’re going to sort him out! In footballing terms, it was like Bures United facing Liverpool. But decades on the streets had made this man fearless.

The Pharisees – “This healer of yours is a sinner. He healed on the Sabbath. He broke the rules”

“I don’t know about that. All I know is that I was blind; now I see”.

“How did he open your eyes?”

” I’ve told you before. He put clay on them, then told me to wash in the pool. Do you want to be his disciples?”

That made them furious. “We’re disciples of Moses! We don’t even know where this man comes from.”

”Remarkable! You don’t know! He healed me; a man born blind. That’s never been done before. And you don’t even know where this man comes from!”

Bures United 3…. Liverpool Nil (Sorry, Carolyn!)

The Pharisees live by a book of harsh man-made rules which they insist everyone else lives by too. They know nothing of the love of God, of his kindness, of his healing power. Who are the blind ones now?

To call ourselves Christians, to be his disciples, we must, first of all, have had our eyes opened.

This man was, physically, healed in an instant. But, spiritually, his eyes were opened more gradually. When the Pharisees first question him he refers to Jesus as a “man”. Later, to the Pharisees annoyance, he calls him a “prophet”. Laterstill, when Jesus finds him again, the healed man worships him as “Lord”. Gradually he realises the power and uniqueness of Jesus in his life.

Having your spiritual eyes opened is an extraordinary thing. Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian writer, after he became a Christian, said this, “It was like walking down a road. And then turning around. Everything that was on my right was on my left; and everything that was on my left was on my right.”

As a teenager, some kind friends of mine introduced me to Jesus.  I knew I needed to follow him. Through no effort on my behalf, I found that I was being changed. My eyes were being opened. Almost without noticing it, my slobbish teenage attitude started to melt away. Mothers, of course, spot these things! And my mother said to me one day, “I noticed that something had changed, because you started doing the washing up!”

After all those years of heartache, how proud the healed man’s Mum would have been. How proud she would have been that, as Jesus said, “The healing happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life”. How proud she would have been that his story would still be told 2,000 years later.

Thank God for Mums who care for their children so much. And thank God for Jesus who, if we come to him, if we ask him, if we want a new life, opens our blind eyes. 

  

 

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