Have you discovered that there are some mixed messages that arrive during the season of Christmas? In a very unusual way we sometimes tend to teach young children about ‘risk and reward’ rather than about ‘blessing and generosity.’ I am thinking about the old Christmas song that goes; “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why.” Do you remember the song? In an unusual way we say that Santa will find out and punishment will be distributed rather than thinking about the blessing that comes through grace and the joy of that comes through a spirit of generosity. In other words, (to mix the metaphor) there will be a day when you will have to pay the piper. Our passage today contains the same conversation from a spiritual point of view. Who sinned? How many generations does it take for sin to dissipate? Notice that the question comes to Jesus from the lips of his own disciples. They were confused by an old paradigm about the nature of sin. They believed (along with most people in the ancient world) that the sin of the father was passed along from generation to generation. Blindness was clear evidence that sin had taken place. The only question was about where the sin originated. So they asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind.” His answer presented them with a surprising new understanding of the blind man’s condition. No one sinned, but his condition would become evidence that God’s faithfulness prevails. One dab of therapeutic mud did the trick! He was healed to the glory of God. Our Advent journey will take us down many different roads. But almost all of us will engage in gift giving at one point or another. So let me ask you…when you think about purchasing or creating a gift, does your thinking include a conversation in your head about how much that particular person deserves. Should it be big or small, expensive or modest, exotic or simple…we all ask the same questions. What if our Advent gift giving decisions were based on blessing alone? No, that does not mean that everyone gets an eighty inch flat screen! But what if your relationship with a person was focused on offering evidence that your faith and the faithfulness of God was alive and active in that person’s life as a demonstration of blessing? I wonder what they would ‘see’ when they opened their eyes?
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”