Communal Healing – Sermon on John 9

Today I had the joy of being with St. Christopher’s Chatham, my sponsoring parish for ordination. Yesterday I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for this group and their willingness to wade through this process of discernment with me. I have inherited 6 new wonderful pseudo parents … which we all need.

Discernment Committee at St. Christopher's Chatham
Discernment Committee at St. Christopher’s Chatham


They also let me have the honor of preaching on the story of the healing of the blind man in John, chapter 9. When reading this gospel message I was struck by John’s attention to the communal nature of change. Rather than focusing the story on the individual’s transformation, John pays attention to the way that the blind man’s transformation agitates the power structures of the community. In my sermon, I tried to pick up on our unwillingness to look at change that way, we would rather continue to look as individuals as sinners or results of other’s sin rather than take account for our own part in the problem. In fact, when confronted with power shifts, we like the Pharisees would rather attack the person who changed or look for some one to blame than celebrate the miracle of healing! 

I think the sermon did an okay job of conveying this but I am unsatisfied with the lack of a good alternative (a pathway to hope) that is offered in the message. I would love your thoughts on what I could have asked the community to do differently in the sermon … how specifically they could change their behavior as a result to this message. Comment below!!!

Finally, a huge shout out to my dear dear friend Tom Marsan who woke up at 6 a.m. and drove with me to the Cape to be with me through the day. I feel so vulnerable and open after preaching and it was such a gift to have this man sitting by my side and offering comfort after an hour of sharing my heart.

Natalie and Tom
Natalie and Tom

6 thoughts on “Communal Healing – Sermon on John 9

  1. Good sermon! Not only does the healing shake up the Pharisees, it challenges the way of being of the parents, and changes life forever for the man healed. A wonderful story of all the many and varied human interactions within one community.


  2. Natalie,
    This is strong. Not as nuanced as @ Christ Church but good. I agree that the ask could be stronger. For example, (with a little foreknowledge) you could ask them to face the “blind man” in their community … what social injustice / marginalization do they represent? How would they represent so as to be with “the blind man” instead of the Pharisees?


  3. […] Last Sunday I was visiting St. Christopher’s Chatham and prepared to preach on the need to act on matters of climate change when I found out we were going to be celebrating the baptist of baby Henry. I made a game-time decision to preach instead on God’s abundance, as exhibited in Exodus 16, and how the sacrament of Baptism is a witness to the abundance of God, not a pledge to be a perfect parenting. I also managed to talk about the challenges to trust in God’s abundance in the wilderness of dating as a thirty year old. It was my first sermon on Baptism, which was fun, and absolutely wonderful to be back with my family… […]


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