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     Sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by the Rev. Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    Feb. 2, 2020 | Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Life Is a Blur
    Mark 8:22–26

    ■ Fifth sermon in the 2020 Vision series


    A blind man is brought to Jesus. Jesus takes the outside the village, spits on the man’s eyes, and places his hands on the man. The result is “People look like trees walking.” In other words — blurred vision.

    † † †

    THERE ARE CONDITIONS not related to the eyes than can inhibit our ability to see clearly. Fatigue, stress, anxiety, hurried lives are among those.

    Many of us walk around with blurred vision. We’re not blind, but we can’t see clearly. Life is moving so fast it’s like looking out the side car window. Everything flashing by.

    We don’t want to keep going like this but we don’t know what to do. Everything is so fast-paced. There’s no time to see clearly, no time to think clearly. We’re unhappy. We’re unfulfilled. So fast-paced that we can’t see clearly.

    Our spouses, our children, our friends look like walking trees. We want to slow down but don’t know how to get off the spinning wheel. I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to settle for blurred vision.

    † † †

    SOME THINGS that stick out to me from this story:

    ■ Life goes by in a blur. Mark’s gospel seems to recognize how fast life comes at us. It is the shortest Gospel but the word “immediately” occurs 40 times. Immediately this happens, then immediately that happens.

    ■ We see Jesus over and again attempting to slow the pace down. He goes off by himself early in the morning to pray, only to have his solitude invaded by his disciples who have come hunting for him. Even Jesus can’t seem to hold off the relentless pace at which life comes at us. He tries to go off with his disciples in a boat for a time of rest and reflection in the wilderness but a massive crowd of needy people “immediately” meet him as he comes to the shore interrupting their plans.

    We live in a society that rewards productivity. People who appear to be engaged in “muchness” and “manyness” are the productive ones. They are accomplishing things. When life speeds up, it’s hard to stave off an internal sense of hurry. It’s hard to stay in the present moment. A 4th-century church leader declared, “Hurry is of the devil.” The 20th-century psychologist Carl Jung took it a step further, saying: “Hurry isn’t of the devil; it is the devil.”

    ■ The man is honest with Jesus about his vision. The man could have settled for blurred vision. After all, blurred vision is better than no vision at all. Maybe he should be grateful for what he has received and leave it at that. He’s not satisfied with people looking like walking trees. Life is a blur — but things could be worse.

    But that’s not what he wants. He wants to see clearly. He wants to see every wrinkle of his wife’s face. He wants to see ants crossing the dirt yard. He wants to see the twinkle of the stars in the night sky. He wants to see detail. He wants to see Jesus.

    Mark says his vision is “restored.” I take that to mean he was not born blind. He used to be able to see. He knows what good eyesight is. He wants 20/20 vision again.

    ■ Jesus touched him again. Then, “He saw everything clearly.” Wouldn’t that be great? To see everything clearly. For life’s pace to slow where we can see the roses, not just smell them. Where we can see our child’s first steps. Slow down to where we can enjoy life. To see where we’re going. To see the best way to relate to each other. To see clearly what is before us. The man doesn’t settle for blurred vision. He comes to Jesus for healing. He is honest with Jesus. He tells Jesus he wants more than “people look like trees walking” out of life. And Jesus touches him again. And he is healed. The blind man came expecting Jesus to give him 20/20 vision. He’s not leaving until that happens. Psalm 119:82 (NLT) My eyes are straining to see your promises come true.

    ■ He didn’t return to the village; he went home. “The village” is where the action is. The village is where “life is a blur” resides. The village, for us, might well be all the luring things that keep our lives so busy. All those things on our calendar that keep us moving from here to there. A whole list of tasks that overwhelm our schedules. We try to do too much in too short a time. We live life through a camera lens.

    Jesus frequently left the village. Time after time, Jesus went to a quiet place. He took his foot off the pedal. He slowed down, caught his breath. Enjoyed life. Spent time in prayer. Sat at a table with family and friends.

    ■ One final thing. Friends brought him to Jesus.

    This sermon might not be for you. Life’s not passing you by in a blur, perhaps you see life as going too slowly. But maybe, just maybe, you know someone who can benefit from Jesus touching their eyes or their hearts or their lives. To slow down.

    Life doesn’t have to be lived at blinding speed. Jesus can bring us healing. When our lives are strained, we can come to Jesus. When our bodies, our minds or our spirits are stretched thin, we can come to Jesus.

    When life is a blur, we can come to Jesus and see.

    — Keith Cardwell   

    «When life is a blur, we can come to Jesus and see.»


    ►This is the Word of God for the people of God:

    Mark 8:22–26
    Holy Bible, New International Version

    Jesus heals a blind man at Bethsaida
    22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

    24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

    25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into[a] the village.”

    — This is the Word of the Lord.
    — Thanks be to God.


    a.  Mark 8:26  Some manuscripts go and tell anyone in

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