Sunday, February 17, 2008

I Can't See It

This morning, I supplied the pulpit at a church up in a goodish-sized town to the north of me.

Let's call it Redeemer* Presbyterian Church.

I preached on the faith of Abraham and the faithfulness of God, as shown in the patriarch's reaction to the Lord's call when he was your basic idol-worshipper in Haran. And I took the children's sermon as well. Now, I believe in giving the children a sample of the food off the grown-ups' table, so to speak, cutting the theme of the main sermon up into manageable pieces so they can swallow it down.

So I gathered the little group of five-to-eight-year-olds and asked them if they'd ever seen a blind person with a Seeing Eye dog.

"Yes . . . "

"What does a Seeing Eye dog do?"

"It helps the blind person."

"How does the dog help the blind person?"

"It keeps it from hurting itself."

It? Itself? Had I heard that right?

I asked, "What else does a Seeing Eye dog do for someone who can't see?"

"It puts the leash on and it takes it where it needs to go."

This was the oldest child speaking. And consistently speaking of blind people-- or am I supposed to say, "visually challenged"?-- as it.

And she kept on doing it. And so did the others.

But this was not my church and I had just then met these children. It would be getting off on an awkward and hurtful tangent for me to correct them in front of their friends and the entire congregation.

Instead, I told the children about my friend John from theological college, and his Yellow Lab guide dog Farina. I made a point of letting them know that my friend John is a minister who now pastors Two Big Churches. I.e., my friend John is not an "it," and neither are the other blind people these kids are likely to meet during their lives.

I summed up the talk for the children: God is like a Seeing Eye dog because we can't see the future and He can, and He leads us safely through it; God is not like a Seeing Eye dog because He is our Master, we are not His.

They seemed to get it.

But did they get the point that blind people are not its?

And where did these children pick up this attitude, of being blind to the humanity of physically sightless men and women? I just can't see it!


Sandy said...

How sad that they've been taught that the physically challenged are less. I am thinking that your friend John "sees" more than we do! How wonderful that he is a pastor.

St. Blogwen said...

Not only a pastor, but an excellent poet and musician.