Barham Downs Churches

  • The Rectory
  • The Street, Barham
  • Canterbury
  • Kent
  • CT4 6PA

01227 668190
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God’s work revealed

Jesus' 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.  [John 2:2-4]

To the twenty-first century reader this reading in John’s gospel may appear to be troubling. It would seem that the disciples of Jesus believed that those born with disabilities were the result of the sins of their parents or even grandparents. This stark belief was grounded by their religious upbringing where the laws of Moses makes clear the penalty for not following God, especially if they had not properly worshipped as decreed in the first of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:5) with punishment metered out even to the fourth generation.

Jesus makes clear in his ministry that he does not share his disciples’ outlook but instead God had sent him to be a reminder of the Divine presence no matter our physical or spiritual condition. To follow these normative laws without applying unconditional love misses the point of God’s involvement in the world. Jesus’ mission has a sense of urgency in completing it while it is still ‘day’, and the ‘day’ continues to be entrusted upon all of us to work and live with those in our communities who may be blind or have other physical and learning disabilities.

Having recently spent a day at the Fifth Trust in the Elham Valley Vineyard, and at Greenbanks Skills Centre, with students who have learning difficulties, I came away with the sheer joy of being in their presence. I was very much welcomed and they were keen to show their talents whether it was gardening, art and woodwork, and through this I realised that their way of life is not too dissimilar to the monastic communities of the pre-Reformation era of (partly) self-sustenance, but also selling their goods to the local community and in living among us. I was the ‘privileged one’ listening to their conversations; their hopes and aspirations. To me it was the Fifth Trust students teaching me that they were busy revealing their fruits of production while there is still ‘day’, and from whom we have a lot to learn standing in the place of the disciples.

Rev’d Stefan   (aka RevT)