St. Augustine of Canterbury Anglican Church
Bishop Peter F. Hansen
Sermon for the 4th Sunday after Trinity, June 27, 2021
“How canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.”
THE HUMAN EYE IS A MIRACLE, in fact, a whole galaxy of miracles. Set your face in one direction, open your eyes and you can see! How does that happen? And what does that say about the One who made us?
I once debated evolution on the radio locally. In my argument for creation, I used one of my favorite examples: the impossibility of an accidental universe with self-evolved life forms displayed to us daily through our eyes. It’s more than just eyes, actually, it’s sight itself.
Evolutionary theory says that every advanced feature in any life-form starts evolving from a simple mutation in a simpler life, and being successful in a small way, makes the change permanent by survival of the fittest. But in the case of sight, there is no imaginable reason to be suggested for an unseeing, evolving yet blind eye. Until the lid opens and light is distinguished from darkness, and makes mental pictures of the scene before it, there is no sense one may make of an eye.
Here’s what eyes do. Two globes of clear gel allow light to enter through lenses that focus an image at the back of the spheres. Muscles subtly pull or push the eyeballs to focus on near or distant objects. The light creates a reverse image at the back of the balls and lands upon a field of millions of specialized nerves, rods and cones, that sense light and dark, red, blue, green, yellow, and every shade in between. The image is broken down into the tiniest bits of tints and tones, and the stimulus is sent by impulse through nerves to the brain. In the brain, these millions of impulses are translated back into an image, reproducing the world before the eyes, and an intricate, multi-colored landscape is “seen” by the person in stereoscopic, 3-dimensional imagery. With experience, the brain understands objects, recognizes letters and words, knows people, buildings, trees, or airplanes. All in a fraction of a second until the next impulse brings a new set of images into the mind. This is intelligent design, not accident. This world is not chaos, it is fascinating order. And it all started with light…
“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good...” Gen 1:3-4 The very first thing created was light. It was created through One who St. John calls The Light, by whom all things were made. Light is all important. It may be what all things are made of, being at once matter and energy. It shows us our world, paints everything by bouncing off of objects, shows us by its vibration color, texture, size and shape. Information is contained in light that makes sight possible. Information speaks of intelligence. Matter and energy make no sense without codes the universe uses, from gravity to magnetism to frequency to crystallization. And when matter lives, our DNA blueprints and fingerprints every life uniquely. Dumb matter and blind energy are not what we find before our eyes.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.” John 8:12; 12:35-36
St. John says that God’s Son is light, an uncreated light that shines in a different frequency than the sun sheds upon the earth. Uncreated light is seldom seen with physical eyes. Once, Peter, James and John got to see it on the mount of Transfiguration. It changed their lives. Jesus, who had always looked like other men, suddenly appeared as though He were filled with lightning. Instead of reflecting the rays of the sun, He glowed within, blindingly bright. It made them faint. Our Lord is Light, not as we usually see light as part of the world, but Light that is itself intelligence, creative, powerful, thoughtful, thus God.
If you’ve ever been in total darkness, you know there is nothing you can see at all, no matter how long your eyes adjust. Flap your hand before your face and you will see no motion. The Luray Caverns in Virginia afforded me the experience once. They lead you deep into caves, lit artificially, then switch off the light. It’s scary. No matter how wonderful eyes are, without light they’re useless, powerless to sense and show where you are and what lies around you. They also played the stalactites like a weird organ, but you go yourself someday.
It takes light to see, and light is part of the miracle of sight. God’s first creation enters our eyes to show us what God has made. We are made from that light, we are stardust. God’s Son is speaking to us too.
I can’t see nearly as well as I once did. I was farsighted. Giti found coins on the sidewalk while I spotted the smoke from fires 50 miles away. I saw clearly enough to make fine pen drawings and read my own handwriting. No longer. At both ends of my sight I’ve lost it, and now I can’t focus my old eyes to read without glasses.
Some of us don’t see so well, and it’s not our eyes. Seeing requires looking, and being interested in what we look at, observing things because we care. It’s our attitude that can lighten or darken the scene before us, make faces familiar and welcome, or strange and frightening. We can un-focus until all we see is a fuzzy because our eyes are on ourselves, our loneliness, our sorrow, our anger, our grief. An out of focus selfie. Vision is dim when we carry darkness around. Guilt and shame can shut our eyes to efforts others are making to reach us and save us.
There is physical sight, and spiritual sight. There is godly spiritual sight, and ungodly. Clairvoyance seems to offer spiritual insight for people to be charmed by, crystal balls or psychic readings, palmistry and fortunetelling to get messages from the ‘other side.’ This is bad stuff. Clairvoyance is French for clear vision, using spiritual senses to gain information by extra sensory perception. There is such a counterfeit, a wrong use of spiritual sight, but there are also real and good ways God meant for us to use our spiritual eyes, just as we use our eyeballs. When we first fell from God’s grace by sin, our spirits became senseless, as it were. God’s Holy Spirit inside of us makes our spirits alive, and our spiritual senses to revive. What senses are there?
1st Corinthians speaks of wisdom and knowledge as spiritual gifts. He doesn’t say how these are perceived, but I think he’s talking about spiritual hearing, seeing, sensing, and along with these, knowing and understanding. Just as the brain translates impulses, wisdom and spiritual knowledge are how we know what our spiritual senses are telling us. Certainly, interpretation of tongues and discernment of spirit speak of senses our ears and eyes don’t possess. We have spiritual senses too.
Our first spiritual sensation is probably the notion that God is out there somewhere, trying to get our attention. He’s saying, “I’m here. Wake up. Look at what I’ve just painted, that sunset just for you. Would you like it slightly more purple? …how’s that?” We are impressed by the great love of a very big Person. We see a light in the eyes of another, light coming out from them. We hear something in a word spoken, resonating in our spirits and making just the kind of sense we have always longed to hear.
God’s spiritual senses are not trance-induced or drug-induced, though people try these ways to alter their reality. It may work, only the reality you get is from another spiritual source—I do not recommend these. However, holy and righteous people have often used fasting, prayer, Bible study, meditation, prayer beads, and the sacraments in order to connect spiritually with God’s messages. If you say you’ve never experienced anything like that, I’d say you have. Why else would you be here? Don’t look for visions of angels or God’s throne to validate your spiritual senses. Can you deny there is a God? You can’t. Your spiritual knowledge of His existence comes from somewhere. You are spiritual, and thus you have spiritual senses.
My spiritual vision can be worse than my eyeballs. I don’t have the glasses to see as clearly in my spirit as I do with my body, but my mind is intent on knowing God and about God so I can do my blessed duty and show Him to you. I seek answers and sometimes they come to me in a flash, sometimes not so easily. Maybe you have the same experience. From one with the same trouble, are you likely to get good advice? Jesus said the man with a branch in his eye shouldn’t try to get the splinters out of his friends’ eyes.
Clear vision requires a clear head and a clear heart. Just as the light coming into our eyes or sound in our ears won’t make any sense to us if our minds are asleep, or our focus and attention is elsewhere. The reception of spiritual information, just as vital as seeing through your car’s windshield, requires you to seek God and clear away obstacles, bugs on the glass, out of your way. Remove the beam from your eye. Confess your sins and repent of them. Right. Then open your senses.
A blind man came seeking mercy from Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Lord, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus. Mark 10:51-52
The lesson? Ask God to give you sight, hearing, an understanding heart, a clear mind to translate the confusing signals you’re receiving into a message fitted to you. Then let someone know what you see.
All our lives we’ve been dazzled by the light of this world. If we ask God for it, He will give us new senses and greater vision that we might behold His Face and know our God. May our Lord bless you with such spiritual sight to behold His Face and to adore Him.