A Miracle Mindset

On February 12, 2018, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

A Miracle Mindset Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Feb. 11, 2018 Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. I take the bible seriously, which means, I cannot take it literally. To […]

A Miracle Mindset
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Feb. 11, 2018

Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

I take the bible seriously, which means, I cannot take it literally.

To literalize the bible’s myths and metaphors and allegories is to cheapen and limit religion.
To use the bible to argue against science, to deny the functions of biology, to demonize same-gender loving people, to justify warfare or child abuse, to silence women or to promote hatred of people who hold other sacred books dear is to make the bible a weapon in the hands of bullies which denies the life-giving power of the sacred texts.

The bible is filled with truth…many more truths than facts. To use the bible as a fact checking source will leave us with a deplorably immature faith.

But what if the bible stories are the product of divinely inspired imaginations and are meant to fan the flames of our own imaginations?

What if the word of God is found in the “what ifs” more than in the slinging of verses as if they were fiery darts and arrows?

Now, let me be clear…I believe in miracles.

“I believe in miracles I’ve seen a soul set free. Miraculous the change in one who has found liberty. I’ve seen the lily push its way up through the stubborn sod. O I believe in miracles for I believe in God.”

But I don’t understand miracles to be flashy tricks that happened long ago but can’t be repeated. No, I believe the miracle stories in scripture are meant to help us broaden our perspective so that we can see more possibilities in our own lives.

2 things influenced my looking at sacred scripture through the lens of allegory.

The first was being a gender non-conforming gay sissy boy growing up in the rural bible belt. I studied the bible hard looking for loopholes early on. I was told the bible was the reason the world felt entitled to be mean to me. I was told the bible was the proof that God didn’t have much use for me. If the bible was the dragon that was terrorizing me, then I would fight that dragon tooth and nail, fang and claw. So, I started with the clobber passages, and found hope and healing and liberation as I read and re-read them. They didn’t say to me what people told me they said. And it occurred to me, those clobber passages couldn’t be the only ones to be misunderstood and misused. So, homophobia drove me to the bible, and in the process, I fell in love with the bible.

The second thing that caused me to rethink what the bible said and meant was today’s gospel story. Homophobia drove me to the bible in the 80s, but an encounter with a lovely woman in the 90s made me go even deeper.

Her son was born blind. He was an adult by this time and they were very close, but every time this gospel passage was read or preached on in church it hurt her. Her son’s life was happy and full, but not easy. And she couldn’t understand why God would give this guy in today’s story his vision and no such magic was ever offered to her son. And me, a ministry student in my 20s, is who she turned to for understanding. I wasn’t at all sure that she had made a wise choice!

But what I heard myself telling her was that I could not verify that the event in the story even occurred. I told her that somebody wrote that story, and that person had an agenda and was trying to communicate the agenda to a particular group or community.
Maybe he thought the enforcers of religious rules were myopic, shortsighted, didn’t see the bigger picture.
Maybe he thought the government was not seeing people’s needs or the intrinsic value of every individual.
Maybe he thought people in his own community weren’t seeing their potential or their responsibilities clearly enough.
Maybe vision in the story was a symbol, and the healing wasn’t for an individual, but was something groups of people should seek to experience. Maybe the writer was trying to open eyes and hearts and minds of his audience.

After our brief chat, this dear lady told me that for the first time, talking about that scripture passage didn’t leave her feeling worse. Saving the bible from literalism saved that woman from continuing heartache that had plagued her for decades. Trying make the story factual made the woman miserable; letting it be true without needing it to be factual helped the woman find much needed and deserved relief.

Now, let’s be clear: when things are tough, I summon hope and I ride it until the wheels fall off. I will hope when hope seems ridiculous. And, I know from experience that optimism and positive thinking can make a world of difference.

And when I think that I can at this moment talk to my friend in Auckland where it’s tomorrow and its summer, when I think of organ transplants, people living healthy lives with HIV and diabetes and that Hep C is now curable, that humans have been in outer space…when I consider the Internet, television, microwave ovens, laser surgery, marriage equality in dozens of countries…I am awed.

Intelligence, technology, science, imagination have all worked together to create a world that our ancestors could only dream about. Our everyday reality overshadows most of the miracle stories of antiquity. So, why not hope? Things can get better.

But hope and progress, as wonderful as they are, are not miracles. Miracles are changes in perception and they can happen in an instant. That conversation about the gospel story so many years ago was a miracle moment…no one heard a voice from a flaming bush or walked through a wall or fed a crowd with a sack lunch, but someone changed how she saw God and the bible and the healing stories therein…she received vision she didn’t have before. That was a miracle.

“I believe in miracles I’ve seen a soul set free. Miraculous the change in one who has found liberty. I’ve seen the lily push its way up through the stubborn sod. O I believe in miracles for I believe in God.”

When we overcome fear and can see with the vision of love, what we see is a miracle.
When we see that we are part and parcel of God, that is a miracle.
When we see that there’s not a spot where God is not, that is a miracle.
When we see that we can go to peace instead of to pieces, that’s a miracle.
When we see ourselves as utterly lovable, that’s a miracle.
When we see that we can forgive and release past hurts and those who participated in them, that’s a miracle.
When we look out at smoldering rubble and dare to say, “tomorrow may be better,” that’s a miracle.
When we see the bible as a tool of liberation rather than a weapon of oppression, that’s a miracle.
When we see God as everlasting, all-inclusive, unconditional love, that’s a miracle.

When we develop a miracle mindset, miracles can happen daily. They can be amazing, life changing, and perfectly natural. This is the good news. Amen.

I believe in miracles.
I see and seize miraculous possibilities now.
Alleluia!
Amen.

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