For the last two years St. Luke’s has been blessed with a seven year old boy named Brennen. In many ways Brennen is like most seven year old boys. He likes to play football and baseball. He loves Taylor Swift. He likes being with his friends at school, but he is not overly interested in school work. And like most little boys, he can be a very picky eater. When I first met Brennen, his mother complained he only wanted to eat Mc Donald’s hamburgers. Now he won’t eat anything unless it is placed between two slices of bread. And when it comes to eating vegetables, no matter how hard his mother tries to disguise them, he will find them and pick them out of his food.
As typical of a child Brennen is, he appears to be more atypical than typical. You see Brennen was born with neurological and cognitive issues. At seven, he continues to be non-verbal. When he first started coming to Church, it was hard for many of us to feel comfortable around Brennen as he would look away when people tried to greet him and during church he would squirm in his wheel chair and make loud, high pitched noises. Or he would just fold himself over his lap and go to sleep. (I think he did this mostly when I was preaching.)
Despite Brennen’s challenges and quirks, there is a certain charisma to him that has driven many in the congregation to want to know him and learn how to relate to Brennen. Getting to know and understand Brennen requires time, patience and a willingness to enter Brennen’s world. In order for this to happen One has to let go of the obvious, ignore the labels, and work to see Brennen from God’s perspective.
You see, God does not see Brennen as less than whole, broken or disabled. What God sees is what his mother sees, a perfect child and a wonderful part of God’s creation. When we learned to approach Brennen from that perspective, a complete, wonderful, affectionate and joyful little boy emerged who reminds the congregation that worship is a time to celebrate and dance, and homilies are good time for sleeping.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus encounters one of the many blind men in his ministry. Everyone who knew him, saw him as incomplete and suffering due to unknown heinous sins of his parents. Even after he was healed by Jesus, everyone around him refused to let him be anything other than the disabled and limited person he was prior to his encounter with Jesus.
But Jesus never saw the blind man as limited or riddled with sin. What he saw in him is the same thing he saw in the Samaritan Woman from last weeks gospel, and in Nicodemus two weeks earlier, a beloved child of God who could be transformed, made complete with the love of God. And this is how God sees us.
The challenge of this Lent has not been about rebirth, forgiveness, or even physical healing, it has been about our challenge to be transformed, to become open to entering God’s world in the same way I am beginning to learn to be present and part of Brennen’s world.
When we open ourselves to God’s world, a whole new perspective emerges where all are whole and beloved, where love, grace and justice abound. It is the place that we call heaven, but in reality it is the kingdom that Christ has declared is near to us here on earth.
To those who have Read this because of Brennen.
Brennen is an incredible little boy with an incredible mother. I am thankful that this homily hhas filled her heart with joy, and St. Luke’s has provided them a place of acceptance and a place where they have experienced the u conditional love of God. If you are read this out of love for Brennen or another child with special needs and have no spiritual home, I would like to invite you to become part of a community of faith. If you live in the Syracuse, come join us at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Camillus. Here you will find a warm and caring community who will accept you as you are and see you as God sees you, as God’s beloved child. If you are not near by, consider visiting any Episcopal Church, we are an open and affirming denomination and welcome everyone to our table.
Finally, thank you for taking the time to read this humble homily and for letting God touch your heart through The love of Brennen.