Rev. Andrew Cunnington
30th March 2014
Having the Capacity to Truly See

I have recently finished reading the book “The Railway Man” which tells the story of Eric Lomax and his time as a prisoner of war where he was forced to build the Burma/Siam railway in the most appalling conditions. The book has been made into an acclaimed film which has been doing the circuit of the cinemas.

And during the story, there is a fellow prisoner, who was very brave and supportive of Eric, and I realised that in real life, I had known him. In real life, I had conducted his funeral.

Jim Bradley lived in Midhurst and attended my church sometimes. He was not very talkative and I never felt I established much of a rapport with him. They told me he had been a prisoner of war, but never liked to talk about it. He would turn up on Remembrance Sunday with his medals and I remember visiting him at home where his wife Lindy did most of the talking.

But it was not until this month that I knew anything about the real stature of this man and his influence on Eric Lomax’s life. When I sat with Jim and his wife, and when I took his funeral, I was hovering on the edge of a story more profound than I had realised.

Reading the book has opened my eyes to Jim Bradley. I have yet to see the film. I don’t even know if he’s featured in it. But I suddenly feel an affinity with him now I know the truth.

Thus does the truth of Jesus evolve in our lives. As if we were blind men, only gradually being able to see.

As if we were like Redhill on a misty morning. The landscape is lost in fog and it’s only when the sun burns it away we can behold the glory that was always there.

I only read part of this morning’s Gospel to you, because it is a great long odessy.

It does deserve you taking the sheet away with you and reading it reflectively however, for it is the story of a man on the same journey as us.

It is the story of a man who had been blind, but even when he could see, it took him ages to see to the depth of where God was and how closely he had become entwined in his life.

We strive to become believers in the Gospel, you and I, and the more time we spend in the company of the one who embodies that Gospel, the more we will find it evident in the lives we lead.

That we do not leave God behind in this building, but rather he equips us with vision to see him everywhere.

To see Christ in the love of family and friends. To see Christ in the people we work with.

To see Christ in the people we don’t like or have judged and found wanting.

To realise that our destiny is that people should see Christ in us.

It’s too late now to get to know Jim Bradley. I wonder how helpful I was to him when he came to my Church. What did I say at the long ago funeral, would I have done better if I had been able to see.

Each time we meet for worship it is that in word and sacrament we have our vision of Christ sharpened, in ourselves and beyond ourselves, until he becomes truly, all in all.

JOHN 9:1-11