Getting Your Hands Dirty

Getting Your Hands Dirty

As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Silo’am” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (John 9:6-7, RSV)

When I was younger and lived with my parents we had this “thing” in our yard that was always causing trouble. It was the bane of my existence when I lived there with my parents because I was the oldest and when this “thing” acted up it was me that had to work with it and help my father fix it. What is this “thing” I am referring to? It was the septic system we had in our back yard. It was always overflowing and we had to dig down to find the opening and then the septic pumper would come and siphon it out and then we had to cover it back over. Needless to say this was not a fun job.

I found there are some things that are unique to septic tanks.

  1. They will always back up when you have other things to do.
  2. They will overflow and need to be re-dug immediately after you’ve just completed re-landscaping.
  3. The septic tank alarm always goes off between 1-5 a.m.
  4. Your neighbor’s septic tank alarm goes off when they have gone on vacation.


But the most important thing about a septic tank? Like any living thing, you must “feed” them regularly. Every month or so you must flush down a new packet of lovely little bacteria, a new infusion of the little critters that digest waste and keep the septic tank an organic, living system. Without a fresh batch of “germs,” your “system” is doomed to fail. For a septic tank “germs” are good.

We live in an increasingly “sealed” set of systems. Some of you may have worked or lived in a building where the windows do not open? We have to install carbon monoxide monitors in our homes because there is no way for fresh air to enter unless we intentionally invite it in by opening a door or window. A furnace malfunction can mean death. And as we seal out wind and weather we stamp out germs. I dare you to find a soap that is NOT marketed as “anti-bacterial.” We keep hand sanitizers in our cars, on our desks, in our pockets. Maybe, like a septic tank system, we need to encourage a few good germs to keep us healthy and alive.

Jesus had a strange sense of what was “dirty” and what was “clean.” He did not accept the boundaries that had been drawn by tradition and authority. He ate meals with the “unacceptable” — tax collectors, Samaritans, outcasts. He actually touched lepers, bleeding women, mad men, and Gentiles.

And in today’s gospel text, he used his own spit and plain old dirt to make a mud-pie poultice of “polluted” stuff that he smeared over the face of an unsuspecting, unprepared blind beggar. Under John’s story you can hear Jesus saying, “Here’s spit in your eye — now go wash it out.”

Jesus used something common, dirty, even insulting to transform the world of the blind man and to give him the gift of sight for the first time. Jesus wasn’t just spreading saliva and dirt around. He was spreading around God’s miraculous love and the divine power of deliverance. Let today be the day you transform the ordinary, everyday things of life into extraordinary expressions of Christ-empowered love. However, you might have to get your hands dirty.

Prayer:  Lord, give us the courage to be willing to get our hands dirty doing the things you would have us do for others. In Jesus name, Amen.


Rick Cederholm, Pastor

First Baptist Church

Torrington, WY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *