Sunday, October 28, 2012
Mark 10: 46-52, NT page 47 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Sermon Jesus makes a habit of slowing down to listen to people, maybe especially people sitting by roadsides, which often seems like a quality worth modeling. It seemed that was the case a couple of weeks ago when our Director of Christian Education, Susie Baxter, was leading her group of children up the stairs and to the front doors of this sanctuary. She was leading her Wednesday evening lesson, and so she told her group that there are things that you do when you’re preparing to enter a lot of places. When you get ready to go into school you make sure you have the right clothes on, your lunch packed, and your backpack ready. At the movies, you make sure you have your drink and your popcorn, and you have to have your ticket out to hand it to the person taking the tickets. “The same is true for church,” Miss Susie said as they stood just outside this sanctuary, “when you get ready to go into church it’s your heart that you have to get ready. You have to prepare your heart for worship.” After that she took the kids, I guess there were 10 or 11, back down the stairs and past Melvin who was sitting there, as he so often is, by the side of the road on the corner of 7th and High. Melvin looked at Miss Susie, then at the line of children following behind her, “All those your kids?” he asked. “Yes they are,” Miss Susie responded. At first glance you might think that she was only joking, but those who can really see know that they are all Miss Susie’s kids. But of course, not everybody can really see, and this blind man, Bartimaeus was blind to the world. He couldn’t work, he needed help getting from place to place, he had to sit by the roadside begging, never knowing whether someone had put a coin or a piece of broken glass in his bowl. He couldn’t see, but still he could see well enough to know that Jesus could help him, so when the opportunity came along, Jesus, Son of David, walking down the road that Bartimaeus was sitting beside, he would not be silenced by the crowd grown used to ignoring his shouts, and yelled out until he got Jesus’ attention. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” This interchange seems unnecessary in a way. Why did Jesus need to ask what Bartimaeus wanted? Shouldn’t Jesus have known that the blind man would want to be able to see? But Jesus lets him ask as though he were allowing Bartimaeus to decide for himself, the same way he lets us all choose to see. Miss Susie will take care of your kids whether you notice that she cares for them as her own or not. The choir will still sound just as good regardless of whether or not you know how much they practice the songs that they sing here on Sunday morning. Wilmoth will keep on playing – though she is really hard to see and maybe all you’ll ever see of her is the top of the back of her head. And the donuts will still be there, whether in your mind they just magically appear or you are given the eyes to see that Joe Graham has been bringing those donuts every single Sunday to our church for the last 12 years. You don’t have to see it, but if you ask and are given real sight, you will find yourself in the same position Bartimeaus did: able to clearly see what Jesus had done for him. Sometimes it’s easier not to see it this way. So many who benefit from miracles never fully recognize the magnitude of what’s been done for them. Some kill time in between cancer treatments by sitting by the fountain at the hospital smoking cigarettes. Some are spared from death by heart attack, and then send for McDonalds to celebrate. And then there are those who will beg you for your last dollar, then spend it on what will only make their life worse, because seeing a miracle for what it is demands something that not everyone is prepared to give. In a way it’s better to not see this church for what it is, because in recognizing how every part of this place that you enjoy got here there is only one thing you can do. Once you’ve realized that the only reason you have a place to sit is because a group of people gave money they could have spent on their selves, That the only reason you have a roof over your head is because a group of people pledged their hard earned money, That the only reason there is a railing to hold onto as you climb those steps out front, that the only reason we don’t burn up in the summer and freeze in the winter, that the only reason you have music to hear and a preacher to preach is because people, not different at all from me or from you, reached down into their pockets and gave of their time to make sure that this place kept going. But what else could they have done? Christ saved them. He gave them sight. He redeemed their life. Just as he filled Bartimaeus with comfort and hope, and able to clearly see what Jesus had done for him, he could do nothing else besides follow Christ on the way. This is the story of Bartimaeus, once blind but then given sight, but is it not your story as well? Once you were blind but now you see. Once you were broken but he put you back together. Once you were lost but now you are found. So today is the day for you to throw off your cloak and to follow him, to be about the work of doing for others what Christ has done for you, spreading the Gospel by not only benefitting from this church and all it offers, but participating in its work and becoming a part of this great work that God is doing in our world. You are not only the beneficiary of the gift that is Christ Jesus. You are invited to become a part of the work that he is doing. The pledge card you were given with your bulletin is an invitation – to contribute, with your money and your time in the work of God in the world. Amen.