Oct. 24, 2021

Prayer of the Day

Eternal light, shine in our hearts. Eternal wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance. Eternal compassion, have mercy on us. Turn us to seek your face, and enable us to reflect your goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.Amen.

Job 42:1-6, 10-17

1Job answered the Lord:
2“I know that you can do all things,
  and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
 Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
  things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4‘Hear, and I will speak;
  I will question you, and you declare to me.’
5I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
  but now my eye sees you;
6therefore I despise myself,
  and repent in dust and ashes.”
  10And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lordhad brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring. 12The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. 13He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. 16After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. 17And Job died, old and full of days.

Psalm 34:1-8 [19-22]

1I will bless the Lord| at all times;
  the praise of God shall ever be | in my mouth.
2I will glory | in the Lord;
  let the lowly hear | and rejoice.
3Proclaim with me the greatness | of the Lord;
  let us exalt God’s | name together.
4I sought the Lord, who | answered me
  and delivered me from | all my terrors. 
5Look upon the Lord| and be radiant,
  and let not your faces | be ashamed.
6I called in my affliction, and | the Lord heard me
  and saved me from | all my troubles.
7The angel of the Lord encamps around those who | fear the Lord
  and de- | livers them.
8Taste and see that the | Lord is good;
  happy are they who take ref- | uge in God! 
19Many are the troubles | of the righteous,
  but the Lord delivers them from | every one.
20God will keep safe | all their bones;
  not one of them | shall be broken.
21Evil will bring death | to the wicked
  and those who hate the righteous | will be punished.
22O Lord, you redeem the life | of your servants,
  and those who put their trust in you will | not be punished. 

Hebrews 7:23-28

23The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
  26For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. 28For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

Mark 10:46-52

46As [Jesus] and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51Then 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.” 52Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Lord, That I Might See! – Matyas Church, Budapest, Hungary

Sermon – Pr Meggan Manlove

Jesus continues on the way in today’s gospel text. He and the disciples reach Jericho. Jerusalem is next, but not before one last encounter. There is so much in this vignette that reaches back into earlier parts of the Jesus’ story. The goal all along has been a changed perspective. At the beginning of the gospel narrative we heard Jesus say, “The time if fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.” 

The call to repentance was a call for a changed perspective. At the very beginning of the pandemic, our first devotion on tvprays.org was titled, “The Rules of Perspective.” My colleague wrote, “Perspectives shift with the incarnation. In Jesus, we are given an additional point of perspective. In art, the two-point perspective gives an object the appearance of being three-dimensional. The incarnation is God embodied, flesh and bone, birth, death, and beyond. God in 3-D.”

Along with calling people to repentance, Jesus has been asking people to follow him. Repent and follow are the overwhelming verbs, and they are completely interwoven and interrelated. When both commands are followed, a changed perspective comes naturally.

Following Jesus is always supposed to include a particular way of seeing, a particular perspective. I do not believe it is the only good perspective in the world. Other religions and philosophies have similar and complementary perspective. However, we gathered here continue to be compelled the way of seeing that comes with being a follower of Jesus. Ultimately, we find it life-giving and life-affirming. It is life-giving for we individuals and for the collective, the world, the cosmos.

This particular perspective or lens is one that, in Jesus’ words, includes servanthood, where the one who wishes to be first among you must be slave of all, where little children set the example for receiving the kingdom of God, where power is manifest by dying on a cross, where the last are first and the first are last.

The disciples, those closest to Jesus in proximity, have struggled with this new perspective, this lens of faith. There have, to be sure, been a few moments of incredible insight. There were times when they truly got it. And they are not alone in their blurred vision. Other would-be-followers of Jesus have struggled as well.

For example, a rich man came to Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him he lacked one thing, “go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” The man went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 

The man could not adopt the new perspective. Jesus’ instructions, Jesus’ way of life, was not going to leave the rich young man destitute. Jesus’ command had been to redistribute the wealth, for the good of the collective, so everyone, including the man himself, could truly flourish. We do not hear the rest of that rich man’s story. Maybe in the end he changed his mind. We also never learn exactly what hindered him.

We know better what hinders our own inability to change perspective, to adopt fully and completely the lens of faith. Chiefly, we are overwhelmed by fear. Fear dominates the headlines we read. It drives the advertisements on television, on the internet, on the radio. Fear seeps into daily conversations and interactions. Yes, fear can be good when teaching a child to look both ways before crossing the street, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

It is not just illness or technology or natural disasters we are told to fear. Often, we are encouraged to fear other people. In my lifetime, the litany of people to fear has highlighted: communists, gay people, black people (especially black men), immigrants, and Muslims. The fear about these groups of people has been a driving force for all sorts of messaging. Messaging about fear drives policies, marketing, elections, and now algorithms in cyber space that we can hardly comprehend.  

Sometimes even the gospel itself becomes a tool in this fear-dominant culture, as in “confess that Jesus is Lord, or you are going to hell.” Well-intentioned as that message is, it is not true to the good news. It is not life-giving. 

The perspective of faith and trust in Jesus is not in fact dominated by fear. The lens of faith is shaped instead by hope, abundance, belonging, and promises that are irrevocable, “You are a child of God. Now and always” and “God’s grace and mercy know no limits.”

Blind Bartimaeus has some of this perspective, even without physically seeing Jesus. He shouts out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” He foreshadows Jesus’ own passion with the title Son of David, Israel’s great king. Jesus will accept that he is the anointed one. Jesus has a kingship, be it a surprising one. So Bartimaeus perceives something correctly at the beginning. 

The great hope in today’s gospel story comes soon after Bartimaeus shouts to Jesus. Like the rich man, Bartimaeus encounters Jesus “on the way.” The rich man could not liquidate his fortune. But poor Bartimaeus throws away his garment, his sole element of livelihood. Beggars spread out their cloaks to receive alms. The one on the bottom of the social scale does not even wait for a call, springing up and “following Jesus on the way.” 

The story immediately precedes Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem, where he will be put on trial by those in power. And here is Bartimaeus, following Jesus on the way. The poor join in the final assault on the current order, and the rich have walked away. The first have become last and the last first. Bartimaeus shows us that it is possible to follow Jesus. Can we see like he does? Can we adopt his perspective?

His response to Jesus is quite a contrast to Jesus’ disciples’ James and John. Upon their approach, Jesus had asked James and John, “What do you want me to do for you?” He responds to Bartimaeus with the same words. The disciples wished for status and privilege. Bartimaeus wished simply for his “vision.” The status and privilege Jesus cannot grant. The vision he can. It is Bartimaeus who is told to “take courage.” And it is Bartimaeus who follows.

A favorite commentator wrote, “The narrative discourse of hope is now clear in this last discipleship/healing episode. Only in the disciples struggles against the internal demons that render us deaf or mute, only if we renounce our thirst for power–in a word, only if we recognize our blindness and see true vision–then can the discipleship adventure carry on.”

We also are on the way. We are invited each day to be followers of Jesus. Sometimes this means calling him teacher, another title Bartimaeus used for Jesus. We recognize that our vision gets blurry. We need refreshers in precisely what it means to follow Jesus on the way. We gain insight by praying, reading the old old story found in holy scripture, worshiping with other followers.

This story provides deep and abiding hope because Bartimaeus does follow Jesus, even throwing off his cloak as he runs. “Let me see again,” he asks Jesus. Whatever is broken in our lives, individually, as a community, as a global community that is more and more interconnected, isn’t our prayer the same, “Let me see again, Jesus.” 

Let us see abundance of loaves and fishes. Let us see those on the margins we would rather ignore. Let me see the love that neighbors are showing neighbors. Let us see God’s love and mercy for each one of us. Let us see the power of God wielded in ways that astound the empires and kingdoms of this world. Let us see how God is in relationship with us and how we could be in relationship with one another. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession (Sundays and Seasons)

Set free from sin and death and nourished by the word of truth, we join in prayer for all of God’s creation.

A brief silence.Risen One, we give you thanks for congregations and ministries throughout the world that serve as centers of prayer and action. Empower missionaries, teachers, healers, evangelists, and all who are sent to share your song of joy. Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.

Holy One, we give you thanks for generous land that produces abundant harvests. Strengthen and protect all soils, from rooftop gardens to prairie farmlands, to patio planters to fertile valleys, and bless all who lovingly tend them. Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.

Ruling One, we give you thanks for leaders of nations who work to build up the common good. Strengthen efforts of reconciliation among all nations (especially), that peace extends in every direction. Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.

Healing One, we give you thanks for all who labor for the health of others. Comfort and strengthen all who struggle with chronic pain. Send healing and relief to all who are sick (especially). Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.

Providing One, we give you thanks for all who provide for others. Inspire generosity in your people, so that we carry out the work of making disciples of all nations. Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.

Here other intercessions may be offered.Living One, we give you thanks for the saints who have increased our faith. Give us courage to follow in hope until you gather us all around your table of abundance. Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.

Confident that you hear us, O God, we boldly place our prayers into your hands; through Jesus Christ, our truth and life.Amen.

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