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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Saturday, October 27, 2012

What Do You Want?

Bartimaeus sat by the roadside outside of Jericho as he did every day (except the Sabbath), listening for passersby and begging them for contributions.  Day in, day out - season after season, year after year.

On this particular day he heard a group of people approaching.  Ahead of the travelers, several people ran in his direction, calling to their friends and relatives to come, because Jesus the Son of David was on the road.

Jesus, an intense man of love and passion for the Lord was headed up the road and would be passing directly in front of Bartimaeus.  Stowing the coins he had collected for the day in a small pouch near his belt, Bartimaeus cleared his parched throat and called, " Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"   His neighbors moved in front of him to get a better look at Jesus and told him to hold his tongue: they wanted to hear the Rabbi speak to them and grant their petitions.  In a louder voice still, Bartimaeus called out: "JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME!!"

Almost immediately, the group slowed down and stopped.  Jesus had heard the blind man shout and told the disciples to tell him to come foreword.  Hearing this, Bartimaeus didn't wait even a second more; he got up quickly, even leaving his walking stick and cloak behind and hurried in the direction of that distinctive voice.  The disciples lead him to stand in front of the Master and Jesus spoke.

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked.

Bartimaeus hesitated for a moment.  This is the first time someone had asked him a question, not based on his obvious handicap, but based on his most precious need.

"Teacher, let me see again" Bartimaeus replied, raising his body - head and shoulders - to a more upright position.  Seconds passed.  He heard his neighbors mutter that he had no right to trouble Jesus with such a request.  Then the mumbling was hushed with the words spoken by Jesus.

 "Go.  Your faith has made you well."

With those words, Bartimaeus began seeing blurry shades of grey, then more distinct shapes in increasing color.  With tears streaming down his cheeks, he shielded his eyes from a brilliance he had not known since he was a small child.  Searing light flooded his mind and his heart.   As he tried to adjust to his new found sight, he followed that magnetic voice, straining to catch up and see the face of the one that resorted him.  Held up by some of the disciples, Bartimaeus joined the group that followed Jesus on his journey.


It strikes me as amazing that Jesus actually asked Bartimaeus what the blind man wanted.  Our Lord made no assumptions as to the blind man's deepest longing -- which could easily have been to remove the anger and fear and resentment from his heart.

God does not look at our obvious infirmities, but asks us to examine our hearts and minds to discover what we need and what we long to ask for.  Then, with humble hearts, we ask that our desires be fulfilled.  Upon reflection, we may notice that God provided us with what we truly needed in a given situation.

Ask, knock, seek.  Always willing to meet our needs, God awaits our response to the question "What do you want me to do for you?"  Let us be prepared to reveal our heart's desire to our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Focus: The Real Miracle

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. Mark 10: 46-52
Here we go again. Jesus is pulling another miracle out of his bottomless bag of wonders. It’s not as spectacular as raising the dead, curing a crowd of lepers or feeding multitudes. In fact, in Mark’s gospel, this is the second time that Jesus cures a blind man. But the real miracle in this account is a lot more significant than just a rerun.
Jesus cures Bartimaeus with the words: Your faith has saved you. In the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament, there is reference to the word faith only twice. Yet in the far briefer New Testament, faith is cited scores of times…and never more powerfully than Jesus does in this week’s gospel.
After a lifetime of blindness, Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus in desperation. Jesus hears his cry.  He clearly sees the blind man’s faith fighting through the darkness. Like Bartimaeus, we turn to Christ in disappointment and pain when all else has failed. Jesus is used to that. He knows our frailty, our shaky mix of fear and faith. And that’s as it should be. It is our human condition. Because faith is not a destination. It is a journey. And the journey is fraught with detours and potholes.
First there are the roadblocks we build ourselves…our doubts, our inhibitions, our reluctance to let go and put things in God’s hands. Then there are the obstacles that others erect. Some were quick to tell Bartimaeus to pipe down and stop bothering Jesus. They thought Christ had better things to do than bother with this blind man. Today these are the same folks who would let us know that it’s definitely not cool to be publicly proclaiming Jesus. But being uncool is at the very core of faith. So uncool in fact that Paul writes to the Corinthians: That we are fools for Christ’s sake.
For such a simple, familiar word, faith is a highly complex and contradictory concept. That’s because it involves getting our intellects and our wills in sync with God’s grace. Stacks and stacks of theology texts have been devoted to sorting out this concept. But you probably have a pretty good insight right in your hip pocket. Fish in your wallet for a dollar. On the flip side you’ll see printed the words: In God We Trust.
That says it all. Like Bartimaeus, in the face of doubt and discouragement…in the teeth of condescension and ridicule, through the grace of God, we can receive that priceless will to believe. It’s ours for the asking. And that’s the real miracle.

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