Mark 10: 46-52
Two thoughts are at play today. First, there is the thought of freedom – we are free to try and fail in Jesus’ name, because ultimately, there is no failure in Jesus, except failure to love. And, second, there is the thought of blindness, and having blinders removed from our eyes.
Joe was stacking chairs near me. He told me my seat was safe, and I could stay as long as I wanted. I pointed to Mike, and shared that he was a transformed person with a camera in his hand. I said what Mike often says, “I don’t drink or drug or smoke. My addictions are books and photography.” I am used to waiting for him to get just the right shot.
Joe admitted that he’d been trying to quit smoking for years. I encouraged him to keep trying. I added that my parents both died of lung disease because of smoking. His eyes widened, as if he had never heard about someone who died from smoking before.
Anyway, … we do not know why Bartimaeus is blind. We do know that Bartimaeus has no income because of his blindness, other than what he receives as a beggar. He cries out constantly, hoping for some coins to be tossed onto his cloak. “Help me, please. I am blind.” When he hears that Jesus is at the gate, he increases the volume and changes the script. “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” He repeats this like a chant, over and over. People tell him to be quiet, but he gets even louder. “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”
Finally, Jesus tells the people to bring Bartimaeus to him. “What do you want me to do for you?” “Let me see again,” Bartimaeus replies. “Your faith has made you well.” What did Bartimaeus do next? … He followed Jesus.
We suffer from the same problem today. We can be blind to what Jesus is saying and doing among us. We tend to think that the way we have always done things is the right way, maybe even the only way, to do certain things. We are nearly as afraid as the Pharisees that making changes will not please God.
As a congregation, we have tried a lot of things in the seven years I have been here.
We have tried and liked or not liked new liturgies.
We have tried many ways to make it as easy as possible for newcomers as well as long-time Lutherans to follow the order of worship. We have gone from flipping pages in the hymnals, to booklets and inserts and hymnals, to TV projection of worship materials with the optional use of hymnals.
We have a somewhat simplified style of worship early on Sunday, and a new, different, worship opportunity on Saturday afternoon.
We fill more shoeboxes every year. This year, we made dresses and tie-died t-shirts to put in them. The quilters have disbanded and reformed. Quilts that used to go overseas are now being distributed to people in our community.
We discovered that we have enough money to repair the roof and buy a sign and upgrade the sound system and purchase the TVs.
Jesus says, we are free to try anything in his name. We are free to try new ways to worship, new ways to love and serve people, new ways to invite people to know Jesus loves them. We are free to let go of our fear and say, “Come with me and see how much he loves you.”
We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. This week, consider all of your freedoms, and remember you are free to share Christ’s freedom with someone else. Take off your blinders and see people who need Jesus in their lives. Invite them into the joy of following Jesus.