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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 11, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 18, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 25, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Pentecost 22 Proper 25B RCL October 28, 2012

Job 42:1-6, 10-17

Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22)

Hebrews 7: 23-28

Mark 10:46-52

This morning, we are trying an experiment. Our Christian Formation group will be meeting early in the service to look over the gospel and discuss it briefly. Then they will be joining us for the sermon. The sermon may take a different form, or several different forms. It may well become less of a preaching experience and more of a dialogue. We will see where the Spirit leads us.

Here, in the gospel of Mark, Jesus is on his last journey to Jerusalem. He and the disciples are heading down the Jordan Valley. They are in Jericho, where Herod built a town that was rich and bustling. The Jordan Valley was quite desolate. Travelers stopped in Jericho to stock up on supplies for the rest of the journey. The surrounding area was an oasis, where fruits and vegetables could be raised, providing food for travelers.

If you were a beggar, you put yourself in a strategic position to catch travelers before they left the town because the travelers would be rested and well-stocked for the rest of the journey, and possibly in a generous mood.

Bartimaeus has learned that Jesus is coming by. We can imagine that Bartimaeus has heard much about Jesus. Among other things, he has heard that Jesus heals people. Bartimaeus has been on the edges of society since he became blind. He wants to be whole and have a full life. So he calls out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” People tell him to be quiet. Don’t bother the rabbi. But he calls out even more.

Jesus stands still. We remember that any person who is sick, who is not whole and well, is an outsider in the society, the least of the least. Normally, no one would pay any attention to Bartimaeus. Yet Jesus stops. He asks the crowd to call Bartimaeus to him. The people, who had been telling Bartimaeus to be quiet, now tell him to take heart and get up and go to Jesus.

Bartimaeus throws off his cloak. This is a wonderful symbol. This is the most important moment in his life. We could say that he doesn’t want anything to weigh him down, that he wants to travel light, as Jesus tells us to do. We could say that he does not want anything to be a barrier between himself and Jesus as a cloak would be. What thoughts come to your mind? Bartimaeus comes to Jesus open and free and without any barriers to healing. He comes eagerly. Are we open to Jesus and asking him for healing?

Bartimaeus springs up and comes to Jesus. This man is blind. If I were blind I might go slowly and carefully, but, no, Bartimaeus flies to Jesus. He has faith that he will find the way. Do we run to Jesus in faith and hope and openness?

Jesus respects this man who has the courage to ask for help and runs eagerly to Jesus. He asks a simple question, “What do you want me to do for you?” If Jesus were asking you or me this question, which, of course, he is, what would we say? What would we ask for?

Bartimaeus says, “My teacher, let me see again.” This lets us know that Bartimaeus was once able to see, that this blindness has come from an injury or a disease, that he knows what it is like to have the gift of sight and that he has lived without this gift for some time.

Then Jesus says, “Go, your faith has made you well.”

Immediately, right away, Bartimaeus regains his sight. And what does he do? He follows Jesus. He becomes a disciple.

When we are reading the Bible, we can ask, did Jesus really heal people? Did Jesus really heal Bartimaeus? I believe that Jesus did and does heal people and that he healed Bartimaeus. But that’s not the point. The point is, can we put ourselves in the place of Bartimaeus? Can we imagine how hard it was for someone who had once had sight to sit there day after day and beg? And how he hears about Jesus and hears that Jesus has the power to heal and, even though people are telling him to be quiet, he gives a shout out to Jesus and asks for compassion (mercy) and then Jesus stops and pays attention. Think what that means to Bartimaeus. This great teacher is listening to me.

Sometimes when we call for help and we are truly listened to and heard, it makes a big difference to us, It lets us know that the person who is listening really cares about us. Caring is the beginning of healing. It makes a big difference to be heard and taken seriously. So that was the beginning of the healing.

Jesus says that Bartimaeus’ faith has made him well. We are getting more and more research that says that faith and prayer heal people. That’s true. Medical skill and scientific knowledge and medications and MRI’s and surgery and lab work also heal thousands upon thousands of people. As Christians we believe that God inspires us humans to do research to learn about diseases and how to cure them and learn about surgery and medication and tests like CAT scans and MRIs and all the other aspects of medical science. So that’s another way that God and Jesus and the Spirit are inspiring people to heal others and people to be healed every day—through scientific research and medical skill and technology. All of that is part of God’s healing.

I have tried in this sermon to share some ideas about how we can read a gospel passage and think about it and put ourselves into the mind and heart of a character like Bartimaeus so that we can understand some basic truths about Jesus and how he treated people and how he affected people and how he treats us and affects us and our lives.

Jesus is touching peoples’ lives and healing people right now. It’s not something that just happened long ago.

Is there something you want Jesus to help you with? Something you want him to heal? Ask him. And if you want to have the laying on of hands or prayers for healing, we can do that, too, Ask any time and we can do that after the service. Does anyone want to share a thought before we close? Please feel free.

Lord Jesus, help us to ask for what we need from you and help us to be open to receive your help. Amen.