Monday, December 10, 2018

Open My Eyes, Part 1

The following posts are part of a sermon I preached in October.

Many years ago – it was after my Emmaus Walk in the fall of 2005 but before I started working at the Foundation in 2008 – I was trying to find ways to follow Christ more closely and I did it with a camera.  I had a small point and click digital camera, and I carried it with me everywhere.  For me, trying to find pictures opened my eyes up to the presence of God around me.  As I walked from my car to the research building at the VA, I took pictures of weeds catching the morning sun.  As the sun set behind WalMart as I went to go grocery shopping, I took the picture.  My family and I would be walking from one point to another, and everyone would have to stop and wait for me because I had found an interesting bug and I had to take its picture.  To me, these weren’t bugs and sunsets and weeds – they were evidence of the action of God in the world – beautiful to behold, and I only saw them because I was purposefully looking.  I opened my eyes, and what I found was the abundance of God’s presence around me – presence I had been blind to before I looked.

One of the lectionary readings today is from the gospel of Mark.  As it begins, Jesus and the disciples are walking to Jerusalem.  If this were a movie, there would be the foreshadowing of menacing music in the background.  Walking toward Jerusalem – we know what is coming, and so does Jesus – the incident described in the passage is a brief interruption to the journey. Hear these words from Mark 10, verses 46-52:
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.
This story is in three of the gospels, but only Mark tells of the man’s name - Bartimaeus.  And not only his name, but his father’s name.  ‘Son of Timaeus’ – Bartimaeus means son of Timaeus, so there was really no need for Mark to say “son of Timaeus” but he does. I wonder if Mark does this so that we will see Bartimaeus as a man – not just a blind beggar.

Jesus sees him.  When everyone else is urging the man to be quiet, Jesus sees him.  All through the story, Jesus sees him.  Jesus sees Bartimaeus when he hears him, when he starts talking to him, when he asks him questions, when he listens to the answers, and when he loves him and heals him.

Jesus sees the MAN – not just the blindness, not just that he is a beggar – Jesus sees Bartimaeus.

If we know anything about God, we know it by looking at Jesus.  God sees us, and loves us – in every way there is to love.

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