getting out of the way, so we can walk The Way of Jesus. A Midweek Musing

Sermon for Wesley Uniting Church – 28 October 2018
Mark 10:46-52 and Job 42. 

I have friends who at present in the church are being made to like Bartimeus: outcasts because of who they are, told by their community to sit down and shut up and stop making us feel so uncomfortable with your difference. (see last week's musing)

Do you?

What neighbours to us, as individuals, a community here, a nation, as humans, can we think of that the self-appointed judges of who is valid and valued tell to sit down, shut up, and get out of Jesus’ way?

Have you been told to sit down, shut up, and get out of Jesus’ way?

Please hear from the actual story of Jesus: Jesus commands the community to see you, to call you, to put the ones the world casts aside in his way. Jesus meets you, my friends, he meets you. He hears you. He sees you.

voice from darkness
sees invisible spirit
met, touched, remembered 

What do you want me to do for you?

This seeing and hearing and meeting is a profound affirmation of your worth, human being calling out to God. An affirmation of your dignity, empowering you to decide what you need, and encouraging your voice to ask for it.

I wish to see. I wish to be welcomed, offered refuge.
I wish to marry my partner in life, a covenant protected by our society’s laws, a covenant made within our community of faith, a covenant made before our God.
I wish to be whole.

Jesus comes precisely for that, my friends, for the fullness of our humanity. And he calls the community to see that in each other. He calls us to get out of each others’ way, whoever seeks Jesus’ Way of full, dignified, human being. Get out of the way.

We are called to see as Jesus sees. Meet each other, profoundly, as humans whose fullness depends on the fullest humanity for all.

That question, what do you want me to do for you, honours Bartimeus’ capacity to name for himself what healing looks like for him. Jesus did not assume that his blindness was what needed ‘fixing’. Neither should we decide for another what ‘healing’ looks like for them. For most of the healing stories, after the miracle, the cure, the ultimate healing is the restoration into community. The reconciliation of relationship. There is our wholeness to be found. There, in welcome, in embrace, in mutually caring relationships that honour the dignity of each of us simply and profoundly because we are, each one of us, human.

voice from darkness
sees invisible spirit
met, touched, remembered 

Jesus speaks: go, your faith has made you well.

I can help you. I have the capacity to touch you, to heal you, to reconnect you with your full humanity, with community. And I choose to honour your request.

Friends, when you feel like you are sitting in the dust beside the road, outside the action, outside community, remember this. There, God will meet you. There, even there, Jesus will reach out and touch you. And more, because let’s face it, most of us experience privilege in one way or another, Jesus reaches out to those the world kicks into the dust, sees the refugee, LGBTIQ, differently abled, mentally unwell humans. This is incarnation; the reaching into human being and touching it in a radical, costly, way. Does Jesus’ call to bring Bartimeus to him imply, or at least perhaps require, that the people, his neighbours, also reach out and touch him?

Literally or figuratively, it doesn’t matter.

Jesus sees, meets Bartimeus where he is.

We must see, meet each other where we are.

Jesus reaches out, touches Bartimeus, a healing, caring touch.

On his instigation, the people reach out and touch, connect, remember Bartimeus.

Here at Wesley, we have committed to a way of pastoral care that empowers each of us, not only elected elders and called ministers, to engage in the mutual care of one another. To reach out and touch one another, through phone calls, time and presence, with meals or transport, a shoulder to cry on. There are many ways we do this. And I have experienced your care, with meals during seasons I have been unwell this year with tonsillitis, and with glandular fever. You touch one another, work hard side by side, celebrate side by side. Mutual, or reciprocal, care, which asks not only, who is looking after me, but more, who needs my care, my touch?

voice from darkness
sees invisible spirit
met, touched, remembered 

He regained his sight and followed him on the way.
There’s something about ‘remembering’ that is about being restored to wholeness. Re-membered. If to be membered is to contain members, parts, to be re-membered, is to have those parts put back together, restored to the whole.

Bartimeus’ sight is restored. Bartimeus is remembered, or re-membered, according to the brokenness he himself identifies and for which he seeks healing.

In the same sentence, he joins the community of Jesus, so that the restoration and healing of Bartimeus is as much about relationship and re-membering him as a part, a member, of the human community, as it is about restoring his sight.

Today we have before us the conclusion of the story of Job, too: another story of being met, touched, remembered.

There is something about the story’s conclusion that symbolically restores Job to the wholeness he has at the beginning of the story.

The risk in this story is for interpretations that see wealth and possessions as ‘blessings’, or ‘rewards’ for faithfulness, goodness. The risk is that those interpretations lead one to subscribe to a prosperity gospel, and at its worst, this leads one to seek wealth under the guise of seeking God’s blessing.

But our work experience student and I were talking this week about how the Story of God is not about gaining a seat in heaven – it is about bringing heaven here into our midst. Our student noted the equal treatment by Job of his daughters with his sons. This restoration involves a fuller remembering, an even greater wholeness in Job’s household and family than before. Our student also noted the way the whole community seems to be involved in Job’s restored wholeness, a reminder perhaps that we all participate in each other’s wholeness. So we are called to see as God sees, meet each other as God meets us, touch each other’s lives with kindness, restore relationship, belonging, community.

So we see in the end of Job’s story a reaffirmation of God’s place as God, of Job’s place as human who really cannot, in the end, understand very much about God, life, suffering, success.

What we can know is that God does see us. Does meet us. And not only that, when we welcome each other, we meet God, we extend welcome, touch, remember, restore, and affirm the inherent dignity of each other.

Job is remembered, having been rejected, judged for his circumstance. Bartimeus is remembered, after being rejected for his circumstance. If we do not differ from each other in our circumstance, our being, we cannot experience mutuality or relationship, cannot express love. these things need distinct, discreet, beings, individual, not the same. This is what it is to be human. Our fullest humanity is mutual love in our difference.

Let us stop dismissing what is different as unworthy of our attention, care, embrace, on the grounds that it is different. Let us pick up Bartimeus from the roadside, gather Job out of his sackcloth and ash, let us, meet, touch, remember, let’s get out of the way and help each other to come to God and find healing and restoration there.

voice from darkness
sees invisible spirit
met, touched, remembered 

* haiku from pray the story


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