Sunday, October 28, 2018

Year B Proper 25 2018 Springing Up

Year B Proper 25, 28 October 2018 
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA 
“Springing Up” 
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Mark 10:46-52 
Jesus and his disciples 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. 

You heard the scene. A man, a beggar, easily ignored and forgotten. But he had heard about this Jesus who was coming down the way. He began to call out, to beg and plead. Like with so many who are impoverished, it is easier to quiet them than it is to help. He was “sternly ordered.” But he was not going to ignore this. He was not throwing away his shot. [Thanks, Lin Manuel Miranda] When your boat comes in, do not go to the airport. 

He cried out even more loudly, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! JESUS! JESUS! SON OF DAVID!” Can you hear the desperation? Can you feel it deep down? This man was sick and tired of being sick and tired. And someone arrived who could change his life, someone who could change his world. 

Between the cries for mercy and the shushing that was happening from the respectable set desperate for decorum, Jesus heard him. “Call him here.” Grace happens in the moment. The Kingdom of God arrives in the now. It is not Pie in the Sky “by-and-by.” It is about God breaking through in our present. And the same who shushed him were now telling the blind beggar, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 

And then comes for me the words that fascinated me when I was preparing for today. The man was shameless. He had no shame when he cried out for Jesus. He had no shame when he was being sternly ordered to be quiet. He had no shame now. It says very clearly, “So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.” 
He SPRANG UP. Now the story goes on with Jesus asking, “What do you want me to do for you?” And without any hesitation he says, “My teacher, let me see again.” 

You see, the man knew what he wanted. He knew what he was missing. He knew this was his shot to get back what he had lost. Like Job in our reading today, he wanted the riches to be returned. He wanted to be whole. 

I sat this week and tried to think what it is in my life that makes me Spring Up for Jesus. What in my life is blocking me from being where I want to be? Where Jesus wants me to be? If I were given my shot, my ONE SHOT, what would that ONE THING be? 

Close your eyes, not hypothetically. Go ahead. Close them up. What in your life is begging for your attention? What in your life needs Jesus? Where is that gaping hole, or that festering wound? It could be physical, emotional, spiritual. Where do you need God to break through? 

Okay, open your eyes back up. If you were given that SHOT, what would your ask be? Jesus said it to the man, and Jesus says it to each of us. “What would you have me do for you?” 

Are you ready to Spring Up and take it to Jesus? Too often we speak of our faith as “there & then,” not “HERE & NOW.” This week I got to be a part of being God’s middle man. Until yesterday I had not even told the parties who are complicit in the handiwork of God that they are as guilty as I am. On Thursday I got an email asking about donating a car, and did I know of someone in need. While for many this would be nice, but I reached out to Anna Julia Cooper School where I used to teach to see if there was anybody in need. Friday morning I got a text saying that a parent had totalled their car on Thursday night, and did not know what they are going to do. But God did. 

You see, God pulled on the heartstrings of someone I had not met, who reached out to a member here, who reached out to me, who reached out to old friends. And in God’s timing a car and a donor were ready for this family. Now I believe that this is a God thing. It has to be. I am not that smart. But when the time comes, are we ready to Spring Up? 

Last week, I asked for counters, teachers, and ushers. Last week we got the counters we needed, and we got a Sunday School teacher. Praise God. We have not because we ask not. (Still looking for some ushers and a couple more Sunday School teachers, by the way.)  

Jesus asked it of the man, “What is it you want me to do for you?” Jesus does not stop there. There is the old quote from George Burns’ wife, Gracie Allen. While she was dying, she told George not to quit on life or on God. The United Church of Christ has used it as their slogan for years. “Never place a period where God has put a comma. God is still speaking.” I believe it to be true. “What is it you ask of me?”  

This year we are “Called to Peace. And be Thankful.” A big part of that, as we talked about at Shrine Mont for those who were there, is being at peace with God. It is hard to make peace with others in God’s name if you are not at peace with God and with yourself first. When we Spring Up, we do it for the same reason the man did. First we want what holds us back to be removed/healed/disappeared from our lives. But notice again, the ask that he had. “My teacher, let me see again.” We make the ask of Jesus to draw us further in our discipleship, further into his shaping of who we are because of whose we are. 

Teacher. As you Spring Up, who is your Teacher?  

Teacher. As you bring that thing that holds you back, what is it you need to learn?  

Teacher. How can you go further on the Way with your Teacher? 

It says that, “Immediately [the man] regained his sight and followed him on the way.” There is a point to our ask. There is a point to our healing. It enables us. It empowers us. It is not to enrich us by this world’s standards, but by the Teacher’s Kingdom. 
Jesus is calling us to him. He always was, but sometimes we do not hear that call. When we Spring Up, never forget, we go to Jesus. Jesus is already there, meeting our needs. Wanting to meet our needs. He calls each and every one of us. What are we desperate to remove? 

I know I use a lot from movies, but when an example fits it just does. In the comedy-drama When Harry Met Sally… Harry finally realizes he loves Sally. Men take longer to clue in, often, I admit. But when he clues in, he says this line that speaks such truth. “When you know what you want for the rest of your life, you want the rest of your life to start RIGHT NOW.” He ran across Manhattan to tell her that. Like the blind man in the story today, he Sprang Up. When we know what we want, without the shadow of a doubt, we get up, we spring up to get it. 

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus is asking. Do not wait. Amen 

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Blessings, Rock