First, please allow me to say thank you for being here tonight…for sharing in prayer together, for being willing to risk being vulnerable enough to admit we cannot and do not walk this journey alone.
Believe it or not, when we gather for prayer with each other…it makes a difference to the world…..for one hour we send a vibrational energy out into the universe that creates waves of positivity and hope and love that we may never know the effect of but which are truly monumental.
In the Chaos Theory of Mathematics, this phenomenon is called the Butterfly Effect….you can google it when you get home….it is quite an interesting phenomenon.
Second, I would like to share some insights into the limitations of sight, just to show that what Bartimeaus asked for was not physical sight, but rather something much deeper…
Colleen and I are handing out a sheet….please leave it face down…keep it face down until I invite you to turn it over……
Turn it over….study the three columns of words really carefully. You will have an entire 60 seconds….when I say…turn the paper back face down. You may not be aware but most specific human encounters on one particular subject or issue last a whole 6-10 seconds…so you have 6x the amount of time.
(Words on Flip Chart)—marker ready…Need a counter…
- Innocence Project: 330 exonerations since 1989-2010 from post-conviction DNA testing; 236 (72%) involved mistaken eyewitness identification (http://innocenceproject.org/know
Third, I am going to venture to posit the idea that our Gospel story tonight of the blind man, Bartimeaus, has almost nothing, if not nothing to do with sight!
This blind man, in our Gospel has much to teach us…it has everything to do with “IN-SIGHT”….
You see my friends…..biblical textual analysis of this text has led many biblical scholars to the conclusion that Bartimeaus’ response to the question of Jesus was a response that asked for much more than physical sight….what Bartimeaus said was….I really want to see….see deeply…more like I want to know beyond sight!
And as I was praying on these scriptures I was reminded of the American Indian Elder: Oriah Mountain Dreamer…and her writing entitled The Invitation….in which she drills down to the core of the human experience…and really I believe in one way says what Bartimeaus said to Jesus:
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your hearts longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals, or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true, I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours or mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you are, or how you came to be here- I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
May 1994 © Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Fourth and Finally, isn’t it interesting that it was those who were gathered around Jesus walking with him on the road…soaking up his wisdom and insights…said to Bartimeaus….
Do not be afraid….Jesus is calling you….get up!
Sometimes we have to be willing to throw off our cloaks of fear and stand up and put ourselves before our God and say….I want to see!
That is why I started by saying thank you for your willingness to be here tonight….it wasn’t to just be nice….it was real…..
thank you for being here to encourage each other….
to throw off our cloaks of fear and certitude and be vulnerable enough to put ourselves in God’s presence and to hear God’s voice say to us……What do you want me to do for you?
Sometimes we have to be encouraged by others to be willing to throw off our cloak of certitude and be willing to stand in the mysteries of life, struggles, death, fear and powerlessness , trusting that eventually if we hang out with each other and with our God long enough, we too will see!
If Jesus appeared to us and asked: What do you want me to do for you? I wonder what our answer would be?
Bishop Marty Shanahan 2018