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Welcome to Sunshine Cathedral. This is a house of prayer for all people. All are welcome here. Whoever you are and where ever you are on your spiritual journey you bring special gifts to share. And we pray that you will find spiritual nourishment for your journey here.
The Call to Worship
From fears that paralyze us;
ALL: Heal us, O God.
From illness that strangles us;
ALL: Heal us, O God.
From sorrows that weigh us down;
ALL: Heal us, O God.
From aimlessness that plagues our visions;
ALL: Heal us, O God.
Loving Creator, you made us in your image in all our diversity. Help us to be awakened to our uniqueness. Give us grace to see everyone we meet as whole and perfect in your site. Amen
I will extol God at all times; I will praise God with my mouth.
I will glorify God; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify God with me; let us exalt God’s names together.
I acknowledged the Source of Life, and the Source responded to me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Mark 10.46-47, 51-52
As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city of Jericho, a blind man, Bartimaeus, was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, descendant of David, have mercy on me!” “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Reflection by Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher, Virtual Chaplain, Sunshine Cathedral of Second Life
Click on the audio bar below to hear the audio.
“Open Our Eyes, O God”
As I sat at the bedside of a close friend who is dying last night I began to think about our gospel reading for today and what a theology of sight means. Stories like this always make me uncomfortable. When these kinds of healing stories come up on the lectionary I’m always mindful of those who will hear my words who do not have physical sight, who are losing their physical sight, or who live in fear that they will lose their physical sight. I am mindful that a story that seems to be an account of a physical healing of blindness might ring hollow, even become a source of pain, for those of our brothers and sisters who do not have physical sight.
But as I sat beside the bed of my friend, watching her breathing, praying in gratitude for her partner’s sound sleep because of my presence, I began to see things differently. It made me think long and hard about how I’m spending the days, weeks, months and years I have left on earth. And it made me want to see the world and my presence in it in a new way.
I don’t believe our gospel reading is a literal account of someone who had been physically blind since birth spontaneously gaining the physical ability to see. But I do believe that a miracle was worked in our story, a miracle no less remarkable than regaining physical sight might be. Let’s think about the story in another way. Let us assume that the person in our story was blinded by the responsibilities of the world, by debt, by worry, by insecurity. And let us also assume that this man had heard of the teacher/healer Jesus and that he came out to touch Jesus to convinced that touching him would make him whole.
It’s not so far fetched. Metaphorical blindness is no less debilitating than physical blindness. I, like Bartimaeus, often find myself in prayer to God, asking for help, praying for deliverance. I want to see the future before it has happened. I want to know that my choices are the right ones. I want a teacher, a healer, a Jesus to come and save me from blindness to what I can do to make the world a more just and loving place.
Jesus asks Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” And Bartimaeus answers, “I want to see.” This simple exchange is crucial in the healing of spiritual blindness. Many people around us every day are mindful only of themselves and are blind to the plight of those in need around us. But Bartimaeus is different. He WANTS to see! He exhibits his willingness to do whatever it takes to receive sight, to become aware of both the beauty and the suffering in the world.
How many times have we found ourselves in similar situations? How many times have we called out in anguish never believing for one second that there is any cure for what ails us. How many times have I said, “I want to be healed” but find myself unwilling to ask for help? Bartimaeus not only wants to have his eyes opened, he is willing to call out for help, call out to Jesus and allow himself to be vulnerable to ask, not knowing if his request will be granted. He puts himself out there, opens his heart to healing, prepares to receive the gift of sight without any guarantees that what he will see will be pleasant or comforting.
The truth is that when our eyes are opened we will experience the joy of beauty and the compassion that wells up in us when we see suffering. And when we see that suffering and feel ourselves in touch with that well of compassion we must act. That is what it means to feel our “call” to follow Jesus. Acting on what we see is what is required of us as Christians
And so as we read our gospel lesson for today we begin to understand the depth of Bartimaeus’ begging for Jesus’ help. Jesus asks Bartimaeus as he asks us, “What do you want me to do for you?” The answer is surprising. Rather than laying hands upon him or teaching him some great lesson the recipe for living with insight and compassion, the demand of awakening to the beauty AND suffering in the world is encapsulated in the word “Go.” Go and act upon what you are seeing. Go and be nourished by the beauty. Go and be changed by the compassion that wells up in the suffering you see. Go and do something to make justice. Go. Act. Do. Bring love to the world in the form of justice for all of creation.
Jesus explains, “your faith has healed you.” Put another way for us here today, your presence at this service is evidence that you are willing to see and when you see, when you become aware of your “call” then you must act, you must go, you must do. Because seeing suffering and doing nothing is anguish. If we see and do nothing we will eventually become blind to the suffering. That is the only way a human can survive watching images of God in agony.
But if we act in whatever way we can, in whatever way we feel called to act then our eyes remain open, our faith deepens. We are able to see not only the suffering and separation from God in the world but the utter beauty of divine connection that we share with all of humanity, with the earth, and with all of creation. When we are able to see and act we have the opportunity to experience real purpose in life and live to enjoy all the beauty that love brings to our lives.
Sitting at the bedside of a dying friend opened my eyes. Now I must go. Do. Act. Now I have a choice to remain aware of how I’m spending each moment of my life or drop back into darkness by inaction, shielding myself from the pain of seeing the suffering in the world but oblivious to the exhilarating beauty of justice love. May we all receive our sight today and Go. Do. Act. Make justice love in our own way, wherever we are, as we feel called by the Holy Spirit. Amen.