Finding the Lessons

I try to post well in advance of the upcoming Sunday.

You will want to scroll down to find the bible study for the lessons closest to the upcoming Sunday.

The blog will be labeled with proper, liturgical date, and calendar date.

You can open the monthly calendar to the left and find the readings in order.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Proper 25B/Ordinary 30B/Pentecost 22, October 25, 2015

Quotes That Make Me Think

"...what would you do if failure didn't matter? What would you endeavor, dare, or try? What mission would you attempt, what venture would you risk, what great deed would you undertake?"

"Bartimaeus, Luther, and the Failed Reformation," David Lose, Working Preacher, 2012.

"How do we retell the story without sidelining blind people today? That is easier said than done. If we play up the miraculous we heighten the pain where healing is not happening and may be impossible. Piety can easily race by in the euphoria of symbolism and the only abiding message is; we are irrelevant and you are irrelevant."

"First Thoughts on Year B Gospel Passages in the Lectionary," Pentecost 22, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.

"If your prayer isn't answered, this may tell you more about you and your prayer than it does about God. If God doesn't seem to be giving you what you ask, maybe he's giving you something else."

"Bartimaeus," sermon discussion from Frederick Buechner, Frederick Buechner Blog.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from

Links for Reformation Day lessons from

God our Savior, from the ends of the earth you gather the weak and the lowly.  You make them a great and glad multitude, refreshed and renewed at your hand.  Throwing off the burden of sin, they run to the Teacher for healing.  Let the faith Christ bestows restore to the church this vision of the gathering that embraces the weary and wounded of this world.  We ask this through Christ, with whom you have raised us up in baptism, the Lord who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some Thoughts on Mark 10:46-52

Jesus has been teaching that the society of the kingdom of God is one marked by servanthood rather than rank or power.  He has prophesied that his own life will end as the suffering servant and that he will be raised.  He has offered a vision of a new world; a recreated world. 

Jesus has also offered an understanding of discipleship which is one in which the follower leaves the comfort of life in order to help the lives of those who are comfortless.

So it is that we come to the road side outside Jericho.  This passage is filled with drama and symbolism. 

Jesus makes his way in the business of a crowd towards Jerusalem; always with his face set like a flint to the cross.  And from the margins, from the edge of this mission, comes the cry of the blind man.  He is at first hushed by those around Jesus.  This is a reminder of how easy it is while trying to be faithful to be deaf to those on the edge who faith is intended to help.   How blind the crowd of Jesus followers is to the cries from the edge.  And, I imagine them hushing him again, and saying, "We are too busy following Jesus."  So it is the blindness of the followers of Jesus that is revealed as Bartimaeus' sight ever sharpens.

Bartimaeus knows all that is happening and in the story and he cries out.  Sometimes I think in the midst of life we are unaware of just how aware those on the margin are - prophetically aware. This hit me squarely as I read through Joel Marcus' textual exegesis and he offered this from a boot entitle Memory; about the holocaust: 
The uncanny effect of this sort of blind sight is evoked by Douglas' description of a Holocaust survivor who wore dark glasses during her testimony at Adolf Eichmann's trial in Jerusalem:  "She appeared, then, to be blind (though she was not), an impression made all the more striking as the dramatic force of her testimony found focus in the words 'I saw everything.'" (Joel Marcus, Mark, vol 2, 763)
As the passing diorama makes its way, Bartimaeus shouts ever louder.  Jesus stops, invites his petition, and then heals him.  The response to this event is the throwing off of his clothes, the clarity of sight about the world around him, and then Bartimaeus follows.

Joel Marcus and others remind us that the passage is very much linked to early baptismal rites.  For example this one from Marcus' commentary.

Baptizand: "Have mercy on me!"
Deacon, in the role of Jesus to the congregation: "Call him."
Congregation: "Be brave, get up, he's calling you."
Baptizand removes his clothes and approaches the deacon.
Deacon to Baptizand: "What do you want me to do?"
Baptizand: "I want to be illuminated."
Deacon, baptizing him: "Your faith has saved you."
(Mark, vol 2, 765)
So in our passage today we are given wonderful new ways of seeing ourselves and our following.  We are able to see the world of servanthood to the comfortless.  We are to interpret our own faith journey in light of being given sight to see and to follow.  We are given an encouraging word to cast off our clothes, to move from the edge into the center of the stage, and to participate in the new ways of this strange emerging kingdom of God.

We should be careful first not to punish our own crowd that will sit before us as preachers this weekend.  We should remember they too are there like Bartimaeus, on the fringe of society, doing something most people will not do this week's end - go to church. They are there calling out for a bit of grace and mercy and kindness. They are calling out for love. 

The preacher has a dual task this week's end, both to stop as Jesus did, and remind the blind of his love for them. To stop and pause for a moment so that their sight might be restored and so they can follow along the way.  That they might cast off their clothes that bind them, so that they may enter the crowd of life and along the way help others to see as well. 

The passage reminds me that the Christian Church is not a society of the wealthy who redistribute their wealth for the sake of the poor, but a community of blind people seeking clarity of sight so that we might in turn help our brothers and sisters see.

Epistle Hebrews 7:23-28

"While of major interest in the first century, most Christians today do not think much about the nature of the priesthood. Amidst this comparison, however, the author makes some very important statements about how Jesus accomplished human salvation."

Commentary, Hebrews 7:23-28, Scott Shauf, Preaching This Week,, 2012.

"He died once; he intercedes perpetually."

"One reason that Jesus the High Priest can offer this eternal salvation is that he can focus his priestly work on intercession because he has already taken care of the problem of sin. Other priests are daily occupied with sin removal (Hebrews 7:27)."

Commentary, Hebrews 7:23-28, Amy L B. Peeler, Preaching This Week,, 2015.

Jesus is the new high priest and the author here reiterates this work in case the reader/hearer did not understand the first time.  So it is that we are told (as if from a different vantage point) that Jesus is able to provide this once for all intercession on our behalf. The cross of Christ is a one time victory for all sin and not a rehearsal each time there is sin. Christ is not continually offering Christ's self for humanity but instead this one time defeat and victory over sin and death is a "sufficient sacrifice once offered" as our prayer book liturgy reminds us. 

This one time offering is therefore also a better offering than human priesthood and a new and better covenant than the many old ones. For here in this new covenant we are redeemed forever and marked as Christ's own.

Furthermore, this offering is perfect(ed) in that it is God's offering instead of our own human offering. It is God's offering and of such a quality that it is everlasting. 

Sometimes, I think our faith is tested not by our belief that God reached across the cosmos to embrace us and has forever mended the gulf between us but that such an occurrence and work of Jesus is forever. I think we sometimes lack the belief that Christ is victorious. So we might say that we know that Christ is our intermediary, our great high priest, but we should get to work saving ourselves just in case.

In this lack of faith in Christ's sufficient work on our behalf we return to an old law. In this old law we are the priest who is completely imprisoned by our sin, brokenness, and fallen-shortness of the kingdom. Here we must continually offer new sacrifices trying to live into some ideal. Here we attempt to acquire a list of qualities that we might repeatedly purify ourselves. Each of our sacrifices, like the sacrifices of the religious priesthood of Jesus' own day, made over and over again for the sake of salvation. 

The high priesthood of Christ is once and for all, there is no more sinful economic exchange required on our part.

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