Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
Can we pray the way Bartimaeus prays? People try to hush him up because by addressing Jesus as “Son of David” he is making a politically dangerous claim that Jesus is the rightful king. Could our prayers ever be heard as a threat to unjust powers that be? Bartimaeus won’t give up or go away quietly but repeats his call for help more loudly. Do we ask so boldly? And are our prayers an honest answer to Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
whose teaching is life,
whose presence is sure,
and whose love is endless.
Let us confess our sins to the one who welcomes us with an open heart.
Silence is kept for reflection.
God our comforter:
like lost sheep, we have gone astray.
We gaze upon abundance and see scarcity.
We turn our faces away from injustice and oppression.
We exploit the earth with our apathy and greed.
Free us from our sin, gracious God.
Listen when we call out to you for help.
Lead us by your love to love our neighbors as ourselves.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
By the gift of grace in ☩ Christ Jesus, God makes you righteous.
Receive with glad hearts the forgiveness of all your sins.
Prayer of the Day
Eternal light, shine in our hearts. Eternal wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance. Eternal compassion, have mercy on us. Turn us to seek your face, and enable us to reflect your goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-9
This passage speaks not only of the southern kingdom, Judah, and its homecoming from exile in Babylon, but also of the northern kingdom (“Israel” or “Ephraim”) and its restoration. The northern tribes of Israel had been lost in exile to Assyria more than a century before Jeremiah prophesied.
7Thus says the Lord:
Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
“Save, O Lord, your people,
the remnant of Israel.”
8See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north,
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
those with child and those in labor, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
9With weeping they shall come,
and with consolations I will lead them back,
I will let them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;
for I have become a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Psalm: Psalm 126
Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy. (Ps. 126:5)
1When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then were we like those who dream.
2Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
3The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are glad indeed.
4Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses of the Negeb.
5Those who sowed with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.
Second Reading: Hebrews 7:23-28
Human priests of old offered sacrifice for their own sins and served only until their death. In contrast, Jesus is God’s Son, the holy, sinless, resurrected high priest. Death did not terminate his priestly service, but through his death he has interceded for our sins.
23The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
26For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. 28For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
Alleluia. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for the heavenly kingdom. Alleluia. (2 Tim. 4:18)
Gospel: Mark 10:46-52
Bartimaeus comes to Jesus with faith, asking that he might see again. Recognizing Jesus’ identity, Bartimaeus is the first person to call him “Son of David” in the Gospel of Mark.
46As [Jesus] and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51Then 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.” 52Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Meditation by David O’Brien
A few summers ago, Joyce and I took some of our kids to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. It was in August and was very hot, and we stayed in a cabin without air conditioning. As you can probably guess from the name of the park, the caves were the big attraction. The cave system there is the largest one known to exist in the world. It’s really quite amazing. The first thing I noticed as we were going into the cave is how the temperature dropped from somewhere in the 90’s to the mid-fifties as we approached and entered the cave. Apparently, the cave stays that way year-round. Once in the cave, we were treated to some pretty amazing sites. Stalagmites and stalactites of varying size and colors formed as water dripped through the rock strata and all the chemicals in the ground were lit up by various man-made lights. When we reached the deepest part of the tour, there was a room that looked like an auditorium, with seats all facing towards the same direction. The guide had us all sit down and then he turned off the lights. This was the deepest darkness I’ve ever experienced. I literally could hold my hand up right in front of my face and wasn’t able to see it. The darkness felt like it had a weight to it, as though you could actually feel it. It was only for a short time, but it left a big impact. I still have the marks on my bicep where Joyce was clinging to me. (Just kidding.) If you can imagine that level of darkness, you can begin to understand what a blind person like Bartimaeus felt every day.
We don’t know how Bartimaeus became blind, but we’re certain he wasn’t that way by choice. I don’t know what it’s like to be blind, but I imagine that with very few exceptions, blind people are dependent on others for a lot of their daily needs. In today’s society, they’ve developed ways to get around that limitation to a great extent, but in Jesus’s time on Earth, about all a blind person could do was to ask others to help them. So, here’s Bartimaeus, a man who’s pretty much helpless, sitting by the side of the road, begging. That has to be a pretty humiliating way to get by, depending on the kindness of strangers for your sustenance. In the darkness that is his life, Bartimaeus hears that Jesus is coming by. Someone must have told him that Jesus of Nazareth was near and about all the miracles he had performed, because he calls out to him “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me”. Referring to Jesus as the Son of David might not sound that remarkable to us today, but when Bartimaeus used that phrase, he was recognizing Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Messiah. When people referred to Jesus as the Son of David, they meant that He was the long-awaited Deliverer, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Bartimaeus may have been blind, physically, but it seems to me that spiritually, his sight was as good as, if not better than most of his contemporaries.
When I see someone at the side of the road, begging for money, I have to confess that in my callousness, I often think that they are running some kind of scam. Maybe it’s a result of being in law enforcement all these years, or maybe I’m just a bit skeptical by nature. The other thing I worry about is if these folks are being trafficked to do this for someone else. That’s one of the things that human traffickers will force their victims to do for them. Often these folks appear to be of sound body and able to find gainful employment. Certainly, they aren’t disabled to the extent that Bartimaeus was. We’ve all probably heard the stories of the guy that spends his day panhandling and when he’s done for the day, walks over to his Mercedes and drives home to his family. Even if that’s only true for one person, why do we see stories like that and apply it to every beggar that we see? Mostly, we consider beggars a nuisance. Perhaps that’s how the people around Jesus felt about Bartimaeus. Perhaps that’s why they told him to be quiet. Jesus, after all, was someone of importance to them. Maybe they didn’t see Him as the Messiah, but He was certainly an influential person in His time. But Jesus hears Bartimaeus and has him brought to Him. Jesus asks him what it is he wants from Him and Bartimaeus responds that he wants Jesus to let him see again. Jesus tells him that his faith has made him well and Bartimaeus’s’ sight is restored!
To me, it’s remarkable that the person whom most of the people considered to be a nuisance is one of the ones that Jesus choose to show mercy to and to demonstrate His power through. How often do we dismiss someone whom we consider to be a nuisance? Maybe it’s the elderly relative who is beginning to get a bit senile. Or perhaps it the person who stops us to talk and they go on for longer than we’d like. In my case, it could be the inmate whom I have to serve some paperwork on who says he just doesn’t understand. May we all take the time to care for those around us whom we might consider to be annoying, but who none the less are also God’s children.
Prayers of Intercession
Set free from sin and death and nourished by the word of truth, we join in prayer for all of God’s creation.
A brief silence.
Risen One, we give you thanks for congregations and ministries throughout the world that serve as centers of prayer and action. Empower missionaries, teachers, healers, evangelists, and all who are sent to share your song of joy. Bless Elizabeth & Daniel, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, as they lead us in our mission to do Your work with our hands. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Holy One, we give you thanks for generous land that produces abundant harvests. Strengthen and protect all soils, from rooftop gardens to prairie farmlands, to patio planters to fertile valleys, and bless all who lovingly tend them. Help us to have such an abundant harvest that we can’t help but that we share it with those in the world who are less fortunate that we are. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Ruling One, we give you thanks for leaders of nations who work to build up the common good. Strengthen efforts of reconciliation among all nations, especially the peoples of Haiti and Afghanistan, that peace may extend in every direction. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Healing One, we give you thanks for all who labor for the health of others. Comfort and strengthen all who struggle with chronic pain. Send healing and relief to all who are sick, especially those whom we remember on our prayer list. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Providing One, we give you thanks for all who provide for others. Inspire generosity in your people, so that we carry out the work of making disciples of all nations. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Living One, we give you thanks for the saints who have increased our faith. Give us courage to follow in hope until you gather us all around your table of abundance. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Confident that you hear us, O God, we boldly place our prayers into your hands; through Jesus Christ, our truth and life.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.*
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
And now, as our Savior, Christ is teaching us, we boldly pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
People of God,
you are Christ’s body,
bringing new life to a suffering world.
The holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
bless you now and forever.
Go in peace. The living Word dwells in you.
Thanks be to God.