Worship April 11, 2021
All: We come with hearts bowed and bodies bent shouting “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us”!
Leader: Just like blind Bartimaeus did,
People: Just like the lame and oppressed did,
Leader: Let us have the courage to ask as Jesus asked,
People: What do you want Jesus to do for you?
All: God, call us and use us for your glory so others can be healed in Jesus’ name.Opening Prayer
Holy One, still us this day to encounter your presence in our worship and in the world. Ready us to hear your voice as it speaks to us in ways that are sometimes dramatic, often ordinary, and always meaningful.
Help us also to hear you through each other, and especially through those whom we sometimes, in busyness or pride, forget to listen to.
Hymn UMH #601 Hymnal Thy Word Is A Lamp
Scripture Mark 10:46-52
The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus
46 They 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. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 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.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 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.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Meditation Hearing Other Voices
Focus Statement: We can be so busy on our mission that we stop listening. Yet, as Christians, we cannot fully engage in our mission without taking the time to hear the voices on the side of the road.
Someone of you know because I probably have told you that I thought I was a pretty good mom. I had rules and we followed them – usually. The how to raise your children books said we should have schedules, so we had schedules, you know wake up at a certain time, on-time for school, homework soon after school then play time and dinner at 6 and bedtime at whatever the “experts” said was appropriate for the age.
Since both Rod and I worked and we both traveled some for work I once asked the kids “which do like better when mom is gone or when dad is gone”? I know not a fair question, but I asked it anyway? Their answer was a bit of a shock – they said hesitantly “when you travel’. Of course I couldn’t leave this alone, so I made them tell me why and they replied, “because dad is more flexible than you are”. Well so much for that!
And back to my being a good mom I attended all the activities, I was active in the parent teacher organization, I was on the board of directors for the choir that my kids sang in, and the list goes on. But one situation has stuck with me, a time I did not listen to my son. Not only did I not listen I was so busy not listen that I would not let him talk.
So here is what happened. Our son was in 6th grade. He got the bus and came in the door and for some reason I was right at the door. He was excited and the first thing out of his mouth was “today we learned about when girls get their monthly…, well you can figure out what he said.
I don’t know if I was in denial that he was already old enough to get “the talk” at school or if I was so caught off guard, I just didn’t know what to say. Although I heard the words, I never let him finish. I never allowed him to say what he wanted to say.
He came in the door so excited, and I stopped it. I did not listen but instead I kept to my “good mother” agenda and stopped him dead in his tracks. I refused to listen and instead ushed him into the house and distracted him with – I don’t even remember what. I was so focused on not hearing, that I missed an opportunity to connect with my son.
It is very likely that you also have stories about times in your life when you were so focused on a task that you missed an opportunity to connect with someone.
We as a church can be so focused on our “plans” that we ignore the people along the way, especially those who we perceive as “different” from us in some way, or perhaps many ways.
This can be true even when we have the best intentions of serving others.
In the late 1980’s a twin cities Methodist church decided to open a day care center in their building. Opening day care centers in churches was becoming a common practice in the metro area during this time.
This church building was well suited for a daycare and the neighborhood was in need of a safe and convenient location for many families.
As happens with many start-up ventures it was a struggle, a struggle to secure state licensing, a struggle to find, train and maintain staff and a struggle to fill the openings. Eventually the center was up and running.
After a few years the congregation experienced some cashflow challenges. These financial problems were not necessarily caused by the daycare center, but the congregation lost track of why they had opened the center in the first place. Instead of focusing on the mission of providing a quality, loving, Christian environment for children and families the focus changed to how do we meet our financial obligations.
As the congregation’s focus changed from this neighborhood mission, they had started, to their money problems the childcare center felt the change and it also began to have some challenges.
There were a few years that the longevity of the childcare center and the longevity of the congregation were both in question. Eventually after a change of leadership within the church the focus seemed to change back to the original mission.
Today the philosophy and mission of this childcare center reads …
The ___ Child Care Center is an outreach ministry of ________ United Methodist Church. It is our goal to provide quality childcare in a loving, Christian environment. We provide a nurturing, educational, safe and respectful environment in which children can become aware of their full potential.
This church lost its missional focus for a period of time but thankfully they found their way back and the childcare center is thriving.
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. Bartimaeus, an outsider of society, was blind. His life would have been terrible and filled with suffering. He couldn`t work because he was blind. Therefore he had to beg. People would have mocked him, ridiculed, and scorned him. He would have often been hungry and probably cold. He would certainly have felt lonely. At the time of Jesus, and in that society, blind people were like outcasts. Their lives were very difficult.
Bartimaeus and an unidentified companion were sitting outside Jericho when Jesus and a crowd came along. Bartimaeus inquired what the excitement was. He must have known who Jesus was or the stories about Jesus because when he was told who was near, he began shouting: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Correctly naming who Jesus was demonstrated that he had a voice and knew how to use it in the world, despite the fact that he was blind and poor. While not everyone has a voice (some people are nonverbal), we all have value and inherent worth, regardless of our differences and what others may think of us.
Marginalized people are often able to recognize the presence and the work of God and connect with it in ways that advantaged people do not, just as Bartimaeus identified Jesus as the Son of David and called him into this sacred moment of healing.
Even though Jesus was on his way to face his biggest challenge, just prior to his triumph entry into Jerusalem, he stopped to listen to Bartimaeus. The people following Jesus tried to quiet Bartimaeus because they were focused on the task at hand, but Jesus stopped to listen.
Jesus did not just use his ears but listened with his heart and his spirit. He was open to who Bartimaeus was and what he may need. He did not presume to know what Bartimaeus needed, just like we don’t presume to know what someone who is different from us may need.
Jesus made room for Bartimaeus by asking “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus demonstrated that we must first make room in ourselves: in our hearts, our churches, and our communities, before we can receive others. We should not assume we know what a person needs based solely on our own worldview or cultural perspective.
Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, which was of great importance to him, it was his warmth and protection, maybe the only thing he owned. He was willing to give up what was meaningful to him in order to go to Jesus, to respond to Jesus calling him.
What things of value (e.g., traditions, worship styles) may we need to give up to respond to Jesus’ call on our lives in this moment? Are there things we cling to because they make us comfortable, but that might be hindering our call to faith?
In today’s society, with information coming at us from all directions, it is important to stop and listen. Have you ever just stopped what you were doing to listen? I clearly did not stop to listen to my son all those years ago and I wish I had.
Ask yourself to identify times that you have not stopped to just listen. Perhaps you have missed the singing of springtime songbird. Perhaps you have missed the meaning behind a question hesitatingly asked. Perhaps you have missed the spirit talking to you while listening to the Praise Team or reading the words of a hymn. Oh Lord help me to listen!
Hear and respect the voices of all those with whom you come into contact. Keep your heart open to where God is already present and how God is already moving.
What voices are we as a church not hearing or are resistant to hearing? Is it the voice of the little children? Perhaps it is the voice of the senior citizen? Is it the voice of lonely? Is it the voice of the hungry? Are we hearing the voice of the addict? Is it the voice of the scared?
How would our church be different if we listened to those voices? How can we as a church be more intentional about hearing the voices on the edge? How would our church community and ministries change if we incorporated these voices?
In light of our encounter with Jesus, how is God calling us to make space for others as a church, as a community and as a world? This week think of one or two ways to become more aware of the voices on the side of the road – those on the edge. Once you have identified the voices share with each other how we can create space for them. Amen
Pastoral Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer
Please pray with me
Lord, as a local church, give us eyes to see your activity in our individual and collective lives. Give us the humility in our hearts to recognize how you hold everything in your hand. That all good things come from you. Despite our best efforts, it is all a gift. Give us eyes to see that you are doing something today, and you’ll keep doing your work tomorrow. Move us to respond to your invitation; an invitation to join you. Not just to join in on the work, but to do the work with you. To live into the “with God” life that you offer.
Lord you are so near and yet sometimes seem so far. Lord you invite us to name our struggles, our failures, and doubts. You are big enough to hold us as we, sometimes unwittingly and sometimes very consciously hold them. As a good father you invite us to bring them to you. In your patience and love, we can feel safe.
Lord, there is so much going on in your world. It can sometimes feel overwhelming. We often feel helpless and frequently don’t know exactly what we’re to think or feel. Lord I pray that our hearts, minds, affections, would not be hijacked. Help us to interpret the world through Gospel eyes, which are categorically different from the polarization in our culture today. The Gospel is a third way and isn’t right or left. It is other. Give us the courage to know and live into this, potentially setting us up to be rejected by others. Help us to embrace our identity as resident aliens. As people who belong to an entirely different kingdom. Give us the grace and wisdom to discern the difference.
And together in the name of Christ, we 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, forever. Amen
We get so focused on doing things the right and proper way that we tend to forget that God sometimes speaks to us in quiet and ordinary ways. Today, may we open our eyes to witness the many places of need around us, the places of loss, loneliness, of grief, of pain, of questioning. Let us give to make an impact in these places, to build your kingdom right where we are.
Special Music Word of God Speak Words and Music by Marc Byrd and Steve Hindalong arranged by Russell Mauldin
Prayer of Dedication
God of love and compassion, we give you thanks for your son, Jesus, who came and dwelt among us, showing us how to
love one another and to care for all people. Help us to seek to help others as Jesus did, by asking their true needs and
not assuming we already know what they need. Multiply these offerings for use in bringing forth the kingdom of God on earth. Grant us wisdom to always be good stewards of all that you provide us. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.
Hymn TFWS #2221 In Unity We Lift Our Song
Go now to follow the way of Jesus:
see others as he did;
dare to give freely as he did;
and to love unconditionally as he did.
Go, embraced by the Source of life, love and hope;
in the company of the Word of life;
encouraged by the Breath of life. Amen