Here are my initial reflections for a prophetic sermon on Mark 10:46-52 today. Whenever we read a healing story in one of the Gospels, we have a tendency to put ourselves in the place of the one healed. Somehow, this makes us feel better. We want to be like Bartimaeus and have our eyes (sometimes literally, usually figuratively) opened. We imagine Jesus asking us what we would have him do for us and then, magically, whatever ails us is cured, and we rejoice. This kind of over identifying with the one who is healed prevents us from learning important lessons imbedded in these passages.
What if we, who make up the Bodymind of Christ, start identifying with Jesus in these stories? Instead of waiting for magical healing or magical insights, what if we sought to be the healers – less literally and more actually. What if we stop and ask ourselves who is crying out for mercy on the sides of every road we travel? Maybe a better question is who isn’t crying out for mercy? Black folx cry out everywhere in this country. If we, as White church, were to ask what they would have us do for them, they might say, “Let us breathe. Let us live. Liberate us.” And then we are responsible for doing everything possible to ensure that this desire for justice becomes a lived reality by ending racist policing, shutting off the school to prison pipeline, and closing all the racial gaps. Maybe then, churches would be more multicultural.
Women cry out everywhere. If we were to ask them what they would have us do for them, they might say, “Let us decide what happens to our bodies. Pay us for the work we do. Liberate us.” And then we work to ensure that this desire for equality becomes a lived reality by debunking archaic theology, removing male bias in medicine, and ensuring that gender is not grounds for discrimination in the workplace or anywhere else. Maybe then, churches could come together in new ways.
First Nations Peoples cry out everywhere. If we were to ask them what they would have us do for them, they might say, “See us. Restore our lands and culture. Liberate us.” And then we work to prevent the destruction of more tribal lands with pipelines, increasing financial, medical and educational resources with reparations, and honoring and respecting all First Nations Peoples across the country. Maybe then, church could begin to repent and heal in meaningful ways.
LGBTQ+ folx cry out everywhere. If we were to ask them what they would have us do for them, they might say, “Love us. Free us. Let us live.” And then we work to educate ourselves and other, dismantle archaic, hate-filled theology, and not ignore (or sanction) violent hate crimes. Maybe then, church would embody a moral stance that makes sense in the modern world.
People with mental illness cry out everywhere. If we were to ask them what they would have us do for them, they might say, “See our wholeness. Welcome us. Embrace us.” And then we work to remove the effects of harmful, outdated theology, remove the disparities between mental illness and physical illness, and let go of misinformation and fear. Maybe then, church would be a welcoming, inclusive community.
People experiencing poverty and homelessness cry out everywhere. If we were to ask them what they would have us do for them, they might say, “Let us have homes. Feed us. Stop ignoring us.” And then we work to unhook healthcare from employment, ensure a living wage, and provide affordable housing. Maybe then, the church would be viewed as relevant in today’s world.
Immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers cry out everywhere. If we were to ask them what they would have us do for them, they might say, “Welcome us. Give us safe homes. Employ us.” And then we work to offer hospitality to all who seek to make this country their home, educate ourselves on religious and/or cultural differences, and endeavor to be good neighbors. Maybe then, church will be understood as embodying Christ.
People with disabilities cry out everywhere. If we were to ask them what they would have us do for them, they might say, “Build ramps, add elevators, take out pews, use technology to welcome and include us.” Then we work to create a world with universal access, make government disability payments enough to live on, and undo the damage done by archaic theology. Maybe then, church will have new life as the BodyMind of Christ.
There are other voices, too. What voices are crying out for mercy in our neighborhoods? When we ask what they need us to do for them, will we hear them? Moreover, will we do what they ask before expecting that they will follow us? Will we offer the mercy and healing that is needed or will we continue to offer what we think others should have?
It’s time we start identifying with Jesus in these healing stories if we want the church, the Body of Christ, to live into the future.
This is my only post for a Prophetic Sermon on Mark 10:46-52. But for other posts on this week’s RCL texts overall, see: Bidding Prayer for Vision from 2018, Bartimaeus, Black Lives Matter, and Blindness from 2015, and Does Superman Play Tetris from 2013.