Posted by Rev. Daniel Christian on July 22, 2017
We don’t have to look far and wide today to see the need for healing in our world. At our church we get weekly phone calls from people in Ukiah who are in need of assistance for shelter, food, safety, medicine and legal aid. Our devices keep us connected and deliver minute by minute news flashes that bring the most recent presidential ethics report. Wild fires continue to burn in our state. The list goes on and on. It is easy to throw our hands up and feel hopeless and cut off from any real possibility at healing our own lives, let alone our world.
But let’s not give up just yet. We have reason to be hopeful. How many of you saw last week the viral news story about the ‘Human Chain Beach Rescue”? Eighty people in Panama City, Florida formed a human chain one hundred yards long that went into the Gulf of Mexico. They needed to rescue ten strangers who were drowning in a riptide. Many of the rescuers were strangers to one another. They were different in gender, race, ethnicity, and yet in an instant all willing to put their own lives at risk to save the lives of people they didn’t even know.
The Human Chain Rescue points us toward the need for healing all begins with the individual human heart.
I am reminded of a passage from the book of Mark in the New Testament. Jesus and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem and stop in the city of Jericho. Jesus is not incognito. He isn’t anonymous as if he was wandering around State Street with a baseball hat and sunglasses. He is big news and is surrounded by people who are hoping and waiting for some life changing healing to happen. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus yells to Jesus. Keep in mind he isn’t the only blind beggar in town. There must be hundreds of blind beggars. Not to mention the lepers, the sick etc.
In other words, Jesus is entering a sea of human suffering and misery. They have been hearing about Jesus for a longtime and now here he is outside the gates of Jericho.
Jesus must wade through the humanity. Amidst the throngs, one voice is heard above all others. Shouts of the blind beggar named Bartimaeus.
Jesus stops and asks that he be brought over. This is a profound shift, because the human wall created by the crowd and disciples act to protect Jesus from the irritating, the sick and the pushy. People exactly like Bartimaeus. The disciples want Bartimaeus to shut up and go away. How many of us feel like that on a daily basis? Quit complaining and be quiet.
Jesus does something strange and amazing. He asks Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you”? Jesus doesn’t assume he wants his sight. He may have a whole health laundry list.
I heard this phrase recently, the “problem saturated story.” This is when we won’t name what we want or need. We tell the same hurt story over and over again of how we got hurt and who did it. We tell it in our heads when we drive. When we can’t sleep at 3 a.m., we tell it again. Each time we retell the story of our wound, we remember with great clarity how completely wronged we were. At some level it just feels good to make yourself feel so bad. Imagine severing the cycle of the “problem saturated story”. You stand up and shout, STOP! NO MORE! I WANT TO LIVE!
That is what happens with Bartimaeus. He sprang up and came to Jesus. Without missing a beat he says to Jesus, “My teacher, let me see again”? Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well”. Immediately Bartimaeus regains his sight. Bartimaeus says that he wants to “see again,” which sounds like he was saying he wants to re-engage in life again, pick himself of up from the roadside and live life the way it was meant to be lived.
Can you identify a relationship in your life, past or present, that is not complete. Where forgiveness or healing needs to take place, but the months and years have only caused greater distance and hurt.
The power of healing comes from wanting to live again. To shout out and say, “Have Mercy on me”.
The power of healing and forgiving is when we create room in our lives and hearts for the possibility that the Holy Spirit can breathe new and limitless life into ours. When we create room for healing, the valleys of racism and poverty and warfare can be filled in. The crooked roads of peace talks can be made straight. The rough pangs of hunger and disease can be made smooth.
We too, like those who formed the Human Chain or blind Bartimaeus have the capacity to stand up and say my life, your life has value. I want to shake off past wounds and reengage my life.
Have a happy weekend.
Rev. Daniel Christian is the Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah
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