Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab / window):
Psalms 43; 149, Exodus 10:21-11:8, 2 Corinthians 4:13-18, Mark 10:46-52
Mark tells the story of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who was sitting by the roadside when Jesus passed by on his way out of Jericho. When he realized it was Jesus, he began to cry out to him, but many people tried to silence him. Mark doesn’t identify these people who “sternly ordered him to be quiet,” but the implication is they were following Christ. The blind man’s persistence paid off when Jesus stopped to wait for him, then healed him saying: “Go; your faith has made you well.”
Have we ever been one of the silencers?
During Sunday worship as we follow Jesus down the road from the first hymn to the eventual benediction and dismissal, we aren’t generally fond of interruptions. How would we react to a blind beggar shouting out in faith in the middle of that Sunday journey? To a crying baby and exhausted mother? To a grieving widower who sobs when the joyful song we sing reminds him of the wife he just lost? Annoyed or uncomfortable, we may say something directly or simply rely on the pressure of the group to impose silence on their obvious need. Either way, the message is clear: don’t interrupt.
Perhaps we justify our reacting by telling ourselves they should wait for a more appropriate moment to express their pain. Yet what moment could be more appropriate than a gathering of the followers of Jesus? In worship or in everyday life, following Jesus means stopping where he would stop. If we won’t respond to need and pain until a convenient break in the scheduled activities … we’ve marched Jesus right out of town.
We can’t run down every single side street searching for blind beggars, but we must be careful not to ignore or silence the needy along our path because we insist on maintaining an inflexible agenda. They are not in the way; they are the way. Worship is more than prayer and praise; it is any expression of love and gratitude for God and his creation. Sometimes an interruption is an opportunity to do our most meaningful worship.
Comfort: Jesus hears your cries, even when others seem to ignore or silence you.
Challenge: God’s plans aren’t always going to be your plans.
Prayers: God of Mercy, teach me to be merciful to those in need. Help me hear their cries as I trust you to hear my own. Let me respond with loving words and deeds. Amen.
Discussion: Who do you think you have silenced, accidentally or intentionally?
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