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?”
Readings and Psalm
- Jeremiah 31:7-9
The Lord gathers the remnant of Israel
- Psalm 126
Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy. (Ps. 126:5)
- Hebrews 7:23-28
Christ the merciful high priest
- Mark 10:46-52
Christ healing the blind man Bartimaeus
Restored by Grace
The word for today is restoration. Both the Old Testament reading and the psalm speak of God’s restoration of the people of Israel, gathering them from sorrowful exile into joyful community. The gospel tells the story of Jesus healing Bartimaeus, restoring his sight in response to his faith. Today we do not have the same understanding of “clean” and “unclean” people; however, those who are sick still need restoration. There are people who are hospitalized for extended periods of time who need to be restored to the community. There are folks in nursing homes who long for the connections they once had to a worshiping community. There are people in prison who are cut off. There are even people who have been hurt or disappointed by the church who need restoration.
This same Jesus, the letter to the Hebrews reminds us, is our great high priest who continually restores us to right relationship with God. This hope of restoration is echoed in the reading from Jeremiah. Here God promises to gather and restore the people of Israel from their exile.
This promise of restoration is acted out through worship. Much of what happens in worship is concerned with restoration. In the word, in the meal, in confession and forgiveness, we are restored to wholeness (and holiness) with God and with one another. In the sharing of the peace we act out the restoration and reconciliation we all need. In the Lord’s Prayer we ask, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” What is this if not a plea for restoration? This restoration is not through our own merit, but through the love of Christ and the faith we have been given.