Archive | March, 2015

“What do you want me to do for you?”

29 Mar


Mark 10:46-52

AND… here we are, entering another Holy Week, called upon to remember, to reflect, to grieve, to engage the continuing mystery of what it means to identify as a Christian.

The rest of the Christian world has now marked Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I find myself this year not wanting to follow the crowd- typical of me, I know- but even with Jesus at the front; not wanting to shout in glee, and not wanting the Passion to unfold.

Nope. I wish we could just stay in Jericho for a bit. Why couldn’t you just hang around a bit longer Jesus? What’s the rush? What’s the hurry anyway to drink from that wretched cup?

I mean I “get” the Passion, meaning I have the superficial luxury that the original 12 didn’t have then, with respect to “knowing” what comes next, and why. But sometimes when I re-visit Mark’s Gospel, I feel like I am reading another Dan Brown novel (no disrespect!) and I just want to sit down. And….to belabor the point, remember that scene from the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers? “We’re not going no further till we’ve had a breather!” (Insert some dramatic, heavy British accent.)

“As soon as,” “immediately,” “And then,”… “And.” Mark’s Gospel moves at such a breathless pace, always in a hurry to get the whole story out.

But that’s life too, right? We live in such a hurried world, as we rush about, from task to task, place to place, Tweet to Tweet, Facebook post to Facebook post, meeting to meeting, email to email, report to report, person to person. And…. we, even as professed Followers of a 2000+ year new, not-of-the-flesh way of living, try so desperately hard to keep up.

We at least have Sundays, however. “Your Sunday services last how long?”

Ok, well, so much for the reflection to last past high holy days (or weeks) to grasp how God continually contributes to the whole of our lives, either within us, around us and even beyond us.

And…then there’s another fun-dark-of-the-flesh-worldly saying: be careful what you wish for; you may get it.

And then… my left cheek began to twitch ever so often…oh right, spots appeared in my eyes some time ago…and… then my left hand begins to jerk a bit..and…then something underneath my skin begins to bubble up and down, from my wrists, forearms, biceps, torso, cheeks, my shins, my calves; my left foot becomes numb. And then…ringing, in my ears, with my new center of gravity gently rolling front and back, like a ship at sea, amidst the waves. Did you see my pinky? My thumb? It just jumped. Did I just slur my sentence? (no alcohol involved) And then….medical leave.

Oh. The breather?


….Jesus stood still and said, “Call [her] here.” (See Mark 10:49a).

While Mark runs us ragged, he wants us to notice everything within the flurry of the activity, even the smallest things. Let’s look at some of the details Mark provides us about Jesus throughout the Gospel: we read Jesus is moved with pity, warns sternly, looks around with anger, and is grieved. He feels compassion, indignation, love and distress. He even sighs a couple of times.

And with Bartimaeus, he stood still. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Bartimaeus cries out…twice. No doubt all of us at times have wanted to say, “uh, hello God, just me here…um notice anything with me? I could sure use a sign here.”

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Really? Wait. Time out. You…finally- not immediately I’d like to add…stand still….AND…well, it’s obvious!

“The devil is in the details, isn’t it?” (I can actually imagine a bit of an amused sly, grin with that retort. And… I sincerely smile in return with that.) Right. The details is the stuff of faith and it brings out all kinds of feelings, reactions, and emotions. It certainly did for our Teacher when he was with us.

And….you know, not only are we called to be in relationship with each other, but also with the Triune God. This is to be an open, mutual relationship meaning we need to truthfully, name what we want, preferably during a time of extended, one-on-one time alone time with the Sacred. No, we may not get it, but having that open, mutual conversation (which includes a possible ‘no’ in return) actually deepens and even strengthens the relationship. Imagine how much further you get with someone you love when you say more than what you think you should say. And…it’s a way of expressing our limitations, our frailness, our weakness, our needs, our humility, indeed our flawed, imperfect, always screwed up, humanity before God.  This kind of understanding sets us free.

As soon as….I received confirmation that my bodily happenings would at most be a ‘simple’ chronic condition that may accompany me for the rest of my Earthly journey, The Last Song by Elton John came my way. It has been a part of my Lenten reflections this year for a variety of reasons, not just for what may be readily apparent.

Indeed, the ‘no’ can be heart breaking, painful (both physical and emotional) and confusing. Just as Jesus is fully human, he is fully divine. I embrace the miracles and find it quite unfortunate that our Western, rational, analytical ways have explained away the significance of the miracle stories. Paradox. Mystery. That’s the stuff of Holy Week. That’s the stuff of faith.

And…..even with our frail, weak, humanity, we are still called. By name. Perhaps like Bartimaeus we will…immediately… jump up, enthusiastically, throwing off our cloaks, or our worldly webs that prohibit us from fully following our Sustainer. Regardless how it happens, we decide to follow.

And….. let’s not forget the place of Bartimaeus’s healing and calling: just before that triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Just before the Passion. This underscores the central focus of Christianity: discipleship leads to engaging, to serving, to offering our gentle hands to humanity…we are led to places of inexplicable suffering….and shameful rejection.  To be still and re-focus, and to know Love sustains us, without need for vindication for our suffering and rejection, sets us free.

Right. I continue to misjudge Love. But that’s ok. Thanks for stopping and offering your gentle hands. I know. I know. It’s time to go. I may hobble as my skin still burns, but I’m with you… and…. now I offer my hands.

Later Jericho. It’s certainly been real.

The Last Song
(by Elton John)
Yesterday you came to lift me up
As light as straw and brittle as a bird
Today I weigh less than a shadow on the wall
Just one more whisper of a voice unheard

Tomorrow leave the windows open
As fear grows please hold me in your arms
Won’t you help me if you can to shake this anger
I need your gentle hands to keep me calm

`Cause I never thought I’d lose
I only thought I’d win
I never dreamed I’d feel
This fire beneath my skin
I can’t believe you love me
I never thought you’d come
I guess I misjudged love
Between a father and his son

Things we never said come together
The hidden truth no longer haunting me
Tonight we touched on the things that were never spoken
That kind of understanding sets me free