What Do You Want Me To Do? Sermon by Laura 10.25.15 Pentecost 22B

The story of Bartimaeus is Jesus’ last healing miracle in Mark’s gospel. Coming just before Jesus’ “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem, it’s a transition story wrapping up one section of the narrative while it points toward the next. In the story of Bartimaeus, we have a rich gathering of imagery and ideas about who Jesus is and what he’s about, as well as what it means for us to have faith and follow him. This story seems simple, but it has many layers of meaning, so it lends itself well to a prayer practice from Ignatius of Loyola, who valued the power of human imagination in deepening our relationship with God. The idea is that you use your imagination to enter into the story and find yourself as a participant in it, experiencing for yourself an encounter with Jesus Christ.

Now, I’m aware that this kind of prayer is a challenge for some of us, so let’s be clear: there is no way to do this exercise right or wrong, and I invite you to release any expectations you might have about how it will go.  If you have a new powerful insight, great; if nothing comes, that’s okay, too. Allow yourself to be present; invite Jesus to sit with you in any discomfort; breathe, rest and trust that God is present no matter what. Even if you fall asleep, well, God’s with you there, too.

So, let’s go. First, get as comfortable as you can in your seat and close your eyes.  Let’s take three deep breaths, Trinitarian-style,letting our bellies fill with air and soften and then releasing with our breath anything outside of this moment. Two more…one more…

Now, letting your breathing settle into a relaxed and regular pattern, begin to imagine a busy ancient street in Jericho…a regular thoroughfare for Jewish pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for the festivals…It’s a spring day, and you feel the bright sun on your face. You hear animals, and smell the dust rising from the road. Hawkers shout out what they have to sell, and beggars plead for alms. You hear the sounds of a large crowd, many feet stepping, and feel the buzz that someone special is coming, anticipation and the curiosity building on the street. Find yourself in this story as I read the text…

Mark 10:46-52

So…Where did you experience yourself in this story? Were you an observer, watching the whole thing? Were you on the street in the crowd? Were you on the roadside with Bartimaeus? Maybe you saw yourself as Bartimaeus, or maybe, if you were daring,you experienced the scene from Jesus’ point of view. Is there anything that surprised you about this experience?…

Here are a few thoughts I had, pondering this story from multiple perspectives. First, the disciples: how would you, one of Jesus’ “inner circle,” be feeling at this moment? You’ve been journeying with Jesus for many days, and you know it’s significant to be closing in on Jerusalem. Not so many days ago, Peter named Jesus “the Messiah,” and since then Jesus has been predicting strange things you can’t quite take in, using scary words like “suffer” and “be crucified.” You don’t really want to hear them, and they make no sense,
so you continue imagining that the moment you’ve been dreaming of is finally approaching, when Jerusalem is reclaimed and restored to the rightful King of Israel,and you, one of the 12, are at the center of power.

Then there’s the crowd. These are folks who have heard of Jesus, who are curious about him and want to be near him, who are carried along with the wave of energy his presence creates.  As a crowd member, it may be unclear to you why you are here. The buzz around him, the stories about things he’s done and said connect with you, but otherwise you are not particularly committed to Jesus. When you hear Bartimaeus calling out, the beggar’s voice at first feels like a dissonant interruption. And then, when you hear what he’s saying, it makes you a bit nervous. To call Jesus “The Son of David” is a pretty bold assertion that he really is the true king the Jews have been waiting for. It’s a politically dangerous claim, and you want him to quiet down before Herod’s spies or local Roman centurions hear anything and get everyone in trouble.

And of course, there’s Bartimaeus, a beggar with a curious name. It oddly combines Aramaic and Greek to mean the “son of Timaeus.” In naming him thus, Mark might be making a connection to Plato, who wrote a philosophical piece called “The Timaeus;” so I like to imagine that Bartimaeus before he was blinded, was a confused student of both Jewish and Greek ideas,  wondering about what’s truly true.

But what, if you are Bartimaeus in this moment, are you thinking? What is you’ve heard about Jesus convicts you now that he is the one, your true king? What is about Jesus that inspires your trust, that he can and will help you in your deepest, most desperate longings? What is it about him that compels you to shout against the crowd so that he will hear and see you?

Finally, there’s Jesus. If you are Jesus, you are pacing yourself, step by step, toward Jerusalem, aware of the big picture. You know that what you’ve been doing and saying will inevitably be recognized as dangerous by the powers-that-be. You know the time remaining for your mission of proclaiming and enacting God’s kingdom is limited, and you know that even your closest companions are not really “getting” it.

God’s ways are so different from human ways, turning everything upside down. Yet you have trust and courage; you are centered and focused; the affirmation God pronounced at your baptism rings in your mind with each step: “You are my Beloved Son.” Amidst the flurry around you, you are somehow able to rest and trust in those words, in their truth and promise.

When Bartimaeus causes his commotion, the crowd—presumably including the disciples—tries to shut him down. But I love how the text says that Jesus “stood still.” I imagine him as the still point in the whirlwind of emotions and expectations the disciples, the crowd, and Bartimaeus represent. It reminds me of another chaotic commotion, on the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus was the still-point, calming the Sea’s chaos and the disciple’s terror with authority.

Here Jesus uses that authority, commanding the crowd to call Bartimaeus, and a different kind of transformation takes place. I love how the crowd, obeying Jesus, goes from being a disinterested collection of people to a community of care and encouragement. I love how Bartimaeus goes from a disempowered beggar to a man of vision, doing what the rich man earlier in Mark 10 could not, flinging away his one possession, his cloak, as he springs with raw hope toward Jesus.

And I love the powerful question Jesus asks Bartimaeus, by which, perhaps, just perhaps, the disciples  are brought a teeny-tiny bit closer to understanding. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks. This is the same question he asked James and John, when they approached him a few verses earlier, wanting to be Jesus’ #1 and #2 courtiers when he kicks out the Romans once and for all. Jesus tells them their request is not his to grant, telling them, “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

What do you want me to do for you? It’s a beautiful question, says author John Dear, revealing not only that God truly desires to help us, but the very nature of our God: “In Jesus, we have a God who is humble, loving, and generous, a God who longs to serve humanity, especially in its brokenness, poverty and blindness.” Bartimaeus’ response shows his clear insight, his transparent humility, so different than the presumptions of the power-hungry disciples. Bartimaeus is graced with awareness that he is indeed broken and in need of mercy, and that Jesus is the One who can heal and restore him.

This question also shows that Jesus makes no assumptions. It may seem obvious to us that Bartimaeus will want his eyesight back, but I believe Jesus looks on him as Jesus looks on all of us, a human being in need but with inviolable dignity. Jesus’ compassionate vision can hold both our brokenness and the wholeness God intends for us, and he doesn’t presume to decide for us what we need most. It is up to Bartimaeus, as it is up to each one of us, to see and name our deepest desires for healing and wholeness, entrusting them fully to God in Christ.

My friends, Bartimaeus asks for what he wants and receives what he asks for. The disciples and the crowd are not yet as clear—not just about who Jesus is, but about who they are and what they truly want.

Where are you in this story? The good news of the gospel is that we have a King who has come to serve. Wherever we find ourselves today, we are invited to know ourselves as those who need his mercy, and we are invited to become aware of the mercy we need. Flinging away everything that stands between us and Jesus, we are invited to tell him, with profound trust, exactly what we long for, what we hope for, our deepest most desperate desire for new life.

I am convinced we will find it as we follow, like Bartimaeus, in Jesus’ way, a way that leads us from our blindness through suffering and loss into the wide-eyed wonder of resurrection faith by which we ourselves are blessed to serve and heal the world. Amen.

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Prayer for Humans like Us: Sermon by Laura, 7.5.15 Pentecost 6+ June with James

Scripture: James 5:7-20

“Where are we going?” I was following my Guatemalan host father, Daniel, and other elders from the Trinidad Glorioso Presbyterian Church, walking the dirt paths of their Mayan-Quiche village. “We are going to anoint our brother with oil,” Daniel replied. I was puzzled, not just by the language barrier, but also by the practice itself, which Daniel seemed to assume was self-evident, standard Christian practice. But though a lifelong Presbyterian, this was my first experience witnessing healing prayer done just as James counsels in the scripture today.

I found the scene both moving and concerning. The elders surrounded the sick man, reading scriptures, singing hymns, and offering prayers of deep passion and sincerity, closing by rubbing olive oil into his hands. I joined in as I could, but part of me stood aside in skepticism, thinking these humble Guatemalans seemed a bit naïve. I worried about how disappointed they would feel if and when their fervent prayers failed to accomplish the healing they so desired.

Looking back, I see now that my worry was less about them and more about me. I was uncomfortable with healing prayer, laying on of hands, and anointing, taught to be skeptical in my North American mainline Protestant worldview. I worried about their disappointment, because I’d heard tales of people in my own context; those that had left the faith, angry with God, even doubting God’s very existence; or those who heaped guilt on themselves for lack of faith, when it seemed prayers for physical healing had lacked results. Wouldn’t they all be better served by getting him to a doctor?

But then again, that question revealed that I was the naïve one, not yet grasping the realities my Guatemalan community faced. They had minimal access to medical care, and while they were very hardworking and resourceful people, in almost everything they did, they faced limitations imposed by systems of power and privilege from which they were at best excluded and at worst, actively oppressed.

Furthermore, the healing prayer they offered for their brother-in-Christ was only on the most basic level about alleviating his physical suffering. While they hoped and expected God to work through their prayer to heal his body, these Christians also trusted God to initiate other layers of healing. They recognized that this man might also need repentance from sin and reconciliation in estranged relationships, because sickness and sin are just different kinds of disruption to a whole person’s body-mind-and-spirit. They knew that there is healing for the whole community when a sick person is able to admit his vulnerability and speak the truth of his illness with others, trusting the community to join with him against whatever is causing his suffering. [i]

There are commonalities between the context of my Guatemalan community and the people to whom James originally addressed his wisdom. Early Jewish and Christian communities under Roman imperial rule faced persecution and systemic oppression, with their lives at stake daily. Suffering and emotional discouragement were just part of daily life in this context, and people struggled to maintain integrity of body, mind, and spirit. One scholar notes that while some illnesses were believed to result from personal sin, others were seen as the result of “uncontrollable external forces which sinfully pressed against the oppressed body of the poor and the persecuted.” [ii]

James, like my Guatemalan hosts, understands the Christian church as the place where a different kind of life could be learned and practiced, giving sustenance “in the midst of social disorder and oppression;”[iii]and in prayer, God could restore each person, inside and out, with sickness healed and sin forgiven.

This is the kind of community that James envisions throughout his epistle. Studying his wisdom over the past month, we’ve seen James address issues of divisiveness, warning against attitudes of partiality toward rich members; the slanderous use of words; and the dangers of boasting about ourselves or judging others. James counsels an attitude of humility, which Keith described last week as “living into the reality that God is everything.” James exhorts us that our outer actions reveal the truth of our inner faith, and that a central facet of true religion is caring for the most vulnerable people among us.

Today, we hear James call the community to a practice of prayer. “Let your ‘Yes’ be yes and your ‘No’ be no,” he writes, advocating a basic practice of speaking the unvarnished truth of one’s life and actions. Prayer is only possible if we can tell the truth about ourselves to God and others. The other actions of prayer James names are other forms of telling the truth: Can we allow others to know we are suffering or cheerful, sick or stuck in sinful patterns?

Such truth-telling is not easy in our culture. We expect adults to be independent, autonomous individuals who are self-directed and self-sufficient. We think we are supposed to have it all together, to stay in control of our bodies and emotions, and we’re continually convinced by consumer advertising that we should be able to fix every problem that might possibly cause suffering. When we get sick or a relationship goes wrong, we often experience a burden of shame, wondering what we—or someone we can blame—did wrong.

It takes courage to ask for others’ prayers. Many people resist it, even—maybe especially—in church communities. Mary Hinkle Shore asks, Is there any congregation in the whole Christian church on earth that you don’t have to leave when you are having a problem that you can’t hide? …Hardly anyone leaves church because things are going well for them.”[iv]

Our congregation has a strong practice of intercessory prayer for family and neighbors suffering loss or going through illness, our Prayers of the Community. To me, that time is often a highlight of our worship service, especially when we receive thanksgiving for our care and testimonies of healing.

However, even here we are understandably reluctant to ask for prayers when the cause of suffering is not sickness but sin. Yet according to James, confessing and praying for one another in our sins is equally as important as anointing the sick: “Anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”

It is a basic truth of the human condition that we are sinners. All of us, each and every one of us, sometimes sin against God and our neighbor in what we say, think, or do. Ultimately we cannot ignore, deny, or cover up these ways we miss the mark in living out of God’s love; we can only move through and beyond sin in the practice of confession. Confession is naming the sin in the presence of a trusted companion, and then accepting and claiming forgiveness as our new reality.[v]

For James, we are able to tell the truth of our lives because we know and trust in a merciful and compassionate God who is ever-ready to heal and forgive. Our community with one another is established on the level ground before the cross of Jesus Christ.  That’s why there can be no boasting or judging, no partiality or diminishing of one another; that’s why James calls us to move towards—not away from—those who have wandered away to bring them back into the community. There is justice and mercy for all in the presence of the gracious, self-giving “Judge who is judged in our place.”[vi]

Our awareness of our equal standing as sinners who are also God’s precious children makes those who live in Christ able to trust and act in ways vastly different from our surrounding culture, able to stand with one another in suffering which is not unusual but to be expected, able to stand together against the distortions of abusive systems or relationships; and able to speak the truth of our need for God’s compassion and mercy, thereby finding healing and forgiveness.

In closing, I offer you another story from my year in Guatemala. It was the middle of the night, and this time, I was the sick one, suffering from the usual traveler’s ailments. My host parents, sleeping in an adjoining room, heard me get up to the latrine multiple times. Back in bed, nauseous in the dark, there was a knock at the door. “Come in,” I said, wanting to tell them to go away, but also not wanting to offend my hosts. Daniel and Toribia and Fredy, my host parents and brother, along with two visiting church youth leaders, came in and gathered around my bed. They offered to pray. I agreed, though I was completely mortified by how public my, uh, internal issues had become.

I don’t remember their specific words, but I remember feeling awed by the sincerity and passion of their prayer for me, that I would find healing in their community. And I don’t remember being immediately and miraculously cured —it took a trip to the doctor and some Cipro—but I do remember a strange sense of relief and peace, that I didn’t have to hide my illness, that I wasn’t alone in it, that even as a stranger in a strange land, I was part of a community of people who believed in a God of healing and forgiveness, people who knew how to talk to God with trust and conviction.

And here’s my testimony 15 years after that healing prayer: that moment, when, uncomfortable and humiliated, I agreed to receive the care of people I’d just met, people I’d previously understood to be “poor” Guatemalan farmers somehow in need of my volunteer service, that moment began a journey of healing in Christ continuing to this day, in which I have learned and am still learning to lean into my vulnerability and accept my limitations, to recognize God’s presence with me in suffering, and to trust God’s acceptance and forgiveness, revealed in and through the people Christ has called together, a journey of healing that has been teaching me the depth and breadth of God’s love for me and every creature of this earth.

So on this day after “Independence Day,” I invite you to embrace and lean into our mutual dependence on the God of grace and mercy; I invite you to risk vulnerability and tell the truth of your weakness and limitations, to let others in to stand with you in times of sickness or sinfulness. May you be found when you wander and be brought back, again and again, to the true community of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One in Three, Three in One. Amen.

[i] Mary Hinkle Shore, http://www.pilgrimpreaching.org/2003/09/being_church-1.html

[ii] Christopher Michael Jones, http://www.theafricanamericanlectionary.org/PopupLectionaryReading.asp?LRID=52

[iii] Christopher Michael Jones, as above.

[iv] Mary Hinkle Shore, http://www.pilgrimpreaching.org/2003/09/being_church-1.html

[v] Kenneth Carter, http://day1.org/1436-to_make_the_wounded_whole

[vi] Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics, Vol. IX: The Doctrine of Reconciliation. Edited byG. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance. Edinburgh T. & T.Clark, 1936–1977.

Take a Good Look: Sermon by Laura, 6.9.13, Acts Series, Pentecost 3,

Text: Acts of the Apostles 3:1-21

“Why do you wonder at this,” Peter asks the gathered crowd, “Why do you stare at us?”

It’s kind of a strange question. Isn’t the answer obvious? There’s been a miracle, Peter. After all, next to Peter and John is standing—standing!—a man they knew to have been born lame. Just minutes earlier, people had seen him being carried to his post outside at the Beautiful Gate, the place he had made his living by begging.

Actually, most people probably hadn’t really seen him, as they had gotten so accustomed that they really didn’t notice him any more. They just occasionally dropped some pennies in his palm and moved on. Or maybe, as many of us have learned to do with beggars in our streets, the people actively avoided looking at him.

At any rate, if they gave it much thought, people would never have expected to see him inside the temple, not just walking, but jumping and leaping with God’s praises. It’s not just that he couldn’t get there himself.  His physical impairment limited his movement, but according to practices at the time, it also barred him from entering the temple. Clearly, something momentous has happened, and of course a crowd gathers. They want to take a good look.

There must be a human instinct that draws us to crowd around and stare when we perceive something important is going on, whether we are rubber-necking a highway accident or viewing a concert or a sporting event. These days, with 24-7 media coverage and cameras in every telephone, we don’t even have to leave our homes to gather and stare at spectacles across the world. But I wonder, what exactly are we looking for in our staring? Is it our curiosity that drives us? Are we looking for deeper meaning, connection with other human beings or a higher power, or do we just want to be entertained? Does so much looking actually lead to seeing?

Now, it’s interesting that Peter should mention staring, because this story is set in motion when he does just that. Notice how the author of Acts narrates Peter and John’s initial encounter with the lamed man. “When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.”

Why do we need three full verses of “seeing” action? Maybe to help us begin us to notice the difference between just looking and truly seeing. The man’s basic visual awareness of Peter and John is just enough to reach out to them for alms. He probably saw them from ground-level, because he was unable to stand and look them in the eye. He has learned, over his forty-something years, that this is all he can expect from relationships with other people. But Peter stops and “looks intently”—it’s actually the same Greek word used for the crowd’s staring—and he asks for more attention from the man as well. Even before Peter or John lays a hand on this man, they are actively choosing to invest in relationship with him in this intense exchange of attention—and they believe something more is possible from him and for him.  Maybe the apostles’ basic willingness to really see and be present with this man what sets his healing in motion.

But all this reciprocal looking also functions like a magnet for us listeners, drawing us to stop our relentless forward momentum and pay closer attention, too. “I have no silver or gold,” Peter says, “but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” Taking the man by the right hand, the text very carefully says that Peter “raised him up.” The Greek verb used here is the same used elsewhere to say that God “raised” Jesus.[1] We are meant to understand that what’s happening here is more than a healing miracle—it’s a resurrection.

Here’s a little personal testimony. As you know, my father, Ron, had a stem cell transplant for his multiple myeloma cancer this past Wednesday (going well so far, by the way). Now, a week before that, I had finally gotten around to reading some information about this procedure, and as it began to sink in to my brain just what my dad was about to do, I started to get anxious.

Last Sunday morning before worship, I was in our office, starting to study the scripture for today. I often begin by writing the text out by hand, because it slows me down and helps me to pay attention. As I was doing this, Randy Jones stepped in. Having listened to me talking about my anxiety, he offered care and encouragement. It’s not much, he said, but it might help a little to remember others who had gone through this procedure. Yes, I said, what a comfort it is to see David Fratzke in our congregation looking so well after having the same procedure. Randy smiled and went back to the sanctuary, and I turned back to my scripture study.

It might have been a passing conversation, but when I resumed writing, I had come to these words: “All the people saw him walking and praising God…and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” And I realized that, though I had been glad for David before, I hadn’t fully recognized the testimony of God’s healing he has been demonstrating to us. It was just a little holy coincidence, you might say, but those words about the man in Acts 3, set next to Randy’s words of encouragement, and David’s witness, suddenly became for me the Living Word. I felt like God was saying, “Look and see and trust: there will be healing for your Dad, too.”

Even more, I felt my eyes were focused again on something I lose sight of all too often, when I find myself plodding through mundane routines as if there is nothing much worth getting excited about in life. Maybe because of all that media coverage I mentioned earlier, I’m all too aware how much suffering happens, how many people are struggling, and how little it seems I can do to change things. God seems absent, and though I say I have faith, I often function as an atheist. But the truth is that the amazing work of God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, healing, restoring, and transforming the brokenness of our world takes place all the time, here and now, before our very eyes. Are we looking? Can we see it?

Sometimes we need a little help. I think that’s why Peter asks the crowd, “Why do you wonder at this?” I think he senses the crowd is looking without seeing. The healing is a sign, but signs are easily misunderstood. As Thomas G. Long notes, “Amazing as it was, the healing by itself was mute, ambiguous, and finally misleading. It took the proclaimed word to tell the whole truth.  The healing was powerful, but its true meaning was hidden until the sermon was preached.”[2] We, too, need the act and the Word together.

Now, when we hear Peter’s sermon, we need to remember that Peter is a Jew addressing a crowd of Jews, talking about a Messiah who was born, died, and raised a Jew. Peter is not taking a superior tone, telling this crowd stuff they don’t already know (how can he, when he himself “rejected” Jesus three times?). He is an insider exhorting his own people to look below the surface and come to a deeper, truer faith as God’s people. Peter wants his sermon to refocus their gaze so they may take a good look and come to truly see the crucified and Risen Lord.

His sermon is a Word for the Church as well, all of us Christian insiders longing to experience times of refreshment from the Holy Spirit. We, too, are prone to looking without seeing, to staring miracles in the face without full recognition. Peter wants to clear up some misunderstandings.

First, how often do we misunderstand the source of healing? It’s so tempting to believe that there are certain individuals with have special access to healing powers, especially when they want to make it all better for us for the low, low price of 19.99! Peter tells us, no: not by our power or religiosity was this man healed. Only by the power of God, the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whose purpose has always been gathering all creation into a harmonious community of security, well-being and joy, does healing come.[3]  Only by the power of the God we know in Jesus, the crucified and risen Christ, in whom God’s purpose comes to fullness, in whom the “times of refreshing” are already here, does healing come. Peter and John could heal in Jesus’ name because they were being healed in Jesus’ name.

Which leads to the second misunderstanding. So often we think God’s healing is special, an incredible exception in a dreary world. But from Peter’s perspective, today’s miracle is just one more extension of the resurrection power God set loose in the world in Jesus Christ. It is just another glimpse into something happening all the time, the deeper reality of God’s kingdom the signs of which are that “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”[4] It’s not the exception to the rule, it’s the rule of the Resurrection God, who takes exception to the brokenness and decay in a world created good, who is constantly about the work of restoring creation to wholeness and harmony.

And if that’s the deeper reality, than there is a third misunderstanding. Signs of God’s kingdom call for more of a response than the “Church Lady” might give: “Isn’t that special?” Tom Long writes, “Whenever we see signs of God at work in our world—someone is healed of cancer, a broken relationship is restored, a hungry child is fed, nations put down weapons and work toward peace, despair yields to hope—people of goodwill are full of wonder and joy. But Peter’s sermon lets us know that such events call for an ever-deeper response of self-reflection.God’s healing and restoring work discloses another world, another reality, another sovereignty shimmering amid the wreckage of a decaying culture.”[5]

Friends, we are called, not just to take a good look, but to become people who truly see that “shimmering.” We must become people of attention and imagination. And seeing clearly, we are called to speak and act. But words without action, action without words are indeed prone to misunderstanding. Above all, we must become people who trust in the Living Word, who know the Bible well-enough to recognize the promises of God jumping off the Bible pages and coming to fruition.

So how do we grow in these ways? The Acts church, devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer, gives us some direction. These practices help us grow to become those who look and truly see. And as we practice together, we grow together, becoming those who both pray and act for healing in every realm of our lives, and we become those who are blessed to give Christ’s powerful name as a gracious gift in the world.

May it be so, Lord Jesus! Amen.

 

 


[2] Thomas G. Long, Pastoral Perspective in Feasting on the Word, Year B, Vol. 2, David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, eds. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008, 408.

[3] Diana Butler Bass, quoting Walter Brueggemann in Christianity for the Rest of Us,110-111.

[4] Matt. 11:5

[5] Thomas G. Long as above, 410.