Porter Taylor

Oct 28, 2018

Proper 25B


Let me start with a quote from the poet Wendell Berry:

            “To treat life as less than a miracle is to give up on it.”


Today we hear the story of blind Bartimeaus

            He is by the roadside.

            Which means he is not on the fast track to anywhere.

            He can see everyone else on their way to their important lives

            But he has nowhere to go.

I have been thinking about blindness in this country in 2018.

            And I think one version of it is that we have all joined some tribe

            We are the sons and daughters of someone---

just as Bartimaeus is the son of Timaeus---

and like Bartimaeus to some degree we feel powerless.

            We cannot see clearly why things are as they are.

            We cannot get in the flow of this country---

We know we belong to a tribe---

sons and daughters of Timeaus might be children of Republicans or Democrats or Libertarians or Tea Party or no party.


But there’s a sense that the world is passing us by and we can’t get in the flow.

Unlike Bartimaeus, our reaction is often a sort of fight or flight.

            We either find someone to blame---it’s Donald Trump’s fault

Or it’s Nancy Pelosi’s fault or it’s the gun lobbies fault or it’s Green Peace fault

            Or you fill in the blank.

The other option is just to let our world get smaller—

            We say to ourselves “I just won’t think about Washington or politics.”


So we either get angry or disassociate/  Fight or Flight.

But neither response gives us life—and neither opens us up for God’s grace


No—we must turn to God and call upon God to come to us.

And what when we call—we call for God’s mercy—God’s HESED

            God’s fierce LOVE---The love that is stronger than death.

            The love that raised Lazarus from the dead

The love that enabled women bent over to stand up straight and see people eye to eye.

            The love that gives vision to the blind and hearing to deaf

            And makes the world new and whole and alive.

We call upon that love because we believe it can change us and change the world.

            This is our first calling as Christians—to remember that God is God

            And just because we can’t figure out how to make the world right

            Doesn’t mean God cannot.

Now is a time for deep prayer---because in terms of the mess we are in---

            We have few resources or workable plans.

            “Son of David, have HESED on us.”

Indeed. It’s why we are here.

“To treat life as less than a miracle is to give up on it.”


First, we call out

And then we move our feet.

             Bartimaeus throws off his cloak and goes to Jesus.

If we want the Lord to work to change the world, then we must move towards Jesus

            And ask him to give us sight.

I read an amazing book entitled Rising Out of Hatred

It’s about a college student—Derek Black

who was a hard core Neo-Nazi---

As a teenager he posted articles on websites

talking about exterminating Jews and African Americans

            He said horrible things about immigrants.

But he in college he fell in love with a fellow student named Allison

            And his heart changed his head.

As long as he thought about categories of people, he could write anything he wanted

            He could rail against blacks and Mexicans and THOSE PEOPLE

            But when he thought about specific people---he could not write at all.

Because he had a different way of seeing and gradually he moved his feet.

It’s as if what he heard was “Take heart—get up—the Lord is calling you”

            And in his own way Derek Black said—“Let me see again”

It’s important to know that Derek Black couldn’t get out of his blindness by himself

His girlfriend Allison had to be willing

Both to see his goodness beneath his racism and words of hate

            But also to take the long work of reminding him of who he truly was.

            And she did that—not so he would agree with her—

            She did that because she loved him.

When we move our feet towards Jesus, we move our feet towards our neighbor.

            Like Paul---we move our feet towards Gentiles

            We move our feet towards those people we would overlook if not for Jesus

                        Not to change them—but to share God’s love with them.

Allison fell in love with Derek—and because she loved him., he changed.


We call upon the Lord—

Though his grace, we regain our sight and become agents of love

And then we follow where God’s Spirit leads us.

Jesus says “Go—and Bartimaeus followed him on THE WAY.”


Once we encounter the living Lord, we can’t go back to our old ways of seeing or being

            Derek Black has find a new way of being with his family

            And a new trajectory for his life.

Because once the Lord touches our hearts then we are called to be agents of love.


Remember---in our baptism this is what we promised the Lord:

            Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons?

            And we answered--- I will with God’s help.

And All is all. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer.

            Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi.

And the people who you ignore or who drive you crazy.

The good news is that God makes us new

and our newness enables others to start over.


Derek Black wasn’t the same person anymore.

            And that invited others to embrace a new way of being themselves.

Our calling as Christians is constant conversion—for ourselves and for the world.

We are blind; we gain sight; we help others

After a while we get blind again;

then others help us gain sight;

then we help others and on and on.

That means what we feel towards others is what Jesus felt towards Bartimaeus

And what Allison felt towards Derek.

Compassion—because we are all on this spiral journey towards heaven

            Together—that’s why we are here---to get to heaven by walking together

                        All the way to heaven is heaven.

If you dislike our world as it is---Love deeper.

            Call for Jesus to have HESED on me and you and those you pray for

Then move your feet to get closer to HIM and have him send you into a new land.

Be like Alison who loved Derek Black into wholeness

Be like Derek Black---who dared to change his life

            So that God could use him as a change agent for the world.

Remember Wendell Berry?

To treat life as less than a miracle is to give up on it.

            We cannot give up on it

            Because we know in our hearts—the Lord has not given up on any of us.