A Reading from the Book of Job (42:1-6, 10-17)
Job answered the Lord: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring. The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. And Job died, old and full of days.
1 I will bless the Lord at all times; *
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
2 I will glory in the Lord; *
let the humble hear and rejoice.
3 Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord;*
let us exalt his Name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me *
and delivered me out of all my terror.
5 Look upon him and be radiant, *
and let not your faces be ashamed.
6 I called in my affliction and the Lord heard me *
and saved me from all my troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encompasses those who fear him, *
and he will deliver them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; *
happy are they who trust in him!
A Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (7:23-28)
The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark (10:46-52)
Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
by the Rev. Michael Kreutzer
Last Sunday afternoon, the Rev. Ruth Paulus, the Rector of St. Christopher’s in Fairborn, and I led the first in a series of discussions with a group of teens from our two parishes. It is part of their preparation for Confirmation. Six out of the seven young people were able to be with us that day.
Among other things, we let them know that these times together will be supplemented by several opportunities for direct service to some of those in need in our community. We explained that these service experiences are not simply nice add-ons to their Confirmation preparation, but times to put their faith into action: to be Christians, to act like Christians, to do what Christians do, instead of just talking about it.
Churches tend to do a lot of talking, and some of that is good. Throughout my many years of ministry, I have been an active promoter of learning about our faith, of ongoing education for all members of the church. But first and foremost, we learn to be Christians, not just by talking about it or hearing about it, but by living it: by going out and doing what Christians do, by following the example of Jesus.
In this morning’s gospel reading, Jesus heals the blind man, Bartimaeus. He enables him to see in a new and different and more complete way. St. Mark, in telling the story, frames the healing itself with two, key statements: first, “He is calling you,” and, second, he “followed him on the way.” Jesus didn’t ask Bartimaeus to begin his life as a disciple by attending a class or reading a book or memorizing a set of facts. He asked him simply to follow him.
That is typical for Jesus. In the gospels, whenever he calls people, he begins by calling them simply to follow him: “Come, and journey along with me. Do the things that I am doing. Feed the hungry. Care for the sick. Reach out to the outcasts. Comfort those who are suffering.” Essentially, Jesus’ catechetical methodology says that the only way to learn to be a Christian is by being a Christian, by doing what Christians do, by following the example of Jesus. We learn in the doing. The same thing is true in many other aspects of our lives as well.
And the same thing is true in our stewardship of God’s gifts of time, talent, and treasure. All too often, churches try to approach the topic of stewardship by attempting to get their members to be more committed, in a theoretical sense, to the church, under the assumption that they will then give more generously to the work of the church. But Professor of Theology and Episcopal priest, John Westerhoff, insists “It is simply misleading to work on the assumption that if people are committed they will give — and therefore to place our emphasis on seeking commitment. It is wiser to work on the assumption that if people give, they will become committed.”
Generous and active stewardship of everything that God has entrusted to us is a critically important way to become a more committed Christian, to come to join Bartimaeus and many others in following Jesus more faithfully.
Over my many years here at St. Mark’s, I have never ceased to be amazed by the many ways that the people of this parish live out the faith that we profess. And among the things that stand out for me are the so-called “Stewardship Moments” that we hear, usually on three of the Sundays this time of year. I have listened as dozens of members of this parish have shared with us the ways that they have chosen to give of the time, talent and treasure entrusted to them in response to all that God has done for them. But I have also listened as they have shared with us the ways that their giving of that time, talent and treasure has led them into a deeper spiritual life, a closer walk with Jesus and with their fellow believers. They have learned by doing.
They have recognized the many ways that God has blessed them; and then they have embraced the call that Jesus extended to a rich man in a gospel reading that we heard just a few weeks ago: the call to go, sell, and give, and then come and follow. And in that following, in that giving, in that living out of their faith, they have discovered that Jesus — of all things — knew what he was talking about: that it is in the living of our faith that we find new and greater life.
The portion of the psalm that we prayed together today, Psalm 34, included the psalmist’s challenge: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Walter Brueggemann and William Bellinger, in their commentary on that verse, point out that it uses “the language of experiment,” encouraging the hearer “to try out the divine protection and see if God is faithful.”