Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Today we gather with Christians all around the world that will light candles and remember loved ones who have died over the last year. We do this because November 1st has for at least 12 centuries been All Saints Day. This is the day Christians have remembered all those who firstly died as martyrs, and then all those great people of faith (saints) who the rest of us look up to and are inspired by. Today we are invited to recall those saints and how they inspire us in our lives today. Who is your favourite saint?
From the twelfth or thirteenth centuries All Souls Day was held on November 2 to remember all people of faith. So today we remember all those who have gone before us, who have paved the way for us, and especially those we have loved and who loved us. We honour their memory, and we give thanks for the ways they have blessed us over our lifetimes. As we do this we also take another step in letting them go, trusting that they now rest in God, as they have always.

In light of that we hear the startling picture presented in the book of Revelation. What is startling about it is that the writer of Revelation talks about God coming here, living among us mortals.  We often think of life after death as happening elsewhere. Rather than the faithful being taken off somewhere else, today’s reading offers a picture of a new heaven and a new earth with the new Jerusalem replacing the world as we know it. This world is renewed not abandoned. And this new world is built on God’s justice, mercy, goodness and peace. We are offered this reading today as a reminder that through the lives of the saints we are offered  glimpses of this new heaven and earth. How do our loved ones help us glimpse the new Jerusalem? How are we being invited to allow others to also glimpse life as God intends it in the way we live our lives?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Seeing the Person

Can be listened to here

Gate Pa – October 25, 2015
Pentecost 22 - Ordinary Time 30

Psalm                          Psalm 34:1-8                                                              
First Reading:                         Job 42:1-6, 10-17                   
Second Reading:                    Hebrews 7:23-28                    
Gospel:                                    Mark 10:46-52

What I want to say:
How easy it is to read these stories and not see the people involved. But Jesus does see the person, the blind Bartimaeus, and asks him what he wants. How do we not see people? How are we ourselves not seen? What
What I want to happen:
People to reflect on what prevents them from seeing other people as people, and how they are labelled

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

For the last few weeks we have been hearing from central section Marks gospel
            starts with story healing of blind man – takes two goes
                        after the first go everyone looks like trees
            then three blocks teaching about upcoming crucifixion and resurrection
            among stories how disciples respond to that
                        telling him off
                        or as heard last week –
                                    asking right to sit at Jesus left and right hand side
section ends with Jesus following Jordan down to Jericho
            bottom of the steep road up to Jerusalem
and as he is leaving a blind man – Bartimaeus – hears he is going past
hears that it is Jesus the Nazarene going past
title has hint of snobbery about it
            that Jesus comes that hole – Nazareth
but also hint awe
            that Jesus
Bartimaeus calls out something very different
            Jesus son of David have mercy on me
sounds all good to us
            in those days – not title heard often
            using kind thing that could get you into serious trouble
            David the king is not romantic figure long ago
            great king Israel
            his son will be messiah who will
                        overthrow Herod
                        crush Romans into dust
talk of insurgent – we might say
so he is told to be quiet

     2.     The Outcast

he is also blind
we don’t know much about Bartimaeus
            know his name – actually really big thing
            why did Mark include that?
            know he was blind
so we and most commentators simply see him as blind man – Bartimaeus
pretty much same all those people around him
he was just that blind beggar
we don’t know when we became blind – birth or latter
we don’t know how much grieved either life led when had sight
            grieved for his place in family, in his community
            for all that was gone
or life never had because blind
he was now blind
            many ways already dead
            on edge
            outside community
            outside of God’s care
those around him he is just blind beggar
to be ignored mostly
to not be seen
whose place is to be silent
Many ways
how we and commentators read this story is no different
those people Jericho in story
Bartimaeus not person
simply bit part in story
beyond his healing is of no value

     3.     Jesus

But Jesus hears him
hears person Bartimaeus
will all his grief and hopes           
and invites others to see him as well
says people who do not see him
            "Call him over."
then Jesus asks very simple question, "What can I do for you?"
when was last time anyone asked Bartimaeus that questions
            what was that like for him?
only a few verses ago Jesus asked James and John the same question
this time it seems so seems so redundant
            heal him of course
would we ask?
whether we would assume
Jesus does ask the question
because to ask is to recognise that he is a person
            with his own fears, hopes dreams
allows this Bartimaeus to speak for himself
            name what he wants for himself
When he is healed
this once blind Bartimaeus follows Jesus on the way
            the way up to Jerusalem
            the way to the cross
unlike James and John
Bartimaeus gets it.

     4.     Today

we too live in world people reduced to labels
On Wednesday night some of us attended the Closing The Gap
one things struck me how easily reduce people to label
            people who work factories/warehouses – labour cost
                        idea being employers want drive cost down
                        easy when seen simply as cost
not cost – these are real people with ambitions and hopes, fears and struggles
sadly, too often we fail to see the people
works other way too
we are all guilty of not seeing people around us.
applying label
which then allows them to not see them as people
ask myself
do I see homeless man who has lived in our porch for 2 months
            as person
            own hopes and dreams
            hopelessness of being in his cardboard box
homeless man living in our porch

we are all victims of being labelled
just finished reading Being Mortal – by Amercian surgeon  Atul Gawande
looks at Medicine in America and what matters in the end
critiques own profession and rest home industry
            reducing people to medical problem that needs to be solved/cured
            even when there is no solution
too often in America lose sight of the fact that not just medical problem
            person with medical issue
            brings all hopes and fears with them
                        own hopes how their story will end
labels prevent doctors seeing the people
            everyone is the worse for it

     5.     Conclusion

This story of blind person, Bartimaeus is about us
we are in crowd – telling this beggar of no consequence to be quiet
wonder who Jesus inviting to see as people
             to call today, tomorrow
asks us – who is it we label and dismiss?
We are Bartimaeus – labelled
            our personhood belittled
            reduced to other people’s categories
            our hopes and fears lost.
Jesus says to us – what do you want?
            what is it you want?
            what is it you fear?
where are you in this story?
what is Jesus saying to you today

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What prevents us truly seeing?

Meister Eckhart, fourteenth century mystic said, “Some people want to see God with their eyes like they see a cow, and to love Him as they love their cow. They love their cow for the milk and cheese and profit it makes them. This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do no rightly love God when they love him for their own advantage. Indeed, I tell you the truth, any object you have on your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inner most truth. God, rid me of God. “
Job and his friends obeyed God for the life promised in reward. The disciples followed Jesus in the hope of being on the winning side when “the messiah” won the day and the life promised in reward. They were like the blind man that Jesus took two goes at healing, who saw giants. It would take a lot, a confrontation with God, a crucifixion and resurrection before they began to see as clearly as Bartimaeus. It takes time to see properly.
These stories are filled with people only understood as categories and not as people. Job’s so called friends stopped seeing a friend and instead saw a sinner. And with the sanitised ending attached later on to make Job more palatable, do we see a person still grieving for all that was lost despite what new life is restored, or just a good person rewarded?
The person, Bartimaeus, gets lost too amongst the others healed. He stops being a real person and becomes a way Mark can make a point. We fail to see his despair and grief over a life lost, or a life never lived because of blindness. Jesus truly sees him and invites those who see Bartimaeus only as a noisy beggar whose place is on the edge and in silence, to call him. Jesus does not assume he knows this Bartimaeus or what he wants. He invites him to speak for himself and to name what it was he most deeply desired. When asked the same question James and John wanted power, wealth, and honour. They are the blind ones. Bartimaeus wants life. And he follows Jesus on the way of/to the cross to that life.
What is it we need to be rid of? Who do we not see? What blinds us to the people around us who we conveniently label? What prevents us truly seeing?