Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What Do You Want Me To Do For You?

“What do you want me to do for you?”
This is the very same question that Jesus asked James and John in last weeks Gospel.
In that case James and John want Jesus to give them glory.
They want Jesus to let them sit at his right and his left hand.
But today we have a different answer.
This blind beggar asks for healing, for wholeness.
Most important he asks to see!
The disciples are blind and yet they ask for power and prestige.
This blind beggar at least seems to know what he needs.
Do you?
Do we know what we need?

This is a great question for us to ponder together this morning.
What do we want Jesus to do for us?
What have we come here seeking?

This morning we will be witnesses to the Baptism of Noah.
We will be reminded that at some point in our life we too were drowned in these same waters.
In that moment God claimed us as his children.
And really it is God who continues to serve us.
God continues to care about us and ask is this question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

In 1517, a German Monk, named Martin Luther, changed the world.
He changed the way that people thought about God.
Many people in Luther’s day thought of God as angry and vengeful.
They thought that the only way to appease this angry God was to buy God off.
Luther himself saw God this way.
Luther believed that he was unworthy of God’s care and love.
And Luther wanted to understand.
Luther asked God to help him see.
And he was given insight into God.
God was not angry and vengeful.
God was merciful, filled with grace, and love.
God did not desire our demise.
God desired for us to see.
Luther once wrote, “Anyone who regards God as angry is not seeing God correctly, but has pulled down a curtain and cover, more, a dark cloud over His face.
But in Scriptural language “to see His face” means to recognize God correctly as a gracious and faithful Father, on whom you can depend for every good thing. This happens only through faith in Christ.”
Just to paraphrase what Luther wrote, those who see God as angry do not see God properly.
The problem is not God; it is how we see God.

This morning what we see is Jesus ready, willing, and able to give this blind man what he wants/needs.
This morning I would like you to think about times in your life when God helped you.
Those times in your life when you were down and out, those times you were angry, those times you were lost.
When were those times when God uplifted you?
When were those times when God gave you the ability to see better?

When are those times when God helps us to see mercy instead of judgment?
When are those times when we can see forgiveness instead of revenge?
When are those times when we can see love instead of hate?
Grace instead of law.

There was an article in Newsweek written by Dr. Eben Alexander.
Dr. Eben is a neurosurgeon.
By his own admission he did not believe in near death experiences of people traveling to heaven.
He contracted a rare bacterial meningitis.
It attacked his brain and left him for dead.
During that time Dr. Eben said that he went to heaven.
He explains in the article his experience in vivid and great detail.
In part of his journey an angel sits with him on the wing of a butterfly and tells him three important truths.
The message had three parts, and if I had to translate them into earthly language, I’d say they ran something like this:
“You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”
“You have nothing to fear.”
“There is nothing you can do wrong.”

Dr. Eben like Martin Luther was given the gift of sight.
He was able to see an important spiritual truth.
But we this morning don’t have to be a medieval scholar, or have a near death experience.
We can know these truths because they are spoken to us by God every day.
They are spoken this day to Noah as he is washed in these waters.
They were spoken to us on the day of our baptism.

The trick is not to lose that sight to be able to see the world, not through our eyes but through the eyes of Jesus.
Perhaps then all of our life can be like the blind man.
We can bet the one who knows that Jesus can save.
We will be the one who does not let people stop him from screaming and yelling to get Jesus attention.
The one who believes that Jesus can and will follow through on his promises.
Do we still believe it?
Do we believe that Jesus can heal us, save us, forgive us?
It is about sight.
Faith is about being able to see into greater truths then what is presented to us.
Faith is about being able to see.

I used to do this Bible study at a day center for seniors.
There was one woman, Hazel, who came to the Bible study who was totally blind.
But every time she would quote from Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength,
   a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
   though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
She would talk about not needing her eyesight because she saw God just fine.
Indeed she saw better than most people.
She knew that it was God that really was her resting place, not her health, wealth, or anything else.

Interesting it is Psalm 46 that Luther used as the bases to write the great reformation hymn, “A Mighty Fortress.”
Hazel, like Luther and Dr. Eben had gained sight.
These last four weeks we have been talking a lot about discipleship about giving ourselves over to God and about serving others.
Today we get the most important part of that equation how God serves us.
That it is God who gives us the insight to see the needs of others.
It is God who makes us whole enough to be able to serve others.
It is God who cares tenderly for all of us.
God says to us today, “What do you want me to do for you?”
God takes care of us so that we can have the strength, ability, and eyesight to be able to take care of others.
God stands ready to help us.
Are we ready to ask for help?

Part of our insight has to be into ourselves.
We have to be able to understand our own limitations.
We have to know that we can’t do it all.
We need help.
We need saving.
We are the blind man by the road asking Jesus for healing and wholeness.
And when we realize that then God is there ready to lift us up, gives sight, and healing.

Today we can go forth and ask God for what we really need sight to see as God sees us beloved children of God, so that we are made whole and healed.

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