The Prescription of All Believers

“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?”

That’s a quote from a radio broadcast in the novel All the Light We Cannot See.

Those words stick in the character’s brain and resurface later in the story. And they resurfaced for me as I was reflecting on this week’s Gospel reading about Bartimaeus, the blind man begging for mercy from Jesus and others.

A man who lost his sight and now lived in utter darkness.

Like it might have been at the beginning before God spoke and there was light.

Like it might be for so many this morning, a mere day after another vicious shooting in a house of worship, only days after bombs were sent political opponents, only a couple short years after their political opponents were gunned down in a baseball field. All of this, while families are fleeing the violence of their homeland seeking asylum like the millions who’ve been welcomed before them; all of this while millions of trans and non-binary persons are at risk of being erased.

Violence, injustice, despair.

Darkness of a different sort. A darkness that’s heavy and difficult to navigate.

Now, I don’t know what it’s like to live as person without sight, like Bartimaeus, but I imagine it’s not dissimilar to what so many are feeling today: fear, desperation, anger, pain.

And it’s into that moment that God shows up and speaks again.

Like it was in the beginning when God spoke and there was light.

So, it is with Bartimaeus, that into his darkness, Jesus speaks, and there is light.

“Your faith has made you well.”

Even in his physical blindness, Bartimaeus still saw, with eyes of faith, that the God in front of him could make all things well again. So, Jesus did.

And for us, so often the darkness of violence and fear and despair can create a blindness in us too, not physical, but spiritual. Eyes that can no longer see the hope of something better, of something not yet realized. It can paralyze us spiritually, causing antipathy or animosity that is really just an atrophy of our faith.

But it’s into this moment that God shows up and speaks again.

Like it was in the beginning when God spoke and there was light.

Like it was with Bartimaeus when Jesus spoke and there was light.

So, it is with each of us, in our spiritual blindness or paralysis or indifference or over-achievement that God speaks, and there is light.

It is our faith in this ever-present God that will make us well. That will make our spirits well again, but also our world.

I’m not speaking of a blind faith like “thoughts and prayers” that everything will get better. But rather a bold faith that we embody, that says “no more” to the encroaching darkness of violence and injustice and despair.

A brave faith that lives like Jesus taught in the passages we’ve been studying the last several weeks. That sees individuals before achievements, that values people over possessions, that subverts the status quo by redefining greatness not as climbing to the top but by serving at the bottom.

A kinetic faith that doesn’t suffice in only tearing down systemic tyrannies of injustice, but that also seeks to build bridges and create new ways of living together like the Creator has always desired for us.

“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?”

So how, friends, do our hearts of faith build for us a world full of light?

Well, the kin-dom of God is like fireflies, who as the darkness settles begin to light up, not the whole sky, but their little piece of it, finding each other along the way. So, it is with us, our one life won’t change the world, but it will illuminate our little piece of it, and together, our lights will find each other, find others, and make a difference.

by Tokyo Hotaru

And so, in the darkness we show up.

And together we begin to speak:

That we will truly see one another, hear one another, love one another

And there will be light.

That we will fight the opioid crisis that harms so many people,

And there will be light.

That we will listen for ways to amplify the voices of the marginalized,

And there will be light.

That we will mentor students in reading and writing and math,

And there will be light.

That we will create opportunities for English Language Learners at our church,

And there will be light.

That we will provide opportunities for professional training, resume help, and interview tips for people who are unemployed or underemployed,

And there will be light.

That we will work alongside our refugee, asylum seeking, and immigrant neighbors to ensure that they are not just welcomed but thrive,

And there will be light.

That we will spend more time getting to know people who are different than us, so we can further humanize them in our minds and hearts,

And there will be light.

That we will stand with people experiencing inequity and demand they receive just and equal treatment,

And there will be light.

That we will work with other faith communities and adopt a school to do outreach at, to mentor and tutor students, and to help keep up,

And there will be light.

That we will lend our congregational expertise to help people with legal, financial, educational, and health-related needs,

And there will be light.

That we will stand with those who experience discrimination and bullying, whether they are queer, gay, lesbian, bi, trans, non-binary,

And there will be light.

That we will work with the veterans shelter to be sure they aren’t forgotten,

And there will be light.

That we will help facilitate conversation around preventing senseless gun violence,

And there will be light.

That we will try to eliminate the burden of debt for people living under the weight of credit cards and student loans,

And there will be light.

That we will host regular food drives,

And there will be light.

That we will work with elected officials to provide affordable housing in our city for those experiencing homelessness or stuck in the in-between, and in the meantime offer assistance as we are able,

And there will be light.

That we will wake up to our areas of privilege and work to end racism and xenophobia,

And there will be light.

That we will provide space for people to clean their laundry, either in our building, or by sponsoring a laundromat,

And there will be light.

That we will implement a back-to-school market for children to pick out school supplies that are affordable,

And there will be light.

That we will use our stage in Gordon Hall for open mic nights and slam poetry events to amplify the voices of those in our community,

And there will be light.

That we will develop a program that distributes restaurants’ unused food to those who are experiencing hunger, and in the meantime continue to serve at the Mustard Seed,

And there will be light.

That we will use our kitchens to provide cooking lessons, chef training,

And there will be light.

That we will buy monthly bus passes for refugees to use,

And there will be light.

That we will adopt a neighborhood parking lot and keep it up because it reduces gun-related crimes by almost 10% and increases property values of the neighborhood by almost 20% simply with upkeep,

And there will be light.

And on and on and on. These are your ideas, that you, wrote out over the past two years in various forums and prayer times. These are your hopes, your acts, little lights that find one another, that light up the darkness one act of kindness, one act of faith, at a time.

So how, friends, do our hearts of faith build for us a world full of light?

They who have eyes to see, let them see.

And let them speak.

And let there be light.

Amen.

Prayers of the People

How is your spiritual vision?

Do you have eyes to see?

Do you have faith to believe?

May this day, O God, be the moment our eyes of faith were opened again. May this day mark the blossoming of our seeds of faith. May this day be the time we’ve been waiting for, when our faith, by your work, begins to make all things well.

Grant us the boldness to believe, the bravery to act, the imagination to implement the ways in which your Spirit is already at work in this your world. Give us meaning in our lives, beyond our possessions and achievements, but in our faith, that others might know of this God who is for us and with all of us.

And even as we imagine these ways forward together, we do so mindful of the acrimony, antipathy and animosity around us. While our own neighbors are being targeted, be they trans or non-binary, Jewish siblings, or political opponents, our world is still as it always has been, violent, divisive and unkind. May we be like Jesus was: kind, thoughtful, curious, inclusive, humble, serving, sacrificial. May we be who Jesus has called us to be, kind, thoughtful, curious, inclusive, humble, serving, sacrificial. May we be the people our world needs right now: kind, thoughtful, curious, inclusive, humble, serving, sacrificial people.

Grant rest to those who have left us this week, through tragedy and no fault of their own. Grant that they might be at peace, and provide comfort to those who are suffering.

Sermon preached October 28, 2018 at FBC Worcester, MA

Mark 10:46–52

I'm a writer, and I enjoy dabbling in photography. I'm also a progressive minister, enneagram 4w3, ramen enthusiast, and human to my best dog Zooey Deschanel

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store