The word for today is restoration. Both the Old Testament reading and the psalm speak of God’s restoration of the people of Israel, gathering them from sorrowful exile into joyful community. The gospel tells the story of Jesus healing Bartimaeus, restoring his sight in response to his faith. Today we do not have the same understanding of “clean” and “unclean” people; however, those who are sick still need restoration. There are people who are hospitalized for extended periods of time who need to be restored to the community. There are folks in nursing homes who long for the connections they once had to a worshiping community. There are people in prison who are cut off. There are even people who have been hurt or disappointed by the church who need restoration.
This same Jesus, the letter to the Hebrews reminds us, is our great high priest who continually restores us to right relationship with God. This hope of restoration is echoed in the reading from Jeremiah. Here God promises to gather and restore the people of Israel from their exile.
This promise of restoration is acted out through worship. Much of what happens in worship is concerned with restoration. In the word, in the meal, in confession and forgiveness, we are restored to wholeness (and holiness) with God and with one another. In the sharing of the peace we act out the restoration and reconciliation we all need. In the Lord’s Prayer we ask, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” What is this if not a plea for restoration? This restoration is not through our own merit, but through the love of Christ and the faith we have been given.
Gospel: Mark 10:46-52
Bartimaeus comes to Jesus with faith, asking that he might see again. Recognizing Jesus’ identity, Bartimaeus is the first person to call him “Son of David” in the Gospel of Mark.
46As [Jesus] and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51Then 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.” 52Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. “