Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch and heal him. Taking the blind man’s hand, Jesus led him out of the village. After spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on the man, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” The man looked up and said, “I see people. They look like trees, only they are walking around.” Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again. He looked with his eyes wide open, his sight was restored, and he could see everything clearly.
This Sunday, November 11, I am continuing my series of sermons entitled Next90. We began the series last Sunday on All Saints’ Sunday when we celebrated the lives and the faith of those who have gone before us — a Great Cloud of Witnesses. We especially looked back on the past 90 years — from the time the members of this church broke ground on our present facilities until today. We celebrated those courageous men and women who stepped out in faith to enable the ministries of the church to thrive for the next 90 years. This Sunday we’ll take a good look at where we are today as a congregation.
The passage of scripture above from the gospel of Mark operates on two levels. One level is the plain text of the story of a healing of the vision of a particular man in a particular place. However, there is another level to that story. It is the meaning of that story in the lives of individuals and in the life of the Christian communities of faith down through the ages. The touch of Jesus gives us vision to see clearly. Sometimes it takes more than one touch for us to see people as people and not as things.
When we look around us today as a congregation, what do we see? Do we see clearly the call of Jesus on our lives to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves? To love our neighbors means that we see them as precious children of God.
Last week we looked back at how those who were part of this church and leading this church during the past decades faithfully and courageously served. This week we take a good look around us and remember God’s call on our lives today. We come to worship, we study, we pray, we serve, we fellowship with one another, and we give of ourselves as disciples of Jesus. It is in that fellowship that we experience the touch of Jesus to see others and he himself sees them and to respond as his Body, the Church, the Body of Christ today.
The more clearly we see Jesus, the more clearly we see our neighbor and the more clearly we see who God is calling us to be and what God is calling us to do in our time.
Over one hundred years ago, Albert Schweitzer wrote his famous work, The Quest for the Historical Jesus. The last paragraph speaks to us today:
He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lake-side, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: “Follow thou me!” and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.
That call, “Follow thou me!” comes to every generation and when we answer that call, Jesus “sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time.” Sunday we’ll think about those tasks together.
I want to remind you of an important opportunity to learn more about the vision for the Next90, in particular the vision for the facilities of our church. Facilities do exactly what the word means: they facilitate. The question is how will we facilitate the continued growth of our ministries going forward in our time? I invite you to come to the information session on this Sunday afternoon, November 11, at 2:00 in the Sanctuary. We set the time at 2:00 so that you can go to lunch after the morning Sunday School and Worship times and return for the meeting. I hope you’ll plan to come and learn more about the vision that our Building Study Committee has been working on for the past two years.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
Grace and Peace,