Sunday 24th October 2021

Welcome to Craigmillar Park and Reid Memorial Churches, and to our service of worship for Sunday 24th October. This week we look at how nobody is beyond being touched by God. As we worship, either at home or together in a church building, may we be drawn closer to each other and to our Lord.

Call to Worship (Psalm 34: 1-3)
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together.
Let us worship God.

HYMN 127 O worship the King, all glorious above

Prayer:

Let us pray:

God of grace
we come to worship you this day.
We come to lift high Your name
through prayer, word, and song.
We come with all that we are,
offering up our lives
as living sacrifices.
Take this offering, we pray,
and make it pure in Your sight.

In the beginning You separated light from dark.
You created the world that it might give You glory,
and humanity that You might have fellowship.
You made us little lower than the angels.
You made the day for us to live,
and the night for us to rest.
But it is You that we move and breathe
and gave our being.

You showed us Your love
in that when we wandered
You sent Jesus to return us.
You showed us Your love
that when we betrayed You,
You sent Jesus to redeem us.
You showed us Your love
in that when we denied You,
You sent Jesus to renew us.

Creator and sustainer,
show us how to appreciate all that You have done.
Show us how to truly give thanks.
This day, open our minds
that we would know You;
open our hearts
that we may love You;
Open our eyes
that we may see You.

We come before You this day
in the power of Your love;
in the strength of Your Spirit;
in the mercy of Jesus,
in whose words we now pray, saying:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

Scriptures:

Mark 10: 17-31, 46-52
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.”’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money[ to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’

Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age – houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’

…..

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then 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.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

HYMN 286 Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord

Reflection:

Life is full of contrasts from the simplicities of day and night, waking or sleeping, through to the more complex and subtle ones of life in a modern city. Throughout our lives we are regularly invited to compare and contrast something that is before us. This could be between two pieces of literature in a school exam or something possibly more important such as the path of life we will choose. Whatever the situation, conscious or otherwise, life is full of contrasts. Our reading from the Gospel today is one of quite profound contrasts. It is also a reading that is pertinent to our lives in the affluent nation that we find ourselves living in.

Mark relates to us the story of Jesus travelling to Jericho. As he arrives he encounters Bartimaeus, a man who is blind, who calls out seeking mercy. On being asked what it is that he wants he answer that he wants to see. What happens next is not one but two miracles. First Jesus heals Bartimaeus; he can now see. The second is that the newly healed man changes the direction of his life and followed Jesus. That this latter happening is a miracle is something that will become clear as we progress. Here we see a series of profound contrasts. The blind man comes only with his need, nothing else, yet immediately follows Jesus; the disciples, however, and are still seen as struggling with following and all that it may mean for them. Another contrast is between this story and one that immediately precedes it in the Gospel. The previous story had been the one of the rich ruler; he appeared to have everything yet this wealth stood in the way of his coming to Jesus and following him. The rich man could not give up his wealth to follow whereas Bartimaeus gave up even his cloak, the only possession that he had. He seemed to know that he needed something else in life and was open to receiving it.

Our next contrast is between the way of the crowd and the way of Jesus. In our reading the crowd are, at best, unsympathetic to the needs of the blind man. They want him to shut up and they order him to be silent. He is perceived as an inconvenience, and irritant and distraction to them. They appear to be focussed on their wants and not on someone who is in need. In short, the crowd treats Bartimaeus as a nobody. As we journey through this Gospel, we see a significant change develop in the mood of the crowd. They begin as needy, just like the man who was both poor and blind, yet they evolve into a mass that becomes increasingly mean-spirited and sinister. They journey from cries of need to cries of ‘crucify’! The many may ignore Bartimaeus but Jesus doesn’t. Despite all that he knows lies in store for him he takes the time to make time to attend to someone’s genuine need. The actions of Jesus speak more clearly than any sermon would have done. His reaching out to heal declares that no-one is a nobody, that everybody has a value, and that to God everyone has a name.

So what has all this to do with us? Firstly, the story of Bartimaeus should remind us that nobody is without hope, that no-one is beyond restoration by God. Secondly, we are cautioned to be different from the world. The world can be a cold and uncaring place. Poverty exists even in our wealthy nation, and a spirit of meanness can be seen to be growing even here. Look at how both government and society treat those on the fringes. Thirdly, note that it is the blind man who can see the truth yet the disciples and the rich ruler are the ones who are blind. The disciples, again, fail to understand what is going on before them. The rich ruler is blinded to the truth by his wealth. In an age of what is sometimes known as conspicuous consumption do we need to be aware of how our wealth and possessions become a barrier to following Jesus with our wholeheartedly?

More than all, this Gospel passage is a message of hope. The community for whom Mark wrote his Gospel would have been suffering various forms of persecutions. In many ways they would have been the outsiders, even in their own towns and cities just as was Bartimaeus. The healing of that man proclaims that with God sees no-one as an outsider as no-one is beyond his reach or his mercy. That this mercy is shown on the way to the Cross, let alone through the Cross, is something of a miracle itself. Like Bartimaeus we are to risk everything to share the Gospel. We are to rely not on human values or vision but on the mercy and promises of God. Like Bartimaeus we are all in some way blind yet, by the grace of God, we can be healed and serve His kingdom bringing glory to His name.
Amen.

HYMN 153 Great is Thy faithfulness

Prayer:

Let us pray:

God of mercy
we come before you with our cares and concerns.
We pray for the world that You created;
we pray for our friends and neighbours;
we pray for ourselves.

For our world we pray.
As we look at the news
and hear stories from afar
we find ourselves troubled by what we hear.
We hear of conflict;
we hear of poverty;
we hear of disease.
Merciful God,
where there is discord may we bring peace;
where there is poverty may we bring abundance;
where there is illness may we bring healing.
Merciful God,
may this all be done in the name of Jesus.

For our neighbours we pray.
As we see and meet with them,
hearing stories of their lives and cares,
we find ourselves moved by what we hear.
We hear of grief;
we hear of sadness;
we hear of strife.
Merciful God,
where there is loss may we bring wholeness;
where there is weeping may we bring joy;
where there is struggle may we bring hope.
Merciful God,
may this all be done in the name of Jesus.

For ourselves we pray.
As we look at our souls
and see the depths of our hearts
we find ourselves in need of You.
We feel the questions of our minds;
we feel our hearts pulled by our emotions;
we feel our own human frailty.
Merciful God,
where there is doubt may we know faith;
where our hearts struggle may we know love;
where we feel weak may we know Your strength.
Merciful God,
may this all be done in the name of Jesus.

God of mercy
You know our cares and concerns;
You hear and answer our prayers.
So enable us that we may become the answers
and bring all the glory to You alone.
Amen.

HYMN 352 O for a thousand tongues to sing

Benediction:

Go from this time
in faith, hope, and mercy.
And as you go
may the blessing of God,
Father, Son, and Spirit Holy,
go with you
now and always.

Sung Amen:

Acknowledgements:
Bible Quotations taken from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

English translations of The Lord’s Prayer, © 1998, English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC), and used by permission. www.englishtexts.org