by Dr Paulo Ueti, USPG, Anglican Alliance’s theological adviser and director for Latin America
NOTES ON THE READINGS
The readings for 24 October are:
The book of Jeremiah covers a great time line in the history of his people. He was a critical, annoying and hopeful voice during the times towards the fall of the monarchy. The reading for today takes us to the Book of Consolation or Restoration (chapter 30-31): God restores people, even when disasters happen (siege/invasion). Against all the odds, the prophet is still hopeful and is spreading out hope to his people, whilst also raising awareness on why this is happening. Prophecy is about being good and accurate in contextual analysis and still being capable of being a building block of hope, reconciliation and restoration.
The Psalm is probably from the times of the Exile. This song/prayer cements the ongoing hope that God is a God of loving and transforming presence. In the midst of despair and where people could not see anything but walls and dead ends, there is this beautiful liturgy to bring hope and new dreams of a better time to come, a time they need to work for, but absolutely possible to become true.
The Gospel passage offered is part of a piece of prophetic and literary art. Who is blind here and who needs healing? Mark 10:46-52 is directly connected to Mark 8:22-26 (this is the frame of whatever is inside). It seems to be a criticism to the closest disciples of Jesus: they are being blind and need the miracle of sight.
DRAFT SERMON/SERMON OUTLINE
The good news here is to alert the disciples about the need to see, understand, be curious, be critical and be a person of action. It is key to hear the call, stand up (do something – to move from your comfort zone) and follow (be obedient – active and deep listening).
This passage connects with Mark 8:22-26. Together, they are a frame to what is inside (Mark 8:27 – 10:45). What is inside is Jesus trying to share in depth his political views and consequent actions, and the constant dodging (avoidance) behaviour of his closest friends/disciples (all males according to the gospel). The disciples were called Satan (Mark 8:33), the disciples did not understand, thus can’t be committed (Mark 9:32) and were not listening to a word (the deep request for solidarity and presence, after all he [Jesus] was going to be unjustly accused, incarcerated, tortured and murdered). The disciples were only concerned with power and getting into the position to oppress, the same place Jesus was questioning.
The text points out, as a way (method) to get the miracle of sight again: 1. Recognise that there are possibilities, even problems are possibilities, 2. Name them aloud, cry publicly, make sure others know what do you desire and need, 3. Listen to the call, be willing to approach, we are all worthy, 4. Speak the truth to power, advocate for what you need. And at the end, this is faith: the actions towards what seems impossible. Movement, action, hope and believing, even when it is difficult to, is the proposed method given by this community to recover, restore and get the sight of life. The result of this is another follower. The movement is raising in numbers and in spirit (the power to change).
We are in the journey to the COP26, another major effort to get more nations, groups and individuals on board to save the planet and our common life, to protect, heal and improve relationships with our oikoumene. Change our way of life and our economies are urgent. The impact of climate change is massive and is increasing day by day, and there is so much to do yet. The religious communities are a special place to teach and provoke actions of repentance, atonement and restoration. Christian communities are places of restoration and healing. They are places to inspire new social norms and question the ones which provokes violence, exclusion, inequality and praise the evil.
The Gospel (the good news) relates directly to our way of life. We are encourage to stand up. “Be brave, he is calling you”. We have the power to change and be changed. We have the power to live in balance and to live a life where sustainability is in the natural agenda of the day. It seems we are being invited to acknowledge the context we live in, full of brokenness, greed, exploitation in every level of life, inequality, environmental degradation. And from this context, we manage to come up with possible solutions, mitigation actions, small changes. We are told we are brave, to stand up and to make our bodies and our churches (parables of Christ) a beacon of hope and transformation as an example to others. Is your community committed to be environmental justice? Are you yourself changing, even in small steps, your lifestyle to be more sustainable? What are you doing? Are your perspectives on the world, environment, economy, relationships (in a broad sense) changing?
Let’s pray for the COP26, for more commitments, for our church bodies to be aligned with the values of sustainability. Let’s take the lessons learned during the Season of Creation liturgies, events, prayers, courses and implement one of them at least.
God bless you all.
by Dr Paulo Ueti, USPG