Homily, Sunday October 25, 2015 - NECW Board Eucharist

In the name of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. Amen.

It is probably the most famous scene in the Jack Palance-Billy Crystal mid-life crisis movie "City Slickers."

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? (holds up one finger). THIS!

Mitch: Your FINGER??!!

Curly: One thing, just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don't mean [nothin!] (my word - not a literal quote)

Mitch: But what IS the "one thing?"

Curly: That's what you have to find out! ( Taken from "Gnaw on This" commentary. Rev. Mike Kinman, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, MO website, Proper 25B, 2012)

Billy Crystal's young Mitch is trying to find some meaning in his life, and it is the OLD cowboy, Curly(Palance) who tells him, he just has to answer one question for himself: What is YOUR one thing? What is the one thing that will make all the difference? What is the one thing that means the most? What is the one thing that will make you whole again? What is YOUR one thing?

AND I am going to take it one step further today. As I look around this room I see women who arrived as strangers to each other - well, SOME of us - and now are trying to figure out OUR ONE THING. We are trying to build relationships with each other. We are striving to weave ourselves together so we can best reach and lead and support the women and ALL of this wonderful Episcopal Church in new ways. We are looking for the ONE FOCUS, the ONE THEME that will sum up ALL of our experiences and ideas and hopes and longings - that will guide us in creating a new vision for the future of ECW.

Today we see the blind Bartimeus - sitting by the side of the road, shouting to Jesus, constantly told to STOP. This sightless outcast begging for Jesus' time and mercy - calling him Son of David - recognizing him as MESSIAH! A BLIND man RECOGNIZES Jesus and names him.

Remember those three times when Jesus told his totally clueless followers that he was the Messiah and what that meant for them? NOBODY got it . . . . oh, except for the BLIND beggar now sitting on the side of the road. Jesus invites that outcast into the inner circle, into the midst of that community. And unlike last week's gospel - you know, the one where James and John try to cash in on THEIR relationship with Jesus to get him to do whatever he could for THEM - unlike that story, we now see Jesus calling this man living on the edges of society - this Bartimeus - and asking HIM "what do you want ME to do for YOU? What is your one thing - what will make YOU whole - what will make a difference?"

For Bartimeus it is his sight - Jesus' mercy meant that he could SEE again. And Jesus, without even TOUCHING Bartimeus, points out that his FAITH has made him well - his sight is restored. And then Bartimeus follows Jesus on the way - the only person healed in Mark's gospel that does that, by the way. Jesus heads for Jerusalem - for his death and resurrection - with Bartimeus by his side.

This story takes place in Jericho - a place that rests in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people as a place where a miracle happened, a place where their faithfulness to God was rewarded - where against all odds that well-fortified city was taken by the Israelites. The writer reminds those first-century followers of Jesus that God can do seemingly impossible things when his people are faithful.

And here WE are in Bean Blossom, IN. And I don't THINK we can count on any miracles happening - altho' ya never know I guess. But we can be Bartimeus, as individuals and as a Board - crying out to Jesus, not backing down if and when we are told to stay by the side of the road. I think history has proven that WE don't do that EASILY! Cooperation and attention to each other and kind listening may well be rewarded by the quiet whisper of the voice Jesus saying "what do you want me to do for you?" It may even be in the whisper of one of our sisters here. IMAGINE THAT!!!!

For Jesus and Bartimeus it's about something deep down and vital to life - the ability to SEE. It made all the difference to Bartimeus, who kept on until he was right there with Jesus. It was about RELATIONSHIP. And I pray that it will be the same for us over the next three years - first and foremost our relationship with God and Jesus  - and finally with each other - bringing our gifts and talents, sharing our memories and our dreams, opening our hearts and minds and eyes to see all the possibilities that lie ahead. We just have to be PERSISTENT, grounding ourselves in prayer, going to God as Bartimeus went to Jesus, and let the faith that brought us to this place lead us and guide us!

SO what DO we hope that God will do for US and ALL of this great church?  What does the path to the future look like - what is OUR one thing? It's time to leave the side of the road, be persistent and walk with Jesus.

Let us pray.

May the Lord bless [us] and keep [us]. May God's face shine upon [us] and be gracious unto [us].

May God give [us] the grace never to sell ourselves short; grace to risk something big for something good; grace to remember that the world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.

So may God take [our] minds and think through them; may God take [our] lips and speak through them; may God take [our] hearts and set them on fire. Amen (William Sloane Coffin, adapted)