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This sermon was originally preached on October 24, 2021 at Oak Grove Lutheran Church in Richfield, MN. The live recording may be viewed here.
Lectionary Text: Mark 10:46-52
(The Blind Bartimaeus)
May the Breath of God who filled the lungs of Jesus fill my own lungs here, that with Her anointing I might breathe out Her proclamation: The promise of abundance to the Poor, the emptying of cages to the incarcerated, the lifting of the heel from the back of the oppressed, and the restoration of sight to the blind -- Oh Christ, may my words today manifest God’s Favor to your people in this moment and in this place, Amen.
Friends, first I want to thank you. As I sat down to write this sermon, I was consumed and overwhelmed, as per usual, unsure of which thread to pull. And what lifted me out of that overwhelm and set me on the path I’m taking you down today was finding prayer shawls in my closet that were woven by women I don’t know with the promise that the wearer -- i -- would be wrapped in prayer. I took out a teal one -- my favorite color -- and wrapped it around my body, and instead of praying, I simply sat and let myself be prayed.
Wrapped in that covering, I considered this week’s gospel story about the restoration of Blind Bartimaeus, and I recalled Luke 4:18-19 where Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth after 40 Days in the Wilderness, went to Synagogue on Sabbath, and, in front of everyone who “mattered” declared that the Spirit had come upon him -- like a prayer shawl, a divine covering -- to proclaim Good News and God’s favor for everyone on society’s margins.
And that’s when I decided that in the interest of full disclosure, I ought to make my own proclamation here today, not as a christ but as a preacher and pastor, in order that y’all might know now rather than later what you’ve gotten yourselves into -- or, rather, what Tom has gotten you into! -- by welcoming me to Oak Grove this year.
To that end, I want you to know that I am an aspiring abolitionist. I look and work for the Day of God’s Favor when prisons and police are obsolete and disbanded; when the incarcerated are restored to full citizenship; the disabled enjoy full accommodations and access to public life; and all those who’ve been marginalized or criminalized by circumstance, social location, or personhood are welcomed back into full participation in church, life, and culture. And I march in the movements for Black Lives, Native Land Rights, Queer inclusion, Disability rights, and prison and police abolition in large part because of texts_ like_today’s. So let’s dive in.
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