Seeing Through Blind Eyes

Bartimaeus was blind. And loud. Bartimaeus was blind and loud.  That’s all we know about him in from Mark’s Gospel, and yet we can still learn plenty by seeing Jesus through the eyes of this Blind man.

0539fc2dee8c2ad046193cb2bc16ef32Bartimaeus was sitting where he always sat.  Just outside the main gate in the city walls, he sat, waiting for passers-by to offer him some change or the crust off their bread.  Today was a different day, however. The crowd coming out of the city was much larger than usual. The energy was palpable as word quickly spread that it was Jesus of Nazareth who was passing through town. This Jesus was a Rabbi like none other, an amazing faith healing, and, increasingly, the scourge of the religious powers-that-be. Quickly, Bartimaeus put the pieces together and he began to cry out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” He yelled and screamed, ignoring the hushes of the crowd, until Jesus stopped and invited him to come forward.  Bartimaeus jumped to his feet, threw off his cloak and found his way to Jesus.

The very next story in Mark’s Gospel is that of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem.  In that story there is a crowd of people yelling about the Kingdom of David and shouting “Hosanna” or “Save us.” As Jesus makes his way through the Eastern main gate, the people threw off their cloaks to welcome him into the city. It seems as though Bartimaeus, even in his state of blindness, could see who Jesus really was. Bartimaeus was the harbinger of the faith of Palm Sunday, foreshadowing the events that are about to happen, and Jesus affirms him by saying, “Your faith has made you well.”

Bartimaus isn’t the first blind man that Jesus has healed in Mark’s Gospel. The last one, in chapter 8, took some time to see clearly. It seems that Bartimaeus could see, even though he was still blind.  Often we approach Jesus in a state of blindness. We are unable to see our own sin, unable to see the hurting world around us, unable to see the many ways that God has poured out his love upon us. Too often, we are like the blind man whose eyes do not open right away, but if we were to see through the eye of Blind Bartimaeus, having faith even in that which is unseen, and often, downright unbelievable, perhaps our faith might heal not ourselves alone, but the whole world.

Charles D. Parker, K.I.A.

11864805_10206737736393930_2290692453989294155_oBack in 1968 when I was in Vietnam K.I.A. was the acronym for men Killed In Action. In Washington, DC the Vietnam Wall was built to honor all those persons who were Killed In Action in Vietnam. I finally made my trip to the Wall in 2010. Needless to say, it was a moving experience.

K.I.A. is not something you wanted attached to your name. It is therefore amazing that I own two Kia automobiles. I never put the two KIA’s together until I heard that Charles Parker had died.

For Charles though, there needs to be some re-thinking of the KIA acronym. Instead of being Killed in Action for Charles it would be KINDNESS IN ACTION. From the first moment I met Charles and Dorothy I knew I was in the presence of a couple of very special people. Their love for each other, their respect of others, their kindness just warmed your heart. When I would see them – no matter where – they would bring a smile to my face and a feeling of love and grace seemed to pour all over me.

As I recall my time at Pine Grove, I remember Charles and Dorothy among the people I call the fabulous fifty – those people you could always count on no matter what. They gave themselves to the Lord through faithful service in the church and community. Even as Charles was being overtaken by his Parkinson and as Dorothy’s caregiving love increased its demands, they still remained positive, loving and kind.

Imagine not a Vietnam Wall but a Kindness In Action Wall out in the parking lot – running from end to end – filled with the names of those people who were God’s expressions of Kindness In Action – all those people who have lived and served in this place since its beginnings. I know many of the names on that wall who were the Church living out the grace of Jesus in all the moments of their lives. Among those names most certainly would be Charles D. Parker.

Thank you Dorothy and Charles for your beautiful expressions of the love of Christ through your faithfulness and your Kindness In Action.