Last week parishioner Dave Murray quoted a sentence from Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan about God’s deep wish that we have a flourishing and abundant life: “For Jesus, the kingdom of God is not primarily about the dead, but about the living, not primarily about life after death, but about life in this world.”
I am writing this reflection from the Barbara Harris Conference Center in New Hampshire where I am at the Gathering of the Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church. At this gathering we had a Bible study that paired two readings, one from the Gospel and one from Alcohol Anonymous’ Big Book.
As Jesus and his disciples and a large group were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, 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.” And immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
AAWS, 2001, p. 337
“So here I am, sober. Successful. Serene. Just a few of the gifts of the program for surrendering, suiting up, and showing up for life every day. Good days and bad days, reality is a wild ride and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
The leader had us focus on Bartimaeus’s cloak as the thing that he needed to shed in order to be made whole. She then asked us, “What do you need to give up in order to be healed? What do you need to give up to live life abundantly?” I’m not sure that I’d thought about bad days as part of the texture of a wild ride, and it has kept me looking at the good and the bad in new ways—and to think about “abundant life” with new parameters.