Rev. Dr. Anna Verlee Copeland's Blog

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September 2 Post

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“What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18.35-41)

You’d think it would be obvious. A blind man sat at the side of the road begging as Jesus passed. Talk about social isolation. The man was separated from community and without provision, depending on the generosity of others for daily bread. It would seem that Jesus could have figured out that this man needed a lot of things: a job, his sight, a community of family and friends to look after him, safety and security, shelter from the storms of life.

And yet, this was one of Jesus’ more than three hundred recorded questions. “What do you want me to do for you?”, Jesus asked. He wasn’t interested in deciding for the man what Jesus thought he needed. He had to ask. The man responded. “I want to see again.”

Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” And immediately the man regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God…

It seems to me that in such a time as this, Jesus is showing us how to ask better questions that lead to life. We pray all the time for ordinary things, and God cares about them. We ask God for what we want even though God knows, that we know, that God knows what we need before we ever ask. Yet words matter. We still say please and thank you when we ask a friend or family member to pass the bread at dinner, even though they can see from our empty plate and outstretched hand that we are in need of it.

God wants us to experience more than daily bread. God wants us to enjoy God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven. God doesn’t want to just change our day. God wants to transform our life.

For the past seven months as the Interim Senior Minister of this vibrant church here on the Florida Treasure Coast, I’ve been listening to people express what they most desire. In this short time, we’ve lived through the departure of beloved former ministers, the Advent of a yet incurable virus that paralyzed the gathered worship not only of our church but of the world. We’ve leaned into a hurricane season that thus far missed us but landed squarely in the laps of neighbors to our west, reminding us that we’re a storm away from disaster. Sheltered at home, many of us remain afraid. Torn by a sense of helplessness to impact the racial tensions of our nation or to reconcile political differences with our family members and friends, our anxiety strengthens.

In light of your current experience sitting by the side of the road, begging for a better world, how would you answer Jesus’ question today? “What do you want me to do for you?” Take a few moments now to sit with that question.

Jesus didn’t ask questions about how to get back to the way life was, but rather about the now and the next. Look forward in faith, trusting God’s promises that whatever you ask in God’s name will be given to you.

Prayer: God of promise and hope, just for today, hear my prayer. Thank you for responding at the heart of my need, before I thought to ask for it.

God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland