Contributed by Steven Alloway
Granada Hills, CA
Warm-up Question: Have you ever been tricked into believing something that you found out later wasn’t true? How did you respond? What did you do when you found out?
The nation watched in shock and anxiety this past Thursday afternoon as a large, silver Mylar balloon swept across the Colorado skies. The balloon was believed to be carrying six-year-old Falcon Heene, whom his parents reported had climbed into the balloon that was tethered in their backyard, just before the knots were untied, releasing Falcon and the balloon into the air.
Four hours later, the balloon landed — empty. It was discovered that Falcon had been hiding in the attic of the garage the entire time. But now, authorities believe that the entire ordeal was actually a hoax, a publicity stunt orchestrated by his parents in the hope of securing a reality television show for their family.
Sheriff Jim Alderen says that suspicions of the hoax first arose when the Heene family was interviewed on CNN’s “Larry King Live”.
Felony and misdemeanor charges are expected to be filed against Richard and Mayumi Heene, as well as an investigation by Child Protective Services.
- Did you follow the news coverage of Falcon Heene and the balloon? Were you concerned for his safety? What’s your reaction now that it was all a hoax?
- What do you think should happen to Richard and Mayumi Heene? Should they be found guilty? What should be done with their children?
- With all the publicity surrounding these events, do you think the Heene family will ultimately be successful in their bid for a reality show? If so, would you watch the show? Why or why not?
- How real is reality TV? How much do you trust the truth or reality of what goes on in “reality shows”?
Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, October 25, 2009.
(Text links are to oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings.)
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.
“I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.” The words of this familiar hymn, Amazing Grace, of course do not refer to literal blindness. It’s about blindness to the truth about Jesus, the gospel. Earlier in the chapter, the Pharisees provide an example of this blindness. They ask Jesus a silly question to test him, to trip him up. They weren’t concerned about the truth. They were too busy with their own public image and reputation, and the fact that Jesus was making them look bad.
On the other hand, Bartimaeus had his eyes open before Jesus ever restored his physical sight. He had no doubt heard of Jesus’ ability to work miracles, and he too wanted to be healed. So as soon as he heard that Jesus was near, he cried out to him. And he continued to cry out! In spite of being scolded by those around him, he continued to call to Jesus to help him.
And Jesus took notice. He called Bartimaeus over to him, and restored his sight. And as he does, he tells him, “Your faith has made you well.” Miracles are all well and good, but without faith, what difference do they really make? Blind Bartimaeus saw the truth about Jesus: that this was the Son of David, the man who could make him whole again, both physically and spiritually.
Many today are still blind to the truth and good news of the gospel. At times, our own vision and faith can be a little weak. There is strong temptation and encouragement to make us think that the way of the world is the only path to take, the only way to be happy and whole; that the gospel, and even God, is a hoax.
We may look like fools shouting into the wind to some people when we cry out, “Jesus, have mercy on us!” But we must press on. We must continue to cry out for Jesus for mercy, healing, forgiveness, and love, no matter what anyone says or how we look.
We can trust that God does hear us. God answers. Where we were blind, we shall see… through faith.
- Could Bartimaeus still have been healed physically had he not first been healed spiritually? Why or why not?
- What are some ways that God uses our afflictions and weaknesses (and strengths) to help accomplish his mission and work?
- What are some ways that we can help share and illuminate God’s promises and truth with others, including each other?
- What makes our words and actions of witness trustworthy?
Sing “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound,” Evangelical Lutheran Worship, #779.
Do some research into famous hoaxes in history. An Internet search for “famous hoaxes” is a good place to start. Why did people believe them? How was the truth finally discovered? How does this compare with the truth of the gospel, and the claim by some people that it’s all a hoax or myth? Talk about what faith, trust, and belief mean, especially in relationship to proof and fact.
Lord, I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see. Let my eyes always be open, that I might not be blind to your truth and word. Help me to share your truth with others, so that they too might see and know your great love and healing. Amen.