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 Dear Friends,   

 One of my favorite Bible stories is found in the Gospel of Mark, chapter eight, beginning with verse 22. Here Jesus and his disciples are in the town of Bethsaida when “some people” bring a blind man to Jesus to be healed. After putting saliva on the man's eyes and laying hands on him, Jesus asks, “Can you see anything?”. The man looking up says, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking” (Mark 8:24). I see people but they look like things. Such an honest assessment of his physical sight and I'm afraid, an assessment of how we see often see others.   

 It is difficult sometimes to see others, to respect them as beloved children of God, especially when they don't look, believe, think or act like us. This must have been true in Jesus' day as well. In Luke 6, Jesus commands his followers to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” adding, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?”. This is the hard and holy work set before us, to treat those different from ourselves with the same respect we treat those whom we love. In doing this, we follow Christ.  

 The good news in the story from Mark, is that Jesus did not leave the man in partial blindness but completely restored the man's sight. My prayer for us this season is that our eyes would be open to see all persons as God's beloved ones. This is something we pray for and work for.    

During the month of October I'm inviting you to consider reading one or both of the following books, Waking Up White by Debby Irving and/or Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson. (The movie Just Mercy based on Stephenson's book is also readily available). These books, the life stories of two very different individuals, one a white woman and the other a black man, allow us to see another, to have our eyes, hearts and minds opened. Let me know if you are reading, or if you have already read these. We will be gathering to discuss each of them later in the month. 

 If you need a copy of either book please let me know.

 We go forth in the Peace, Power, and Presence of Jesus Christ…Pastor Sarah