Reflection on Bible Sunday and marriage registration.
Jesus said to (the blind beggar), “Go, your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. St. Mark 10:46-52.
“We must come together…..and be the light that refuses to be cowed by the darkness.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, preaching after the murder of Sir David Amess.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus stops to answer the call of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar sitting by the roadside. At first, those with Bartimaeus urge him to be quiet, but when Jesus calls him, they then change their minds and tell him to get to his feet. When Jesus asks him what he wants, the blind man requests his sight – and Jesus tells him that his faith has healed him. Bartimaeus finds his sight restored but, instead of returning to his usual way of life, then follows Jesus on the way. Perhaps there are events or people we meet today about which we also need to change our minds or lifestyles, although we don’t always notice them: “There are many people sitting at the side of the road, shouting to us to have pity on them, but they often shout in strange ways: by behaving badly in the classroom; by taking drugs and alcohol; by sulking, remaining silent or locked up in their rooms; sometimes by insisting that they are happy to be at the side of the road while others pass by. Like Jesus, we need to stop…..so that we can hear them express their deep longing to have their sight restored to them.” – Theologian Michel de Verteuil.
However, it’s not just a matter of seeing and hearing but taking action, too. For some years now, various changes have been asked for in the registration of marriages, not least because the name and occupation of the father was noted but not the mother of those getting married. Those changes have now been enacted and, at a wedding here yesterday, history was made at St Melangell’s when the names and occupations of both fathers and mothers were recorded on the new marriage document that is being used. This was also the first time that, due to the changes ongoing in the Church in Wales, a Special Licence was needed from the Archbishop of Canterbury in order to be married at St Melangell’s – a Special Licence for a special couple and a special place.
The change from a paper based system of registration by the clergy – who were termed Clerks in Holy Orders because of this – to an electronic system registered by the Local Registration Office is a profound one. As I completed the marriage document for the first time, having used the previous system for 31 years, there were a couple of points to be checked with the Archdeacon for clarity. However, it is now clear that the previous system is no longer appropriate in light of the changes that are needed for life today when it is expected that women as well as men will be made visible in the records that had previously excluded them. As was said yesterday, “How on earth has it taken so long for this to happen?”
As we look back on the traditions and systems that have brought us to this turning point, Psalm 119:105 reminds us this Bible Sunday that God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path. In reflecting on the Gospel today, perhaps we have been literally or inwardly blind to some of the things that need to change or are unable to see, like Bartimaeus, until faith brings healing. If Jesus asked you today what you want him to do for you, what would you ask for?
With my prayers; pob bendith,