Where have you been today, Bartimaeus?
“I’ve been in a world of hunger and fear and darkness.
I’ve been by the side of the road I name despair.
I’ve been cast off, like something beyond repair.”
What have you heard today, Bartimaeus?
“I’ve heard the pain of those who cry for justice.
I’ve heard the pain of those who cry for peace.
I’ve heard someone is near who brings release.”
What do you need today, Bartimaeus?
“I need to know that joy can rise from ashes.
I need to know that hope can rise from grief.
I need to see the sun touch the lifted leaf.”
What did you do today, Bartimaeus?
“I called to the Son of David who comes to save us.
I called to the One who mercy freely gives.
I called to the One whose power opened my grave.”
Where are you going today, Bartimaeus?
“To be with Christ as he brings new days to others.
To follow the One who’s brought me this new sight.
To share with all God’s people this new life.”
We continue with our October Message Series on the Cost of Discipleship, focusing today on What do I want to see?
It’s kind of ironic that the Scriptures teach us to see, by using the story of a blind man, named Bartimaeus. Let’s look more closely at what Bartimaeus saw, and pray the Lord gives us those same eyes of faith. The recited poem will help us with that focus …
· Bartimaeus said I’ve been in a world of hunger and fear and darkness. I’ve been by the side of the road I name despair. I’ve been cast off, like something beyond repair.
More than 2,000 years later, we still live in a world of hunger, physical, spiritual and emotional hunger. The UN World Food Program aggregates 957 million people across 93 countries who do not have enough to eat.
We don’t have to look to the world statistics to see this startling number. Millions of children and families living here in America face hunger and food insecurity every day. Due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 42 million people may experience food insecurity, including a potential 13 million children. More closely, that breaks down to 40,200 people here in Union County alone who experience food insecurity.
Do we see with the eyes of faith? … the fear and darkness that this creates … How can we better help those who feel cast off, feeling like something beyond repair?
· Bartimaeus said he heard the pain of those who cry for justice, the pain of those who cry for peace.
More than 2,000 years later people all around the globe are still crying for justice, crying for peace. A quick google search will fill your results screen with issues beyond issues of justice and calls for peace. Among them, voting rights, climate justice, healthcare, refugee crisis, racial Injustice, income gap, gun violence, and the list goes on and one. It is overwhelming!
Bartimaeus challenges us, as believers, in the name of Jesus to hear these cries, and to respond to them, some of them, those we can. Bartimaeus challenges us to be a people who work for peace because we too have heard of that someone who is near who brings release.
· Bartimaeus said he needs to know that joy can rise from ashes, that hope can rise from grief, that he see the sun touch the lifted leaf.
Bringing a genuine sense of hope and optimism into the lives of people is our calling, our baptismal challenge. It’s important to remember that all around us many people are struggling. They’re exhausted, they’ve sought guidance from self-help books; sought advice from friends and family; they’ve confided in clergy and counselors; they’ve looked for answers from talk shows or the internet.
When all of those endeavors fall short, they turn to us … family and friends … those of us who’ve identified ourselves as believers, believers in Jesus Christ … perhaps not for solutions, but for companionship, for a listening ear, for a shared half hour, for a cup of coffee that can bring inner peace and healing. Our simple efforts can help many to see the sun touch the lifted leaf.
· Bartimaeus called to the Son of David who comes to save us, he called to the One who mercy freely gives. He called to the One whose power opened his grave.
Who do we call to? Who do we turn to? Do we think we can do it all ourselves? Do we think that we can manage all of life’s challenges on our own merit? Even the greatest saints knew that after they had given all they had, the rest was in the hands of God.
St Francis of Assisi said:
Lord, help me to live this day, quietly, easily. To lean upon your great strength, trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of your will, patiently, serenely. To meet others, peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently, courageously.”
· Bartimaeus said he was going to be with Christ as he brings new days to others, to follow the One who brought him his new sight, to share with all God’s people his new life.
How do we do that? Do we even do that? It’s the cost of discipleship … that the Good News that we’ve received, we bring to others, where they are, as they are, how they are, without cost or expectation.
The crowds told Bartimaeus to be quiet, to shush … so many of us too are also too quiet about matters of faith … we are shy, timid, even embarrassed of sharing our faith stories with others. Society tells us to shush, to not talk about God or Jesus or faith … how wrong this is … how disappointing.
The Psalmist sings today, The Lord has done great things for us … we are filled with joy. Let’s work harder to see those things, to share those things, to celebrate those things, for then, and only then will we truly live up to the cost of discipleship.