I draft this post as a new chapter of life is due to unfold. My son and his wife, Evan and Beth, are now at the 40-week mark in their pregnancy; that means this old man is about to become… a grandpa! Thankfully, I don’t find that label to be the least bit threatening to my vanity. I am certainly looking very forward to welcoming a new generation within our family, even if they are a half a continent away. We plan to visit them before the end of the year, God willing.
This blessed news had me reminiscing about Evan as a boy and marveling at how he has evolved through the years. Along with our gospel text for Sunday, it had me recalling his most frequent companion through much of his childhood, a teal green blanket that eventually had so many holes in it that it’s a miracle that it held together at all! Its shape became completely unrecognizable, even if its identity was sure. I don’t know in which drawer or closet it resides today, but I do know that, until not so many years ago, you couldn’t pry it out of his hands if you tried to. For him, that blanket was every bit the sign of security that you might imagine!
We begin our new sermon series and Fall Stewardship Emphasis with this week’s story of “Blind Bartimaeus” from Mark 10. While scholars often categorize it as either a “miracle story” or a “call story,” I might risk defining it as a “courage story” instead. I do so because the last thing that the still-blind Bartimaeus does before leaping to his feet is cast off his “cloak,” or the beloved blankie that he has spread out on the path before him daily to receive alms or offerings from passersby. It is his only source of income or security. Yet his trust in Jesus and in Jesus’ ability to restore his sight is so great that he seems not to think twice about leaving it behind.
Oh, that you and I would be so bold to turn our stories into “courage stories” in this season. As of this week, we begin a new journey under the banner of “Stories to Tell, Gifts to Share,” utilizing “ID tags” to represent an acronym that helps us highlight “Intentional Discipleship: Talents, Abilities, Gifts. Whether we recognize it or not, our mission and ministry are wholly dependent upon the courage with which we are willing to share these assets - which, I understand, are no less precious than Evan’s blanket was to him. Perhaps for many, they represent something akin to Bartimaeus’ cloak.
As we hear the stories which those within our ranks will be sharing on coming Sundays, let’s together ask what we might need to “cast off” in order to trust that Jesus will invite us into a new and fruitful, even if challenging, chapter of life together? Join us in worship and in serving as we discover that together!
P.S. Keep in prayer the fifteen youth who will be affirming their baptisms at a special afternoon service this Confirmation Sunday!