Jesus demonstrates a beautiful lesson in this week’s Gospel reading: do not assume that you know the needs or desires of another person. Bartimaeus called out to Jesus for mercy. He could have asked Jesus for any number of things. Though he’s known to us now simply as a blind beggar, certainly there was more to Bartimaeus than those two descriptors. Rather than guessing what Bartimaeus was hoping for, Jesus asked him.
And then – this is just as important to the lesson – Jesus gave him what he asked for. How often have we experienced the well-intentioned gift-giver whose generosity actually ends up being a burden? It might be a sweater that you get in the wrong size or color for Christmas, or it might be the box of toys someone leaves at the church door “for the nursery” – which definitely aren’t up to current safety and sanitizing protocols. Jesus asks Bartimaeus first what he wants, and then he delivers. It’s so simple. What an excellent example for us all to follow!
Elsewhere in this week’s Revised Common Lectionary readings, we hear the ending of the book of Job. This part of the story has always baffled me. “The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (42:12). OK, that’s a reasonable ending to the extended parable. But how does getting new children make up for the loss of the children Job had before? On the other hand, we see an incredible reversal of standard ancient storytelling when Job’s new daughters are named in the next, but his sons aren’t. And then in a single sentence (at least in the NRSV), the daughters are described as the most beautiful women in the land, and Job gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. Was their inheritance given because of their beauty? What do the two things have to do with each other?
There’s also the option of a reading from Jeremiah this week, where God talks about gathering together the remnant of Israel, offering them consolation. And then there’s Hebrews 7, which talks about Jesus as priest, but not like human priests, but actually the son of God.
Where is your writing taking you this week? What is important to your community right now? Please share your questions and reflections in the comments below. Any ideas for a children’s sermon or liturgy? Need help reaching a conclusion? You and your worship prep process are welcome here. Blessings to you!