This week we’ve been preparing worship with the story of Bartimaeus, (Mark 10:46-52) a blind man who wanted to get to Jesus but was shushed and pushed aside by the crowd. Children and youth most certainly know what it feels like to be shushed, told to wait because more important people are talking, instructed to get out of the way because they’re too small, not significant. When this happen to Bartimaeus, he is not deterred, even though the crowd is “sternly ordered him to be quiet.” I cringe thinking of the way I may sometimes have been overly ‘stern.’ But unlike a frustrated parent or teacher who has had enough of interruptions and begging, Jesus turns toward the nuisance.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus gives Bartimaeus agency and Bartimaeus receives sight. And then he becomes Jesus’ follower!
It can be really hard to listen to children when they are being ‘pests’. We teach them that to be respectful they need to be quiet. I ran into a funny video this week in which three parents talk to each other as if they were talking to children and the first 10 seconds hilariously illustrate how ridiculous it would sound if we shut down another adult for inserting an opinion or response.
Okay, I’m not saying it’s bad to teach respect. But I had a bit of a ‘How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk’ moment with the text. When he is given agency and a voice, Bartimaeus becomes Jesus’ follower. He makes a choice toward relationship with the one who listened. That’s certainly what we want with our own children and what we want in their relationship with Jesus and their faith.d their faith.