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Knoxville, TN, United States
Interim Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA), Dothan, AL.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Marco! Marco?

2010-10-25 Mk 10 46-52 Marco! Marco?

OK. You know how this works. Imagine we're in a swimming pool, all fully clothed, of course.

I say, "Marco!"

You say?

The person who's "It" keeps his or her eyes closed. No peeking! And everyone else bounces quietly around to escape being tagged.

Some people cheat. They swim underwater so the person saying, "Marco," can't possibly find them. "Marco? Marco?"

Then they swim up behind you and scare the juice box out of you. It's a nightmare.


It used to be St. Mary's was the hospital where people got lost. Even doctors. You could hear the nuns cursing when they got off the elevator on the wrong floor. But now the hospital for the directionally challenged is UT Medical Center.

I was sitting by the information desk, checking email and trying to get a GPS signal. I overheard multiple people asking the lady at the desk for directions. But not to their doctors' offices. These people were trying to get out. Like, three in a row came up asking how to get back to their cars.

"Which entrance did you come in?"

And they all said, "The main one."

"Did it have a fountain?"

Blank stare.

"A pool with water shooting up?" she asked, with assistive hand motions, because many people have not seen such sorcery.

"Did you walk across a bridge?"

"Did you come from a tunnel, with a bright light at the end?"

Welcome to the Hospital California.

You can check out as soon as your doctor signs the papers, but you can never leave.

I once was lost, but now am sleeping in the attendant's booth. Showering in the fountain.

Sometimes I have dreams like that. Does anyone else? You're in a hospital, or in an airport, or even in church, and you can't find your way out? The zombie preacher's after your brain? It's a nightmare. But it happens in real-life, too. A little less dramatically, usually. You were on your phone when you came in. Of course you didn't notice landmarks. You walk the floors of the parking tower, pressing the button your keychain, hoping for the toot, like your car is a Marco Polo cheater and not answering. "Marco! Marco?"

You're hurt, you're injured, you're sick, you're stressed. You're ill in body, or soul, or mind. You're alone, and wasted and you can't find your way home. Anybody been there in your dreams, or in your nightmares, or your reality? Praying that the person at cosmic Information Desk can give you the answer? Marco? Marco?

Anyone? Anyone? Help me get out of this fix.


The son of Timaeus, Bar-timaeus, once was blind and could not see. He sat by the side of the road, calling out, "Jesus! Jesus?"

He called out, "Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on me!" He called it out over and over. "Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on me!" "Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on me!" He was annoying. He was embarrassing. Like those kids at the pool when you're trying to read, or sleep. Or enjoy some Mommy Medicine.

A side-note about the name, Bartimaeus. Bar- is Hebrew meaning, "Son of." He's the Son of Timaeus. That's easy. But nobody's absolutely certain what Timaeus means. It could be from the Greek word meaning, "Highly-prized" or "honorable." So, Bartimaeus would be the Son of Honor.

But Timaeus could also be from the Hebrew, tima, which is the opposite of honor: Dishonored. Foul, polluted, defiled. Unclean. In primitive times, any kind of physical disability was a sign of sin. So Bartimaeus would be the Son of Dishonor. He was blind and unclean because his parents had really messed up. So that's what to expect when you're expecting. Thanks a lot, Bible.

So is Bartimaeus the Son of Honor? Or the Son of Dishonor? Survey says: Yes. How very Presbyterian. No matter how you look at him, Bartimaeus is a tasty mix of sinner and of saint. Kind of like us. I like that. He's clean and he's unclean. He's shiny and he's messed-up. And his parents were like that, too. Good-old Bart. Poor-old Bart. Barty-Bart. Bless-his-heart-Bart.

Bart can't see. In the story it's a literal blindness, but we know there's always more to the story because it's the Bible and it's like that. Bartimaeus can't see, but he knows Jesus is out there, somewhere. So he calls out, "Jesus! Jesus?" like a kid in a pool, trying hard not to be the one who's always the "It."

Everybody says, "Shhhh!! Bart, be quiet! You're in church!"

Which just makes him cry out louder and if you've ever had a toddler in church, you know this is how it always works.

"Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!"

"Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!"

"Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!"

Jesus stood still...

and said, 'Call him here.'

And they called the blind man, saying to him, 'Take heart; get up, he is calling you.'

Jesus speaks the Polo to Bart's Marco.


How can you find your way?

How can you see the right direction?

How do you get out of a place, get beyond an issue, get out of an argument, get found when you are lost?

Where is God's Information Desk?

I envy those people at the hospital information desks. They've got their headsets, and their computers, and their walkie-talkies. If you ask them a question, they can look up a very solid answer. Usually. As long as someone else has entered the right information into the system.

Some of us - who are men - consider it a sign of weakness to have to ask. If we've been around hospitals enough, we know to go directly to the surgery waiting lounge. And if the family isn't there, we know to go to the cafeteria. Or we just wander around until we hear someone saying, "Polo!" It could happen.

The temptation for preachers and for anyone who wants to fix things so the person will stop crying and be happy again - the temptation is to deceive ourselves into thinking if we can only find the right Polo-ist, Biblical answer, all will be well again. Here. Read this scripture verse. Say five Hail Mary's. It can happen. Sometimes.

But a lot of the time, we come upon people, who despite our excellent instructions, still can't find their way out. Sometimes we have to get up from behind our desks and walk them through and out of the lostness. Sometimes the best we can do is to sit down beside them and call out, "Jesus! Jesus? Jesus!?" until we hear the call returned.

"Polo." "Polo."

"Hello, Bartimaeus. You washed-up sinner. You washed-clean saint.

"What - really - do you want me to do for you?"