Local News: The Mockingbird Piano Trio, comprised of Benjamin Williams (piano), Emily Williams (violin), and Bennett Randmann (cello), will be performing at Fondren Presbyterian Church in Jackson on Sunday, August 25 at 4:00 p.m. Listeners will be treated with the music of Beethoven, Hindemith, Bach, and Mendelssohn. For more information, go to www.fondrenpcusa.org/news.
“Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
—p. 243, Book of Common Prayer (1979)
Saturday, August 24, is the Feast of St. Bartholomew on the Church Calendar. Of the twelve apostles named in Scripture, Bartholomew is one of the most obscure. Bartholomew is never quoted in Scripture, nor is he ever mentioned by name except in passages that specifically list the names of all twelve apostles. Scripture doesn’t tell us about any of his sermons or any of his miracles done in Christ’s name nor about his martyrdom. That doesn’t mean, though, that we’re in the dark about the life he lived.
We know that he accompanied Jesus during his earthly ministry, and so he would have been an eyewitness to the sermons Jesus preached and the miracles Jesus performed. He would have been present at the Sermon on the Mount, present at the Last Supper, present in the upper room on the first Easter evening to see the risen Christ for himself. He would have been present at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit filled the apostles, empowering them to preach the gospel.
Though none of Bartholomew’s failings are mentioned specifically in Scripture, we know that he, like the rest of the Twelve, abandoned Jesus when he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Bartholomew, who had seen Jesus do and say so much, caved into fear and didn’t want to be associated with Jesus at the moment Jesus needed him most. Yet, like the rest of the Twelve—except Judas—we know that Bartholomew was restored to Jesus and commissioned to go and spread the word about all he had seen Jesus do.
Bartholomew serves as a good example of an apostle who was faithful to the Lord, and yet was content to live out of the limelight. Parents today name their children Peter, James, John, Andrew, Nathanael, Matthew, etc., but seldom name their children Bartholomew. He’s an obscure disciple with an obscure name.
God calls some to be like Peter—be a strong leader, a public speaker, one who likes to take charge. God calls others, though, to be like Bartholomew—to obey Christ, but not getting talked about or lauded for doing so. God calls on some people to serve in more prominent roles than others, but all service done in his name is important. Whether we are to serve like Peter or like Bartholomew is entirely up to Christ, not to us. When we make discipleship about ourselves, about prestige, about getting noticed, about getting brownie points with God—a temptation that’s all too easy to fall into—we miss the whole point of what discipleship is about. Discipleship is not about what we get out of it; it’s about listening to Christ’s voice and letting him lead.