Bilbo Baggins is celebrating his eleventy-first birthday by throwing a long expected party. Gandalf the Grey will be there with plenty of spectacle because the most important thing in Middle-earth is about to take place. We’ll explore that on this episode of The Secret Fire Podcast.
A Long Expected Party
Eleventy-one years is quite a respectable age for hobbits. After all the Old Took only reached the age of one-hundred and thirty. Also, his nephew (technically his cousin) Frodo was to celebrate his own thirty-third birthday – his coming of age – on that same day, September 22. Naturally, this was cause for much celebration, and the wizard Gandalf wouldn’t miss it for anything in Middle-earth.
Though he wasn’t sure why, Gandalf the Grey knew that this was the most important place for the servant of the Secret Fire to be. Bilbo was using the occasion of this long expected party to leave Bag End and everything else to his adopted heir and to go on a permanent adventure. Everything including his magic ring. Gandalf was there to ensure that said ring did, in fact, pass from Bilbo’s possession.
Bilbo Must Decrease, Frodo Must Increase
Like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress Bilbo Baggins carries a burden that he cannot quite identify (Pro Tip: we will draw parallels to John Bunyan’s magnum opus often on this show). He confesses suspicions about the ring to Gandalf after his uncharacteristic outburst:
“It has been so growing on my mind lately. Sometimes I have felt it was like an eye looking at me. And I am always wanting to put it on and disappear…”
The wizard encourages him to stop possessing it, leave the ring behind, and break free of its hold.
Bilbo’s part in the story of the ring is at an end, but he does not want to step out of the starring role. That is exactly why Gandalf is present at this exact time (chronos) and place. It is time (kairos) for Bilbo to stop possessing the ring. And it is time (kairos) for the ring to stop possessing Bilbo Baggins. It is time (kairos) for Frodo to continue the story of the ring; it is Frodo’s time (kairos) to bear the burden.
A Long Expected Party was the event which signaled this fact: Bilbo must decrease, but Frodo must increase. Each has a role in this drama, but it is all for the glory of someone greater. In Middle-earth that One is Eru Ilúvatar.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:6 NASB
Join Us On An Adventure
Next week: The Shadow Of The Past.
On The Secret Fire Podcast we travel chapter-by-chapter and book-by-book through J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth viewing it through Christian lenses. We invite you to join us each week as we continue the adventure on the Arkenstone server in Lord Of The Rings Online. We meet at the Three Farthing Stone in the Shire.
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