When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (John 5: 1-9)
It is often difficult to see God at work in our messy, misguided world.
It is often hard to find the courage to break rules, go against the expectations of others, and play the fool, but with gratitude for the God
A God who forgives our sins and heals our infirmities and sets us free from hanging out “poolside” free from anxiety over such matters.
Following Christ the healer is possible and we can be instruments of comfort and faith. To get up and follow Jesus will involve us in people’s lives in ways we’re not sure we want. No more isolation. No more sitting on the couch. No more leave me alone, no more hiding in our gated communities. No more living “poolside” where no one bothers me.
No wonder so many people and churches are still poolside, lying on their deck chairs, or pallet. No wonder so many of us are reluctant about being made whole.
No wonder we have neither the courage nor the will nor the energy to say, “No!” to the many ways the Powers grind us all down. And, ….No wonder we are reluctant to say “Yes!” to Jesus Christ and the embodiment of his Abundant Life.
But, did you notice? That after 38 years, this man in our story, this man has the guts to be whole.
He takes a deep breath and nods to Jesus,“Yes, I want to be whole, healed and well.
“I know it will take time Jesus. I know it will take work and lots of unlearning
old pain-filled “poolside” habits accumulated over 38 years, & learning new habits. I know it is not going to be easy, but I say “yes”, to wholeness”
And Jesus acts. No more questions asked. No stipulations. No looking back at the last 38 years of sitting poolside. No checking to see if this man is truly deserving or not. It is a new beginning.
Jesus just heals him. Grace. And the man picks up his mat and walks to new life. From “poolside” to wholeness.
In Luke 4: 21-30….Jesus goes home to preach and teach with people who knew him when he was a young boy. They knew where he came from and maybe a few secrets from his childhood. They were most likely happy to have him back, to hear reports of the great things he was doing. Jesus reported. But, he reported to the listeners, how they (the listeners) had their loyalties in life all mixed up. Jesus is up front and real with them about how they should be living, behaving and taking care of each other. It sounds like he was a little, well…he was bluntly honest with them. His honesty made them mad.
So what does this ancient story have to do with us? Well, Jesus’ words have revealed the truth that we’ve got just as much fear and shame and prejudice as did the folks in Nazareth. So, what are we to do? Join us Sunday and we will talk more.
Prayer for the New Year
Three hundred sixty-five days open before me like unwritten pages.
Opportunity compels me to fill them with wisdom.
My children read the pages I write like carbon copies.
They watch each word and action—to imitate.
Failure will fill some pages like ink blotches.
Blot out my sin and give me courage to say, “I’m sorry.”
Fill each day’s page with living like Jesus.
When this year is finished, may God’s plan be fulfilled.
Darlene Ruth Paterson—Orondo, Washington
The Great Ends of the church come to us from the opening decade of what many believed would be ”The Christian century”. Confident in its responsibility and capacity to create a Christian nation, the American church entered the 20th century working to build upon its heritage of active participation the larger realm of society.
Now, everything has changed. The decades leading to the opening of the 21st reflected a steady erosion of the church influence in society.
These past couple of months our little church in Fair Play has been studying the Six Great Ends of the PCUSA. At first, some of us thought, “What? How boring is that”. What has happened however, is that we have been engaged. These Great Ends are a real jewel. It has been a refreshing reminder of the unity of our faith. It is clear that our common calling is an inclusive one. The call to share the gospel is matched by a commitment to social justice. Worship renewal is matched by our continued commitment to truth.
It has reminded me what a gift it can be to revisit our faith framework, reflect on the scripture behind the framework, and be affirmed about who we are. It gives us energy, joy and some clear language to talk about all the great things God is doing in our midst.
Many many thanks to the members and friends of FPPC who have continued the conversation after Sunday! I hope we continue.
Last week we encountered the first of the Great Ends of the Church: The Proclamation of the Gospel for the Salvation of Humankind. It is the core of our community of faith. We agreed that there are a variety of ways to share the gospel or the good news, but…that to share “it”, is the goal. I would say the first Great End is reflected in what our church declares in a portion of it’s defined mission: “Sharing the Joy of Christ as we Reach Out”.
Question? How are we to proclaim the gospel for the salvation of humankind if we do not actively experience the living relationship that comes from being reconciled to God?
This week we encounter the second Great End of the Church: The Shelter, Nurture and Spiritual Fellowship of the Children of God.
Some of the questions I bring to the second “Great End”:
o Who are the children of God?
o Just what kind of Shelter is this?
o How does this “end” affirm and challenge us at FPPC?
What are some of your questions?
We have all been reading Luke 10: 1-11 over and over. The practice is Dwelling in the Word. We take no tools into the text other than the spirit, our own ponderings, and thoughts about past, present and future. What does God’s Word, as it was written so long ago, say to us? As you read, listen for the patterns, pay attention to what words and phrases cause you to stop along the way.
Join me as and look for God’s message to us in this gospel passage. What are you hearing?
What a wonderful evening we had Sept 5th! After some time dwelling in the Word (Luke 10: 1-12), over twenty of us enjoyed yummy desserts and coffee, all while moving from table to table. The dialogue focused on two questions: “What are we (FPPC) doing well, and What do we need to work on”? It was an opportunity to listen, ask questions and compile some valuable insight. We also took a close look at our financials as of end July 2012. After time for questions and reflections we all agreed that we need to “do this again”.
The last two weeks have been preparation for Sunday’s worship focus on the famous Biblical character of King David. I have been listening and collecting a wide variety of stories about dreams, courage, fear, and faith. I would be curious to hear yours.
Join us this summer as we take a look at the ancestors of Jesus. Story after story marked by scandal, stumble, intrigue, and… inspiration. Each one has a story to tell. It is a CAST OF CHARACTERS for sure. We find our stories in theirs. We find our hope where they found theirs. In the midst of them all … hovering over them all … is the hero of it all: God. Maker. Shaper.
How appropriate ~ that as we celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, we are reading that there is a spot for everyone at Sunday dinner. Well, not exactly, but close. This passage from Acts 10 follows Peter’s realization that the Spirit’s power/love reaches out beyond his usual table mates.
I would be curious to hear from you ~ stories about how you encounter people through the traditions of food and gatherings around the table, picnic blanket or banquet feast. And, where & how the Holy Spirit weaves into the fabric of it all.