Thursday, March 03, 2011

Made for Community

I preached this sermon in preaching lab the other day.  I've shared it with a few people and gotten some positive feedback and requests for permission to pass it on, so I decided to to post it here, in the hope that maybe G-d's word would touch at least one life. 
My text was Luke 5: 17-26.

He sat there watching the world go by.  He’d heard his parents talk about a man called Jesus, a man who had made people walk, given sight back to blind people, fed huge crowds with small amounts of food and done all sorts of other marvelous things.  His mother said he should go see this Jesus fellow. The trouble was, he couldn’t go, even if he wanted to.  He was lame; completely paralyzed and unable to go anywhere.  How many years had he been like that? It was more than he could remember. His mama said that when he was a child he used to run and play with the others.  He wished he could remember what life had been like when his legs were not withered and useless, but try as he might, all he could remember was this way of being, this uselessness, this state of being completely unable to help himself. He sighed and wondered what this Jesus-man was like and wished he could go see him for himself, instead of just hearing stories about him. Maybe, if he could get to Jesus, he could find healing.  Maybe then, life would go back to the way it had been before.
He heard someone call his name and he looked up from his musings.  He saw a group of his friends walking excitedly towards him.  As they got closer he listened to what they were saying.  The Jesus-man he had heard so much about was in his town.  His friends had all been to see him. He tried to be happy for them, but in his heart, he wished he had been able to be there with them.  Suddenly, four of them came over and picked up the mat he was laying on and began to carry it down the street.  Rest of his friends followed.  He could see a house up ahead, so full of people that they were spilling out into the street.  “Jesus is there” said his friends.  His heart sank.  He was so close, yet so far away.  There was no way that his friends could maneuver his mat through that crowd so that he could see Jesus. Abruptly, his friends turned away from the door and headed up the steps to the roof. They carried him up the roof and working in the hot sun, made a hole in the roof. Then, they lowered him through the hole, right in front of the Jesus he had heard so much about.  Jesus looked down at him laying on the floor and up at his friends, peering down through the hole in the roof.  And then, the most wonderful thing happened.  Jesus healed him.  He stood up and walked through the crowd, carrying his mat.  He could walk.  This was even better than the before time, because now, he had met Jesus.
How often do we sit like that man and try to remember what life was like?  Maybe we want to remember what life was like before we got sick.  Maybe we want to remember what life was like before our parents got a divorce.  Maybe there was a time before alcohol, or drugs, or pornography, or work, or Facebook took over our lives.  Maybe we wonder if there was ever a time in our lives when we didn’t do battle with depression or bipolar disorder or food.  We try and remember that before time, and maybe sometimes we can get a little glimpse, a fleeting memory, but now, all we know is life the way it is now.  We’ve heard that somewhere, somehow there is healing.  We long for things to be different, to be able to return to that before time, but we don’t know how to get there.
We know the healing is out there.  We’ve heard it talked about it and we’ve longed to experience it ourselves, but we can’t seem to get there on our own.  Maybe we don’t know the way.  Maybe we don’t have the resources to afford it.   Maybe we just need that extra little push forward or the support of a good friend or group of friends.  Verse 20 says that it was when Jesus saw their faith that he healed the paralyzed man.  We were made to live in community, to give help and to accept help.  The paralyzed man could have refused to let his friends help him.  He could have resolved to do it all by himself.  His friends could have refused to help him.  They could have not bothered to make the hole in the roof.  In either case, he would not have made it to Jesus and would not have experienced healing.  Sometimes, we can’t do it on our own. Sometimes we need a friend to carry us along the way to Jesus, so that we can experience healing and go to a place that is even better than the before place that we had longed for.

No comments: