Monday, May 3, 2010

Why Was This Man At The Pool?

This week's scriptures are Psalm 67 and John 5:1-17.

I'd like to focus on two verses from our Psalm and apply them to our work with John's story of Jesus healing of the man by the pool

"May God be gracious to us and bless us, may he cause his face to shine on us, that your purpose may be know on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, God: let all peoples praise you.

Back in the late 1980's I heard Fred Craddock preach on the passage from John, and I've been struggling with it ever since. This passage really hadn't bothered me much before, I'd read it but not paid it a great deal off attention. Ever since then, though, it's bothered me a lot; and the questions that Dr. Craddock raised (or at least that were raised in my mind) continue to haunt me. So while I want to give Dr. Craddock credit for the origin of some of my concerns, he's not responsible for where I've gone with them.

One of the things that was pointed out is that this passage is, in fact, a judgement story. According to many scholars, there were in Jerusalem, at the time of Jesus, 480 synagogues. 480 places dedicated to the idea that "your purpose may be known on earth, you saving power among all nations"....and yet, this man wound up at the pool.
He wound up spending his days in a 'para-church' setting. Why?

Does it sound in any way familiar to our day, does it speak a word of judgement to us as the Body of Christ that people hurting around us "go to the pool" instead of the House of God? Think of the places you and I know of where people go to seek healing....are these people that we as the Body of Christ should be serving? Are they going elsewhere because the church has failed to respond to their needs?

Another point of judgement worth considering is the man's comment, "I have no one to help me into the pool." Who gets the help in our culture, our society? If there are places and ways for persons to find healing, are we as the Body of Christ doing our part to make sure that folks can get to that healing? Or are the deeply wounded pushed aside by the 'minimally uncomfortable' who have power, money, access?

The final point of judgement I hear in this story is the religious establishment's problem with Jesus healing on the Sabbath. They couldn't rejoice in the healing cause it happened on the wrong day. If I'm honest, I have to admit that there are times I withhold my joy at someone else's healing because it didn't happen the way I thought it should. I'm embarrassed by that, ashamed of it, but there it is.

How can we hear this story and use it to challenge us to reach out to those who sit, unhealed, by the "pool"....desperate for someone to help....needing what the Body of Christ has to offer. Can we find in this story the motivation to look beyond our rules or our old ways of doing things to live in creative relationship with Christ in reaching out to these who sit for years in their pain, their illness, their need.

I hope you'll join us Sunday as we let these passages challenge us together.


1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Ooo...are we going to get a little fire and brimstone going?

Ah, I know better (and am thankful that we don't take that approach) but all the same, we should have a strong element of self-reflexivity as individuals, as specific churches, and as the larger "church."

What becomes interesting (and maybe most productive) is the spiritual, emotional, and physical place where we chose to act. What leads us there? What prevents us from moving toward that (or those) places?