There is a story told of a woman who was suffering from clinical depression – an
illness that is afflicting increasing numbers of people today. Without realising
it, she became more and more ill until the time came when she could not bring herself
to get out of bed. However, she was befriended by a Christian lady, who prayed with
her throughout her longest, most depressing night – in one very long phone call.
As dawn was breaking, the Christian lady said: “Get out of bed now.” Getting out
of bed felt like the hardest thing the woman had ever had to do. It seemed like an
impossibility. But, strengthened by her friend's prayers, somehow, she did it. She
had a shower and dressed, as her friend had instructed. She had taken her first step
on the long road to recovery.
In the story from the Gospel Reading today, Jesus had travelled to Jerusalem and
is at a pool named Bethesda. A great number of people disabled people – the blind,
the lame and the paralysed are waiting to enter the pool, whose waters, it is said,
can cure all illnesses. Jesus meets a man who has been lying there for 38 years.
Jesus asks the man “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the man says, “I have no one
to help me into the pool. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead
of me.” Then Jesus says to him: “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the
man is cured; he picks up his mat and walks.
Jesus told the man to pick up his mat and walk. Does that sound slightly insensitive?
This poor man, unable to get to the pool unaided, is told, in effect, “Just do it”.
The man's response might quite reasonably have been “Don't you think, if it were
that easy, I would have done it 38 years ago?” I suspect that if Jesus had entered
into a discussion with him, the man would have remained where he was. Faith requires
action. And action requires courage.
The man at Bethesda had been waiting many years for someone to help him, believing
that there was nothing he could do for himself. But when he obeyed Jesus' command
and took a leap of faith, what had seemed impossible became possible. You may say,
“But Jesus healed the man, and that is why he could suddenly walk.” Of course. But
how often does Jesus seek to heal us?
The first step is always the hardest. It takes faith and it takes courage. It is
a step into the unknown, into uncertainty. The one sure thing about staying in bed
and shutting out the world is that you don't have to make any effort about anything,
you don't have to take any risks. Remember a leap of faith is risky.
The moment we allow God to work in our lives often comes when we are broken and no
longer able to go forward in our own strength. When it does, our right response to
the difficulties we experience in our lives serves to deepen our faith, so we know
that God's promise holds good and that it is all part of a grand design that is taking
us, step by step nearer to his light.
in all the trials and traumas life brings,
and in our world scarred by tragedy and turmoil,
remind us that you share in our sorrow and suffering,
understanding our fear and anxiety,
and seeking to strengthen, support, heal and help.
Teach us, that though life may test us to the limit,
bringing much that is hard to bear or to see your hand in,
that our faith in you will never
separate us from your love,
your hand leading us not just now
but for all eternity,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Canon Dave 21st May 2022
Canon Dave’s Weekly Message
Last Sunday evening we enjoyed a dancing show at the Palace Theatre in Newark which
included two performances by our 9 year old granddaughter Betsy. It was so lovely
to see her beaming smile during the show and the joy on her face clearly delighted
at being on the stage. Last night our most recent addition to the family Albie, who
is now 5 months old came to see us and greeted us with his amazing smile. These are
precious memories we will always hold on to.