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SUNDAY 22nd MAY: THE SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

 

READINGS

Acts 16: 9-15

John 5: 1-9

 

REFLECTION

 

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.

 

PRAYER

 

Sovereign God,

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.

Amen.

 

Every Blessing,

Canon Dave                                                       21st May 2022

Canon Dave’s Weekly Message

Dear Friends

 

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.