A couple of weeks ago our community rallied together on the church front lawn to support National Back to Church Sunday and our church’s Rally Day ( an outreach to reach out to families in the area) on September 15th. A fun time was had by all who participated in the event that drew families from as far away as Uniondale and as close as across the street. It was a blessing to see new faces and to see the smiles of the faces of people who have been a part of our congregation for a while. Vendors from the community gave their support by way of donation of time and treasure. We had a magic show, Mad Science, a D.J. hosting intermittent dance and hula – hoop contests and the helping hands of our very own Boy Scout Troop #323 selling baked goods, all with the intent of helping our church. Seeing our congregation and community come together in that way brought to mind one of my favorite Gospel lessons.
1. A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6. Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7. “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8. Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9. Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10. But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11. “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12. He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2: 1-12
The thought of four men chopping a hole in the roof to lower their friend into the house made for an exciting story for me.It sounded like great fun — standing on the roof and going Chop, Chop, Chop. Now – the story is a favorite for me because it is –- I believe – a picture of what the Church should – and can be. Here we have friends helping someone find Jesus – and helping him find healing in both body and spirit when he finds Jesus. Isn’t that what the Church is all about?
The Biblical story, of course, has a group of people bringing their paralyzed friend to see Jesus. When they got to the house where Jesus was — probably Jesus’ house or Simon’s house — they found a crowd blocking their way. They couldn’t figure out how to get their friend to Jesus, who was in the house. But they decided to get they had to get their friend to Jesus, they has to get the job done!
It was only after the friends brought the man to Jesus – only after the friends took the man on top of the house – dug the hole through the roof — and lowered him down through the roof –only after these things that Jesus said, “Stand up, take your mat and go to your home” When the man came into Jesus’ presence, Mark tells us that Jesus “saw their faith” and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” This man’s healing took place when Jesus saw their faith –not his faith, but their faith — plural. It was the faith of the man’s friends that impressed Jesus.
This man’s life was completely changed. He was healed and made whole!, not just because of his faith, but also because of the faith of his friends.I believe it still happens that way today. Jesus doesn’t call us to faith in isolation from other Christians. Jesus calls us to faith along with other Christians. That’s why we gather for times of study – fellowship – and service to others.
Our church motto is meet God and friends here. I t is our faith ALONGSIDE the faith of our Christian brothers and sisters that reshapes broken lives — that makes us whole. It gives us a picture of what the Church is all about – and what the Church should be. Come back to church – we miss you and we need your faith to help us to be all that we can be.
Yours in Christ,