And when Jesus saw their faith he healed the man.
It's a favorite story of mine and even more so having talked to my son the other day -- the 24 year old serving in Iraq. "What's it really like?" I asked. "Lots of dirt, lots of sand and the houses look the ones from Bible days ... you know, like the one those guys took the roof off to lower the man down to get healed." Be still my heart -- something from Sunday School/VBS and/or Bible Stories at Bedtime actually stuck!
And so when Ed was preaching today* I thought about that man on the stretcher and I thought about all the things that paralyze us ... paralyze me ... that seem to hard or too challenging or two "far gone" or too beyond our puny power to influence. The war in Iraq certainly comes to mind -- even if you don't have a son stationed in Tikrit! So does global warming -- even if you haven't seen "An Inconvenient Truth" or heard Dr. Helen Caldicott speak this morning about how we are slowly but surely killing this planet -- this fragile earth, our island home.
I thought about how hard it is for us as individuals or as congregations, as churches or communions, as countries or even as a global community to break through that paralysis -- to think outside the box, to imagine solutions to the challenges that face us. And yet, it was the paralyzed man who was the passive player in this drama -- it was the faith of his friends who healed him; the power of God's love through Jesus' outstretched hands that forgave his sins, made him whole. It was their willingness to risk going through the roof rather than the door that ultimately made this difference. And I'm wondering today if the call isn't for us to go and do likewise.
I'm wondering if it isn't time to tear some holes in some roofs. To refuse to be refused access to what can heal us -- to strike forever from our vocabulary "but we've always done it that way" and replace it with "but what if we tried it this way ..."
Maybe the Communion isn't doomed. Maybe there is a just solution to the immoral, unwinnable mess in Iraq. Maybe we can as a global community rise up and find a way to reverse the damage to the environment. And stop the genocide in Darfur. And broker peace in the Middle East. And keep our children safe from gun violence in our streets and in our schools. And maybe the words to today's closing hymn have never been more instructive:
Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore;
Let the gift of your salvation be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Serving you whom we adore.
Wisdom for thinking outside the box. And courage to tear some holes in some roofs if we have to. Amen.
*That would be Ed Bacon at All Saints Church, Pasadena.