Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Passers By

Picture by Nina Strehl

The passage in John from John 5: 1-6 tells a story of how Jesus starts a conversation with a sick man who had been passed by and overlooked for years as he tries to make his way to the  healing waters. He has lived in pain, and is one of the marginalized who is seen by passers by each day as they go to the well. Jesus heals the man and takes pity on him. It made me think of times in my life where I almost missed the boat because I was too busy just passing by.
    Not too long ago I was rushing into a grocery store on a Sunday morning, before heading to church, and there were suddenly two strangers accosting me before I went in to give money to help feed the hungry. I rushed by and said, “I’ll catch you on the way out!  As I was in a hurry, I still took the time to stop and give them a donation as I left and added, “Here we are on a Sunday morning and I’m headed to church. It would defeat the purpose to simply rush by and not stop to help those who are helping others." (I knew the organization was a dedicated local non-profit).  So, my lesson to myself for the day was this: If you are going to church and decide you are in too big a hurry to stop and help those in need or who are helping those who are hungry and in need of loving assistance, you should stop, (as I did), to remember the purpose of WHY we go to church in the first place!

       Some years back, I was leaving a dollar store in an area that was notorious for panhandlers and those looking for handouts. A man who probably was not very old was lying on the sidewalk close to the entrance, and I stopped and gave him a five-dollar bill. I’ll never forget the look on that man’s face, as I turned to leave. The look I saw gave me a sense of shame, and I remember after all these years, the feeling I had of a need to assess my own humanity. People passed by this young person who was lying by the door as if he was a piece of discarded tissue.

     I know that I have tried to be conscious of all those who are on the streets as we meander through our days and see these people as fixtures in our lives. At times, when we are busy, we don’t see them. They are simply there. We are too busy just passing by.

    Jesus stopped and healed a man who had been waiting for years to find comfort and solace and humanity. As Christians, we are Christ’s messengers who carry an important tiding of solace and hope. Yet we are tardy and neglectful at times, and we think too often of our own wants and desires. And that is why we are imperfect and human and mindful of the fact that we need to be forgiven by God. Fortunately for us, God does not treat us as passers-by. He listens to our prayers, eagerly nurtures our hopes and comforts us through our sorrows and tribulations. We cannot become mere passers-by when practicing Christianity. The need for today and every day is for us to go ‘all-in’ on the message of Christ.  “As I have done for others, it is for you to treat others as you would have them do the same for you. “-

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