Saturday, May 25, 2019

Readings for 6th Sunday of Easter 26 May 2019

 In A "People Connecting" Way....

Acts 16:9-15
During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home." And she prevailed upon us.

John 5:1-9
After Jesus healed the son of the official in Capernaum, there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids-- blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me." Jesus said to him, "Stand up, take your mat and walk." At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath.

Reflection       Do you ever get that feeling inside, something telling you, “I need to call Emily?” or suddenly for no apparent reason it occurs to you, “I really ought to visit Uncle George?” Or maybe you see a homeless person and feel a tug inside? Or hear about the needs at the Monastery that is serving the newest refugee guests in Tucson and something moves inside you? Or a friend you haven’t heard from in years calls at the moment you are feeling really down and says, “I had a dream about you… is everything alright?” There are so many ways the Spirit of God lives and breathes and moves in our lives. Mostly they are not Marvel Comic action movie moments. Usually they are subtle whispers, nudges or tugs, synchronous encounters or intuitions. 

Paul in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, requires an action packed moment to break him out of his God denying behavior. Most of us do not need such drama, so it behooves us to listen to our more subtle inner urgings. As people of God we can expect the Spirit of God to move within and among us.

Listening to his inner urgings, Paul travels to Macedonia. Eventually he meets Lydia, a successful business woman who by listening to her inner urgings,  becomes Paul’s first convert to Christianity. Listening to and acting on her more subtle inner urgings Lydia passes the good news on to her family and becomes a leader in establishing the Church in Phillipi. 

Listening and acting, like dance partners, the two belong together, complete each other because there is no dance without the two together. This is what we witness at the pool by the Sheepgate, Beth-zatha in the gospel text from John. We are shocked to learn one sick man has laid at the side of the healing pool for thirty-eight years. Although he has been stirred up time and time again, it is not until he hears and responds to Jesus’ invitation to “stand up…and walk” that the man is made well. 

You see, we can desire to be made well. We can pray to be made well. We can hope that someone will come along and rescue us from our dire strait. We can even hear the inner stirrings of God’s Spirit inviting us to be well. But, until and unless we make a decision to receive and respond to the good news of new and renewed life we remain on the sidelines. Much as the sick man lying at the side of the healing pool, life passes us by until we decide to stand up, pick up our mats and walk.

One cannot deny that the Spirit of God is stirring up the waters in our world today, inviting us to grow beyond our current identity. The question is, how is it stirring up your waters? What news item brings you to tears? What story inflames you? What pleadings for help have you heard that keep gnawing at you? What story inspires you? What message of hope can you bring by your actions to people you have not met? The Spirit of God is stirring things up in our world  inviting us to move out of our comfortable ruts. Are you ready to stand up and act on it? 

Listen to the TeDX talk above, right
 - how music reaches across borders to the allá - the something just beyond to which we all aspire.

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