Sunday Scripture – August 25, 2019
We can tell when adults really care for and respect the children around them – they get on their level when they talk to them, kneeling down so that they can speak face to face, not from up high. But we often do not give other adults that same care and respect, such as when someone has a disability that does not allow them to walk as fast, to hear as clearly, or understand us easily. We do not always make the accommodations necessary to be on the same level as others that would allow us to be better neighbors.
The woman in Sunday’s gospel passage has been unable to stand up straight for 18 years. For 18 years she probably has mostly seen a lot of feet and dirty roads and had conversations literally going over her head. How many people in her day to day life noticed that she could not stand up straight, and then took the time and care to bend down and look her in the face instead of continuing on their way? How many of them might have understood her pain and offered her a respite from it?
But Jesus is, in fact, evidence that God bends down and takes notice of us. Not just looking us in the face, but living life alongside us, with all of the joys and all of the pain that we encounter in our lives. We know that Jesus will endure much pain and suffering to come after meeting this woman. But, on this day, he knows that what she needs is to be seen for who she is, not to be ignored. Jesus sees her, sees her pain, and cures her.
Jesus did not care that it was the Sabbath day. Yes, on the Sabbath, we are supposed to put aside our ordinary work, but his work is preaching, teaching, loving and healing, and one cannot simply put away that kind of work. For, instead of distracting him from celebrating and enjoying God, his work is of God and more deeply connected him and all those around him to God’s love and purpose. He asks who wouldn’t care for one of their animals on the Sabbath, if it were in distress. So, shouldn’t we treat our human neighbors with at least that amount of care, if not more?
Jesus knows that we spend too much of our lives distracted by our own worries and pain, and even on the Sabbath, we might worry more about “following the rules” than following the deeper purpose behind those rules. We might miss the ways we can be more deeply connected to God as we worry about completing some sort of “connect with God” Sabbath checklist. “Step 1: Breathe, Step 2: Relax, Step 3: Don’t Get Distracted, Step 4: Not Even by People Who Might Need Help, etc.” Jesus is free of these worries, and wants us to be, too, just as he wanted the woman bent over in pain to be free of her pain.
We have the evidence before us that God loves the world so much that God sent Jesus to us to live among and teach and heal and save us, to paraphrase John. If our bodies or souls are broken and we cannot stand up straight, Jesus does not ignore us or pass us by. Jesus bends down, too, looks us in the eye, and brings us hope, and does not let anything stop him. Jesus is free from worries, and to fully engage the Sabbath. How might we do the same?
- What distracts you from getting closer to God?
- How can you tell the difference between distractions pulling you away from God and the things God places in your life that may seem like distractions, but are actually ways to get closer to God
- What are some ways that you want to spend Sabbath time in order to put aside true distractions?