I was asked by Star, a precious former youth from a church I have served years ago, what was one of my favorite and inspiring Bible stories. Many came to mind, but one I particularly remember, celebrate, and base much of my understanding of Jesus upon came to the forefront. It is Luke 5:12-15. In this story, a very busy Jesus is getting a ministry started that would change the world. He had many important tasks to accomplish; gathering staff (the calling of the disciples) pitching His product (preaching and teaching the Good News) and promoting a new worldview (vision casting). That might be how our corporate or entrepreneurial culture might see it, but Jesus was simply trying to bring Good News and Hope as an alternative to hopelessness and despair, oppression and division. There was a better way and a brighter future. But it would take much work.
In the midst of such imperative tasks and the hard job of trying to create momentum, Jesus was confronted with a human in need. And true to who Jesus was and is, He stopped and put the task at hand aside, to engage and include this man, this leprous, discarded, society thrown away soul, to count him as worthy of attention.
And to take it just a step further, Jesus not only lent an ear to the man, He listened and met the man’s deepest need. A distraction? Yes, but far more. An opportunity to invest in a life, and change the world. The man had a disease that made it necessary according to law to announce loudly when nearing any people that he was “unclean”. So, after that who wants to be first in line to be his bestie? He was forced not only to take the animosity from others, but by law he was forced to be complicit, whether he liked it or not, in his own degradation. He was cast away from “normal, healthy” people to live a life on the margins of society.
And consider that he was not only undesirable but he was in a literal sense untouchable. No human contact with anyone not stricken with his disease. “If you are willing, Lord, You can make me clean.” The man cried out. I hear desperation in that cry. And then Jesus did something so powerful, so profound, yet often missed in a quick reading. Jesus reached out His hand and TOUCHED the man and said “I am willing.” And by the TOUCH of Jesus the man was made well.
Words are important, particularly Jesus’ words. But put the words with actions and they become supercharged. Jesus’ words inspire and teach. They provide much needed clarity on right and wrong, good and bad, what is of true value. But it is also Jesus’ touch, that comes through experiencing God’s grace, not just hearing about it, that is so needed and powerful. Any way we experience God’s grace is a wondrous gift that awakens in us growth, and increases in us compassion, and provokes in us a call to action to justice.
Jesus loves me (and by default and nature ALL persons) this I know, for the Bible tells me so! Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but Jesus is Strong!
So, what is my favorite Bible Story? Hard to pin it down, but this one has to rank way up there with all the others that show the nature and love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Why anyone would not embrace, welcome and receive this love so freely offered, I do not know. My hunch is they need to see it … perhaps in you and me.
PS I want to take a minute to share some great opportunities coming up:
Spaghetti Dinner Mission Fund Raiser. Mark your calendar for Saturday Nov. 18th for a delicious Spaghetti dinner to support our Texas mission trip. If you would like to volunteer to help, please contact Sue Reynolds 603-548 5578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Thanksgiving Dinner On Thanksgiving day Nov 23rd from 11:30 AM - 1PM we will be doing a brand new outreach, providing a full Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who would like to join us. Who might attend a free Thanksgiving dinner? Those who have no family near by. Those who can’t afford to prepare or do not have the means to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner. The elderly. Or people who just want to share this time with friends and neighbors. We need help and donations to prepare the meal. We are also providing transportation where needed, so we will need drivers.
Sign up to cook a turkey, bring a pie, help to serve, drive etc…(Click here to volunteer). We need 25-30 people
Encourage those who might be alone or those who might be struggling to make a meal to come enjoy a Thanksgiving meal at Rock Church Plaistow. They can sign up online (www.rock-church.org/thanksgiving-dinner) or call 603 378-9388.
Shoeboxes Due this Sunday! Operation Christmas Child boxes are due November 12th at any campus. Click here to view the newsletter for details.