FOR WEDNESDAY, ADVENT III
“What's it like to take a first step?" by Jen Rice, member of St. Christopher's, Pensacola
First steps. I immediately think of my three children and how all of them took their first steps at different ages, in different ways. The thing all of those first steps had in common, however, is that with one motion, my children moved away from total dependence on us and ventured into independence. The next image that comes to mind when thinking of taking a first step is that of Indiana Jones in "The Last Crusade.” Forced to navigate traps to save his father’s life, Dr. Jones must cross a bottomless pit using a seemingly invisible bridge to reach the Holy Grail. (Sorry for the spoilers, but it was released in 1989.) Indiana takes the first step off of the edge-trusting his father’s research, fighting for his father’s life. With that first step, Jones releases his independence and gives himself over to total trust and dependence. The juxtaposition of these two images provides us with a fuller picture of what it is like to take a first step-advancing into the unknown with faith.
In John 5, the man had been waiting at the pools of Bethesda, physically suffering for 38 years. How did he come to be there? How many times had he attempted to get into the pool on his own? How many “first steps” had he taken in his pursuit of healing? Jesus speaks to this specific man and asks, “Do you want to be healed?” Fascinating. Why did Jesus ask this of the man? The answer seems obvious, but we know Jesus loved a good question! I believe Jesus asked the paralyzed man if he wanted to be healed, not because Jesus wanted a resounding YES! but instead because Jesus wanted the man to have a moment of reflection, of introspection, to consider what obstacles he had encountered in his healing journey and what was he willing to do in order to be fully healed. The man did answer with what he thought had prevented his healing—others. Jesus’ answer was for the man to act on faith simply following his instructions. Not others. Not even the pool. To take the final, first step in his journey to wholeness. To step out in faith.
Reading for this week: John 5: 1-15
After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew[a] Beth-zatha,[b] which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay many ill, blind, lame, and paralyzed people.[c] 5 One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 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?” 7 The ill man answered him, “Sir,[d] 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.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
Now that day was a Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’ ” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in[e] the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Collect for this week:
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Join us this Advent as we explore what it’s like to wait! We are offering a collection of daily questions and reflections inviting us to consider what we experience and learn in our waiting, and how we find God - and God finds us - in our waiting.
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