I am not invalid

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield
Sunday 7th March 2021

40 blogs of Lent — day 17

Spring flowers in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Huddersfield

A spectacularly uneventful week on my life, well at least up to Friday, although I learnt that the home where Dad lives are starting to allow visitors inside, but that will involve having a Covid test, waiting for 30 minutes then putting on full PPE.

Opposite where I sit at home is a house with its corner covered in ivy. A woodpigeon has been landing on a nearby tree, looking at the ivy for a few seconds then hopping across to the ivy and disappearing inside. I suspect nesting. even though I’ve only seen one pigeon at a time there: I hope to see squabs soon.

On Friday, a walk for some fresh air brought me to Holy Trinity churchyard, where spring flowers are out.

Saturday evening was a Zoom meeting for people who have met through the website Ship of Fools. It was good to meet up with people old and new, some who no longer post on or read that site but have made friends there and keep in touch on social media.

This morning the service of the airwaves on local radio was about songs from the book Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos. Trust and Obey was one of those played. The brother and sister presenting it remember the mission hall built by their grandfather in a village on the outskirts of Aldershot. After that the Radio Leeds presenter shared texts and calls that had come in from appreciative people who remembered them from long ago. They have never been part of my life, so I was good to hear that some still have fond memories of worship.

Other than flowers in the yard, Holy Trinity had another YouTube service to offer today. The only similarity with the radio service is that I was drinking a cup of coffee during each one.

There is a problem with the Bible passage in the NIV read in church and also with the ESV. They say, “One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.” The word invalid is not good, people are not invalidated by their disabilities. Traditional translations talk about his infirmity and literal translations talk about an ailment, neither of which I find offensive.

Paul one of our life group leaders, led the service. He started by asking people what they did in 1983. Did you watch breakfast TV? That started that year (I still don’t watch it now), or did you buy a CD which were also new, or have to clean your car of the dust and red rain from from the Sahara? Paul remembers getting married. That was 38 years ago. This service is about a man in the Bible who was an invalid for 38 years until he encountered Jesus.

We read Psalm 95:1-7 which is about worshipping in all kinds of ways.

The reading was John 5:1-15. I recommend that you read this before reading my impression of the sermon. You might also change the translation used once you follow the link from the NIV (but not to the ESV, (see above).

This is the third in our series on Encounters with Jesus. Vicar Mike, preaching. used to live in Bath. There are the ancient baths where Romans used to bathe in the warm mineral springs, seeking an intervention from a Roman goddess. Ar the pool in Bethesda there was a mineral pool and the superstition was yhat the rising bubbles were caused by an angel stirring the water and that if you got into the water first you will be healed.

The sermon had three points:

  1. Jesus makes the first move.
    “Do you want to get well?” he asked, The man wasn’t looking for Jesus, Jesus was looking for him. Jesus does that with us too, he steps into the mess of our life. Our instinct is to live without God; but God causes thing s to happen so that we reach out. No one can come unless the father draws them, it says a few chapters on from this one.
  2. Jesus is more than my personal assistant.
    The man by the pool sees his salvation in the pool, he is waiting for someone to help into the water. We sometimes treat Jesus as our PA, as our Alexa. (Sadly our Alexa did not speak up at this point,) Is our prayer life just about asking God for things? That’s fine, but look at the psalms, they go beyond saying God give me peace, God give me strength and say God you are my peace, God you are my strength, We can come and ask for anything; Jesus is not just out helper, life purpose security is all in Jesus.
  3. Jesus is a life saver not a life improver.
    Jesus did what the pool had promised, he healed the man. Jesus is in the business of raising people up. But now the man is a law breaker for carrying his mat on the Sabbath. He blames Jesus for healing him. Stop sinning or something worse will happen, Jesus later tells him. Jesus didn’t come to just heal the body. bur the man does not take hold of Jesus invitation, he points Jesus out. That’s not how the story should end, the healed man does not believe.

Jesus wants to do so much more. Will we accept the gift of Jesus gift of grace, of being whole in relationship with him?

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