August 21, 2016

“Doing Good in a 24/7 Life”


The room is sweltering. The air is saturated with the breath of all those who had come to see Jesus – the traveling rabbi from the Galilee. He causes a ruckus wherever he goes, but people find him to be a great teacher. As he preaches, this woman makes her way to him. He stops his teaching, looking at her. From the back of the room, the synagogue teacher could not tell what Jesus’ expression was.  All he sees is that the woman is healed.


“Who is that? How dare she! This is a holy day – a holy place – and she has disrupted what we came here for: to act like we are listening to Torah before lunch at Auntie’s house. How dare he stop the service for this nonsense! That’s not why we are here. Couldn’t she come later? Auntie hates when we’re late. Ugh, we will never get back on track. Hey Jesus, we came here to learn something!”


This leader had been working all week too doing synagogue duties. He was tired. And having a guest rabbi had to be sweet since he wouldn’t have to speak. But now new guy here is messing it all up! They didn’t want a healing service. Yes, healing is good, but now? How would you feel if, during communion, someone wanted to show you their messed up surgery toe and you couldn’t go up for some bread? You’d be mad, right?


It’s so easy to wrap up this story with a nice little bow. Lady is hurting and needs help. Jesus helps. Synagogue leader, wanting to be the expert on when someone can be healed and annoyed his synagogue will become a freakshow, gets mad. Jesus thinks, “here’s a chance to teach you a lesson, bub,” and proceeds to fuss at him.


Or is that what Jesus was thinking at all? To an audience of people all dragged down by their daily lives, who were likely just as annoyed as the synagogue leader that the sermon they wanted they had to wait for, maybe this moment needed to be a teaching moment. Maybe Jesus was like, “what’s most important here during the holy hour of the week?”


Luke doesn’t mention anything about someone else speaking up. When the synagogue leader protests, Jesus says, “Hypocrites!” which is plural, if you didn’t notice. So, either Jesus can’t count or he knows that the synagogue leader is not alone in his thoughts.


Many others saw the same nuisance, the same disruption. “There is a time and place for healing, and worship is not it. Isn’t that why we give money to the synagogue? So someone else can deal with this? When we meet God and God says, ‘How have you loved me?” we can respond with “Ten denarii a week is how much I love you. You’re welcome.”


We’re busy! We can’t do good all the time. We have jobs. It’s really hard selling used chariots in this economy. And my kids always want to see the gladiators. What about date night? We can’t tend to the lepers on date night – they’ll totally kill the mood.


Jesus says the poor are always with us, so what good is doing good if we don’t get any time off? Why bother if, even when we should have “our” time, we are faced with people who are so relentless about being healed? Or, I don’t have time or money, so I don’t have anything to offer. Sick people need so much effort. I’m too busy to help them.


But…what if we did anyway? What if we decided that we could afford to carve out a little time to help? What if we decided we could sacrifice one activity, one hobby, one hour to try to help? What if we realized that people who are sick, or poor, or whose homes weren’t as good as our homes are actually a lot like us?


What if we realized the angry, bitter person with terminal illness would just love someone to watch The Bachelor with them? What if that person we think spends money on cigarettes instead of food is actually hanging out at a gas station hoping someone would just offer them someone to talk to while they eat a leftover sandwich? What if we spent five minutes with a homeless person to realize we both like the blues? What if we held on to those memories so the next time something horrible happens in the world, we have a face and a name to put with it and care more about it?


It’s a lot easier for me to want to donate to the Louisiana floods because I just saw that state. I saw people with lives and problems like mine who just want someone to care about them – even if it is really inconvenient.


Doing good, when life is busiest and our bank account is stretched, is when God appreciates it the most. When no eyes are on you but your own and maybe the one needing help. When you give an offering to God far more than you ever have – not to be noticed by anyone but God and you. That is what good, truly good, living is, and we shouldn’t need Jesus to call us hypocrites to know when we aren’t doing that.


Christ wants to heal the afflictions that ail you, because He knows that you can be his hands and feet right now. I urge you to give more fully to the church, because we do need people who give money so we can help others. If you haven’t noticed, our accounts are dwindling and we could use help. We don’t spend frivolously so we can redirect funds for ministry. If you are hurting about Louisiana, the link to donate to disaster response is on the screen and on Facebook. But most of all, when life is busiest, I ask you keep a lookout for people who really need a smile, a kind word, or maybe something more. They have the same image of God in them that you have. Share yours and you will see theirs. And you may just heal them a little in the process.

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