Reading: Mark 2:1-5 (Jesus began healing and teaching in Capernaum and people there were immediately drawn to him. Then he left them without warning early one morning, and soon he was healing and teaching people in all kinds of other places. Now he is back, and the people of Capernaum are glad he is back with them, to heal and teach them.)
Hard to imagine on a Sunday like this, when so many of our people are either resting up from Peach Festival work already done, getting ready for more this afternoon, or taking time to enjoy one last weekend away before the back-to-school crush … but the story this morning is about a house – Peter’s mother’s home in Capernaum, so jam-packed with people, standing-room-only, flowing-out-and-blocking-all-the-doors-regardless-of-what-the-fire-marshall-may-say, all there for one thing and one thing only – to see and hear and be touched and healed by Jesus, the holy healer and teacher who’s back in town.
If you can imagine that scene, imagine too this conversation among some of the people standing in the door, patiently (and also impatiently) trying to see and hear, hoping that if they are patient (and also pushy) enough they too might get close to the promise of healing that’s there.
Wow. A lot of people here!
Yeah, I didn’t even know there were this many people in Capernaum.
Not this many sick people, anyway.
You think they’re all sick?
You think they’re all from Capernaum?
You mean there’s outsiders here? I thought this was just for us, this time. He’s been away and helping all the other towns a lot. Isn’t it our turn again?
What if it’s like before? What if he heals and teaches the ones who get close, and then even though there’s all kinds of others that need him – like us in the doorway here, and those poor people still out in the yard … hey, that’s my aunt and uncle out there, they must have just got here. And they really need help. They should be head of the line ‘cause they were left out last time he was here... So what if he helps all the people who got in ahead of us, and then leaves?
Yeah, that’s how the world works, isn’t it? Only so much to go around, they say.
Yeah, the people on top say. God’s blessings don’t grow on trees, you know.
Yeah, and even if they do, there’s always some who get lots, and others who just stay lost.
I sure wish there’d be all we need of what we need.
Yeah. As much food as we all need. And as much water as Earth can hold.
As much healing as waves in the ocean. As much hope as stars in the sky.
As much compassion and love as grains of sand by the sea. As much forgiveness and new life as tears and regrets.
Yeah. Can you imagine? Enough for everyone. But who ever heard of such a thing?
Yeah, can you imagine living in that kind of kingdom?
Yeah … I wonder …
Do you think maybe … when you think about Jesus … I mean some of the things they say he says …
Yeah … what he says about the coming of God’s kingdom …
Yeah … it makes me …
Hey!! What’s going on? Something’s happening up there.
Where Jesus is?
I think so.
What is it?
Is he leaving again? Can you hear?
Is he coming our way? Can you see?
No, there’s something … no, someone, being lowered down from the roof above him. It’s a man on a pallet! Coming down to Jesus from the roof!!!
You mean by magic? Someone is doing a magic trick?
Jesus is a magician?
No, it looks like someone – a few people, it must be – are up on the roof, they’ve cut a hole in it, and now they’re lowering a sick man down through the hole, to where Jesus is. There’s four ropes attached to the pallet.
I wonder how they got up there.
I wonder what the people around Jesus think.
Some are clapping for joy.
Others seem angry.
I wonder what Peter’s mother thinks. It’s her house.
I wonder what Jesus thinks.
I know what I think. I think …
At which point, in the crush of the crowd, excited and stirred by this turn of events, we are separated from the people we have been overhearing.
Left to our own devices, our own imaginations, our own feeling responses to the way the kingdom of God appears then and now and always in and around Jesus, I wonder how we most easily imagine the conversation finishing.
Might it be:
Queue-jumpers! It happens all the time.
Yeah, it just isn’t fair. Why do some people always get special treatment?
Why do foreigners get more than we do?
Yeah, we have a lot of needs right here. When is it going to be our turn again?
Yeah, it all depends who you know, and how many strings they can pull. Why isn’t it us?
Or might it be:
Wow! I’m so glad for that man.
There’s no way he could have got in there on his own. I’m glad someone was able to help him …
He could have gone unnoticed forever and just died out there …
glad Jesus is here and so open.
Yeah, imagine a world like that – no boundaries between in and out, no one excluded or left out, new life and hope for all …
even the poor and powerless …
So glad I saw it … so blessed to see something like this happen …
so happy to be part of this. I love how good the world can be.
It’s just gotta be good for all of us together in the long run.
I wonder …
left to our own devices,
our own imaginations,
our own feeling responses
to the way the kingdom of God
appears in the world both then and now,
I wonder what we most often are able to add
to conversations like this around us,
and how we help lead them to some good end.