Category Archives: Tuesday Morning services

Tuesday Church 12 March – Grumpy or grateful?

Reading: John 5:1- 16

Joh 5:1  Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews.

Joh 5:2  Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.

Joh 5:3  Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed [—and they waited for the moving of the waters.]

Joh 5:4  [From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had.]

Joh 5:5  One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.

Joh 5:6  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

Joh 5:7  “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Joh 5:8  Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

Joh 5:9  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath,

Joh 5:10  and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

Joh 5:11  But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, “Pick up your mat and walk.'”

Joh 5:12  So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

Joh 5:13  The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

Joh 5:14  Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

Joh 5:15  The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

Joh 5:16  So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him.

Message                                                                                                      Tuesday Church in March

John 5:6  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

The story is told of a man who had an offensive body odour. He went to the doctor to see if something could be done about it. The doctor examined him and could find nothing physically wrong. He scratched his head and said, “What do you do for a living?” The man sighed and said, “Well, that may be the problem. You see, I work at the airport, and it’s my job to empty the holding tanks from the restrooms aboard the aircraft. It’s all over head, you know, and invariably, some of the spillage ends up getting on me. Try as I may, it’s hard to get it all off.” “Hmmm,” the doctor said, “Sounds like you need to look for a new job.” The man looked at the doctor and said, “What? And get out of aviation?!”

It’s a strange question really – to a man who is effectively at the local hospital.

Jesus asks him: “Do you want to get well?”

By way of background (if your bible seems to have missing verses) this pool with its five porticoes or colonnades was once thought not to have been real – scholars thought this must have been a fictitious story – until archaeologists found it! Neat hey! We are told that the water moved probably due to an underground spring – people believed an angel moved the waters and the first in would be healed.

Repetition is not always a good thing – the man kept coming along (or getting someone to bring him along) although recognised he had no way of getting to the water.

He seems to be one of those “it’s his fault” people. Blaming someone or circumstances. Listen to him again: “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” (5:7)

For 38 years? He seems quite capable of communicating – one wonders whether he could not have asked friends or family to come to his assistance.

In case you think I am being unfair – look what happens when he gets into trouble for carrying his mat on the Sabbath:

… the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”  But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, “Pick up your mat and walk.'” (verses 10-11)

There must have been sin in his life – otherwise why would Jesus say:  Joh 5:14  Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

There are worse things than paralysis? Jesus was onto something here!

Perhaps his sin was to hold on to his circumstances – and not really to want to move forward? Listen to what happens next:

So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (12-14)

Sadly he seems to have missed the point – not heard Jesus’ word to him. The story continues: The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. (15-16)

How kind Jesus is.

What grace!

How stuck the man is in his thinking. He is physically healed on the spot – but his attitude needs some serious work!

He still seems to try to clear his name for breaking the Sabbath by going BACK to the Jewish authorities and telling on Jesus – shifting the blame.

Lent is a time to examine our attitudes too.

Sometimes we are stuck in a grumpy blame-game. God has blessed us with grace and favour – like the man who was healed.

We too have habits that we need to have changed – in our thinking and outlooks!

Do you want to get well in the fullest sense?

I do.

Amen.

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Ash Wednesday – a step ahead of the pack (service on Tuesday 12 February @10.00am)

Readings:  Matthew 6:1-6;  16-21

The beginning of Lent – is often seen as gloomy time of repentance. The focus on human sin and frailty. Traditional Ash Wednesday liturgies focus on the brevity of life and remind worshipers that they came from dust and will soon enough return back to the earth, dust once more. The Pastor applies ashes in the shape of the cross on the forehead of each person and speaks theses words, “For dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).

I’m not sure that we need that reminder – most of us are quite familiar with our frailty and have experienced death in our family and friends circle. (I saw a sign in shop yesterday reminds us – Don’t take life too seriously – nobody gets out of here alive!)

The Gospel reading for tomorrow reminds us of some important things in our Christian disciplines however. There is a focus on the positive.

Mat 6:1  “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Mat 6:2  “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

Mat 6:3  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

Mat 6:4  so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Mat 6:5  “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

Mat 6:6  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Mat 6:16  “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

Mat 6:17  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,

Mat 6:18  so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Mat 6:19  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

Mat 6:20  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Mat 6:21  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Note the assumptions – when you give (v2), when you pray (v5) and when you fast (v17). These are a normal expectation for Christians and an ordinary part of the Christian life.

The text is set out as a serious of contrasts – not dos and don’ts, but don’ts and dos. In fact there is a lovely poetic rhythm to the whole passage.

If we have anything to repent of it’s the fact that we are not good at these things – not all of them at any rate. Giving, praying and fasting.

Our hearts are trapped in other worries. They consume our energy and time.

So after this reminder of the routine spiritual disciplines and how we should do them mainly in the secret place before God, Jesus gets to the heart of things – literally.

He talks about treasure. The things we cherish and value – which are vulnerable to moths, rust and theft. Either way they perish or land up in someone else’s house – only to perish there. They can only go to the op shop a couple of times really.

Investing time in giving, praying and fasting, is investing in heaven – in God’s economy. And he ends with this: Mat 6:21  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

In one of the hymns we will sing today there is the line – take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I behold. The writer of the hymn revisited that verse prayerfully and gave all her jewelry (except for one brooch) to the Church Mission Society of the day. She knew about treasures in heaven.

So where will your heart be over these next 46 days until Easter? (The 40 days excludes the 6 resurrection day Sundays which are not fast days historically).

I’m not even sure that we have to give up things. I think that misses the point as our whole life is meant to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12).

Maybe we can engage life more worshipfully – be more thankful – invest in some things that need attention – like appreciating the beauty around us, being thankful for the good people do even if we get irritated by their bad points. So we can give up grumbling, but not just for 40 days!

Maybe we should die to self more and take more risks – caring for those who are not easy to care for – reconnecting with people we have neglected (pick up the phone) – stopping to notice the good things that we take for granted. Praying more – criticising less. So we can give up criticising – but not just for 40 days!

Make your own list of 40 things – and you may find it’s not all dust and ashes. It’s a remarkable world – and it didn’t happen by chance. The people in your life are not an accident or there by chance either. God has put them there to teach you things!  🙂

There are too many wonderful things to celebrate – we should be much nicer to be with most of the time – with a revived attitude of gratitude.

Treasure the things that are treasure.

Make it a great 40 days – and it won’t matter that you and I will be dust one day. There is too much to be thankful for now and too much to look forward to when we die. Easter has settled that!

Amen.