WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR? The Jewish leaders had a very strict understanding of who God accepted and who God rejected. Obviously, they taught, God had accepted the Jews as His favourite – particularly Jewish men. Jewish women were sort of accepted, but only as second-class members of God’s people. This obviously also meant that unless a gentile (a non-Jew) converted to Judaism they could not be accepted by God. Therefore, God rejected all gentiles — and He especially rejected Roman gentiles — but He reserved His ultimate rejection for Samaritans! Jesus then tells the Temple-lawyer the story of the Good Samaritan.
Hurt people hurt people. We’ve all probably encountered a hurting person who hurt us. Perhaps we’ve even been the one doing the hurting. Being hurt hurts. Even the process to becoming healed of this hurt can hurt. And, because it is an unfamiliar hurt, even this longed for healing can create anxiety in some. This can result in the hurt person blame-shifting, withdrawing, and becoming highly critical. Because they then tend to repel others, this makes helping them really difficult. But it can be done. As Jesus demonstrated time and time again.
And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.
Some people have only ever known hurt and pain. From the youngest age they were the victim. They felt that all they ever deserved was rejection, betrayal, and mocking from those who should have most shown them acceptance, loyalty and affirmation. For these people, wholeness doesn’t exist and is not possible—until they witness it in someone else. Then they see what it can look like. This is what happen to the woman who had been haemorrhaging for twelve years. She had lost all hope. But then she began to hear the almost unbelievable stories of Jesus had done for others, and hope was rekindled. The first step toward wholeness for a broken person is a vision of what the pathway to wholeness looks like. For this broken woman it was getting close to Christ and then reaching out to Him. What she didn’t know was that Christ came near to her and invited her to be made whole.
Our theme for this year is Welcome home and there’s good reason for it. I pray regularly that God will bring into our church the hurting, the lost, the lonely, and the broken. Of all the things that these people will need it is most especially: love, care, support, understanding, acceptance, friendship, and rules. These are the things that a good home provides and they are also what our church can deliver. But it will mean that we will have to be very clear about the rules for achieving this because hurting, lost, lonely, and broken people are all too often hardened, bitter, self-pitying, and very negative people.
WHOSOEVER MAY COME
And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.’
Many people think that a church is a building. We don’t. Church is a family. Our building is where our church meets – it’s our dining room where our dining table is set each Sunday with a banquet of plenty of food for everyone. And when we say ‘plenty of food’ we mean more than enough. And when we say ‘more than enough’ we mean enough for as many visitors as might turn up. It’s the kind of dining table where everyone is invited, everyone is welcome, everyone is noticed, and everyone belongs. This picture of church is beautifully illustrated by King David’s dining table and who he invited to it.
MEPHIBOSHETH MAY COME
When David became king of Israel after the death of King Saul and his son, Jonathan, he wanted to honour his friendship with his late friend Jonathan. He enquired whether any of Jonathan’s family had survived.
¶ Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.
Second Samuel 4:4
Mephibosheth was a paraplegic. But he was given a place at the King’s table.