John 5: 2 – 9
“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. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 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?”
“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.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”
Truth be told, we don’t know much about the man by the pool. We don’t know his inner thoughts, motivation levels, or the content of his character. I’m sure a lot of assumptions have been made about him through endless sermons on this text.
What we do know is that he was stuck – for a long time. Lying there waiting – for thirty-eight years.
What we do know is that when Jesus asks him if he want things to change – he offers a defense of why he’s been so stuck.
What we do know is that Jesus’ response is to tell him to get up – to step up into the change he wants.
And what we do know is that the man was cured.
I wonder whether there was a moment where the man had to own the cure wrought by Jesus – had to take the first step, had to risk, had to face his fears of failure and disappointment.
I wonder whether he thought about the fact that his entire life would change if he was healed.
I wonder if he worried about how he would now support himself as an able-bodied person.
I wonder if in hearing Jesus’ words he felt more excitement or more fear; more possibility or more uncertainty.
It’s not hard to make this a metaphor for people with privilege who languish in their own comfort zones. It’s not hard to surmise about their inner thoughts, motivation levels, or content of their character. It’s not hard to make assumptions.
What we do know is that the invitation is right in front of us. Step up. Speak up. Stand in solidarity with. Demonstrate support. Grow in ally-ship.
“Get up church people. Walk in the steps of justice. Use your privilege to serve those without. Recognize your interconnection with those different than yourself.”
If you wonder if your life will change if you risk speaking out on behalf of LGBTQ+ people ….
If you wonder if more will be expected and asked of you once you speak up ……
If you vacillate between anticipation and trepidation ….
Remember, Jesus doesn’t tell us to get up and walk without giving us the capacity to do so.
Lord of the Dance, Host of the Feast, free us to enter and enjoy the new heart and mind that you always offer humanity. Free us from all those things which make us small, smug, or superficial. Show us, by going first, how to dip under the waters of grace and mercy, and to never hold you to what we think you have said, if it holds us back from what you still want to say. Amen.
~ Richard Rohr