Our worship theme this week is healing as our Bible readings bring us back to the basics. Sort of a Real Life 101 from James 2:1-10, (You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” v8), and Mark 7:24-37 where Jesus is challenged by an “outsider” who expects a blessing, (But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” v28).
Our recent Mission Study helped us to look at our communities with fresh and current eyes. Take a look at your neighborhood. When you open your front door, what do you see? If you had to rank what your neighbors want more than anything else, would it be #1 worship, or #1 preaching/teaching, or #1 healing? Our churches have always focused on worship. And yes, we need great worship. And, yes, we need great preaching and teaching. But most of all, I think our communities need great healing. Spiritual healing. Physical healing. Emotional healing. And all of us can experience the healing we require and become an essential part of that healing offered to our communities.
John 3:17 reminds us, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” The word translated save is also translated and means heal. What comes to you mind when you re-read this verse, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to heal the world through him. This message invites us to take a deeper look at our ministry in the community and ask how we can work with Jesus who not only saves or delivers us as forgiven, redeemed, people with eternal hope, but calls us to be in the healing business with him. Our communities need healing today. How will they know Jesus as the Great Healer if we don’t show them?
Find out how to practice the Art and Mission of Community Healing this week, at Cold Spring Church.
Here is an eye chart. Read the row. Nice. You see pretty good. Try these goggles on! New swim goggles. Tell me what you see. Oh, not so much? Why is that? There is something on the lens obscuring your vision. Sorry. Take this lens cleaner and let’s clean them up. Now you can see clearly. You know, God is doing all sorts of great things all around us. But some of the things God does can’t be easily seen. Love. Forgiveness. Hope. Peace. Our vision is clouded, our eyes of faith are obscured. What we need is a spiritual lens cleaning cloth. Here’s a lens cleaning cloth for your glasses. The spiritual cloth is made from hope and faith. Remember to begin your day with clear vision so we see God’s love in action right in fron to you.
“On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says’ (John 7:38).
Rivers of water are powerful. We know this power living at the shore. While it looks like the sandy beaches constrains the water, it is the power of the water that moves and shapes the beach. Jesus said that rivers of living water of the Spirit would flow from those who follow him, quenching every thirst. Our church was named for the cold spring nearby, a place of refreshment for all who pass by. But sometimes the rivers of life are hard to get to safely so we build bridges that make connections for us so that the river does not overwhelm, but remains accessible on our journey.
Take a look at the photo (above) of the Choluteca Bridge in Honduras. It was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1930. It survived many storms providing safe connections from one side of the river to another, and easy access to the river bed below. Until Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Hurricane Mitch was a Category 5 storm that decimated Central America with more than 22,000 human lives lost and millions left without adequate shelter. Many lesser bridges were destroyed.
As you can see from the photo taken after the storm (above), the Choluteca Bridge survived unscathed. (Yes, that is the same bridge! It’s the river that moved!)
Where did the river go? The hurricane couldn’t move the bridge, but the hurricane picked-up and moved the river making the bridge a bridge to nowhere.
Sometimes we can recognize that our former “bridges” and “community connections” remain intact, but they are no longer anywhere near today’s community or its concerns. Since Jesus is the Living Water, the water of life, our mission as the bridge is to connect people in our communities to that Living Water. For the bridge to fulfill its purpose it must be in the river and connecting others to the river of life, too.
Cold Spring Presbyterian Church has withstood the seasons and storms of life for hundreds of years. We’re still standing! We were build on a solid foundation. Our structures are strong. We just may not always notice that the water has moved. Our neighbors may not even know they are thirsty, but the accessibility to the Living Water is out of reach… unless we extend our bridge in every direction to reach people who need to see God’s love in action. We have the Living Water. We don’t want to be a beautiful bridge to nowhere. Instead, we have begin a transformation journey to let the Living Water flow and connect to our community’s rivers in Lower Township and Cape May that are flowing, moving, dynamically changing. Let’s work together to address the moving river:
(We’re the bridge!) Be Willing to Relocate the Bridge: When its really difficult to make new connections, what do you do? Stay rigidly in place, or adapt and grow until new connections are made.
Spirit Bridges Are Flexible: We have many wonderful structures, our bridges, that need to be flexible to stay connected to the Living Water and the rivers of life all around us.
Everyone is a Bridge-Builder, a People-Connector: Each of us has a gift, an interest, an experience, talent, or skill that can help relocate and reconnect our bridge to our community.
Oddly, the word “bridge” does not appear in the Bible, but remember that Jesus is the ultimate Bridge-Builder, “as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10).
The Apostle Paul again wrote, “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
The Choluteca Bridge was a marvel of engineering but lacked the capacity to keep up with the river waters. Let’s be sure our bridges are making contact with people where they are by getting in the water, the flow of the Spirit, so even more can drink and quench their thirst.