Monday, March 23, 2009

Take Up Your Mat and Walk

March 24 2009

By Beth DeCristofaro

Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live,…for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail…for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. (Ezekial 47: 9,12)

God is our refuge and our strength, There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High. God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed; God will help it at the break of dawn. (Psalm 46: 2, 6)

Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. … "Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you." (John 5:2,14)


Gracious God, you give us all our needs through your flowing gifts. Grant me greater freedom and peace from all that binds me, blinds me, frightens me, irritates me and causes me to stray or hesitate to say “yes” to you. I ask to wade in the flow of your life and sit on the fertile banks, nourished, enriched, renewed. I ask to take up my mat and walk with your son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


Water flows through these readings today symbolizing the many gifts and presence of God. God’s abundant blessings flow bringing life, fecundity, healing, cleansing. God overcomes the death of the arid desert or of the sinful soul, sustaining, refreshing, hope.

This flow is also symbolic of God’s word through human history. The Chosen people journeyed on God’s word to a land flowing in natural riches. The divine out flowing continued as they build a capital city designed to honor God and although it is not built on a river, the prophet sees the upwelling water emanating from God present within it. The stream continues through the songs of the psalmist to the birth of the Word, to the pool at Bethsaida and the feet of Jesus who is the divine upwelling personified.

The divine flow continues as Jesus’ body sheds his last drop of human water and he rises to redeem. Today we stand bathed in the flow from the sanctuary first by our baptism in which the indwelling God resides within us and then by our agreeing to take up our mats and walk as Jesus directs, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you." Jesus brought the man at the well into wholeness of body and spirit and Jesus will do so for us. Jesus did not tell the man that his sins caused him to be incapable of walking but that the spiritual life affects the physical life and God wants complete wholeness for us.

We know how difficult this is! “Kicking” or letting go of our deficits and incompleteness is a never ending work. Other people or our own interior voices chide us: "It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat." It takes great courage and dependency on God to continue to “get up and walk”. But it is what Jesus calls us to do. God wants us to be free and joyful as part of God’s beloved creation.


Jesus taught how important community is: the disciples worked together, Jesus healed the sick and lame and sent them to the temple to be welcomed back into their rightful life. How can these images of healing, restorative, life giving waters be brought to bear on our own responsibility to our community? In this land where water is plentiful, dripping from our faucets, filling our bathtubs and pools, watering our gardens, do we consciously conserve so that others with less access have their needs met? Even if the water from the Potomac does not irrigate the parched earth of Sudan, China, the American West or Australia’s outback, our acts of conscious concord with our brothers and sisters are acts of grace.

No comments: