Acts 16: 9 – 15
Revelation 21: 10, 22 – 22:5
John 5: 1 – 9
Trudy will be speaking to us in a moment so I am going to be very brief.
Much has been speculated about the man at the Beth-zatha pool. Opinions have ranged from great sympathy at his frustration in not being able to access the water when God’s healing power briefly descended upon the pool, to the view that he was a malingerer and that essentially, in Jesus’ words, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ and ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ he is given his marching orders for finding a kind of inappropriate refuge amongst those who could not shoulder responsibility in order to escape responsibility.
The point I wish to make is that whatever his condition and attitude, he needed help. The question I ask of that is what had the religion of the day done for him these past 38 years? Israel was meant to be a theocracy, one in which the Law of Moses guided life. The Law was full of compassionate measures for the poor, yet the government of the day (whether you look at the Sanhedrin or the religious life based around temple worship) had been ineffective in ministering to this man.
It took an individual, in Jesus, to intervene and do something meaningful for him.
Let me say to you right now that, generally speaking, governments are ineffectual when it comes to caring for people. This is one of the great lies of socialism. What’s more, their interventions seldom turn people in problematic situations into productive citizens. For that you need a number of things:
- People who personally care
- People with a variety of skills, as needs are seldom unidimensional
- People who are ‘always there’
- And of course a budget
You will notice that I have not once mentioned the words, “programme” or “agency” or “social services.”
Now, don’t for a moment think that I am equating the City Mission with Jesus, but I am equating the work they do with a large part of the work of Jesus. In fact to some people in need they are the face of Jesus, and they might be the only face of Jesus they ever get to see.
In the process of the Parish Review, parishioners were frank and honest, and that is wonderfully refreshing. The single issue identified as our greatest need was to be more outward facing. This is why in 2019 we are:
- focussing on the Great Commission – Jesus’ command to us to go out into all the world with the Good News – in fact more than simply the Gospel. We are to make disciples of all nations.
- We are nurturing our relationship with the St Augustine’s Mission Venture
- We are aligning ourselves with the City Mission’s Home Ground project.
I’m going to leave it at that with one concluding remark. If we personally can’t reach the homeless and minister to all their varied problems, the City Mission (founded by the Anglican Church) can be our hands and feet. They do, however, need our help. One way is to give financially and another way is to promote the project to our relatives, friends and acquaintances.
Trudy chairs the Parish Review Working Group that is dealing with this issue, and I hand over to her now.
God bless you all. Amen.