Carrying one another to Jesus.

There’s a passage in Luke’s account of the gospel where a group of men bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus. They’re carrying him on a bed, of sorts. They’re unable to reach Jesus because of the crowds so Luke tells us that they went up on the roof, tore through the tiles, and let him down through the roof right into the midst of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

I thought of this today as I sat and watched an elderly gentleman and long time member of our church approach the altar rail to receive communion. The gentleman stays at a nearby rehab facility and rarely is able to come to church (although our priest typically brings him communion each Sunday after service, others visit him during the week). However, on occasion he is able to come on a Sunday morning and it’s always quite moving.

Anyways, this morning I watched as two people helped to hold him up and walked him up to the railing. He was entirely dependant on them to get up there. He looked almost like a coat draped over a hanger. Then he knelt. Ate the bread, drank the wine. I watched as they helped him to his feet again and then two others came along to help him down the steps.

**

I had a brief conversation with a young woman recently who said she finds it hard to go to church these days because she’s not sure she believes anymore. She just can not seem to pray the prayers we pray with integrity and authenticity. “So what?” I said, “it’s not about you.” They’re not her prayers anyways, these are the prayers of the whole church so when we pray them we never pray alone, we always pray along with others even those saints who have gone before us. My faith may be weak, if that, but when I pray those words my prayers are taken up with the prayers of all the Lord’s saints, taken up into the eternal prayer of Jesus himself, even if I don’t believe them at the moment.

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2 comments
  1. This last bit about going to church when you’re not sure what you believe, and the prayers of the community holding us all together… reminds me of a Henri Nouwen quote I read earlier this fall, about Thomas hanging out with the disciples even when he said he couldn’t believe until he saw Jesus’ scars. But the belief of the community and his presence with them held him together and carried him through and then Jesus showed up, because that is what Jesus does.

    At least, that is my paraphrase of the quote. I find this perspective encouraging and helpful. There is another quote on this from Lauren Winner that I love.

    (helpful, isn’t it, this almost-sharing of insights and thoughts?)

    • jt* said:

      Nice. I’m reminded also of the disciples on the road to Emmaus at the end of John’s gospel. There they were, walking along beside Jesus, talking with him, and yet they did not recognize him. John tells us that it was only as Christ opened the scriptures to them and broke bread with them that they recognized him as the risen Jesus. There’s something to this, that we learn to see Jesus in the opening of the scriptures and the breaking of the bread, so that it is only really in the midst of this sort of community that one can learn to believe in the first place.

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