Posted by Rev. Daniel Christian on April 27, 2018
Friends on Facebook are posting videos about “getting in shape for summer.” I have seen video challenges on preparing for pool side good times. They are planning for weight loss, bikini ready bodies, diet, and my favorite was switching from wine to vodka! All this booze, bench-press and bathing suit talk got me thinking about water and healing.
Built in New York’s Central Park sits one of the most famous fountains in New York, and also the world. It is something to behold. An upper terrace and lower terrace both descend to a fountain courtyard below that looks out over a lake. Smiling people, trees, and Manhattan skyline in the distance. It is exquisite!
Twenty-six feet high and ninety-six feet wide; atop the fountain rests an eight-foot bronze angel, known as The Angel of the Waters. She stands above four small cherubim, each represents health, purity, temperance and peace. The Angel of the Water carries a lily in one hand, that represents the water’s purity, while the other hand remains outstretched, poised in action of delivering a blessing on the water flowing from around her feet.
This crown jewel of Central Park is known as, The Bethesda Fountain. It gets its name from healing pools of Bethsaida. In Hebrew, Beth-Saida translates to House of Mercy.
Water in the Hebrew and Greek Bibles is precious. If you live in California for just a little while, you soon figure that out. Water is a symbol of life, peace, purity, fertility, healing and abundance.
When Jesus enters the healing pools of Bethesda. He is not an unknown. He isn’t anonymous and casually strolling along the water’s edge without a care in the world. People know who he is. They are coming from miles away to see him and be near him. People are waiting to seek him in the synagogue, in the street, in the public square, healing pools, you name it; he is big news!
People are suffering. They have been hearing about Jesus and now here he is, right before their eyes. Wherever Jesus goes, he is entering a sea of human suffering.
Jesus must wade through a sea of wounded and sick souls. And then one man, afflicted for thirty-eight years is lying there.
Life is chaotic at times. We move fast. Stress and stress related illness are sadly more and more prevalent with adults; and we now pass it along to our children! Teenagers with stress related illnesses and mental and emotional health issues have reached epidemic proportions.
Life moves at such speed that we all too often have to step over people. They are invisible to us. If you walk in downtown Ukiah or San Rafael, you’ve stepped over a few people. If you have ever lived or worked in downtown San Francisco, especially on Market from Powell Street to Civic Center, if you want to walk somewhere, it means stepping over a lot of people!
Picture for a moment what it would be like to lay on the sidewalk and be invisible to everyone? This man, paralyzed and invisible has something unbelievable happen to him! Jesus does something. He looks him in the eye and speaks to him. Society has pushed him aside. Jesus asks him a simple question, “Do you want to be made well?”
If any of you have ever talked to a friend, a counselor, therapist, minister, rabbi, or parent about something very important and painful in your life, one question has the power to lift the weight of the world from your shoulder. Think how healing it is when someone is listening to you. Not simply waiting for you to stop talking so they can talk; but truly listening to your life.
The healing voice of Jesus shines the light between sickness and health. Jesus healing a paralyzed person at the pools of Bethesda asks the question: can healing, rooted in faith, make our minds and bodies well?
Can our faith heal us when our emotions have been damaged, or when our spirit is broken?
The healing at the Bethesda Pools remind us, that the healing touch of God, is extended to all people. Not some people, but all of us, no matter who we are. No matter our race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation or how able bodied we are.
This invisible and despised man looks into Christ’s face. Something happened, something unique, something that has hasn’t happened in years, the man stands up!
Do we believe in God’s capacity to heal to be true? Better yet, do we want to live as if it is true? If I open my life to God, can God, will God, heal me? For the paralyzed man and for all people of every age, healing is being brought closer to God.
I am going to the gym later today. I won’t be thinking as much about bathing suits, but healing and vodka might be my column for next week!
Rev. Daniel Christian is the Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah.
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