30.6.15

Undoing the reluctance of Adam


Jesus' ministry challenges us to reach out and never give up. 

We are to reach out to this Jesus who has revealed himself to us.

We are to start out to meet him only to find him completely turned to us.

It was always about God's grace, remember, God being 'for you' through the cross. God chose you, long before you chose him. God chose you before the foundation of the world. It delights God when we RSVP to invitations he has sent.

In our scriptures (Mark 5:21-43) two more people reach out to Jesus and will never give up. They both have much to lose – and face potential judgement from the crowd. Both would be untouchable - the woman due to her condition and the man because death has visited his abode. They both reach out to Jesus with actions that are humble and full of faith - the woman pushing on in a condemning crowd, the man, a religious leader, with his face in the grit of the ground. 

Grit and sweat and heaving crowds – gospel stuff that overwhelms because God's love is overwhelming - unstoppable as it resounds around.

Grit and sweat and heaving crowds – I took my ten year old to the fair yesterday. I walked with my daughter to Ealing Green and as we walked along we negotiated holding hands. “Sticky hands mum” she said – so hot – and we let go. We negotiate touch all the time depending on such things. And yet Jesus touches the untouchables and makes them clean, reaches out in all the awkwardness with little regard for himself.

As a family we see friends soon I meet annually as we New Wine holiday in Somerset, I will have to remember after a year how I greet each person when we gather again. Will I handshake? Cheek-kiss? Single hug? Double-hug? I need to remember one friend who has said quite jovially she doesn't hug, it's not a problem instead she does this kind of squeezy fore-arm thing. I share this point about touch because in Mark's story today Jesus touches the untouchables and we are challenged by this as we negotiate contact all the time. The Christian story is about a God who reaches down in being born and with arms outstretched upon the cross to give his world a mighty hug restoring us to him.

In the Cisteen chapel, Michael Angelo's famous painting of God and Adam shows God's body twisting as he completely extends his arm to Adam to touch him with a fingertip. Adam only partially raises an arm and doesn't lean on in to God. We need to acknowledge that this is our tendency and reach on out to him.

We have a Jesus of the untouchables, a scandalising Messiah as we watch a woman reaching out to him, pushing her way into the crowd and having faith that knows no bounds. We watch Jairus whose name means enlightened who will learn something new about a God who has the power to bring life again where all was thought past dead.

Jesus ministers to them and not to others in that crowd because these two dared reach out to him, despite what others said.

Winston Churchill famously admonished the boys of Harrow School to: "Never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up." Jesus said it first and by outsiders it's still heard. Never give up, he says – keep reaching out to me, I already have you spotted, I am in fact there before you in the crowd, I've come to take you home again, like the Father of the prodigal, Christ hitches up his robes and positively runs to restore the life half lived. Jairus' little girl will go on to live again and a woman returns restored both in her body and to her kind, she'd known her very life blood draining away for twelve years long but would now live a life in Him with a kind of wholeness never known.

We are challenged then today to undo the reluctance of the Adam in us, to twist ourselves perhaps uncomfortably to reaching out again– to a sweaty, sticky, uncomfortable, scandalising gospel. To risk a little reputation for the life that comes from him.

So the next time you mess up a greeting, lunge for a hug to be offered a fore-arm, shake a hand and find it sweaty, mix your lives up in uncomfortable ways think of God who in his Son did sweat and blood and grit and crowds and think upon his promise to never, ever, ever, never, ever, even to the point of his own death, ever give up on you. Amen.

1 comment:

Jo Tatum said...

Just what I needed today Rach, thank you. Much love Jo x

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