'Come over to Macedonia and help us.'
'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' (16:9)
These are the words not only of the man of Macedonia in Paul’s vision but also the words of the Rev Christiana Sutton-Koroma from Sierra Leone when asked what message she wished to share with the churches of the UK and Ireland:
‘We want your help so that the future can be bright and bright forever, by God’s grace. God will bless you, and we know God will make a way for you. God will touch your hearts for Sierra Leone, which is our Macedonia, and help us.’
She was referring in particular to the need to help Sierra Leone develop a more adequate healthcare system to tackle the high rate of mums dying in childbirth. And like the man by the pool at Bethzatha, she knows exactly what is needed and that it cannot be achieved alone.
Christian Aid Week is not the only opportunity we have to respond to the prophetic request to join in the work of bringing God’s kingdom to earth as in heaven. May the Rev Christiana’s words echo in our ears and hearts as the vision of the man from Macedonia must have in Paul’s. And like Paul may we be moved to action, to partner with our sisters and brothers around the world to know fullness of life.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.’ (14:27)
These words of Jesus could be read as a challenging command, easier to say than do. They can also be heard as words of soothing comfort rather than a command to be obeyed. To paraphrase: ‘Of course you are anxious and afraid, but don’t worry, peace be with you, all will be well.’
These early disciples had may reasons to be afraid: Jesus was leaving, they were a minority community in an age of empire, they were subject to persecution and faced martyrdom. For Jesus to say these words to them is a reminder to us all that our not being troubled or afraid has less to do with circumstances and more to do with the inner work of the Holy Spirit.
In these troubling political and ecological times the other words of Jesus are helpful for us to meditate on: ‘Peace I leave you, peace I give to you.’ Amen.
'Do you want to be made well?' (5:6)
Jesus’ question to the man by the pool of Bethzatha is a challenge and example to us all.
Rather than presuming what this man wants, Jesus asks him. Rather than lifting the man and taking him down into the pool of water without checking in with him that this is what he needs, Jesus asks him.
He has been ill for thirty eight years. Jesus knows that to heal him will be a radical transformation and adjustment for this man’s life. Is such a change after so long what he really wants?
And after thirty eight years of being unwell it’s likely that he might have been somewhat disheveled and ignored by those tending to the invalids by the healing pool. But Jesus doesn’t ignore him, he meets him and sees him and instills the dignity of asking the question, ‘Do you want to be made well?’
He gives the man dignity and power in the most simple of ways, by treating him as a human being, not a medical case to be fixed or a problem to be solved.
This has always been the way of Christian Aid’s partners, working with and as part of communities across the world. Seeing them for who they are, sisters and brothers made in the image of God.
Wherever we follow him
May we all be midwives of hope
Bringing fullness of life
To our communities
And standing together
In the world.
Pray for the mothers giving birth in Sierra Leone. Pray for the safe delivery of their babies.
Pray for our partners in Sierra Leone. Pray that they can continue their work improving health services and empowering communities.
Pray for the work of Christian Aid to flourish for the glory of God and the good of all creation.
Published on 08 May 2019