Of course everyone wants to be made well. It’s a no-brainer. Or … is it? Because healing means loss. It means letting go of dependency, taking up responsibility, and walking into a new future: a future often studded with conflict. As you listen to this story and dwell in the Word, you are invited to consider your own attitude to being made well. But first, imagine yourself in the beginning place: lying on a mat by a pool. You are comfortably dozing, and the sun is dancing across your eyelids …
1. PREPARE: Make yourself comfortable. Uncross your legs; relax your body; uncomplicate your heart. Ask God to help you surrender to whatever it is that God wants to do in you or say to or through you. Breathe slowly and deeply in, then out.
2. READ: Read the following passage aloud at least three times through, slowly. Listen carefully. Notice anything which catches your attention.
Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. (John 5:2-9a, NRSV).
3. REFLECT: Allow the passage, a phrase or a single word or image speak to you. What catches your attention? What emotions are you feeling? What questions are bubbling up? Reflect in silence.
4. RELATE: Now wonder: What paralyzes you? Do you want to be made well? What, if anything, blocks you from seeking healing? What would be the consequences of healing? What would you lose or need to give up? What would you gain? If you can, have a conversation about this with others.
5. RESPOND: Arising out of your reflection and any discussion, pray. Tell God about anything which has emerged. If you feel called to action, ask God to show you the next step.
6. REST: Rest now in the Word, who loves you. As you leave this space, if any word, phrase or image persists, carry it with you and let it guide you. Or, if nothing in particular arises, remember this:
- Stand up, take your mat and walk.
If you want to take this further, you can find a more imaginative guided reflection on the story here, while here you will find a stunning poem by one of our Sanctuary folk in response. This week, as you grapple with the question of whether you want to be made whole, I pray that you can identify the things which block you from wanting healing, and that despite any fears you also find the courage to say a resounding, Yes! – Yes, Lord, I want to be made well.
Emailed to Sanctuary 12 May 2021 © Sanctuary, 2021.
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