In class, we ended up on a review of the large arc of Biblical narrative: God creates all of humanity (Adam & Eve); God saves all of humanity (through Noah); God elects a particular people (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob – Israel, including anyone from Egypt who wants to throw in their lot with those children of Israel when they have Passover and leave Egypt) and makes a covenant with Israel at Sinai, and then the rest of the [Hebrew] Bible tells the story of this particular elect people; fast forward to the New Testament, Jesus is born, lives, with everything that involves, dies, lives again, “our Passover,” and anyone who still wants to throw in their lot with those children of Israel and be among the elect can, believing Jesus is the Christ. But maybe eventually who knows, since “God is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with [us], not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) This all started because we were trying to figure out who the “aliens” were in Leviticus 23:22.
By which time we had run out of time we had to go robe up for choir. We got talking about our age, and how it feels – one of the members says if you make it through your 60s everything is smooth sailing, and we concluded that must be because by then you’ve become resigned to all the aches and pains, and one of the choir members said “if we get a bunch of members who are 30 we’ll have to hire a youth minister” and I said “free ice cream.” Seriously, we need a sampling program. The church is wonderful, and warm, and worthwhile. But people don’t know it. If we were a breakfast food, we would do sampling. But we’re not, so how DO you get people to come experience something they don’t know they’re missing? That’s where the free ice cream comes in. Everyone loves ice cream. Come for the ice cream, stay for the community. Eventually someone is going to realize this is a dynamite idea and we’ll do it.
So then in church we listened to a sermon given by one of our members, taking off from Mark 5:25-34 and John 5:1-9, about the nature of healing, and Jesus’ healing in these two stories, and the contrast in focus between the two recipients of healing. In each case, we could say, the person was thinking “I will be healed just as soon as …” In the case of the man at the Pool of Bethesda (incidentally, the namesake for Bethesda Naval Hospital), it was “just as soon as” conditions were all right, someone could get him into the healing waters in a timely fashion, etc. It took Jesus asking him whether he wanted to be healed to get him to focus enough on Jesus for something unexpected to happen. In the case of the woman, it was “just as soon as” she could touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, she was that sure of the significance of even the slightest contact with Jesus. So, it was instantaneous, but the face-to-face encounter with Jesus had to happen after that.
[I’m thinking: The woman came to Jesus. But Jesus had to go to the man. Maybe we could get a free ice cream truck …]