Thought for the Day by Hayley Matthews (All Hallows’)
I love the chap in the gospel, today, ‘I do not know whether He is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ It reminds me so much of the nineteen years I spent in Blackpool in an extremely challenging deprived parish. Members of our congregation would find themselves back on their estate or in the tower blocks having the mick taken out of their faith. ‘Go on then,’ people would say, ‘how exactly did Jesus rise from the dead?’ in peals of laughter. These and other awkward questions were met with just such a response; ‘No idea, mate, but what I do know is that Jesus has completely changed my life…’ followed by the evidence, usually just standing there, right in front of them. Truth be told, the evidence was always far more compelling than a theological argument about doctrine or supernatural miracles.
Just like the person in the passage from Jeremiah, the believer is not put to shame for following Christ, whatever others may do or say. Two of my favourite lines from that passage – often spoken before we take Holy Communion – are:
‘Heal me, Lord, and I shall be healed;
save me and I shall be saved’
There is no sense of needing to know something, prove something or earn anything here. It is completely irrelevant whether or not we come from a deserving or undeserving family (‘who sinned, him or his parents?’). There is just a simple acceptance that whomever we are, whatever we have or have not done, all we have need of – all that is necessary for our health and our salvation – can be found in Jesus Christ and is there for the taking.
The writer makes it clear that whether or not they receive their healing, their cleansing, their release from guilt and shame, does not require depend upon on the faith of others or our own theological prowess – it is based entirely upon God’s action in our lives and in our hearts. It is about us being willing to accept the gifts on offer to us, should we humble ourselves to know our need of them. I know that I shall always have need of them. How about you?
- Let us sit before God and allow the Holy Spirit to show us our need of God, particularly where we have hidden it even from ourselves.
- Let us acknowledge those things we cling to, in order to ‘deserve’ God’s love and grace – and let them go.
- Let us pray that we may all open ourselves up to God’s healing grace and salvation, knowing we are all truly and fully freed from shame, wherever we have come from and whatever we have done, however hidden they are or respectable things may seem on the surface.
- Let those of us who feel ashamed of our backgrounds or past, release that shame into God’s healing hands and loving care. Allow yourself to feel fully aware that you are part of God’s family now, beloved, treasured, healed and forgiven.