Stories are powerful. They capture us heart, mind, and soul. They help us to express our identity and guide us as we travel this often complex and damaging world. Author Robert McKee once said “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” These are some of the reasons why the Bible is so filled with stories. It is one of the most important ways that God communicates the truth about both the world and our existence to us. Over the next several weeks at Alpine we will encounter some of the most powerful stories from the life Jesus. We will see how he routinely breaks down barriers, rules, customs, and expectations in order to touch someone’s life. Usually to touch them in such a way that their life will be healed, turned upside down, renewed and transformed. Those who are oppressed will be given hope and a new kind of freedom. People who are victimized will discover dignity and purpose. During our Sunday worship celebrations, we will enter into these powerful, life changing stories – and in doing so will encounter the risen Christ.
One of the most powerful stories of Jesus’ life was the story of a woman who had been crippled and unable to stand straight up for 18 years. No one notices her. She does not expect or ask Jesus to heal her. She is used to be ignored or looked down upon. But Jesus is different. With no prompting or display of great faith on her part, Jesus notices her. He cuts through the social barriers and speaks. He speaks directly to her and in doing so Jesus relieves her of what ails her. As a result she is able to stand up, bear the burden life has given her, and be recognized as a person. Her life is changed simply because Jesus saw her.
This is a powerful story. It touches us today because many of us can feel and understand what she must have been going through. We can almost taste the hope and joy that must have filled the room when Jesus spoke to her. One of our takeaways from this story is that God does not solve all our problems. Instead God gives us the strength to stand up and live. Just like this women, we carry burdens. Through this story we come to understand that Jesus sees us. No matter how insignificant we feel, the truth is we matter. Our plight matters. And though we pray that Jesus take our burdens away and make our pain disappear – we are confronted with the reality that sometimes this is not what God desires. The taking of our pain away and living in paradise comes when we get to be with Jesus in heaven. In the meantime God blesses us with hope, strength, dignity, and a community of friends that surround us. God helps us to stand up amidst the pain and say what the world offers is not enough. We have something far greater. We have a God who notices and speaks.
We invite everyone to come and join in our story. Encounter God through all the wonderful things that God is doing in the life of this community.
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