It’s an odd question that Jesus asks a man in the fifth chapter of John’s gospel. Many who were sick were gathered around a pool that was said to have mystical powers of healing. Jesus sees a man there who had been ill for 38 years. Do you want to be made well?, he asks the man. The man begins to answer that the crowd keeps jumping in front of him and that no one will carry him to the pool so that he might be healed. Jesus has compassion on him and gives him the healing the man says he wants.
Do we want to be made well? Do we want to grow spiritually? Do we want the things that are promised to us in the Gospel? Of course we do, we might all agree. But, as Lent begins anew, perhaps the question is worth pondering at a deeper level.
I hear, for instance, that people want for their children to know they are valuable and loved, for them to have confidence and inner strength, for them to have tools and resources to deal with peer pressure and the various struggles they invariably face these days. As parents we say we want those things for our children, but we’re often mighty lazy about spending time with our children or putting them in places where those things will be given to them. Each of the parishes I’ve been associated with has devoted significant resources to classes and programs for children and young people but each parish has had pretty poor participation in those offerings. The parents have always said they wanted certain things for their children but, when they have been provided, the parents haven’t done a very good job of getting their children to the programs. We seem to think that the things we want for our children might just magically come to them.
I meet with people who say they want to have a deeper relationship with their Lord. We’ll outline a reasonable plan for them where they will set aside time daily for scripture reading, reflection, and prayer. But most folks don’t seem to be able to stick to it very well. We lose interest. We say we don’t have time, that we need to be at work or can’t sacrifice the sleep. We’re only talking about 30 minutes or so a day but it seems too much for us to commit to. Recently someone asked me what they should do for Lent. I suggested a starting point could be coming to Sunday and Wednesday worship for the 6 weeks of Lent. Wow, she said. That seems like an awful lot.
The Christian Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church in particular, has healing and spiritual nourishment available for us. The programs we offer for our children, for instance, are extremely good. We’re not just sitting around with them while you go do something else. We’re teaching them about the love of Christ Jesus for them and we’re doing that from the moment they are carried into our nurseries. We don’t let up until they graduate from high school and go elsewhere. If you want your child’s faith to be nurtured, I guarantee that will happen if you’ll just bring that child here on a regular basis.
The same is true for adults. Gee, I don’t know much about the bible. I’ve never understood all that theological talk. I’d like to believe that about God but I just don’t know. I hear a variety of comments from people indicating some interest but there are plenty of seats available in our many excellent classes.
I wish I was more generous, someone said to me a while back. I can fix that, I offered. Handing him a pledge card, I suggested he make a pledge and work toward giving 10% of his income to the work of the church, assured him that such a practice would lead to generosity. Well, I’m not sure I want to make that kind of commitment, he said. Maybe he’ll just wake up one day next year and be more generous but I doubt it.
Do you want to be made well? Do you want to grow in Christ? Lent starts on February 10 and there are so many things offered at St. John’s for your growth. Will you come or will you just sit there and talk about how you want something? It’s right here in front of you and we would love for you to join in.
I invite you to the observance of a holy Lent.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
Ash Wednesday Worship
7:00 am, 12:05 pm, 5:30 pm
Inquirers’ Classes for Adults During Lent
On the Sundays in Lent, February 14-March 20, the rector will lead an Inquirers’ Class at 9:15 in the Archives Room. Bishop Sloan will be here to confirm adults and young people on May 8, and all adults who wish to be confirmed should attend these classes. The classes are also appropriate for all new to the parish who have questions and as a refresher in the faith for those who are already confirmed members. The dates and subjects to considered are: February 14 – Distinguishing Features of the Episcopal Church; February 21 – The Bible; February 28 – Sacraments; March 6 – Church History; March 13 – Church Structure, Book of Common Prayer; March 20 – Christian Symbolism.
Newly Elected Vestry Members
Congratulations to those elected at the Annual Meeting to serve a three year term on the Vestry: Ashley Hamlett, Jim Marshall III, Betty Mathews, Dee Moody, Chuck Moore, Dudley Perry, and Geoff Stough. Congratulations, as well, to Lawrence Hughes and Mark Harris, elected by the Vestry to serve as Senior Warden and Junior Warden, respectively, for 2016. The entire Vestry will be on Retreat January 29-31 to do visioning and planning for the future.