Over the years I’ve had some episodes with my back. Some really bad, others just minimal. The last one (a few years ago) was the worst one. And it forced me to start doing something regularly that I never really did before. STRETCH… (bet you wish I could display a few for you? nope. you don’t!)
Labour day weekend is to our year, like stretching is to an athlete. Before an event, a race, a game, a match, what do athletes do? Warm up. Stretch. Get the blood flowing. Why – Because they want to be able to extend themselves to their absolute limits without holding back!
After the summer, you’ve been out of commission for a bit, thinking about all the vacation you can take, and hopefully you did, rest, and vacation. After labour day though, you feel like you gotta be on again, so what do you do, you prep yourself, you warm up…Kids go to bed earlier…Parents go to bed earlier…You mentally get ready. All this so you can perform to the best of your abilities come go time.
We’ve been on a journey as a church community for a while now. This is our 7th September (Library sessions). A few things I find amazing? The people who have joined us along the way – the people who’ve decided to follow Jesus with their hearts, their lives, their everything – the people who’ve grown so much in their faith, their impact, their purpose. Most amazing is how much we’ve been stretched along the way. Spiritually, Emotionally, in our faith, in our neighbourhoods, in our relationships.
This year we wanna see more of the same…and we also wanna see whatever else God has for us. Whatever else is an important word in our prayers. God, what else do you have for me?
Where does God work in us? Where does he work through is? These two places…
When we GATHER
– Sundays (worship, reunion, spiritual formation)
– Small(er) groups (community, friendship, growth)
– Volunteering/Contribution (we need what everyone has to offer)
When we SCATTER
– What we learn here is to be practiced out there
– What happened in our hearts when we gather, needs to come out of our hearts when we scatter
In our INTER-MISSION
– Sunday we are between mission assignments
– Sunday is a break from the world, from the rat race, from the business.
Through our OUT-ER-MISSION
– so we can get back to it
– so we can live on mission
– collectively (R4H, Woodcrest PS)
– individually (home, neighbourhood, work, school)
Now…let’s get back to stretching…will you stretch with me? where you are? where you’re reading this? No? Well then, read this story with me from Mark 3 instead? Let’s see what this whole stretching thing is all about…
“Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shrivelled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shrivelled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” 4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.”
A few things going on in this story…
– Another time (Jesus is doing what he has been doing, going into a gathering of people to teach or simply be present)
– A man with a physical issue was already there
– He’s being watched closely by religious people…
o Will he or won’t he heal on the Sabbath?
o This is a big question…Jesus liked to break religious rules!
– This bugs Jesus’
– He tells the man to stand up & stretch out his hand
– The man’s hand is restored
A few questions we have to ask ourselves…
– What rules/traditions/legalistic laws are holding us back?
– What part of me do I have to stretch out?
– Is their something in me that’s not right, that’s just in a state it shouldn’t be in, like this man’s hand? What am I going to do about it?
Stretching does three things:
– Physically, it loosens up what is stiff & tight so you can perform the activities that are before you that day…
– Emotionally, it pushes you to move out of your comfort zone and extend yourself…
– Spiritually, it reflects your dependence on Jesus, and how he wants to both make you well, and use your hands to do good…
The questions we want to ask ourselves are simple and profound…
Are you willing to stretch out your hand to God?
– as a community
Are you willing to allow God to stretch you?
(Take a few minutes to reread the story, and ask yourselves these questions as you pray)