Access to the basics of life: Jesus told the devil in the wilderness that “Man does not live by bread alone.” (Luke 4:4) But we humans tend to start with concerns about what we will eat and drink, how we will find mental and/or physical healing, what we will wear, where we will stay, and where we can go.
Some Christians set up false choices around these matters, as if one should either live in this world or ‘graduate’ to some all-spiritual plane of passive trust in God. Jesus did not do that. Instead, Jesus Christ blended a holistic life of serving the Father in every good way while he was in the flesh, while at the same time being the eternal Son of God. The New Testament is full of counsel about how we may imitate Jesus in being whole persons who— whether or not we can walk and chew gum at the same time!— can live right in this world as servants of the invisible God.
With the SOUPer Bowl of Caring, this Sunday at Bethel, we invite you all to bring soups and other non-perishable food items to bless folks in our community who struggle with food insecurity. You may also bring gifts of money, which will go directly to the Elkton Food Pantry. Each month, our Elkton Food Pantry distributes enormous amounts of food to hundreds of local households. The food comes from individuals, local groups (including churches like Bethel), area stores sending surplus, and regional organizations like the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. If you have concerns about whether the need is real, you are welcome to volunteer (I’ll put you in touch with the Food Pantry Director, Donna Fields) at the monthly food distributions and box-packing sessions, where you can witness for yourself. Thank God, our community is generous to meet needs.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have died.
-1 Corinthians 15:20
Access to the basics of life: Jesus died and rose again to give us the victory over sin and death. “[F]lesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. ... For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Cor. 15:50, 53) Jesus Christ came out of divine love (“agapē”) to save us from perishing- that is, from dying (John 3:16). Some dying is of our fleshly bodies, and God sometimes gives blessed opportunities to postpone that dying. Some dying is of our spirits, and God also provides the antidote to that: Jesus’ healing power against unclean spirits that attack us humans, and God’s resurrection power that triumphs even over our bodily deaths. God gave us our fleshly bodies for our good, and God overcomes the corruption and death of our fleshly bodies by His life-giving Spirit.
This Holy Spirit, active in the church, empowers us to welcome people who are struggling in their fleshly bodies, as well as those who are struggling in their minds and in their spirits. We as a church have options to go “on the level,” like Jesus did (Luke 6:17). You are more likely to have heard of the “Sermon on the Mount”— Luke’s gospel tells of the “Sermon on the Plain.” For people who have trouble with steps and uneven places, the welcome of physical access into the church is a spiritual blessing of love. It conveys God’s message: All are invited, and there is a place for all in God’s house. You might say, it’s an “uplifting” message.
Sadly, many Christians, down through the generations, have picked up the notion that people with physical handicaps ought to stay at home rather than try to attend church services and other church activities. To my way of thinking, this lags behind the sweet movement of the Holy Spirit, which has been advancing human dignity, by stages, throughout my brief lifetime.
I am so thankful for the Americans with Disabilities Act and the many improvements it has generated.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”