The Family Table, The Place We All Belong: Whatever It Takes
This page is part of a larger series titled The Family Table: The Place We All Belong, a sermon series on the 10 dimensions of belonging. To see the full list of topics, visit the Belonging Sermon Series page.
This sermon can be preached on its own or as part of the full series on belonging.
The dimensions of belonging for this sermon:
Supported, Cared For.
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Scripture Focus: Mark 2:1-12
Key Idea: God’s care for us is 24/7.
He neither slumbers nor sleeps. There is never a time when He is not providing for our welfare. Likewise, in community we care and support one another, not only when we gather to worship but throughout the week. We do whatever it takes so that people can experience the love and presence of Jesus. We do whatever it takes to help one another flourish in Christ.
Dimension of Belonging: Supported, Cared For.
Supported—I feel like I belong when people know me well enough to know what support is needed so that I can be part of all that is offered in that community. Support is the pathway to being present. The support you are providing tells me that you want me there and you are willing to make the effort that is required to support that presence. Congregations that are committed to being places of belonging see that support as essential, not optional.
Cared for—Care for my flourishing 7 days a week. You are not just involved in my life for 3 hours on Sunday morning, but you know what is going on in my life and you are meeting other needs we have as a family; needs for respite, needs for relationships, just times of having fun together. Needs for jobs, or housing, or practical help, those kinds of things. Care is really about what happens beyond the walls of our building.
What do these Scripture passages say?
The tenacity of the friends to bring the paralyzed man into the proximity of Jesus. Their expectation was for Jesus to heal him in body, but Jesus loves him even more to heal his heart and soul as well as his body.
Trust and vulnerability of the paralyzed man.
Jesus’ willingness to heal the paralyzed man’s heart as well as his body.
Response of the crowd and the Pharisees.
So what? Why is this important?
Jesus displays his absolute authority over sin and absolute love for the paralyzed man. There are no “disabled souls” after Jesus heals them.
The friends have a singular task, passion to do whatever it takes to bring their friend to Jesus.
Jesus’ care for the man is first the healing of his soul. That is the sort of care that we as the church must be prepared to give to all people, including people with disabilities.
How do we pray for one another? If we are only praying for physical disability/healing and not their spiritual disability and reconciliation with Jesus, then our prayers are as limited as our view of God. How do we view God’s work?
Now What? What must I/we do now?
Talk with families. Listen to their needs. What feels like support? What isn’t helpful?
What are we prepared to do to bring people into proximity with Jesus?
- One from your congregation, in which a friend relied on others to participate in church. Think about stories from people with visible and hidden disabilities and mental health challenges.
- Kevin’s story as told by John Swinton in his article, From Inclusion to Belonging (pg. 180-181): Kevin, a young man who has profound intellectual disabilities… [at] a local faith community… During the three months he attended, not one person spoke to him. One person patted him on the head in passing but that was it! The staff [who brought him] wondered if people were scared of Kevin, or embarrassed, or uncertain how to approach him. Either way, the experience was not a good one, and they decided there was little point in Kevin continuing to attend. One member of staff said: Kevin gets a more positive response in the local coffee shop. Kevin has not been involved in any faith community since.
We tried this at First Presbyterian Church Aurora…
Imaginative Prayer: “Living the Story”.
Our worship pastor led us through this guided reflection on the experience of this encounter. (Watch the video of it here). We spent about 10 minutes of the service on this activity. A script is available here in PDF for anyone to download and use.