Epiphany 7b – Sunday 19th February 2012
Mark 2: 1-12
It was recently Parents Evening.
And with our son at a very critical stage of his education we went along keen to hear how he was getting on and how we can best help prepare him for his forthcoming exams. We were very pleased with his progress. We were more impressed with his positive attitude and the potential that the teachers saw in him. There are some rough edges along the way, but none that can’t be smoothed out before the exams start. Hard Work. Hard Work. Hard Work. That was the message that came up time after time.
We went on to meet one of our sons teachers (whose name and subject will remain anonymous to protect the innocent) who spoke very encouragingly about his achievements. Towards the end of our allocated slot I asked the innocuous question: “Which approach should we take? Should our son have a lie-in on Sunday mornings to compensate for all the hard work he’s putting in, or should he come to church?”
Without a moment’s hesitation the teacher replied: “Oh, definitely, he should be at church. In fact, Rev Chappell, all his friends in class have been telling me what a legend you are!”
Now I know the word ‘legend’ is bandied around too lightly these days, but under the circumstances I thought it was the appropriate word to use!
We like to have our ego’s massaged. We like to be well thought of, to be admired. But with respect comes responsibility. Twice this has caught my attention in the past couple of days and made me think about this whole issue.
Some people think Luis Suarez is a legend. He’s discovered – in the harshest possible way – that with respect comes responsibility and he fell far short of what was expected of him. To behave with dignity and respect for others is part and parcel of being a legend. To extend the hand of reconciliation and forgiveness is vital. But you also have to behave with dignity and respect for yourself.
And this I didn’t know about Whitney Houston. Am I the only one not to know of her battle with drink and drugs? I wasn’t a big fan of hers, but she made good records and had a natural talent. I thought she just hadn’t recorded much in recent years and so was out of the spotlight. So it was a tremendous shock to hear of her unexpected death on Saturday, for she certainly was a legend. But she had few ‘real’ friends? She had alcohol problems? She had drug and prescription medication addiction? This I never knew. We can’t be a legend to others and not to ourselves.
One man who was a legend was Jesus. I know Mark’s gospel is only forty-five verses into its story, but by the time Mark chapter 2 comes along Jesus is a legend. People are flocking to hear him speak, to be refreshed, renewed and revitalised by his sheer presence. He has what it takes. He’s got dignity. He’s got respect. He’s full of grace. He’s aware of everyone around him. He knows people’s needs. He knows people’s thoughts.
And more than that, he could see potential in others. It wasn’t all about him. And where he saw hope and belief he reinforced it by acknowledging it. Bold belief. Courageous faith.
“Son, I forgive your sins.”
“Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home.”
God still speaks to us today. When others would seek to condemn us or put us down he picks us up. He heals, forgives, wipes away our tears – he makes us legends. Isn’t it about time we started behaving like one?