"And"

 

            Such a small word.  Such a big word.  So freely used, yet so little used.  It’s as common as dirt.  It’s as rare as a green diamond.  You can find it in every discussion, every conversation.  You can intently search for it because it’s hard to find.  Just a few short letters.  Three letters which can renew the church, even the world.
            “And…” It’s the word that changes everything.  To intentionally use this most important of words can reform not only the way you talk; it can transform the way you do ministry.
            “A woman who had been bleeding for twelve years came up behind Jesus and barely touched his clothes. She had said to herself, ‘If I can just touch his clothes, I will get well.’ Jesus turned. He saw the woman and said, ‘Don’t worry! You are now well because of your faith.’ At that moment, she was healed.” (Matthew 9:20-22, CEV)
            “Jesus went to the [dead] girl’s bedside.  He took her by the hand andhelped her up.” (Matthew 9:25, CEV)
            “As he was going into a village, ten men with leprosy came toward him. They stood at a distance and shouted, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ Jesus looked at them andsaid, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ On their way, they were healed. When one of them discovered he was healed, he came back, shouting praises to God. He bowed down at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” (Luke 17:12-16, CEV)
            A nifty biblical exercise would be to read the Scriptures, paying close attention to the little word “and.”  Think about what would be different without that one word.  What if the woman with the bleeding issue came up to Jesus, but never touched him?  What if Jesus saw the woman, but did not say anything to her?  What if the men with leprosy stood at a distance, but never shouted?  What if Jesus looked at them, yet said nothing?  What if the healed leper bowed down, but never gave thanks?
            Jesus is Lord of the word “and.”  Christ our Savior doesn’t just see – he acts.  He does not only meet a need – he sees the person he helps.  The Lord Jesus does not only take one by the hand – he uses that hand to heal.  Anyone desiring to see God act, heal, and forgive must not only observe from a distance – they must touch him, shout to him, and thank him.
            In this divided age of polarized speech, the church is not immune from the impetus to take sides and avoid the word “and.”  Instead, let’s take up our privilege to use the sacred “and:”
Me and you – hand in hand, and not separate.
Speak to you and come alongside and help you – words of encouragement and acts of compassion.
Men and women – using their gifts in the world and the church.
Straight and gay – sitting in the same pew and worshiping Jesus.
Pentecostals and Presbyterians – acknowledging one another and serving the entire Body of Christ.
Republicans and Democrats – working for the common good of conservatives and progressives.
Pro-life and Pro-choice – concerned for the rights of baby and mother.

 

In the Name of the Father, and the Son, andthe Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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