Stretchers! Friends Helping Friends
Try to put yourself in the following Biblical story: (…a story about Stretchers)
One day a deacon from our church was knocking on doors in Wildwood…inviting people to our church.
At the first house he was greeted by a nice lady. He told her about our friendly church.
She said, “Oh, I’ve heard about your friendly church and we plan to visit you soon.”
At the second home a man came to the door…and he too said, “I know about your church and I know many neighbors who worship at FCC.” (We’ll attend one of these days.) They won’t.
The deacon was ready to give it up. (It was a hot day).
He decided to ring one more doorbell.
No one came to the door, but a voice from inside shouted, “The door’s open. Come on in.” When he went inside he found a man on a pallet. He said, “I’m inviting people to attend FCC.” …“I see you are on your pallet. Are you sick?”
The man said, “I would love to attend your church…but I am paralyzed.” The deacon said, “That too bad. We don’t have an ambulance to transport you. I’ll see ya later and I’ll put you on our prayer list.” As the deacon was leaving the paralyzed man said, “Wait… there may be a way to get me to your church.” The deacon said, “Like I said, we don’t have an ambulance. We will pray for you.” The man said, “Think about it. There has to be a way to get me to your church. The man Jesus will be in Wildwood on Saturday and HE WILL HEAL ME.. Then I can attend your church.”
As the deacon left, he thought about the man. Later he found a piece of canvas and put two poles on each side. He had a stretcher. (…The bad thing about a stretcher is: One man can’t handle it.. He called another deacon to help man the stretcher. (The deacon said he was set to play golf that day). After thinking about it he said, “If you can get two more men…count me in.”
…The deacon saw an elder and asked him to help. (It was the elder’s wife’s birthday and they were going out to dinner.) He finally said, “I’ll go…but call the preacher to help us. That’s what we pay him for.”
The preacher said, “I’m proud of you men. But I can’t help you. I’m fine-turning my sermon for tomorrow. My sermon is on evangelism. (Love your neighbor) (Like the others he was making excuses). …Guilt hit the preachers and he too agreed to help .
We now see the four men carrying the paralyzed man on a stretcher to have an encounter with Jesus. (They may have carried the man a long way…and it must have been very hot.)
(Next scene): The year is 32 AD)d The men were not happy. We have four grumbling men carrying a man down hot and dusty hwy 44 “To have an encounter with Christ.” (It must have been a tough job.)
They finally arrive at the home where Jesus was preaching. (As always, there was a great crowd.) …There was no way they could get the man in front of Jesus. Finally, the elder said, “I’ll go and check it out.” The elder returned with bad news. “It’s impossible. We can’t get in to see Jesus.” The preacher said, “If we don’t get this man healed, we will have to tote him all the way back home. …It was then that two of the men went up on the roof and tore a hole in it. Meanwhile, the other two were trying a rope to the stretcher. (They were on a mission and they would not be denied.)
They carefully lowered the man through the roof and “he had an encounter with Christ.”
I believe Jesus saw the four heads looking down from the hole in the roof before he say the paralyzed man.
I also believe Jesus shouted out, “Your faith has made you well.” This is community
(thought) In Sept of 2000, 18 year old Kevin Hines decided to give up his battle with depression by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.. He paced back and forth on the bridge sidewalk…crying. Kevin decided, “I will not jump if just one person will stop and try to talk me out of it. No one offered any hope. (A tourist did stop). The man and wife asked Kevin to take their picture standing on the bridge. …He took their picture. After they left, Kevin, climbed up on the bridge rail and he threw himself 220 feet to the water below. (Amazingly, he suffered serious injuries, but he survived.)
While recovering from his injuries, Kevin received good advice from a minister, who said, “Kevin, you are a miracle. Now go out and save lives.”
(The story continues) Kevin went back to school and today he’s helping others to cope with stress.
This brings up an interesting question for you and me. What would have happened if you had been on that bridge that day? (…I’m asking myself that same question.)
Would we have intervened to try and save Kevin, or would we have simply “passed on by” or had a photo taken?”
Word got out in Capernaum that Jesus was in town, crowds were all around him.
Jesus began preaching to them. But as always, he was interrupted. Four men were interrupting his sermon by lowering a paralyzed neighbor down before him. They had removed part of the roof in order to “bring the man to have an encounter with Christ.”
Jesus saw their faith and said, “Son your sins are forgiven.”
The teachers of the law heard what Jesus said. They were shocked that Jesus forgave sins.
Jesus said to them, “Which is easier, to say to the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven; or to say, get up, take your mat and go home?”
The man got up and walked out in full view of all who were there. (What a wonderful story.)
Can you imagine the conversation as these five men walked back home?
…I would think the man who was healed was carrying his own bed. But there must have been excitement over what they had seen.
The elder may have said, “This stretcher thing has some good possibilities. If you deacons would put wheels on it, we could really haul them to FCC.”
…Another said, “What should we call this thing…..”stretcher or bus ministry?”
…The preacher said, “No“, let’s call it, “Bringing others to have an encounter with Christ.”
…And all the people said, “Amen.”