I spoke at a small conference for children's ministers working with special needs children this weekend in Warren, PA. We were discussion Jesus' miracles and the miracle at the pool of Bethseda came to the surface as perfect metaphor for the "one-size-fits-all" madness that we perpetual in the church.
I need to confess something… this account has always troubled me. I can't stand the design of how poeple were ministered to in the account. All of the diseased and the infirmed came and sat pool side. Cripples, the blind, the deaf, and other physically handicapped people waited for the waters to move. An angel would stir the waters, and whoever noticed the water moving first, provided he or she had superior ambulatory powers, would drop into the waters would be healed.
Everyone else would have to wait.
In my human, limited perspective the story seems harsh. It's like those swell kids from "Lord of the Flies" decided to run the special olympics for a day. Only the strong found healing. If you couldn't get to the pool first, no Divine Intervention for you. I accept the situation as true becuase I find it between the covers of my Bible.
But you can't make me like it.
Jesus, apparently, didn't care for the arrangement either. He violated the protocols of both the pool and Sabbath and healed the lame man. Jesus acts obvious to the program.
I think sometimes you and I inadvertantly create "healing pools" in our ministries that keep the weakest of the weak from finding health. Our classes meet the needs of most. But if we encounter a child who is exceptionally disruptive due to physical handicaps or mental health issues, we clutch tighted to our protocols and our rules. And Divine Intervention is only offered to the strong, the whole, and the healthy. And we introduce Darwinian strain into our children's ministries. Only the strong survive here.
Or we can be Jesus, and violate our own protocols and rules. We can step away from our security and truly seek to meet and understand the needs of special needs children and their families. We create safe-places for children to "rise and walk" and then show them how their sins can be forgiven.
Karen… if you read this, you are going a great thing in rural Warren, PA. Calvary Baptist has bigger heart than many churches ten times its size.