Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.’But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?’ When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
This woman speaks to me each time I read her story. I so wish she had a name. Is it Lilly, short for Lillian? Or maybe Andrea and her girlfriends called her Andy? Maybe she is sort commonly referred to as grandma or nana or mama.
I have gotten stuck on the ground beneath her this time around in her story. What was lying beneath her, the 2x2 area of earth within her vision?
I only find those answers when I turn them on myself. Right now, for example, my toenails are painted a new favorite lavender blue. The nail polish was a gift, a care package I received at a caregivers day of rest. I've worn the color almost all summer. The big toe on my right foot is made of acrylic. I've never done that before and while this is more information than anyone needs to know, it remains part of picture of the earth beneath me... If I were bent over, unable to stand up.
Also beneath me today is a Berber style rug. Taupe in color and the design is a series of 2" squares that are laid on the diagonal. Between me and the front door, there are three significant stains. Or is the shape of a paisley. The others are dribbles in curves lines. If I were to walk from this chair to the front door, the stains would mark 30 and 60% of the journey, respectively.
I take 16 steps from here to the front door. The rug in the hallway outside is thicker but still a taupe color, swirled with dark red and green and maybe blue. I would know for sure if I was bent over, unable to stand up straight.
14 steps on the carpet and then 11 one foot square marble tiles before the elevator. The buttons to push are on the right hand side of the elevator and there is both an up and down button. I would have to feel for them if I were bent over, unable to stand up straight.
The flooring on the first floor is different than the flooring in the other floors. That is how I know where to get off the elevator. Turn right, then right, then through the two different doors to outside where the pool is. The pool is a clean blue and it sparkles with the mountain sunshine. There are two aspens trees reflected on the water. In front of me is rocky mountains, keystone ski area. I cannot see them, because I am bent over, unable to stand up straight.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible... By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, ‘as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.’
He looked forward to a city with foundations. Imagine being a people who had not settled yet. The writer of Hebrews is arguing that Abraham was looking for a place built by God, a heavenly foundation. But Abraham was a traveler, a sojourner, a gypsy.
Although everywhere I have ever lived had a literal foundation, my husband says I was a gypsy of sorts. We moved a lot, basically in the same area of the country but many different homes. Before I went to college, I lived in eleven different homes. Yes, they all had foundations. And each home also included my parents, a different kind of foundation. Much of the time, there were even grandparents present. And a variety of siblings with each home.
When my husband was born, he lived with his grandmother while his parents were building their home next store. He lived in that new home for the whole of his childhood. I understand why he thinks I'm a gypsy. I have a want to keep moving. And when I can't move to another home, I rearrange the furniture. I'm pleased to say that having been married to him now for 17 years, I'm enjoying the feeling of settled more and more. And thanks to HGTV, we can all continue to decorate and redecorate til our hearts are content with our place of settle-ness.
Or maybe we're not content -maybe we too are longing for a place with a foundation. Maybe the foundations beneath us aren't the ones for which we long. Dang it if Augustine wasn't right, "Our hearts are restless until they find rest in thee Lord."
13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
I follow quite a few blogs on minimalism. I'm fairly passionate about having less, living with less, owning less. When we moved to our current home one year ago today, we were downsizing from a 2 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath townhome with an attic, basement and garage. There were three tables on which we could eat - kitchen, dining room and patio. Our new 2 bedroom condo is still incredibly spacious. But no storage space. The parking is in an underground garage. No attic. no basement. So, we downsized our stuff and it's so freeing.
But is this passage about downsizing? Maybe. Not really. Is it about hoarding? Maybe. Is it about planning for our future? Yes. Maybe. Is it about having enough and then still wanting to save more? I think so.
Minimalism is a counter cultural conversation. So, I offer you some quotes from some favorite authors on the subject.
Joel Becker of Becoming Minimalistic says:
This quote comes from Elaine St. James's in Living the Simple Life. As a pastor, I'm always wanting to step into this conversation with people. Is this text about a person who is pursuing riches as a way of avoiding himself? Maybe. Maybe not. Are we often pursuing riches as a way of avoiding ourselves? Yes. We even have a term for it - retail therapy.
And since shopping might make you happy, like the man in our story - Here are some books on Simplistic living, aka minimalism.
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