Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bar Hopping... Or, What's Church For, Anyway?

When Jesus saw her, he called her over and sid to her, "Woman, you are freed from your disability." Luke 13:12

Jean and I often go for walks in Portland's West Hills. The area is a bit unique and intriguing because of all the public stairways. There are plenty of private ones that lead from the street or the tiny garages carved like grottos in the rocky hillsides. But many are public, put there so that residents have a much more direct way to get downhill. Or uphill.

Sometimes the stairs are elevated for a portion before coming donw to earth, like the upper landing of this one on SW Vista Drive.

At one time, it probably served as a place for teenagers to go and drink, smoke and make out. In fact, a girl nicknamed Priscy signed her name in lipstick along with a heart to state that she and Roger loved each other.

I wonder how long ago that's been and how it's gone for them since.

Probably long after Priscy and Roger exchanged passionate kisses under this concrete shelter, somebody thought it looked like a more permanent one and started camping or living there. That would be when the neighbors said "No way!" and ordered the City of PDX to have custom made bars installed.

Bars can either keep us locked in or locked out. Sometimes, they aren't even made of steel.

Jesus was teaching in the temple. His teachings were often refreshing and not infrequently stirred the pot of the establishment in uncomfortable (to the official dudes) ways.

That's when he saw the hunched over, crippled woman. She didn't get in Jesus' face and demand a miracle. He called her over and set her free from her disability. She could stand up straight for the first time in 18 years. Maybe she was no older than that. We don't know.

The ensuing ruckus turns around healing on the Sabbath, something the higher-ups in the Jerusalem Temple considered work. The rules prohibited work of most types on the Sabbath. There were exceptions. Domestic livestock could be untied and led to water. That would involve less "work", fewer steps, than carrying the water to the animals. Hence, closer living within the law.

A miracle, a sign of God's power, was accomplished, no question. The woman could stand up straight. But Jesus knew there was more to the story. So he set the woman free.

It seems like a minor nit-picking detail until we consider this. She would need to change how she saw herself. If, though able to stand straight and tall, she continued to see herself as stooped over and crippled, she would never see herself and never live as someone not disabled.

More to come.

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