1 When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. 3 Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.
Every preacher I know of loves to know that they have been heard. In fact, as a preacher myself, I can think of no greater joy than learning that God has used my half-baked thoughts and inadequate words to speak to someone in a way that inspires them on their faith journey. That’s why I was thrilled to receive an email yesterday reflecting on our sermon from Sunday. Upon reading the reflection, I had two thoughts: 1) Wow! I wish I had let him preach, and 2) I have to share this with the Advent UMC family.
So, I have decided to turn over my blog for the moment to Will Randall, a sophomore at Mauldin High School, who has articulated some wonderful insights. You won’t be able to tell that will is a high school student, as he is obviously wise FAR beyond his years. I am confident that you will be challenged by his thoughts.
Will, thank you for being attentive to the Holy Spirit AND thank you for sharing your thoughts with us all.
by Will Randall
This past Sunday, Pastor Michael pointed out the fact that sometimes we act as “the crowd”, and inadvertently prevent people who really need Jesus from being able to access Him. This sermon topic really caused me to reflect upon my own life and what I see happen in the world around me in terms of unintentional exclusion and lack of mindfulness. Simply put, humans are creatures of habit and comfort. We become accustomed to a certain close group of friends-at school, work, etc.- and tend to stay within that group without really thinking about it. We go about our business, comfortable around the people in our friend groups, and fail to see those who stand by themselves. By acting out of habit and associating with our close friends day after day, there are inevitably people who are pushed to the side and excluded. It saddens me to say that I see this phenomenon occur not only at school, where it is somewhat expected, but also at church.
In Sunday school, at youth group, even at worship services-individuals pass under the radar and are unintentionally left out. I find that most of the time this exclusion happens not out of cold-heartedness, but out of the failure to intentionally look out for and reach out to those who may not have found that same community that some, including myself, oftentimes feel. As we robotically associate with our same friends time and time again, we essentially act as the crowd. We stand together in community with some; however, we simultaneously fail to be mindful and we exclude others who may need that sense of community (and who ultimately may need Jesus) the most.
I feel that many times in this life our greatest sins aren’t results of our actions, but are results of our failures to act. The example of the crowd functions as a representative of this idea. While no direct trespasses occur through our actions of repetitive association, we remain at fault in the end because of our failure to be intentionally inclusive of others.
I feel that this “crowd syndrome”, as I like to call it, is in desperate need of a cure. To me, the way to eradicate this sickness is simply stated, but difficult to do. As people living for Christ, it is imperative that we be meticulously mindful and intentionally inclusive. In the spirit of Pastor Turner, why don’t you try turning to two or three of your neighbors today and not just tell them that, but show them that kind of mindful inclusiveness? Crowd syndrome affects vast proportions of today’s world. I challenge you, as well as myself, to make a conscious effort to break the mold of this habit, being meticulously mindful about those around us and being intentionally inclusive of those who don’t quite feel a sense of community yet instead. It’s easier said than done-but every great wave of change has started with a single ripple. Be that first ripple.