Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lifting people up

Bring a child out to the front and push them down to the ground (agree this with them before the assembly!)

It is very easy to push someone down, especially if you are bigger and stronger than them.
It makes us feel big.
And when people are down we can ignore them, or laugh at them.

The image that we see comes from Ravenna in North Italy. It is a mosaic, one of the earliest known illustrations of the life of Jesus, probably about 1600 years old. This image tells the story of a woman who was crushed because she was sick. It was one of those sicknesses which made everyone avoid her. She was also poor, because she had spent all her money on doctors who had said they would heal her, but did nothing. And she was like dirt. Perhaps people didn't even see her. The man in orange on the right is urging Jesus (he is the one with the halo) to move on, to ignore this woman.

But Jesus stops. He bends down to pick up the woman. He talks with her. He tells her that she is healed and that she is a precious daughter of God (You can read the story in Luke 8.40-48). He lifts her up.

That is what he came to do. It is what we remember at this Christmas time. He came down from heaven, became one of us, was even crucified, in order to lift us up so that we can become sons and daughters of God.
(You could have another child step down off a chair and lift up the child you pushed to the ground earlier)

So perhaps we need to be in the business of lifting people up
Slide 2: ballet dancers
Slide 3: Rugby players

We can lift people up by noticing them when they are crushed, by saying something encouraging, by letting them go first, by giving.

Slide 4: shows another of these mosaics from Ravenna. It is of another woman, but this time standing tall. And she is giving. Perhaps it is the same woman. She has been lifted up and so now she is able to lift up others.

We have seen some pretty awful things recently done in the name of God, but the bible says that true religion is about caring for orphans and widows in their need (slide 5). It is not about pushing people down so that we can make ourselves bigger. It is about lifting people up.

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