Why I’m excited about Standing in the Gap: Reflections on John 5:1-18

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By Jill Morrison

This week’s Gospel reading was about the healing of a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. When Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed the man responded with a list of very real barriers to his healing. Jesus replied, “Pick up your mat and walk.” John omits detail about Jesus’ act of physical healing- there is no mention of touching the paralytic, no special words, simply the command to get up and walk. Perhaps this is because physical healing was the easy, or rather instantaneous, part for Jesus. The ongoing work of being made well required an action in response to Jesus; an action that involved this man getting up and walking into his community. As he did, he became witness to God’s agenda. In this miracle, Jesus breaks into one man’s life and works to heal the community at large.

This year, our congregation is looking together at the academic equity gap, a place where our greater community is “paralyzed.”  Standing in the Gap is a kick-off initiative in direct response to our church’s heart for healing.  It’s part of our desire to “pick up our mat and walk” that we, the community of Berkeley, might be made well.  At this event we will look together at educational equity issues in Berkeley and why they matter to God.  We will celebrate that Emmanuel (God With Us) is moving here, and His promise to honor the work ahead.

So, why am I going?…

I’m going to Standing in the Gap because I know very little about BUSD and lack even a general sense of the education system in California. I’m going because I’m told that there’s a “gap” in student achievement that somehow correlates to a “gap” in social and economic resources. This signals to me a severe injustice that I suspect is not unique to BUSD or to California, and is indicative of a greater gap of poverty, homelessness, discrimination, groups that exist to instill fear, those inflicted by curable disease, and a list that could go on and on….

I’m going because I suspect learning about the achievement gap in my own neighborhood is somehow connected to these greater gaps. I want to better articulate what this gap is, and how these very real things are felt in our own congregation.  I want to learn what people are already doing about it, and to celebrate that our very real God is moving us to do something together about it.

I know this gap won’t be resolved in a day, or in a year.  But Standing in the Gap celebrates our own (communal) stories, our own needs, our own resources and our own willingness to say “yes” to a God who honors our effort to “get up and walk” when we can.

I’m going this Sunday. I’m going to Stand in the Gap.



PS- Did I mention there will be baked goods too? Yeah… I’m also going for the food.

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