Full house (23-02-23)
A Bible Reading: Matthew 8. 14 - 17 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
A Thought Last week was half-term, so we found ourselves with a very full house. Tom and Rowan came up from Cornwall on the train. These are always precious visits when they live so far away. On Wednesday, Rachel arrived with her four from Norfolk for a gathering of cousins. (Is there a collective name for that??) And of course, we already have Mum living with us. There was much moving things around and re-purposing of rooms to fit everyone in, but it was great to have everyone together. Tom and Rowan had not seen Granny and Rachel and co for eighteen months.
First of all, it reminded me of my own childhood. My Great Granny Oxley lived with my grandparents for twenty years. She had mobility issues and lived upstairs in my grandparents modest three bedroom semi (no hip replacements or stairlifts in those days). My brother and I used to love climbing the stairs to visit Great Granny, who seemed to have an everlasting supply of fruit pastels in the drawer by her chair. This kind of arrangement was not unusual back then.
I was then reminded of Peter’s household in the Bible. Living in an extended family household would not have been at all unusual, and his extended family also included his mother-in-law. Although David and I have visited the site of what is thought to be Peter’s house in Israel, it is unclear how big the house would have been in Peter’s day. There is now a beautiful modern church built on the site, but some of the remains of the original are visible underneath.
There is something about a houseful that attracts more people. A full house is chaotic, busy and noisy but also full of life. A loving welcome and warm hospitality are infectious. Then add Jesus into the mix and a ‘matter of fact’ healing miracle and the house becomes fuller still. No doubt Jesus would have brought some of the other disciples with him, and after all Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother and James and John were already close friends and fishing partners, but by evening a much bigger crowd of needy people had turned up. Just imagine the excited chatter, the miracle of a healing touch and the overflow of joy. I think I would like to have been there – not just a fly on the wall, but right there in the midst of life in all its fullness.
When we invite Jesus into the house, anything can happen!
Come, Lord Jesus, and make your home among us. Come, Lord Jesus, and bring your healing touch. Come, Lord Jesus, all are welcome here. Amen.
‘Let us build a house’ (All are welcome) by Marty Haugen