Just another WordPress.com weblog

Posts tagged ‘healing’

Thanks, I think

[The healed leper] prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.  And he was a Samaritan.  Luke 17:16 (CEB)

Well, of course the healed leper thanked Jesus!  Wouldn’t any of us do the same in similar circumstances?  Probably.  Oh – wait a minute – he was a Samaritan.  Does that mean he really wasn’t worthy of being healed by Jesus?  Did he just catch some of the wind blowing his way as he left with the nine others?  Did Jesus make a mistake by healing someone who was of a different race than he was?

No, no, and no.  Jesus wasn’t looking at him as unworthy because he saw everyone as worthy of God’s grace. Everyone was included in God’s kingdom.  Luke points out that this was a Samaritan because the nine others (whom we presume to be Jews, like Jesus) went on their way and did what Jesus had told them to do – go show themselves to the priests.

But this Samaritan couldn’t even contain himself!  He was so thankful that he turned around and fell on his knees before the one who had healed him of his disease.  Not only was he healed physically, but he was also healed spiritually.

One of my best friends and I used to have a discussion about who deserved God’s grace.  She would ask if someone who repented and turned his or her life over to Jesus on their deathbed, would that person be forgiven and find salvation.  I always said yes, but she would argue that it wasn’t fair.  If they had spent their entire life doing things that were against Jesus’ teachings, breaking the Ten Commandments knowingly and willfully, they shouldn’t be able to just say, “Forgive me” and it’s done.

Well, it isn’t quite that simple, and it certainly isn’t cheap grace.  Grace is offered to those who genuinely have a change of heart and turn their lives around, even if it’s on their deathbed.  I would also tell her that it isn’t ours to judge, and only God knows what is on that person’s heart.  It’s ultimately between that person and God.

Whatever race, gender, ethnicity, or age we are, grace is offered to us every moment of every day.  Jesus offered someone who was considered “less than,” an enemy of Jerusalem, and someone with whom the Jews didn’t want to associate healing and grace.  He received it with joy and praise and let Jesus know how grateful he was.

What about us?  How much grace do we offer others, even those who are different from us?

How do we praise even when it seems like things are lousy?

In what ways do we fall on our knees every day, regardless of our circumstances to give thanks to the one who offers grace, healing, and life?

How are we blind?

“Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’  The blind man said, ‘Teacher, I want to see.'”  Mark 10:51 (CEB)

Bartimaeus was a blind man who was ousted by his society because of his physical challenge.  He was forced to beg for everything in order to survive.  One day as he sat by the side of the rode, he heard a commotion, and when he asked what was happening, someone told him that Jesus was passing by.  Somehow Bartimaeus knew about Jesus, and he decided to muster up his courage and call out to him.  After all, what did he have to lose?  He had basically already lost nearly everything:  his family, friends, home, position in the community, and livelihood.

So, he shouted even when the crowd told him to be quiet.  Jesus heard him.  Not only did Jesus hear him, but he paid attention to him and asked what he wanted.  “Teacher, I want to see.”  Blindness in the scriptures has more meaning than just not being able physically to see things; it also refers to the inability to see situations or understand something.  Jesus periodically indicated that the temple leaders were blind to the true message of God’s grace and love.  He also recognized the lack of insight and vision his own disciples displayed because they couldn’t grasp what he was trying to teach them.

Spiritual blindness is another form of not being able to see.  Bartimaeus may have been able to see spiritually far better than most sighted people.  So, what can we learn from this story?  Well, I think one thing is that we shouldn’t give up on praying because it continues to open doors so we can connect with God.  Prayer opens us to God’s presence even as Bartimaeus’ shouting opened the door for him to meet Jesus and be healed.  Perseverance in prayer as well as in building our relationship with God helps us to find strength in the tough times.

Another lesson we can learn is that we might have our own blind spots in our lives when it comes to God, to Christ, to church, to someone in our family, among our friends, or with our co-workers.  Maybe there is a habit or behavior that “drives us crazy” from another person, and that’s all we can see in them.  What if we asked God to show us the good qualities?  Someone once reminded me that one behavior “does not the person make.”

Bartimaeus also showed the qualities of courage when everyone else was trying to tell him that he was out of place.  Change is hard for so many people.  When we have a vision for changing something that isn’t working or that can improve our lives, our churches, our work places, our homes, we can pull the courage out of somewhere to make the change.  If it doesn’t work after all, at least we tried!

Maybe this also teaches us a lot about taking inventory of places where we may be blind to God’s call in our lives or God’s working through us and others.  We tend to pass off every day events as just normal stuff, but we hear often that God’s miracles happen in the ordinary events of life.  Maybe doing an assessment of our own behaviors as well as living mindfully of our interactions with the world and people in our lives will help us to be aware of the complete presence of God with us even when we might not see it.

Where have you seen God at work?

How have you been part of bringing healing to someone else?

In what ways can you be courageous and proactive to make a difference in your own life as well as the lives of others?

Healing

After leaving the synagogue, Jesus, James, and John went home with Simon and Andrew.  Simon’s Mother-in-law was in bed, sick with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once.  He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up.  The fever left her, and she served them.”  Mark 1:29-30 (NRSV)

The human body is a remarkable instrument.  We have been created with the capabilities of healing.  I sometimes wonder about all the medications we are on and whether or not our bodies would heal themselves if we didn’t take so many meds.  I don’t know; however, personally, I prefer not to take any more medications than necessary (although I do take a healthy dose of vitamins!)

Last November following my annual wellness exam, I decided to join a gym to try to improve my health and well-being.  It’s interesting because the trainer who did my health assessment talked to me about a new course that was being offered that I could still take.  The course covered nutrition, weight loss, exercise, stress management, and ways to care for one’s self body, mind, and spirit.  After years of being off and on with a particular weight loss program, I decided to try something different.

We are almost at the end of the class, and I have lost weight, feel better, am exercising a little more, and have started to set goals so I can continue this journey and make this my life-style rather than a class that will end in two more sessions.  Perseverance is a key component for me in becoming healthy.  And it is that way in having a healthy faith journey.

When we stop practicing our faith, our spiritual “muscles” become atrophied, and life’s challenges can weigh us down.  Sticking with good spiritual disciplines will help us to stay connected to Christ even when we falter and go astray.  Our spiritual lives often need a tune-up and need that extra lift toward wholeness, so staying connected to God through prayer, worship, and interactions with others helps us to stay on track.

My healing from food addictions (especially sweets) will take a while, but I’ve started.  My journey of faith continues to be reworked and revised as I learn more about what God sees in me and how God travels with me on this path.  Let us stay the course, and when we go off the wrong direction, let us turn around and keep on keeping on!

Thanks and Praise

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.  He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.”  Luke 17:11-19 (NRSV)

The story of the ten lepers is familiar to man people, and what most people remember is that one of the lepers, a Samaritan and not necessarily a desirable person to have around for any self-respecting Jewish person, turned around and praised God loudly, thanking Jesus for the healing.  However, the story is a little more complicated than that

Leprosy in Jesus day could have been any sort of skin disorder:  psoriasis, eczema, a red rash, or Hansen’s disease (no relation to me!).  Whenever someone ended up with something like this, they were banished outside the city gates, considered unclean, unapproachable, and ostracized from their community, family, friends, neighbors, and their own city or town.  Whenever someone approached, they were required to shout, “unclean, unclean” so the people would be able to pass by them at a safe distance. 

In this case, Jesus was passing by, and they must have heard of his reputation, so their cry became “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  (v. 13).  Although Jesus didn’t go over to touch them (which was often his pattern when healing people), he told them to go show themselves to the priests, and as they went, they discovered that they were clean.  They did as they were told, and they knew that seeing the priests would certify that they had been healed and would be able to be restored to their communities.

The one exception was the outcast among the outcasts, a Samaritan.  Relations between the Samaritans and the Jerusalem and Galilean Jews wasn’t good.  They were seen as “half-breeds” and considered not truly Jewish.  Their worship center was in a different location, although they worshiped the same God.  So when the only one to return was a Samaritan, Jesus noticed that he was the only one who had returned to give thanks and to praise God.  He told the man that his faith had made him well.

Healing was one thing, wellness has a much larger connotation of wholeness and total well-being.  The other nine were healed and followed the correct protocol, but the Samaritan (who probably would not have been welcomed by the priests) put the pieces together and not only was healed but recognized the hand of God in his physical healing.  He was healed inside and out:  body, mind, spirit.

Isn’t that what we all would like?  I sometimes wonder if all the negatives in our world cause us to be sick in body, mind, and spirit.  Maybe we simply don’t see the hand of God in our lives.  Maybe we just don’t praise God enough for the blessings we have.  What would happen if we started a praise journal where we recorded at least one great thing that has blessed our lives each day?  It’s worth a try!  That’s my challenge to myself this week – and to anyone who might read this post.  May God bless your week!

Getting Ready for Vacation

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  Colossians 3:1-3 (NRSV)

As I prepare to take a two week vacation, I found this passage from this week’s lectionary readings interesting.  There are times when I feel as if I concentrate so much on my work as a pastor that I miss things going on around me.  People are careful not to use foul language when they speak with me, at least in anything church related, so when I go to the grocery store or other stores, I regularly hear the name of Jesus Christ used, but certainly not in prayer.  (An even more repulsive and useless word is the “F” bomb, but that’s another whole story.)

So, maybe I set my mind on things that are above a lot – I mean 24/7 most of the time.  Yet, I see the world’s hurt and pain so clearly in my life and the lives of my parishioners, and regardless of preaching regularly on living counter-culturally, the world’s expectations and socially accepted patterns become the dominant force in the church.  I returned home from a meeting last night that held so much pain about something that had happened in the church – misconduct by parishioner on parishioner – that I’m afraid it will take months – maybe years – to recover. 

I’m not feeling adequate for the task.  We need someone savvy in counseling capabilities or a recovery expert – actually, we have one – Jesus, the Christ.  Scripture once again leads me to Jesus, to the greatest healer of all, and in conversations with several people, we were able to come up with ideas that might help start the healing process and bring the folks back together again.

I also have to remember that things like this take time, and some people will never recover from it in that church context, so they will go somewhere else, or, unfortunately, give up on church all together.  I’m not sure I understand why we can’t get the message to live in the world but not of it, but it’s also clear to me in reading all of Colossians 3:1-11 that these issues aren’t new – they have been around for thousands of years because humanity is often broken and hurting.

Jesus knows about being broken and hurting.  The Good News for us is that he overcame “the world” and can bring healing and wholeness to us, to our churches, to the world through us.  We set our minds on things above in order to understand the power of that kind of love and how it can change the circumstances around us. 

So, I’m ready for vacation in spite of all the work I need to do to get ready (it’s a month’s worth of work to go away for two weeks!).  But there are times when we all need a break from the usual routine in order to refresh and renew, to do something different, so we can keep on keeping on in the ways we live and love in the world.

Jesus took the time to be away, to refresh and renew – we have no greater example than that.  I will not write for two weeks, but I will be busy seeing my family and enjoying God’s beautiful creation.  Thanks be to God.

Tag Cloud