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Posts tagged ‘wholeness’

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.

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