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Archive for March, 2012

Jesus said to the blind man, “Go; your faith has made you well.”  Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. – Mark 10:52

The Greek word most commonly translated as “save” in the New Testament, sozo, can also be translated as “heal.”  According to Strong’s Concordance, it means to heal, preserve, save, make whole.

Nothing speaks more highly of God’s desire for healing than the incredible systems of protection and repair within our own bodies.  The immune system cures most of the illnesses that attack us.  Wounds heal, bones knit together, and tissue repairs itself in miraculous ways we rarely think about unless something goes wrong.  At best, doctors and nurses assist God’s healing work, supporting and encouraging human wholeness in every respect.

Healing from a Christian perspective is the process of moving toward wholeness in body, soul and spirit, not just for individuals but for communities as well.  Central to God’s model of health and wholeness is not medicine but reconciliation – to God, each other and creation. – Christine Sine

JW – I wonder if the phrase above, ‘on the way’, can be interpreted as ‘God’s path’.  And I wonder if Jesus, in returning the blind man to sight, was showing him that path – enabling him to step onto it.

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Friday, March 30

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” – John 11:21

We know the story:  already dead by the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus is raised to life at Jesus’ command.  I am fascinated, however, by the oft-overlooked detail that when he first hears about his friend’s dire situation, Jesus actually waits two more days before going to him.  The sister of the deceased complains that their pain could have been avoided if Jesus had shown up sooner.

For all to many, it must seem as if their cries for help go unheard:  “Where is God?”  Yet elsewhere, Jesus chastised his disciples because they proved themselves incapable of healing and feeding other, who therefore had to wait for him to arrive in person.  Called to do “greater works than these,” too often Jesus’ followers have stood idly by as spectators, waiting for God to do something.

Let us stop waiting and instead dare to be Christ’s hands and feet, and to heal a hurting world. – C. K. Robertson

JW – This morning the word spectator leapt off the page.  For decades I failed to show up in my own life, so I never even made it to the spectator level.  Were that still the case, I would find myself wandering through the desert today, not noticing a thing.  Today I’m grateful to be finding myself in the game, not even sitting on the bench, and it seems to me that in looking upward and outward and not at my feet as I did for so many years, I don’t have to worry about where my feet are taking me.  God has taken over that job, and I can rubberneck all I want, looking at what He has made, and seeing a bit of how He wants me to participate.

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Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. – Philippians 2:5-7a

In his book The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen recounts a story that was told in the Talmud.  Rabbi Yoshua be Levi asks Elijah the prophet when the Messiah will come.  Elijah tells the Rabbi to go himself and ask the Messiah, who is sitting at the gates of the city.  When Rabbi ben Levi asks how he will know the Messiah in the crowd at the gates, Elijah replies, “He is sitting among the poor covered with wounds.  The others unbind all their wounds at the same time and then bind them up again.  But he unbinds one at a time and binds it up again, saying to himself, ‘Perhaps I shall be needed:  if so I must always be ready so as not to delay for a moment.'”

In this story, reading Jesus as the wounded healer, we see that the Messiah is not aloof or untouched by the wounds of this world.  God is not too far away to see our wounds.  In fact, God sits amongst us and is wounded as we are.

This Jesus – this Messiah who is suffering with us, even in the midst of his own suffering and woundedness – is there to offer forgiveness, to offer healing, to offer restoration.  This confronts us with a different reality, because we are far too concerned about being whole, about being perfect, about knowing everything, about being in just the right place at just the right time before we can offer healing to someone else.

We all have wounds.  We all have wounds that are bound as the wounded healer’s are bound.  And it is time for us to learn to unbind them one at a time and bind them up again, instead of unbinding them all and waiting for that time when are whole again. – Lisa C. Flores

JW – I think I’m unbinding my wounds, and I feel like I can bind them up again because I’m unbinding them.  This wouldn’t be happening if I hadn’t begun to live in a world that has people in it.  That wouldn’t have happened if my heart hadn’t become touchable.  Now I’ll have to go think about whether I’m unbinding those wounds one by one.  There are times in this journey out of the desert when I experience a sense of awe.  This is one of them.

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Wednesday, March 28

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. – Romans 12:15

We all have vivid memories of people in our lives who have cared for us in troubled times.  Perhaps it was someone who listened patiently, who sat with us as we waited fearfully for news, who held us in a loving embrace through a time of pain and struggle.  We remember with gratitude someone who was particularly sensitive and caring, someone who did not wait to be called, someone who prayed with us through a long night.

All of us, as the people of God, are called to be the sorts of caring people who get remembered in the lives of others.  Our call to minister (from the Latin word for “serve”) to one another is a response to the baptisms that join us one to another.  If one member of the body suffers, Paul writes, we all suffer together.  Today, think about someone who needs your healing presence – and respond. – Gay Clark Jennings

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Jesus welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. – Luke 9:11

I began my ministry in a congregation brimming with bright, attractive, confident people.  Did I also mention slightly intimidating?  As a young curate, it prompted me to post a New Yorker cartoon in my office that depicted a couple entering a cocktail party full of well-heeled folks.  The bubble over the head of the couple:  “Yikes!  Grownups!”

But it didn’t take long for me to realize a truth about all of us, a truth that shifted my approach to work as a pastor.  Scratch the surface, especially the most well-polished veneer of the most put-together people, and you’ll discover a need for healing.  Talk to them, for even just a few minutes.  Ask about their story, and you will hear about a need for healing.  Those needs come in great variety:  needs for healing of body, mind, spirit, relationship, memory.  Healing of the earth.  Healing of the political order.  Healing reflected in the need for justice and peace, healing addressed by individuals in our church, healing addressed by our coordinated, consolidated effort through organizations like Episcopal Relief & Development.

The need for healing surrounds you today.  How will you open your ears to those needs?  How will you open your heart to those needs? – Jay Sidebotham

JW – While Reverend Sidebotham’s ideas seem daunting, his words give me a strange sense of feeling right-sized.  When I think about acting locally and thinking globally in the context of the seeds we meditated about this last Sunday, I get the sense that no matter what I do for others today, it’ll be ok.

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Pray without ceasing. – I Thessalonians 5:17

It is an attitude of the heart.  It is not resting on our knees on the stone cold pavement of an ancient church from one dawn until the next.  When we are in love, there is a constant gentle abiding in the presence of our beloved, even though we may not be physically together in space and time.  We can feel their presence as surely as we can feel the wind brushing coolly against our face on a fresh spring day.  While we go about our normal activities and responsibilities, we may find ourselves silently speaking to them from our heart, but even without words, we know our hearts are one.

To pray continually is to feel a love for God so deep that it becomes a shroud of presence in our heart.  There, in our own heart, we are able to meet God in prayer no matter what events are taking place around us.  In the silence of that beating place, the contents of our heart are spilled out into the heart of heaven.  We may at times stop what we are doing and consciously speak words to God.  At other times, we may simply ask God to read our heart.  Or, unexpectedly, during an important meeting, or while changing a diaper, or while doing our grocery shopping, our heart will suddenly feel so close to God, that words of exclamation and love escape our lips unbidden.  Because we are eternally entwined with God, it doesn’t take arduous effort to pray without ceasing.  It only requires that our heart be full of love for God. – Renee Miller

JW – Wow, what a beautiful meditation!  I instantly thought of my own fairly recent discovery of what I call my ‘feeling place’.  Long dormant, I thank God I finally realized I have a heart and that it can do such wonderful things.  It was kind of like replacing all the appliances in the kitchen and discovering that everything worked, and always had.  Today, I love just feeling my heart at work, touching it; knowing that just as I feel a deep love for God, God feels a deep love for me, and they come together in that feeling place.  They live there!  And praying continuously for me is not praying just when something’s wrong, but when I stop and realize how much is right and always has been.

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Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. – John 12:24

Lent is about dying to one life and beginning again anew.  Despite the recent recession, many of us live in a bountiful land.  Many of us enjoy small and large harvests daily, while billions of people in our world struggle to secure the basic life necessities of clean water, simple food and adequate shelter.

In every harvest, there are seeds we can reserve for new life.  In every gift we are given, there is a small part that we can let fall away.  by giving up consumption of these seeds and putting them away for a new harvest, we can help others have a more abundant life.

Seeds are often best used when transported to gardens other than our own.  Through small gifts of our own bounty, reserved for others, the seeds of our harvest may be planted in lands far away, to begin creating sustainable food supplies where they are most needed. – Cynthia Coe

JW – The food and essentials pantries bounced into my head as I was reading the above.  Thinking of the efforts of so many parishioners gave way to wondering how many people from lands far away have been helped by these ministries; how much food, water and shelter, not to mention safety, peace and religious freedom, have been given right here in Portland.

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