Proper 11 Year C
Genesis 18:1-10a, Psalm 15, Colossians 1:15-28 and Luke 10:28-32
Prayer: God, open our hearts and ears to your Spirit of truth and guide us in following it. Amen.
About ten years ago a 75 year old man died from health issues. His wife of 52 years was left a widow. Their five grown children all mourned the loss of their father. The grandchildren were also sad that they lost their goofy and loving grandfather. It wasn’t shortly after the man’s death that 3 of the siblings blamed one of the siblings for their father’s death. Hurt feelings, mis understood actions and no communication was a recipe for broken relationships. The family fell apart.
Just last year two of the grandchildren reconnected and it was joyful! They reminisced and got along fine. Then, another grandchild connected with the other two and now they talk regularly. Some of the siblings talk now too. The family is being brought back to wholeness one piece and person at a time…
The world needs healing, our country needs healing, and we all need healing at some point in our lives.
The word “heal” has its word origins in “Old English hælan described as “cure; save; make whole, sound and well,”. This description encompasses a range of what we mean when speaking of healing. It also may include our own ideas and experiences of healing.
What images come to mind for you when you think about healing? (pause)
I thought of a few. A televangelist who is on stage dramatically and publically healing people of their life threatening and physical ailments. A hospital chaplain praying with someone who’s awaiting surgery or a small group of people praying with another person, touching them or having their hands extended, who is going through a really difficult family situation.
Healing has several images and evokes different emotions and experiences. As Christians an important image of healing needs to be that of Jesus/ God/ Holy Spirit’s work of reconciling us to God and one another, who is at the same time attentive to our physical, spiritual and emotional needs. Our individual needs are met by God. That may look different to each person, that’s partly because God knows our individual needs and knows what makes us whole.
Throughout this sermon and liturgy, ponder about healing and what it means and is because there is not only one way of being healed.
Everyone can receive healing because everyone, living into their fullness, deserves to be whole. All people and all of creation.
I’ve had a heavy heart the past couple of days thinking about tragedy, on a global scale and on a local scale. Tragedy surrounds us. In the news this past week we heard of the truck plowing through crowds of people in Nice, France. Killing 84 people and the driver. There are also untold stories of people fleeing from violence in their country trying to survive another day.
In these United States, violence against one another, floods in West Virginia that have harmed and killed life, fires in California and other trauma’s occur too often.
In the communities around Cleveland and in our own personal lives we have struggles and are in need of healings.
——-All people and places need healing——-
God wants us to be healed and God wants to heal us.
Are we ready and willing to be healed? Acknowledging that we are not whole and asking for healing takes trust in God because we are aware of our own brokenness and neediness of something more. But what happens when our pride, or our unknowing of what we need stops us from asking for healing?
The collect of the day elegantly provides words to help us. I’ve summarized a couple phrases, “Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask…have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which we dare not and in our blindness cannot ask…”
This prayer helps us give ourselves up to God and acknowledge that we need to be made whole. It’s a start to the process of healing.
The Gospel story of Jesus, Martha and Mary can be viewed as a healing story too.
In the scene at Martha and Mary’s house, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, her teacher and guide. Disciples would usually sit at their teacher’s feet. She is a disciple.
Also in the scene, imagine a figure swiftly moving into and out of the frame to get the house and food ready for guests. Martha was worried and anxious to get everything done efficiently. She asked Jesus to tell her sister to help her.
Instead, she was called out of her routine and the norm of what was probably
done in a 1st century Israel-Palestinian context.
Jesus invited Martha to stop what she was doing and listen to Him. To follow Mary’s example and sit at his feet. This invitation could have caught both Martha’s ears and her heart because it was not what she expected.
Was Jesus inviting Martha to receive a wholeness she didn’t have or get before then, maybe to calm her from her anxiety to “get things done” to heal her in some way?
Jesus’ words were healing to Mary, maybe she craved and needed them which is why she sat and listened. Martha was invited to do the same.
There is wisdom in listening and learning from the One who has our wholeness, reconciliation and salvation in mind. If we listen we can be guided and healed of our brokenness whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. We will be restored and healed to wholeness through Jesus. If we choose to stop and listen and to nurture our spiritual ear and heart then we can be a sieve for others, to help them and point them to the Healer.
Today, in the liturgy, we emphasize the healing aspect of Eucharist. It’s important to note that all Eucharists are healing though. We remember Jesus’ death for our sins, to help make us whole and reconciled to God. In that is also God’s great love and concern for our wholeness, our well-being our healing. Think about other Biblical stories about healing, Sarah was told she would have a child! Healings of paralytics, healings of the blind and healings of people being reconciled back to their community.
It’s sometimes challenging to ask for prayer and for healing, especially for yourself. Whatever healing you need, first stop what you are doing. Then listen to the One who wants to heal you. During the Eucharist you are all invited to come to the chapel for healing and anointing with oil.
Be bold, go forward and ask God for healing. Remember God wants us to be healed and God wants to heal us. God knows we need it and the world needs it.