Jesus and Healing

Message:

Sermon – June 28th 2015

5th Sunday after Pentecost (Year B)

By Roland Legge

Mark 5:21-43

A big focus of Jesus’s ministry was all about healing. How comfortable are you with it? I continue to grow in my understanding of healing. It happens in so many ways through prayer, touch, anointing and all the different medical interventions we can make today. It also happens through economic justice. What do I mean by economic justice? I believe that Jesus calls us to share our resources so that the people who have a lot do not have too much and those who have too little have enough.

In today’s epistle reading Jesus is in a big crowd. There is a woman who has bled for years seeking healing. In the crowd she finds the courage to touch Jesus. Jesus is moved by the determination of this woman that he tells her that her faith has made her well.   This was very risky for the woman because she was never to touch a man unless he was her husband and especially because she was sick. She could get into a lot of trouble. It was also risky for Jesus to acknowledge that this had happened because he could be labeled as unclean forcing him to go into hiding.

How she is healed is a mystery. What did happen? She found the courage to touch Jesus. She believed that Jesus could heal her, and that Jesus accepted her touch. Touch can be so healing when it is welcome. Through Jesus’ compassion and openness this woman was slowly welcomed back into community. She was no longer isolated.

Jesus did have a healing energy that came from the centre of his being. Whenever people were able to access this healing energy whether close or distant something amazing happened. We all have the same potential to heal in the way of Jesus.

A number of years ago I took healing touch training. This is a healing modality that helps to smooth out the energy of our bodies to enhance our health.   Jen is the only person I have done it with, but it seems to help her whether she has a headache or sore muscles. Think about a time when you felt the energy of another person. Have you ever noticed that when you visit some people you go away exhausted and while others you come away full of life. Each of us gives off energy. Illness is often caused when energy is being blocked in our bodies.   So by freeing the energy to flow in our bodies we can be healthier.

I think we have lost touch with the healing ministry of Jesus. I don’t believe we should allow the charlatans to get in the way of us doing this important healing ministry. I know I have been turned off by people claiming to heal you from illness through elaborate schemes that earn them a lot of money and celebrity.

Early on in my ministry I remember being asked by a paid care giver to come and heal this man from his illness. I discovered this was more about what this woman wanted him to do than what the ill person was really wanting. I was not comfortable with being asked. I discussed what we could do through the ancient practises of prayer, anointing with oil, and the laying on of hands. I also talked with them that healing is a mystery. We do not always get the healing that we would want. To not get healed in the way we would like does not mean that we are not good enough. In the end I never got to do it before the man died.

Later on I did get the chance to work with a woman who was dealing with cancer. We spent time getting to know each other, and then we had a healing circle of friends at the hospital. It was a beautiful and meaningful service. This woman still died of cancer but there was the presence of the Spirit that brought us all together in a very intimate way. In that brief period of time our grief both deepened and yet was transformed into a love that filled us with gratitude for life.

The Good News is that we can be healers every day. We heal ourselves and others by providing healthy food, by exercising, by taking time to play with friends and family. We heal ourselves and each other by doing things that feed our soul whether that be cooking, drawing, painting, gardening, carpentry, writing, singing and the list goes on.

We heal each other by taking care of the planet earth we have been blessed with to live on. Every time we love the Creation we love God. Think of all the things we are doing to keep Foam Lake a healthy place to live. We do this through:

  1. Planting Gardens
  2. Recycling
  3. Polluting as little as we can
  4. Walking when possible
  5. Treating animals both tamed and wild with respect
  6. Providing opportunities for service in our community
  7. these are but a few of the things we can do.

We heal by working to end poverty and greed. Jesus calls us to address these difficult and troubling questions. For example why do Aboriginal children receive less money for education than the rest of us do? Why do we have so much poverty when we are such a wealthy country? I think most of us know the answers.

It happens because of the choices we make. It happens because of the policy of our governments. It happens because many people like to blame the people who are already suffering suggesting they are poor because of who they are. Our capitalist society likes to think that anyone can get ahead if they try hard enough. Yet there are plenty of studies to show that life is not that easy. Yes a few move from poverty to wealth. But the majority do not. We can help to heal the world by being more willing to share the wealth that we have been blessed with and show more compassion to those who do not have enough.

Jesus spent most of his ministry working with the poor and oppressed. He still loved the Goliaths of the world but he did have a soft spot for the poor. He knew that by challenging the world to share resources so that all would have enough could heal many people.   This is what Jesus spent the majority of his life doing. How are we trying to alleviate poverty here in Foam Lake?

Let us be a force for healing change in our community and world. Amen!universal-love

Miracles and Healing Everywhere!

the man cured from Leprosy

Gospel Reflection

The second half of Mark’s first chapter is all about healing.  Early on we see that Jesus has both the power and the ability to make people whole.  These miracles not only gave hope to the people who were healed, it also put Jesus in the precarious position of being in the spotlight.

In today’s story of the cleansing of the leper, we see that it is the man’s faith in Jesus that opens the door to his healing.  Yet it is Jesus who chooses to cleanse the man of leprosy.  By removing the leprosy, Jesus also removes the social stigma that came with it.  Leprosy is a highly contagious disease.  In those days the only way to prevent the spread of leprosy was to isolate people with the disease.  They were cast off from their friends, family, and religious community.  A leper lived a painful, shameful, and lonely life.  Imagine the immense joy felt by this man who was healed by Jesus.

Jesus instructed the cleansed leper to do two things – (1) don’t tell anyone, and (2) present yourself to the priest.  At this point in time Jesus was already starting to become overwhelmed with the crowds that were following him.  These large gatherings may have been somewhat inconvenient, but they also presented a security risk for Jesus.  The more his popularity grew, the more likely it was that government and religious leaders would see him as a threat.  Jesus was attempting to keep the crowds small while also telling the religious leaders that he comes in the name of the same God they believe in.

It’s not surprising to read that the man couldn’t keep this news to himself.  How can someone keep quiet when their life has been forever changed?!  The man told everyone who would hear, which made life more difficult for Jesus.  He would continue his ministry of healing and teaching, but it was a very different existence from then on.

http://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/FaithLens/282

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever seen a miracle happen to someone?

Yes I have I have seen miracles in people’s lives.   They are not like the miracle that happened for the man in the Scripture reading today. I remember one miracle when I was working at My Brother’s Place a halfway house in Toronto for people with no place else to go. One fellow was living with schizophrenia. It was a miracle every day when he got up, brushed his teeth and dressed. One day I was asked to help him go shopping for some jeans. We came back with the things he was needing. The staff were amazed. Now isn’t that a miracle.

In a church long ago that was not known to be a happy place. One Sunday morning I came up to this church and heard laughter. I couldn’t believe it. What was going on? To my amazement two men had come back to church. They totally changed the atmosphere of this church. They liked to tease each other and their laughter transformed that congregation into a much more joyful place to be. Now that was a miracle!

It was a miracle how Jen and I met. She had asked the chair of the Sexual Abuse Prevention Committee to do a workshop for youth leaders on appropriate boundaries. Laura, the chair was not able to do it. So I was called and we planned this workshop. By the way when we talked on the phone we talked about lots of things way beyond what we needed to talk about the workshop. Then when it came time to facilitate this workshop at Conference no one came. We offered it twice and no one came. This gave us some private time to get to know each other. Our relationship bloomed very quickly. Now that is a miracle.

Think about the miracles you have experienced in life.

  • When have you felt desperate for healing or change in your life? 

I felt desperate for healing in my life in the summer of 1983. At the time I was training to become an Accountant. I was not a happy person. My teacher was rude, crude and nasty and I was just passing. So in the spring of 1983 I went to the UK and the European Continent for two months. It was an amazing trip where I learned a lot more self-confidence. Then soon after I got back I worked as a volunteer at the Peace and Justice Coffee House at the World Council of Churches Assembly at U.B.C. I loved the people I met! I heard some amazing speakers. I met Desmond Tutu from South Africa for the first time. I hadn’t been so excited in a long time. Then after that summer I realized that Accounting was not for me. So I ripped up my membership in the Society of Management Accountants and felt elation. This was all part of my journey to being called to Diaconal Ministry in the United Church of Canada.

A couple of years ago I was feeling very unsettled. There was a strong feeling in me that I had more to do. There were new things I needed to learn. I had this feeling for a while, but was afraid of addressing it. So on our trip to the UK one night when I was having trouble sleeping I woke up one morning knowing what I needed to be focussing on the Enneagram. The neat thing was that when I went home everything opened for me to be able to do this. Working on the Enneagram has helped me to begin a healing process helping me to recognize that I had more gifts that I needed to share within and outside the church. This continues to be a healing process.

  • How would you respond to Jesus’ healing if you were a leper?

I hope I would be open to it. But I know I would be afraid of getting too close to the infected person and thus get infected myself. I can relate this to people who are living with AIDS. It was not an easy time for me and my friends to support our friend Craig who was suffering with AIDS. With a lot of prayer and intentionality we were able to be supportive of Craig and each other. We had to face our own fears and remind ourselves over and over that it was not an easy disease to get. So I hope with some help from Jesus I would have been there too for the man living with Leprosy.   What would you have done?

  • Why do you think Jesus wanted the man to not tell anyone?

I wonder if Jesus didn’t want him to tell anyone because he knew it would bring more people to see him and he already was exhausted. I have felt exhausted at times wondering how I could help another person who was in great need. I don’t doubt that Jesus was feeling that. Why do you think Jesus told this man not to share this Good News with any one?

Our Bodies as Temples of God

Sermon – January 18 2015

2nd Sunday after Epiphany

By Roland Legge

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20) Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 John 1:43-51 

 

God calls the people we least expect! Can you imagine being Samuel waking up in the night to this voice calling his name?   Now there is old Eli who recognizes this voice as that of God. This must have been challenging for Eli because why would God talk to Samuel rather than him.   The miracle is that Eli was able to humble himself by encouraging Samuel to answer.

Then there is Nathaniel with his poor opinion of people from Nazareth. So what was it that convinced him that Jesus was worth paying attention to even though he came from the backwaters called Nazareth?

When you think of it Paul was also a very unlikely follower of Jesus because at one point in his life he was one of Christianity’s greatest enemies. He did everything he could to make life difficult for the Christians. Then one day on the Damascus Road he has a radical turn around and becomes a follower and proselytizer for Jesus.

I think we can blame all these conversions on the Holy Spirit! These people had their lives totally turned around. They were all able to feel the presence of God in their physical and spiritual selves in such a powerful way they could not continue to live in their old ways of fear and greed.   How has your life been turned around?

I want to focus on the Epistle because it talks of what for me is so important. Paul was calling on his people to use their bodies for the transformation of the world. He calls on his followers to treat their own bodies with respect and dignity and do the same to others. In essence Paul was describing how God becomes incarnate in each of us every day. How God loves to live in every cell of our bodies. Did you know that Christianity is one of the few religions that believes that God became incarnate in a human being? I go even further and say that God seeks to become one of us each day. This is not just a spiritual concept! It is about all of us especially our physical bodies.

Most of us have grown up in the Church that has not been comfortable with our human bodies. We, that is the Church and Society, have come up with all sorts of rules, taboos and destructive theology that has divided us up into two beings a that we are intended to treat our bodies as temples. Our bodies were created in the image of God. In the book of Genesis we are reminded that God was pleased with what God had created.

How do you feel about your own body? No one is perfect! No one has a perfect body because each body is unique. I have struggled with my body image for years. I am certainly not the image of stereotypical strong man. I have too often feared my own body. I keep worrying about what could go wrong. But if you think about it our bodies are amazing miracles. It is amazing that our bodies work well most of the time and especially when we are taking care of them. It is amazing how often, other parts of the body, will make up for a part that is not working well. We are truly blessed.

I believe Jesus came into the world to help us live fully in our human physical life here on planet earth. I don’t think Jesus was concerned about the afterlife. He wants us to live the best we can during our earthly life. He wants us to use our bodies for the building up of the Kindom of God.   He wants us to enjoy the incredible gift of being blessed with a human body that allows us to fully experience the world through sight, smell, touch and thought.

Also I believe that the Spirit desires us to enjoy being sexual beings. Meaning thus that God intends for us to experience the world and each other through our bodies. To remain being fully human we need gentle touch to remind us that we are part of something much greater. Then when we give ourselves fully to another person it becomes a sacred act that radiates the love of God. I appreciate what Rohr says about the Catholic Theological Society’s 1979 Study on Human Sexuality.

The Catholic Theological Society’s 1979 Study Human Sexuality summarized it rather well when stated that our sexual action must aim to be “self-liberating, other-enriching, honest, faithful, socially responsible, life-serving, and joyous.” That is certainly the task and journey of a lifetime, but it is no more or less than what Jesus said when he taught the greatest commandment of love of God and love of neighbour. The two loves “resemble” (Matthews 22:39) one another. They are each the school of the other. We will learn how to be properly sexual as we understand the properly passionate relationship that God has with us. And we will learn to be properly spiritual as we come to understand the true character of human longing and affection.

http://sojo.net/preaching-the-word/pure-passion?parent=41152

When we can openly talk about sexuality in church we will have come a long way.

I hope we can learn to value our bodies more. I hope we will stop trying to separate our personhood in to the physical and spiritual. We are all interconnected. Each of us are a weaving together of all our physical and spiritual qualities. They cannot be separated!

I invite you this week to intentionally be aware of your amazing body and how you feel blessed to live in it. What are you thankful for?

When we feel so blessed by our bodies we cannot help but want to take better care of ourselves and to encourage others to do the same with their own bodies. This all must happen to heal the world.

God within Us