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

Our Bodies are Temples of God

Exploring the Word:   Sermon – January 25, 2015

By Roland Legge

3rd Sunday after Epiphany (Year B)

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

Mark 1:14-20

God within Us

Are you ready for a revolution?  If you are not you might want to reconsider if you want to be a follower of God and Jesus.  God and Jesus are continually trying to bring on a revolution of love, peace and justice.  They are always surprising us and encouraging us to walk a different path.

Back in the days of Jonah, God was just as busy trying to transform the world.  God chose Jonah to be part of that plan.  Now Jonah seems like an ordinary person. He is no king or prince.  Jonah is not unlike us, fearful of living and speaking prophetically and often too lazy to try.  So it is no surprise that Jonah couldn’t be bothered to go Nineveh.  But God somehow got him there.  The story goes on to tell us that Jonah was first eaten by a fish when he was trying to run away and then burped out near Nineveh.  Yes, God does go to great lengths to get our attention and then cooperation.   Most importantly, God wants us, like Jonah, to be part of this transformation of love.

So Jonah gets to Nineveh and reluctantly does the work of God.  He is just barely into the city proclaiming the sinfulness of the Ninevites that they begin to repent.  They were so convincing that our surprising God heard them and forgave them.  But like lots of us Jonah was not so forgiving and became enraged when God so quickly forgave them of their sins.  Jonah had become so full of hate that he was not so ready to forgive.  Then God let Jonah sulk under a bush until he knew that God was not going to change her mind again. You see God is always surprising us.  Doing the things we least expect. How is God surprising you? Who are you meant to forgive?  Who are you meant to challenge?  Who is God calling you to see in a new light?

When God breaks through our armor, often during the traumatic times of our life, then we become open to living out God’s revolutionary plan.  If we choose to be part of God’s plan , then we can become part of this holy work.

In the Gospel according to Mark at the beginning of Jesus’ revolutionary ministry he calls upon two men, Simon and Andrew the fishermen.  They were both courageous men! It is quite likely that Simon and Andrew came from upper middle class families.  They not only had to be willing to give up family and friends but a comfortable standard of living.  They were willing to risk their lives. They followed their hearts rather than over analyzing their options which would have probably prevented them from living out their calling.  They chose a very different life from what they had been groomed to be.  They chose to be counter cultural.

It is Jesus who brings out the revolutionary love in others such as in Simon and Andrew.  It happens in the surprising ways that Jesus goes about building God’s revolution.  Most revolutionaries would build a strong army.  But Jesus goes about inviting ordinary but extraordinary people into his movement.  These are a group of untrained, uneducated, fishermen, and tax collectors stumbling along after Jesus.

 (Pulpit Resource Vol. 34, No. 1 Year B January, February, March 2006 by William Willimon Published by Logos Productions Inver Grove Heights MN P.G. 18)

Are you surprised?

 

When we can feel the Spirit of God, which is always accessible to us, we see and feel the world in a different way.  When we see injustice, we see a way to liberation. When we see poverty, we not only ask why, we seek the path out of poverty.  When we experience neglect for Mother Earth, we grieve, but make choices that will begin to heal the earth. When we are told that we can’t make the world a healthier and more loving place we ignore the sentiment and get on with the revolution.

Each of us has done something to further the revolution.  Here is one story of a teacher in Los Angeles as told in Awaken The Art of Imaginative Preaching.  Does this story bring any people to mind for you?

Rafe Esquith is a teacher in inner-city Los Angeles, California who sees culturally sanctioned disparity between resources and opportunities available to children of wealthy parents and children of parents with lesser means.  He also recognizes that there is a misconception about poor children not caring about school.  His way of teaching, his whole way of living, which for years included working four jobs to pay for all of his classroom extras, is countercultural.  Esquith draws his students to class hours early and keeps them in school hours after the closing bell, and seven days a week.  They clamor to reach and perform Shakespeare, to do challenging mental math problems during breaks in class, and to spend recess learning intricate guitar concertos.  This inspired and inspiring teacher has swept up generations of children into his pro-learning movement, many of whom have grown up to return the support they received from him.  Other schools have tried to lure Esquith away with much larger paychecks and easier settings but he holds his ground.  Viva la revolution!

Awaken the Art of Imaginative Preaching Advent Epiphany 2005-2006 by Janet Norman and Paul Turley Published by Logos Production Inc Inver Grove Heights MN P.G. 37

I hope the story Esquith brings to mind people in our own community. We do have revolutionaries/healers right in our own midst.  We have people who visit our many shut-ins.  We have people who give of their time to community groups who provide great opportunities for our residents of all ages. We have teachers, nurses and many others who go the extra mile to care for those they serve.

Our society tells us the poor, the elders, the disabled, the mentally ill are not worth our time.  Thankfully we have people who the see the value in each person just like Jesus did. Even coming to church today is counter cultural.  It goes against our society that says that life has everything to do with consumption.  Thus in some way we are all revolutionaries of Jesus.  What do you think of that?

Holy Disruption!

Sermon – Advent 2

December 7th 2014 (Year B)

By Roland Legge

Isaiah 40:1-11
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Mark 1:1-8

 

 

It is hard to ignore John the Baptist!  Would you or I have been one of the many people who chose to come to John for his baptism of repentance? I am not sure if I would have left my comfortable sofa to go into the wilderness to be baptized by this loud and smelly man.   How in the world does this wild story this fit into Advent?

I think for many of us this Advent/Christmas season is supposed to be one of comfort, memories and nostalgia.  It is supposed to be a time of happiness.   It is supposed to be a time of generosity.  It is a time of frivolity with parties and concerts to attend.  It is the time of year that we think of the needy and try to make their lives a little better.  But John the Baptist has a difference understanding of Advent.

If we listen to John the Baptist, Advent is all about repentance!  Repenting is hard work.  It forces us to look deeply into ourselves to see how we need to bring our lives back closer to the ways of God.  This is hard work because we will have to face our own fears, shame and hopeless if we are to truly repent.  It will require us to change how we live not just in that moment but to integrate those changes into our lives on a daily basis.  Old habits will need to change.  But there is a huge reward that goes along with that hard work.  That reward is inward joy!

 

 

Much of what we have to do is in the choices that we make.   Much of what we have to do comes out of our conversations.  It is often about taking a stand and living into it.

Many years ago I took a stand when I chose to help clean the homes of people living with HIV/AIDS when there was no hope for recovery.   You see there were many homemakers who wouldn’t do this out of fear of infection and prejudice. This doesn’t mean it was easy, but with the help of God working through others I was able to do this and make a difference in these people’s lives.  I was able to it despite my own fears.

Recently there was a gathering of people who took a stand in a theater in St. Louis Missouri where the terrible violence has been taking place due to the killing of a young black man called Mike Brown by a white police officer.  It involve a piece of music written by JOHANNES BRAHMS called the German Requiem, that when first played in Vienna in 1867 caused a great uproar; there was boos, inappropriate behaviour and disgust. What was so controversial?  It was controversial because it was a piece of religious music being played in a public hall.

Now many years later the same piece along with Detlev Glanert’s arrangement of Brahms’ Four Preludes and Serious Songs was being played at the Powell Hall in St. Louis and got a similar reaction.  It took place after the intermission when

conductor Markus Stenz took the stage, two audience members began to sing. In strong, clear voices, they performed Florence Patton Reece’s famous justice hymn: “Which side are you on, friend? Which side are you on?” Nearly a dozen more scattered throughout Powell Hall joined in. While the audience watched in stunned silence, a banner unfurled from the balcony with a silhouette of a man’s face. It said: Requiem for Mike Brown 1996-2014.

 

Season of Disruption by Rose Marie Berger http://sojo.net/preaching-the-word/season-disruption?parent=41143 

 

 

One theatergoer challenged if the theater was an appropriate place for a protest.  A Catholic Priest spoke up and challenged the man complaining by inviting people to change the chant from of “What side are you On” to How are we going to heal?  Then without further ado the conductor tapped his baton and the orchestra began to play Brahms’ Requiem.

It opened with pulsing bass and unfolding choral line from Matthew 5: “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” 

Season of Disruption by Rose Marie Berger http://sojo.net/preaching-the-word/season-disruption?parent=41143 

 

So Advent is a time of disruption!  John the Baptist and Jesus came to disrupt our lives so the Kindom of God can take root in our hearts.  Catholic theologian James Alison puts it this way:

“The One who is coming will not preside over us, but will teach us to want peace from within, and to learn the habits that make it possible. The One who loves us will come as one we despise, and crucify: The definitive puncturing of our god-fantasies, and yet the Presence of one who is powerfully determined not to let us remain wedded to our self-destruction.”

Season of Disruption by Rose Marie Berger http://sojo.net/preaching-the-word/season-disruption?parent=41143 

 

 

Think for a moment as to how God is breaking into your heart.  How is the life and the teaching of Jesus disrupting our lives?  How is the Spirit within you calling you to make choices that challenge the status quo and open up new possibilities for new life in our communities and world that recognizes that we are all equal before our Maker?  Isn’t this what Christmas is all about!!

 

 

 

 

 

 repentance_httplifehopeandtruth.comchangerepentance

We are the people of Hope!

Sermon – November 30th 2014

Advent One

By Roland Legge

Isaiah 64:1-9 1

1st Corinthian 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37:

 

Today is the first Sunday in Advent. Today we focus on hope. Are you hopeful?  Are you looking forward to the future or do you fear the kind of world we are leaving for our grandchildren and great grandchildren? Do you believe that with God’s help we can make the world a better place to live?

Hope is not about wishful thinking.  For Christians hope is about being able to face the realities of the world while believing in every cell of our bodies that with God’s help we can transform the world.  We can transform the world into the Kindom of God where all can live in harmony with each other and God’s creation.

Hope is also means action.  We can’t have hope unless we are willing to live into it.  We cannot have hope unless we are willing to live as though the Kindom of God is already here.

I have hope!  I have hope because I believe that God has given us everything we need for all of humankind and the rest of God’s creation to live in harmony with each other.  I have hope that humans will stop fighting each other in wars.  I have hope that we will stop polluting the world as more and more of us realize that we are part of God’s creation rather than separate.   I have hope because I experience acts of love, generosity and courage every day.

I have hope when:

  • I experience people helping out each other
  • when I see a white police officer hugging a young African American on Facebook
  • when a community celebrates the return of a Mom dog to its puppies that just happened in Saskatoon
  • when we celebrate the love between two people of the same sex that is being celebrated more and more around the world
  • when the Irish Catholics and Protestants come together in peace
  • when children are welcomed into our church and allowed to be children

Our Scripture today from the Gospel according to Mark sends a message of hope to his people.  He says to his people that he knows of their many struggles they are facing trying to remain faithful.  He says to his people he knows of their fear.  He says to his people he knows of their impatience for change.

More so, the author of Mark calls on his people to live as though the world has already been transformed into the Kindom of God. He calls upon them to live with hope even though that hope sometimes is hard to find.  He promises that God has something better for them and the whole world.  There will be a radical change.  There will be disruption that will turn the world upside-down!   Suddenly the lowly will be honored.  Those with much will be humbled.  But he reminds them we will never know when this radical holy intervention will take place.  The challenge is to live as this transformation of love has already happened.  Mark’s message was received with thanksgiving!

Sadly this apocalyptic scripture has been misinterpreted.  Apocalyptic simply means revelation.  It was a message of hope often written during times of great oppression.  It was not intended to be an excuse to ignore the injustices of the world.  It was never intended to set up divisions between the saved and unsaved.  It was never meant to ignore the realities of the world. It was a never an intention to keep the status quo. You see God cares about all people.  God cares about living on this amazing earth.  It is not all about the afterlife!

Many North American Christians have corrupted the scripture into making our faith all about following a particular dogma.  This serious misinterpretation has led to movements so focussed on reaching the hereafter that they ignore the realities of the world.  It is often wealthy people who do not want to give up their privilege that often comes from the abuse of God’s creation; that does not require them to share their own wealth; that doesn’t require them to clean up the earth.  Why would you worry about the health of the world if you can’t wait to leave it in some glorious nuclear war?  Then even to make this even worse they begin to think that nuclear war is good thing because it will get them to Jesus.

So when Mark talks about the new world.  This is not a heavenly world, but one grounded in the here and now.  This is a new world order where human kind will live peacefully, and sustainably.

I want to end with some words from a great speech of Martin Luther King Junior, using apocalyptic speech that talks of the real hope that Jesus was about:

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination . . . So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition . . . Some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells . . . Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive . . . Go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today . . . And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

May we each incarnate the Hope that Jesus has passed on to us making the world the place that God intends it to be.

Amen.

New York City June 2014 (147)

ARE YOU HONEST WITH YOURSELF?

Sermon – November 16th 2014

By Roland Legge

Judges 4
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Matthew 25:14-30  

 

What can we learn from the Parable of the Talents?  Is this justification for the Capitalist System?  No I don’t think so!

Jesus is saying to his followers that transforming the world is dangerous business. This is a Parable that encourages us to take risks. This is a Parable that calls upon us to act with gutsy love in the world. Jesus has no doubt that the world can become a more caring and just place.  Jesus says “Yes we can”!

One simple thing we Christians can do is to tell the truth.    But why is it so difficult to live this out?  Yet I suspect most of us, if not all of us have lied some time in our lives.  Sometimes we do it to protect ourselves.  Sometimes we do it to protect those we love.  I am not saying we should never say a white lie sometimes if we determine it to be the most compassionate and just thing to do.  But I believe that in most circumstances it is best to tell the truth.

But before we promise to do this with those we interact with whether they be family, friend or stranger we need to stop lying to ourselves.  I think we hurt ourselves when we lie to ourselves. We lie to ourselves in many ways.  I can think of a time in my first marriage when I thought I could fix my marriage with Yvonne.  This was a lie.  I lie to myself every time I don’t think I am worthy of other people’s love.  I lie to myself every time I say something is important to me and then don’t follow through.  I lie to myself every time I say I am fine when I am not. How do you lie to yourself?

There is an excellent book I ready many years ago called People of the Lie by Scott Peck.  He argues that the more we lie to ourselves and others prevents us from making wiser choices.  He says in his book:

 “The less clearly we see the reality of the world – the more our minds are befuddled by falsehoods, misperceptions, and illusions – the less able we will be to determine correct courses of action and make right decisions. Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.”

So many of the conflicts in the world today happen because of lies, poor communication and fear.

Yet there is a time to tell the truth.  Timing can be everything.  Thankfully doctors are improving on their bedside manners.  It isn’t helpful when a doctor just blurts out that you have cancer.  It makes a difference when he or she sits down and takes some time with the patient to pass on the bad news and stay with them long enough to help them to begin to process their grieving.

I want the truth from each of you as to how I am doing.  What you like.  What you don’t like.  However, I am much more open to your points of view if you are polite with me and use the “I” statements.  Do you get annoyed with people who say nice things to you to appease you when it isn’t true? I do.  But I also get upset if people are really rude to me.  Telling the truth does not give us permission to abuse people.

Any relationship we have calls on us to be truthful.  Honesty can lead to deep and healthy relationships.  For example, if we are honest to ourselves and each other we can communicate better with each other.  Being able to express our own needs and ask for what we need from those we love helps us to have more fulfilling relationships.

Here is a story from William Willimon that tells of an experience that Tony Campolo experienced that shows how speaking the truth can lead to rich relationships.

Tony Campolo told of a time his mother made him go to a funeral to show his respect for the deceased, Mr. Kilpatrick. He drove to the funeral home, entered the chapel, and bowed his head. When he looked around, he noticed he was the only one there, and when he peered into the casket, he did not see Mr. Kilpatrick. He had gone to the wrong funeral! Campolo was about to leave when an elderly woman clutched his arm and pleaded, “You were his friend, weren’t you?” Not knowing what to do, he lied and said, “Yeah, he was a good man. Everybody loved him.” After the funeral, Campolo and the elderly woman went to the cemetery in a limousine. The casket was lowered into the grave, and both tossed a flower on it.
On the way back to the funeral home, Campolo confessed the truth. “Ms. King, there’s something I’ve got to tell you. I want to be your friend, and we can’t have a friendship unless I tell you the truth. I’m afraid I have to tell you that I didn’t really know your husband. I came to his funeral by accident.”
She squeezed his hand and said, “You’ll never, ever, ever know how much you being here with me today meant.”
I don’t know whether Campolo and Ms. King became friends; I only know they could not have become genuine friends without Campolo’s honesty.

http://www.logosproductions.com/content/november-16-2014-stewards-truth

Think for a moment, how are you at speaking the truth as you see it.  How good are you at being honest with yourself?    Remember it is hard to be honest with others if we cannot be with honest with ourselves.

Are we honest with each other in this congregation of ours?  Can we be both honest and respectful of each other?   I hope that both you and I can be honest with each other.  I hope we can learn from each other.  I hope we have the courage and patience to work out win win solutions in all the challenges we face in this congregation.

Jesus reminds us in today’s Parable that we are called to live with reckless love.  I pray that each of us in all our relationships can find hope, compassion and reconciliation in open and honest sharing with the people we interact with each day.  This is the way to the Kindom of God.  Thanks be to God.

 

 

Tellling the Truth