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

The Mighty Mustard Seed

 

Sermon – July 27th 2014

 

7th Sunday after Pentecost

 

By Roland Legge

 

Genesis 29:15-28

 

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

 

 

 

 

 

What is the Kingdom of Heaven for you?  Is it the place good Christians go to when they die or is it the world we live in right now?  For too long the concept of the Kingdom of Heaven has been abused.  It has been an oppressive tool for the church and governments to keep people in a state of poverty through the promise of a better life after they die.  This is not what Jesus was talking about!

 

 

 

For Jesus the Kingdom of Heaven was to be lived out each day in the here and now.  The Kingdom parables were told to encourage people in their faithful journey through life.

 

 

 

In the parable of the Mustard Seed Jesus was using this little bush as a symbol of the Kingdom. It is kind of like the dandelion flowers we all have in our gardens today.  First the mustard seed was small and when it landed on the ground it was prolific.  It was a small ordinary bush that never gave up.  Why would Jesus have used this ordinary innocuous bush as a symbol of the Kingdom of God?  It could be interpreted in a nice feel good way, in believing that this Parable shows us how small acts of ministry can have a huge impact.  Now this is very true.  But this story goes much deeper in suggesting that the Kingdom of heaven is like a weed that confronts, challenges, corrupts and subverts us often in most uncomfortable and disturbing ways.  So no matter how hard we might fight against it,  God will never give up.

 

 

 

 

 

I love the imagery of the women who hides the leaven for the bread.  In Jesus day leaven was a symbol of moral corruption.  But none the less, she takes it and makes a 100 loaves of bread which will feed many hungry people.  So here this women takes the subversive power of God, in the leaven, and makes use of it to transform many lives.  This is no picnic!  This is all about the radical transformation of God through the most ordinary things of life, the most irritating people and sometimes the things we consider dirty to manifest the Kingdom of Heaven. God never gives up! God will find a way to get through to us.

 

 

 

Who are the pesky people that never give up on Kingdom building?  There are many and you probably know someone who has that fiery passion to transform the world.  I think of Dorothy Day who led the Catholic Workers Movement much to the annoyance of church, corporate and government officials. Dorothy was born in New York City in 1897.   She was a radical women for her time and known for work in non-violent resistance (Pacifism) and women’s suffrage.  She was arrested a couple of times, one of the times protesting for the woman’s vote in front of the Whitehouse in Washington D.C.   She went on a hunger strike when we she was imprisoned.  Dorothy annoyed a lot of people.  She often got called a “Communist”.  I think God the Spirit was well pleased.

 

 

 

In think of Malala Yousafzai a courageous young woman from Pakistan who refused to be obedient to the Taliban who does not want girls to be educated.  She never gave up on getting an education even when she and her family were being threatened. Malala and her Dad remain determined to today standing up for girls around the world who are being oppressed.  They refuse to give in!  They are like those pesky mustard bushes and dandelions who won’t go away.  I am sure the Spirit is pleased.

 

 

 

I love this story from Joyce Hollyday who tells of some Brazilian women who refused to be pushed out of their community.  Here is how God worked through these courageous women.

 

A small group of peasants lived on a piece of land in Brazil, which was wanted for development by government and private business interests. To make their land seizure legal, those who wanted it got the Congress to declare the land theirs. The peasants were pushed off the land, their houses and crops destroyed.

 

As the people moved on to start over, this action was repeated several times. Whenever the peasants tried to resist, the police came in with force, wounding and killing some of them. Their burden of suffering was tremendous.

 

So when it became known that they were about to be pushed off their land yet again, one person asked, “Why should we resist? It will just mean that more of us will lose our lives. “Another pointed out that even if they were not killed, they would die slowly of starvation. Without land, they had no way to live, no way to plant or grow food. Despair was the prevailing mood, until some of the women got an idea.

 

With a little research, the women found out where all the members of the Congress lived. While the government officials were at work in their offices, the women went with their children — each to a different house — and sat on the front lawns of the luxurious homes.

 

These were some of Brazil’s most prestigious neighborhoods, and the sight of ragged women and their children on the lawns was an extraordinary and curious vision. After a while some of the wives of the Congress members went out with bread. The mothers told them, “We want no bread from you.”

 

Some of the wealthy women came out with money. “We have not come here for money, ” said the mothers. And eventually each wife asked, “What do you want?”

 

The peasant women answered, “We are going to die. And since this is a nice place, we thought we would like to die here. “

 

Then the wives asked, “Why are you going to die?”

 

And the mothers told of how their land was about to be stolen again, how their children were going to starve, and how the Congress was voting to make their doom legal.

 

The phones at the Congress began buzzing. Every wife called her husband to plead with him not to vote for the bill in Congress. And in the end, the people kept their land and their future.

 

A Collection of Mustard Seeds by Joyce Hollyday http://sojo.net/preaching-the-word/collection-mustard-seeds?parent=41124

 

 

 

God works through each of us to bring in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus reminds us that there will be many ups and downs on this path toward holiness.  But the Spirit will always be present using us in surprising ways to subvert, turn around, and challenge God’s family to live with love, justice, dignity and generosity.

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